Here’s a statistic that should touch countless hearts: At last count, a total of 5,334 children in Maharashtra had lost at least one of their parents during the pandemic. 4,481 lost their father, 691 lost their mother, and 162 lost both parents. They are no different from orphans of war. Fortunately, the state has announced a special scheme to assist these unfortunate kids. A district-wise task force has started the all-important process of identifying such cases, and Solapur seems to have the highest number of orphaned kids, at 21. Child activists have alerted the state on the possibility of these schemes being misused by bogus beneficiaries. Plus, supervised care for the next ten years is of vital importance, going by the horror stories of the past, where helpless kids were starved and beaten and sexually abused by beastly individuals in whose care they were — with zero accountability. A spokesman quoting the Juvenile Justice Act said the preferred way forward was to give the custody to extended family members, grandparents or uncles and aunts, to ensure a certain consistency in the child’s upbringing. Child Welfare Committees are stepping forward to assist in all matters, including financial assistance. This is timely intervention, given the spate of illegal adoptions that followed the Covid tragedy.
As Mumbai opens up gradually (we fall under Level 2 of the new rules), we need to learn from our highly disciplined co-Mumbaikars like residents of two housing societies in Mira Road and Vile Parle, who have demonstrated how basic co-operation in the larger interests of the community, can efficiently stall Covid cases, with everyone strictly following Covid protocol. Residents of these two societies are justly proud of their achievement which does not require rocket science to accomplish. On the other hand, one hears horror stories from outside Mumbai about members of very posh building complexes refusing to adhere to rules that require them to isolate themselves after testing positive, I mean, that’s the least they can do — as much for others as for themselves. But no! While in Pune on a short trip, I was aghast to hear about so-called educated and wealthy people nonchalantly roaming around a swish complex, which at one point had 200 positive cases, including children! These people can only be called ‘anti-socials’ and fined by the society for flouting rules, even after being caught on CCTV cameras and ticked off. If nothing else works, why not report them and try a social boycott. Here is the entire country battling a challenge on so many fronts — and here are these people who don’t give a damn and think nothing of endangering the lives of neighbours.
Trauma piles on trauma as over burdened students deal with the scrapping of the all important HSC exam. The State’s education minister Varsha Gaikwad has said the ‘well-being’ of students is of primary concern. With the scrapping of the CBSE and ICSE, several serious issues are at stake for agitated parents and anxious students. But we all realise it is the right decision given the recommendation of the Disaster Management Committee. So, now what?
Summer holidays end next week. Parents and kids both know what a sad joke those were. It’s back to gruelling home schooling and punishing routines for the whole family. One fancy young mother told me candidly she isn’t cut out for sitting with her restless kids and checking homework. Since she has two young ones to deal with, she just went ahead and hired two full time ‘home schooling’ nannies who made sure those jumpy kids did what they had to, leaving the mom free to pursue her ummm — interests! I am not judging. If the lady has the means and is candid enough to figure home schooling is not a part of her skill set — it’s fine!
With just a fortnight to go before the rains, and the fear of the third wave hitting us soon, there are no ‘feel good’ narratives to keep us buoyant. I do greatly admire people who managed to acquire new skills during this low period. Successful actors like Ronit Roy, who has been posting videos playing the flute — a simple, uncomplicated ‘bansuri’, while he waits out the pandemic at his sylan, riverside Goa home. He says playing the flute gives him a ‘sense of peace’. I have been searching for the equivalent of the ‘bansuri’ in my own life! And not only because of the pandemic. I could go back and start painting again (I used to win art prizes years ago), but I am not motivated enough. Now I am told men and women have taken up crochet in a big way and it is the ‘pandemic thing’ to do! Well, too bad for me — I am no good at crochet, knitting, sewing. Needle work was a compulsory subject in my school. I have the rare distinction of scoring a perfect anda — zero — during the exam, for which we had to submit a garment. I had lost all the pieces of the shirt! My ‘garment’ had sleeves and collars of different lengths. Flunking was never as much fun.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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