When the news of the nationwide lockdown was announced on 24 March, Delhi’s Deputy Income Tax Commissioner Dr Bhagirath Manda was gripped by a worry. What will happen to the millions of poor farmers and daily wagers, with no means of earning and no access to food? Hailing from a farming family, it was not hard for him to imagine the plight of these people. But, little did he imagine that his elderly farmer parents would promptly rise to action and arrange food provisions for around 80 villages in Osian and Tinwari tehsil of Jodhpur Rajasthan.
His parents Munny Devi and Paburam Manda live in Jodhpur and have been farming for their entire lives. Dr Manda shares how he has grown up watching them toil away in the fields, saving little by little for raising their children with the best of education and other facilities.
“But once the COVID-19 crisis intensified, pushing the underprivileged rural population to the brink of starvation, my parents did not hesitate a moment to spend their life’s savings for standing beside the helpless souls,” he shares.
Nearly 2200 Kits Distributed So Far
With help from the local administration, Dr Manda and his family have identified the most distressed families across the 80 villages, who are finding it extremely difficult to survive through the crisis. They have set a target to facilitate as many as 6,000 families with dry rations and supplies.
The disbursement of rations began from 5 April, and so far the family have distributed 2,200 ration kits across 25 villages. Each kit comprises 10 kg of atta, 1 kg of dal, 1 litre cooking oil, biscuit packets, ground spices like turmeric, chilli and coriander and soaps, as mandated by the sanitary norms amid the COVID-19 crisis. The rations are being procured through large scale suppliers from across the district.
“I am simply contributing my bit, most of the work is being done by my parents and my elder brother Ramnivas Manda,” Dr Manda shares humbly, with a hint of pride in his voice for his parents.
“I hope my parents’ humble effort inspires millions”
The doctor-turned-civil servant is ensuring that all social distancing protocols are strictly followed during the distribution drives. Some of the beneficiaries are personally arriving at their designated donation centres. For the others, who are mostly old or unable to reach the centres, ground volunteers are delivering the kits to their doorstep.
The volunteers, who were appointed from among the local youth, are adhering to all precautionary measures during the distribution like using face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers, and also keeping a considerable distance with the recipient.
“Our work is going on a war footing,” asserts Dr Manda, adding that the initiative has been an unprecedented success.
Recently, he tweeted about his parents’ noble endeavour, garnering accolades from the entire nation.
“I thought of sharing this with everyone because I strongly believe that such initiatives adopted by humble farmers like my parents must be highlighted during such a period of crisis. I hope this inspires millions to come forward and join hands to contribute towards a common cause,” he concludes.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)