Friday, March 13, 2020

COVID-2019: Part II Youth as Health Volunteers



 ©Jaya Prakash Kallikkal 2020


A fear seems to spreading all around in the wake of massive spread of Novel Corona Virus 19.  Just a while ago, I received a message on my mobile phone stating that classes in colleges in Delhi have been suspended till further orders in view of the CORONA Virus scare.  This alert not just confused me but also brought out an immediate question in my mind as to whether we are adequately prepared in terms of pandemic mitigation and relief if the virus wrecks havoc in the city in the coming days!

India has not been able to insulate itself from the spread of the virus which originated in Wuhan, China and the virus has now spread to multitudes of cities in this country.  Despite strict measures in terms of screening of airlines passengers arriving from Virus infected countries, N-Corona virus has seeped into life of Indians and poses a huge threat to the Indian Health system.

Pressure on health sector especially PHCs, Local hospitals apart from large speciality hospitals shall be immense. Facing the challenge of shortage of medical facilities including medicines and accessories in the event of a spiralling spread of the virus shall necessitate advance planning on war footing.  WHO has already declared N-Corona as a global Pandemic, if such a situation persists in India then we need to tackle the problem through intervention of National Disaster Management Agency.   But who would be the volunteers if an action plan is rolled out?


It also surprised me to come across a news item that stated that a number of schools and colleges have been closed down across the country in a bid to contain spread of the virus among children and youth in the country.  The issue is significant from the point of view of facing the scourge in the wake of a large impact predicted across the world.   While on one side financial markets are bearing the brunt with tanking stocks and disruption in production lines, on the other the health sector is facing a challenge of having to come out of this scare.
Today India has the largest share of Youth force in the world.   The National Youth Policy which was launched in the year 2014 has proposed a holistic vision for youth in India i.e.  “To empower youth of the country to achieve their full potential, and through them enable India to find its rightful place in the community of nations”  As per NYP any person aged between 15 and 29 can be termed as Youth and as per current statistics 27.5% of India’s population falls in this category.

There has been a talk about imparting compulsory military training to youth in our country on the same lines as some other countries of the world.   This has been stressed to make youth of this nation face the real issues and also to imbibe in them a sense of National pride, discipline and harmony.  While a section of youth today is busy in studies or handling home and professional responsibilities with sincerity and girth, there is another section that is absorbed in mobile phones or wasting away youth under the influence of alcohol and drugs.  While global recession has brought about a serious challenge of unemployment, India had always been deprived of gainful employment on account of large population and lack of focussed opportunities for youth.

Perhaps in the wake of the global pandemic, it is time we wake up to a new reality and open up window of opportunities and challenge seeking attention of youth in our country.  Instead of giving holidays for schools/colleges, we should roll out a precise programme to educate and train youth in Disaster Management and risk mitigation in schools and colleges.   All educational institutions who have enrolment of students in the age group of 18-23 should compulsorily have teams from NDMA to train them for a fortnight on n-Corona.  The trained youth should be able to form groups and further train or assist professional health teams in the event of need.  The best students could be further volunteered into joining specialized programmes in future and should also be provided points to enable them to add up grades in next level defence entrance exams.

It is time India wakes up to new threats and challenges.  Youth force of our nation surely needs direction and guidance in this.   Declaring holidays in the wake of emergencies or hiding our heads under sands in the wake of internal or external emergencies would not help up alleviate problems at micro or macro level.  It is time our energies are synchronized to enable us to be brought to a position where we use our manpower especially our Youth power justifiably and to the best global standards.   It would not be out of place to mention that Youth of this nation need to be imparted soft skills in multiple streams and given the handle (of not just social media platforms) but real departments and machinery for fully gearing up for challenges of future. 

             Images courtesy: Internet


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