Second Wave: The Youth of India Is Stepping up

Last year, when the first wave of COVID-19 struck and we were all stuck scared at home, our Prime Minister told us that all we need to do is stay home for a few days, bang our thalis, light our diyas and it would all be over. Now, over a year later, we’re still at home, we’re still scared and our PM is still, only speaking. But the situation has not improved – it has become much, much worse. And as much as I would love to write about the pathetic mismanagement of a huge crisis by our Central government, the lack of any progress in the initiatives promised even as it collected more than Rs 3,000 crore in funds in 2020 alone, this is not an article about that.

While the incompetence of our elected leaders is clear for all to see, what has also been highlighted is the incredible strength of this country’s youth.

When the first wave peaked, the situation in India was bad – but it never reached the point it has today. The panic, fear and helplessness we feel around us stems from the fact that we – and our government – were caught completely unprepared. Every day, India breaks a new record in terms of the most number of new cases or deaths. Hospitals in Delhi, Mumbai and many other parts of the country have run out of beds, oxygen, ventilators and medicines. Our frontline workers are exhausted, patients and their kin are helpless and there is no respite in sight. In the midst of all this, the youth have come together and done something that makes even a cynic like me hopeful.

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My social media timeline is now filled with school and college students, young professionals, content creators and even meme pages sharing leads for beds, ventilators, oxygen, medicines, plasma, mental health services, meal services and anything that would make lives easier for patients and their families. Social media toolkits that were demonised just a few months ago are now basically responsible for saving many lives. Most of the leads being shared are verified personally by the people sharing them. They are coming together to curate and constantly update lists containing vital information.

Many content creators and influencers who have a massive reach are also doing their part. They are amplifying these resources and ensuring that those who are desperately searching for them, receive them. Even the requests of people who are in urgent need of a resource are being amplified. At a time where hospitals are being overwhelmed and our healthcare workers are being pushed beyond their breaking point, these efforts can make a difference to individual lives. Even some doctors are coming forward, offering their services over calls and sharing guides on how people can take care of the infected at home.

Many are also volunteering to help those who cannot buy food, medicines and other essential goods due to multiple reasons. Others are helping feed the ones who are hit the hardest as our economy suffers yet again.

In this age of trolls and notorious IT cells – where the most common feeling associated with social media is hate and negativity – we are witnessing something extraordinary. Something that defines this generation. We might be angry, we might be exhausted, we might even be traumatised – but we are working to ensure that we help as many people as possible.

A lot of the people sharing resources have lost someone recently but they are still working through their grief. Because while the world we are inheriting is broken, and our mental health continues to take a hit every single day, we still have compassion and empathy to help someone in need. So we will keep on working and keep on helping because our work is not limited to big promises and speeches.

Because, unlike our elected officials, we actually care.

Namit Pandey is a student hopeful of leaving a world better than he inherited.

Featured image credit: Instagram/Collage: Prachi Batra