Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are four key ways that civil society can help respond to the COVID-19 crisis and put pressure on the Indian government to provide services.

• How can donors help civil society organizations achieve some of the action items mentioned below to address the crisis at hand? 

• Read why civil society is crucial for global development.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shown us something that most of us haven’t seen in our lifetimes: Large numbers of people unable to have two meals a day.

The tragedy is that the government has enough and more foodgrains to feed people during this time; the real issue is of distribution—both in terms of broken supply chains, as well as the insistence of the government to limit distribution to beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), ie, priority ration card holders. This approach is flawed because the NFSA has many exclusions, with some of the poorest of the poor, nomadic or Adivasi communities, and the urban poor being left out. Moreover, ration cards are of no use to migrant workers stuck outside their home state.

There are similar issues of exclusion in other services as well, such as livelihoods and healthcare. This is where civil society must step in—to put pressure on the government to universalise these services.

But how can we do this, given the urgency of the situation and the restrictions that have come with it? What is our role in this massive national exercise to ensure that every citizen of the country has food to eat, quality health services, and livelihood opportunities? I believe there is plenty we can do.

  • Build a network of civil society 
  • Stand in solidarity with those delivering essential services 
  • Continue social movements in innovative ways
  • Work with the government

Read the full article about the role of civil society by Nikhil Dey at India Development Review.