“I have a 3.5-yr-old child suffering from autism and severe food allergies. He survives on camel milk and has a limited quantity of pulses. When lockdown started, I didn’t have enough camel milk to last this long. Help me get Camel Milk or its powder from Sadri (Rajasthan)” –
– tweeted Neha Kumari on 4 April whose child is allergic to goat, cow and buffalo milk. And six days later, the Indian Railways delivered 20 litres of camel milk and 20 kilos of camel powder to Mumbai-based Neha all the way from Rajasthan.
All thanks to Senior IPS officer Arun Bothra who is currently posted as CEO of Central Electricity Supply Utility of Odisha (CESU). The officer has a large number of followers on the social networking site and came to know about Neha’s plight when he was tagged in it by a follower.
“We will forever be obliged to you for your support (sic),” Neha later tweeted, expressing her gratitude to Bothra.
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Calling in Friends and Colleagues for Help
Once Bothra learnt of the situation, he immediately retweeted Neha’s request and talked to his friends and colleagues over WhatsApp groups.
“When I reached out to Neha over a call to understand the situation she told me how camel milk is her child’s lifeline and their supply would not last beyond a week. This matter was about a child and so I did my bit,” Bothra, a native of Rajasthan, tells The Better India (TBI).
Minutes after the IPS retweeted, help poured in from all quarters including camel milk suppliers and Chief Passenger Transport Manager of North-West Railway, Tarun Jain in Jaipur. A Mumbai-based supplier immediately sent the last 400 grams of camel milk they had, providing temporary relief.
Meanwhile, Jain escalated the matter to his seniors and identified a goods’ train that was to run between Ludhiana and Bandra Terminus in Mumbai on 9 April. The railway team coordinated with Hanumanth Singh, a supplier in Sadri town, Pali district and requested him to reach Jodhpur station.
“Due to the lockdown, he was unable to cover the distance (148 kms). Since the nearest station was Falna, the train halted at the unscheduled stop and the next day it reached the family,” Jain informs TBI.
Confirming the same to NDTV, Jain said, “After taking permission from the appropriate authority, the train was stopped and the camel milk was delivered to the woman at Bandra. For us at the Indian Railways, this is not the time to look at commercial gains. We have been asked to help out wherever possible in whichever way we can. Our (NWR) trains run through 18 districts of the country and we will do whatever is needed to help people out.
In the meanwhile, another family in Mumbai made the same request. However, the train had left by then. But Neha has agreed to share a part of the supply with the family.
It Is Social Media’s Power, Not Mine
Ever since the news grabbed headlines, Bothra has been receiving praises and congratulatory messages from loved ones and strangers alike. However, he credits the near-impossible accomplishment to social media.
“I realised social media is a powerful mechanism for stimulating change in 2017 when I was monitoring the Odisha police’s tweets. I saw social media’s potential for bridging the communication gap between people and the government,” says Bothra. He also informs that he has solved many issues easily through social media that otherwise would require a tedious process.
“At senior level positions, it is not feasible to meet everyone and that makes us even less approachable. One post on social media from anywhere in India can help authorities identify more issues like in the case of Neha. Social media is powerful, not me. So I request people to use this medium responsibly and help each other in such crises,” he concludes.
The country-wide lockdown has disrupted the transportation services affecting many lives. However, authorities and officers in-charge like Bothra are going the extra mile to ease the difficulties being faced by people. It all comes down to the will to help.
Feature Image Source: Anurjay Dhal/Facebook
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)