As India is now passing through tremendous stress due to the COVID 19 crisis and the consequent prolonged lockdown, the most affected are those living below poverty line, who constitute around 20% of the national population (around 250 million people).
Amongst these affected people, the deeply deprived persons constituting around 50 million of national population consist of the physically disabled persons, visually impaired, hearing / speech impaired and mentally handicapped persons, aged people in poor health, destitute women and a section of self-employed people with no skills, such as rag pickers.
Even in normal times, these deeply deprived people live in desperate conditions without knowing as to where their next meal would come from. These people have been surviving due to freebies such as free rice etc. extended by the government as well as welfare pension such as old age pension etc. Without such freebies and pension support from the government, most of these people would have lost their lives due to poverty and sickness.
Help extended during COVID 19 crisis
During the COVID 19 crisis, central and state governments as well as nongovernment organisations, voluntary bodies and kind hearted individuals have been doing their level best to support these deeply deprived 50 million people all over India, by extending support in various forms.
Obviously, the government and nongovernment bodies would not be able to extend support that were extended during the COVID 19 crisis, after the COVID 19 period, as they would runout of funds.
Need for support in post COVID 19 period
The governments can continue to extend support such as free rice, pensions, etc. as given in the normal times after COVID 19 period, which would not be adequate to sustain the deeply deprived persons, in view of their extensive sufferings during the COVID 19 crisis.
For example, a large number of visually impaired persons and differently abled persons survive during the normal times by selling assorted items in running trains or platforms, etc. Other deeply deprived persons normally would involve themselves in some activities or other to get some marginal income to sustain themselves, even as they get support from the government by way of free rice and welfare pension. All these deeply deprived people have lost such marginal income during the lockdown period.
In recent years, it is seen there is enormous interest amongst most of these deeply deprived people to at least educate their children, so that they can take up jobs to support their families. They have to be supported, as adequately educating the children of poor families is the best way of uplifting the poor and downtrodden families.
In the post COVID 19 scenario, due to the income lost during the lockdown period, these deeply deprived people are now facing desperate conditions and they will not be able to come out of this distressed conditions without support from society.
What strategy to help in post COVID 19 period
A strategy has to be worked out by the people in the affordable income group, to help these 50 million people to survive.
In such conditions, one remembers the “Pidi Arisi Thittam” (plan for giving handful of rice) suggested by His Holiness Kanchi Paramacharya (pontiff of Sankara Mutt in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu who passed away around two decades back).
Knchi Paramacharya, suggested to people to set apart a handful of rice every day, so that it can be used for preparing offerings to the deity (Naivedya) and later distributed to the poor and downtrodden people. This advice of Kanchi Paramacharya has to be extended a little more in the post COVID 19 scenario.
Let every family maintain a small hundi in the residence and whenever the family members take lunch or dinner every day, let every family remember the plight of 50 million deeply deprived people and deposit a small amount, whatever they can afford, in the hundi.
Let each family identify one poor family who are part of the 50 million deeply deprived people and handover the sum deposited in the hundi to them every month.
If every family in the affordable income group would adopt such helpful attitudes and practices, it will help in a very big way the deeply deprived people to find a way out for themselves and enable their children to undergo education to occupy the rightful place in the society as they grow up.
This is an ideal method of helping the deeply deprived people and to derive huge satisfaction for every one of the donors.
If individual families in the affordable income group would not have the time or contact to identify such deeply deprived people, then, the deposited amount in the hundi every month, can be handed over to any NGO for providing to the needy people and get a receipt to be submitted to the donor.
The ideal arrangement for the donor would be to contact the deprived family, personally talk to them in an encouraging way and provide the sum to them every month, whatever the amount may be, so that the deeply deprived families would not get a feeling of isolation and gain confidence that they are part of society.