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Last Updated : Mar 25, 2020 02:15 PM IST | Source:

Coronavirus pandemic: You and I can make a positive difference; time for ISR is now

As medics risk their lives manning patients to save lives, it is time for the citizens to rise to the challenge and shoulder responsibility.

Moneycontrol Contributor @moneycontrolcom
Representative Image
Representative Image

Rakesh Khar 

These are unprecedented times! And whenever we have such unforeseen challenges imposed on us, we have recorded two extreme responses from the side of humanity. Either it has brought out the worst from within us or spurred the virtue to overwhelm the vice.

The coronavirus has paused humanity to think and ponder. While staying at home is billed to be the ultimate panacea for all ills, it is time to look at fatalities that will be caused even after the virus bites the dust.


As medics risk their lives manning patients to save lives, it is time for the citizens to rise to the challenge and shoulder responsibility.

In this hour of grave crisis when a national emergency is in place, the role of the civil society could not get more critical.

Me, Myself, My Family Syndrome

The well-heeled, loosely defined as the middle class in India (often the toast of global brands keen to tap it for driving consumption) have to display utmost empathy for those on the bottom of the pyramid.

The crisis presents a historic opportunity to unite Bharat and India on the ground. This is not about the Bridgital economy deliberations at a five-star hotel in a mega metro.

This is about actually aiding life by offering succour and support to the millions of daily wagers, jobless labourers and slum-dwellers facing starvation due to the unprecedented lockdown.

We have already let ourselves down by some of us spitting at northeastern residents in mega metros displaying hate and ignorance.

Salute corona warriors

The treatment of airline staff has shamed us all. How conveniently we forgot their yeoman contribution in this crisis as they risked their lives bringing home stranded Indians from corona-struck destinations globally.

Worse, now we have doctors being hounded out by their landlords as suspected carriers. It shows a mental sickness syndrome which is a bigger malaise than the virus itself.

All this has put to naught the Sunday tribute. The nation came out in gratitude for five minutes but the collective wisdom soon gave way to selective negativity about those who are helping us battle coronavirus from the open trenches uninsured.

As the virus crisis deepens, it is time to show responsibility. We have had enough of lament and armchair criticism of the government, the institutions and individuals. Criticise only when we can contribute!

Individual Social Responsibility

 Borrowing from the management indices, it is the most opportune time to look at life (actually save life) beyond the traditional institutional review. We have talked enough about government responsibility, institutional responsibility, and corporate social responsibility.

It is time to talk of Individual Social Responsibility (ISR). Not just actually talk about it but act NOW! For it does not take rocket science to conclude that corona will kill more jobs and livelihoods than actual lives?

How does one salvage the situation? Here is a recommended Key Responsibility Area (KRA) for each and every individual, especially the professional class.

The KRA is as follows:

-         Stay home
-         Stay safe
-         Stay connected
-         Stay productive
-         Stay well informed
-         Stay away from panic

-         Stay away from rumors

This is hygiene! Humans, here, are today either the messengers of safety or of the virus. The choice is ours. So stay home is an imperative.

But here comes that part of the KRA that should help us look beyond the “Me, myself and my family” syndrome.  Time to stand and be counted for the needy and vulnerable in this dark hour.

-         Within your environs, look for senior citizens (ensure they have stocks in place).
-         People living alone, especially women, need support and safety in terms of requirements of essentials including medicines, etc.
-         Help your spouse in the kitchen to reimagine work-life balance.

-         Spend quality time with ageing parents for they fear more the unknown.

Critical #StayHome KRA

And now comes the most critical part of the KRA. This is where we can reimagine ourselves not just as professionals but as individuals and in turn redefine the civil society.
-         Initiate immediate individual basic income schemes to ring in support to your household staff (drivers, gardener, maids, sweeper, etc).
-         Transfer cash to them today (not as an advance but as a corona lifeguard). However, small the amount, it will make a crucial difference. Use payment wallets in case bank accounts transfer is a challenge.
-         Advance salary payment (if you have drawn cash from your ATM); we are already on 25th (some companies including mine did it yesterday).

-         Cook an extra meal or two to see if you can share at the housing society gate for guards; try create a community.

As Ghalib wrote for perpetuity, “Guzar jayega yeh daur bhi Ghalib, zara itminan to rakh, Jab khushi na thehar saki, to gam ki kiya auqaat hai".

While this too shall pass, coronavirus outbreak might have presented us all, the most historic opportunity ever to make a difference individually.

Our time has indeed come! Let us celebrate the inherent goodness in each being as we take on what is perhaps the most dreaded enemy of humanity.

Rakesh Khar is senior editor, Special Projects, Network 18. He writes at the intersection of politics and economy.

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First Published on Mar 25, 2020 02:15 pm
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