Significance of Community Efforts in Tackling the Pandemic

SynopsisThe government should support community efforts in tackling the pandemic. It should recognize the best efforts and help them scale to a bigger level to make a larger impact.

  • Firstly, Community efforts have been immensely helpful in tackling social problems as the government or market can’t always meet the needs of citizens.
  • Secondly, In the initial years of independence, community groups collected money and supplemented government efforts for development. However, with the passage of time, they took more institutional forms like NGOs who used to directly help the citizens.
  • Thirdly, India’s ethos, value systems, and cultural strengths have automatically generated new community groups. They are playing an active role in tackling the second wave of pandemic.
Positive Role played by Community Efforts:
  • Breathe India and HelpNow apps are facilitating access to oxygen concentrators, hospitals, and ambulances. Both the apps have been developed by IITians.
    • BreatheIndia managed to get nearly 200 concentrators and raise an amount of Rs 2.41 crore. 
    • Similarly, HelpNow has a mission to save lives by providing timely and quality medical help with neat and sanitised ambulances.
Challenges associated with Community Efforts:
  • Firstly, they are facing information asymmetry over various medical equipment and hospital delivery strategies. Which is hampering their efforts. Further, they lack clarity over the ever-changing rules and regulations by governments.
  • Secondly, many NGOs are not able to obtain foreign assistance due to stringent FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) restrictions.
  • Thirdly, the dearth of resources and support prevent the scaling up of community initiatives at a macro level.
Way Forward:
  • NITI Aayog should take multiple steps for supporting community efforts.
    • It should engage with government institutions that encourage public participation.
    • It should look into the weaknesses and failures of the existing framework in attracting community participation. 
      • The use of advanced technologies (ABCD — artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and data analytics) can bridge demand-supply gaps.
    • It should partner with state governments to explore the launch of platforms that promote cross-learning and experience-sharing. This would help in scaling the community initiatives and prevent the asymmetric flow of information.
      • The Aayog currently has a DARPAN portal that creates and promotes a healthy partnership between VOs/NGOs and the Government of India.
  • The focus should also be placed on good local-level government initiatives. 
    • For instance, the Nandurbar district of Maharashtra robustly tackled the second wave due to the efficient work of their district collector (Rajendra Bharud). The efforts made the region an oxygen and hospital bed surplus district.
  • The newspapers should report community efforts on a larger scale for motivating people in depressing times.
    • Heart-breaking pictures and reports have contributed to Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. A temporary heart condition that is brought on by stress.

Source: Indian Express

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