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Pandemic & Civil Space

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Date(s) - 19/04/2021
6:00 pm

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Dr. Tandon began the discussion at the webinar by questioning the logic of Covid protocols which are so removed from the realities of people and local communities in India. In dwellings where there are 6 beds in a room, what social distancing can people living there maintain? The Covid-19 lockdown in India assumed that people could stay “home”, being ignorant to thousands of migrants who lost their jobs overnight as soon as the lockdown was announced, and were asked to leave their rented dwellings by landlords because they couldn’t afford rent. This cycle of distress and denial has been repeated again and again.

Citizens have come to the rescue across India and neighbouring countries, with spontaneous relief actions by locals. Large numbers of civil society organisations came out in support of those in distress, to translate Government protocols/messages/advisories in local and regional languages through local informal channels. Volunteers provided all kinds of support as the second wave in India hit citizens, by bridging information asymmetries, plasma and oxygen cylinders for Covid patients. They organised access to digital cash transfers for marginalised people, organised transport for migrants and provided food and ration to those stranded. The relevance and agility of local community leaders was demonstrated during the pandemic and continues to support gaps in governance systems across the country and beyond.

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