India's move to impose a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 has brought the lives of 1.3 billion people to a halt. While some are privileged enough to sit at home, study online and enjoy good meals, people below the poverty line are struggling to provide themselves with the basic necessities.
As people stay indoors cash flows have stopped making it a quest for survival of the small business, shops, cab drivers. With schools shut, several children's education has suddenly come to a standstill. On a number of occasions, hospitals have refused to admit patients. In such challenging times, a Jammu and Kashmir police officer has is doing his bit to help those in need.
Inspector Sohan Singh, 37, says that being a police officer, it is his responsibility to look after those who depend on him.
Singh completed his BA/B. Ed from Jammu University and pursued masters in economics from Pune's Fergusson College. Ever since the lockdown was announced, Singh has been providing the needy with essentials, out of his own pocket.
Considering it his moral responsibility to support the lower sections of society, Singh has been supporting children with educational materials to keep them engaged in reading, writing and painting. He distributed books, copies and other stationery items among the poor children, especially in slums.
"In times as distressing as this, people often donate food and clothes among the poor as a goodwill gesture, but they forget that an important aspect is education," Sohan Singh tells The Logical Indian.
Taking time out of his busy schedule, Singh also teaches these children. It is important for everyone, including children, to be engaged in meaningful activities in such times to keep up the spirits.
Besides taking care of the children, Singh distributed rations to about 5,000 people in his area.
"With reports of hospitals refusing to take in patients, I took it upon myself to ensure that if I come across anyone in need of medical treatment, I will consider it my responsibility to ensure that they get it," Singh says. "The other day, a ragpicker named Abdul Gatar had come to me, asking for ration. I found that he was suffering from a serious bacterial infection in one of his legs. I immediately arranged to get him hospitalised in National Hospital, Garigarh, Jammu. I ensured that he does not have to worry about his expenses.
Singh is reposed with the responsibility to look after the imposition of lockdown in his area. "You will find people deliberately coming out of their houses. Ensuring proper vigilance in the area, I speed up to the nearby slums to take classes and distribute books," Singh says.
He asserts that civil society must understand that food may feed their stomach, but books will enrich their brains, making them rational enough to make the right decisions in difficult times.
"I have been stressing social distancing and cleanliness continuously. I have found that all you need to do to make people abide by the law is be affectionate and polite. People want nothing more than good behaviour. Beating people up and unleashing your wrath on them will not solve the problem," Singh says.
"I have noticed that when I speak to children and implore them to abide by the law, their response is always positive. Kindness is all people need to realise what is rational. Violence begets violence, and is the most disagreeable method of making things work," he adds.
In times as tough as this, Sohan Singh restores our faith not just in our country's police force, but also in humanity and kindness.