The Coronavirus second wave coupled with the newly identified triple mutation and the unavailability of essential medical supplies have crippled India’s healthcare infrastructure and have taxed both medical professionals and COVID-19 sufferers alike. As Indian politicians jostle to take credit of little that has been achieved by the frontline warriors, a mass helplessness is being felt across the nation.
Requests for medication, medical oxygen and hospital beds fill the news feeds on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter from across the length and breadth of the country. The government helpline numbers remain busy, with helpline operations woefully understaffed and overworked. Even the political machinery which is known to be well oiled for party propaganda has crumbled in providing actual relief.
The grim situation and political apathy has prompted the citizens to take the refuge of social media as a last-ditch effort to access information on essential resources. The netizens have come together and displayed a united front by providing and personally verifying lifesaving information in the public interest.
India’s netizens unite to fight COVID-19!
Netizens across the country have set up excel sheets providing detailed information on the availability of medication, hospital beds, ventilators, and medical oxygen. These databases have been made available to the public through WhatsApp forwards, Facebook shares and retweets. 25-year-old software developer, Umang Galaiya has set up a Coronavirus resource website which generates links to the search bar on Twitter, aiding those in need locate essential resources in any Indian city. Numerous volunteer groups and Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) too have set up social media pages with the intent of disseminating timely information to the public at large.
Celebrities and social media influencers have seen to be doing their part in the national effort with them sharing poignant information to their legions of followers. A certain breed of social media activists and citizen journalists have been identified who have taken the pains to go the extra mile in order to personally verify the veracity of information they or others are sharing. It is not the first-time social media played the role of a force multiplier amidst this pandemic, the power of the platform was felt last year as well, however, has been reported to be more prominent in this second wave.