It is a long road to Dignity, Hope and Happiness

COVID-19 has impacted all our lives. A warm hug of the past is now replaced with a distant ‘Namaste’. It indeed takes a few moments to identify the familiar looking face hidden behind each mask. Feelings for one another are often kept in check and remain unexpressed. There is reduced enthusiasm to answer the door bell and invite the ‘other’ in. We remain anxious and our lives have all been affected by the virus one way or the other.

Mobility and employment have become the most dreaded casualty under COVID 19. The poor now have largely to rely on grains supplied through Public Distribution System for survival.  Hunger and starvation have taken over the lives of those without ration cards.

During COVID-19, we surveyed 1197 Scheduled Tribe persons from 318 families to ascertain whether they had essential documents to benefit from Government Welfare Programmes. The response is as follows: Ninety percent did not have birth certificate, forty percent did not have employment card (MGNREGA), twenty seven percent did not have health card, 20% did not have ration card and 9% did not have Aadhar card.

For many years now, we at CSA Trust had remained focussed on education as the key factor to assure in dignity, hope and happiness in the lives of the most disadvantaged. However, the pandemic has made the lives of people in our communities miserable. Food needs have overtaken all other needs.

With 61% of the respondents being illiterate, it is a herculean task for the families to get hold of these essential documents. However, nothing is impossible for the Government machinery. Its focus should then be to make available these documents on a priority basis to all those who lack them. This is the best way to express our love and care for the poorest in these critical times.  Dignity, hope and happiness for the poor begins with having sufficient grains to ward off hunger and starvation.

One should not lose hope; though the road to dignity, hope and happiness is a good distance away.

November 2020