The story of my campaign: How I created a drive to provide sanitisers across police stations during coronavirus pandemic
I came up with the idea for providing sanitisers to those at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus and soon realised that the community I wanted to help was our very own Delhi Police, who risked their lives everyday to make sure we could experience another day of ours. The reason for this choice was that, in India and especially in the capital city of Delhi, during times of crisis, the one community which always had to bear the brunt of conflicts between the people and the government was the police.
When the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in 2019, it was the police who were tasked with the responsibility of dealing with the pushback from the people of the country.
They were the heroes who suffered losses and yet, also the ones who were sandwiched between the ire of the people and performance of their duty. During these dark times, it was the police who played a key role in distributing resources to hundreds of thousands of the poor, the homeless, the daily wage labourers, who now have no jobs, all the communities who have been affected adversely during the pandemic. Therefore I felt it necessary, in my own small way, to ease the burden on those who had made it their life’s work to help the crippled get back onto their feet, the disadvantaged to live as safe a life as was possible, those who took it upon themselves to light the lamp and keep it burning brightly.
I then created a message to express the same and how one could put in one’s own donation to the cause.
Dear fellow Delhi citizens,
We are all confronting an unknown wrongdoer today - COVID-19. I, Shounak Malhotra, a student of class 10 at Sanskriti school, am starting a campaign against it.
It is a thief - robbing us of our quality of life.
It is a dacoit - looting my friends and me of valuable school time It is a murderer - lurking in the air waiting to pounce on us and kill the more unfortunate.
It has made villains out of doctors, sent celebrities running shelter skelter, parliamentarians in quarantine and even the Prince of Wales into hiding.
We have to fight this virus and we need all the help to do so. Our biggest weapon in this fight is a relatively ignored bottle of sanitiser. While we each may have bought many litres of this liquid for our houses, there are large sections of people that do not even have a single bottle to help them battle this demon. It is indeed shocking that our very own Delhi Police which is at the forefront of the fight - to prevent the spread, to help people who have been impacted, and others who are similarly helping to identify and assist the infected populace, etc. - has an acute shortage of this life-saving liquid.
With invaluable help from my father’s friend, I am starting a campaign to reach sanitisers to as many of the 187 police stations of Delhi as possible, and through them, those that do
not either have the resources to purchase or cannot access it. We will need to distribute at least 500 litres of sanitisers across Delhi. For getting 5 litres, we will need about Rs.1900.
Please contribute whatever you can to help me achieve this goal for people who are with us, for us, always.
First, we set out to find a supplier who would provide an adequate supply of sanitiser. That, in itself, was a challenge, since sanitisers were completely off the shelf, due the frenzied buying of each and every bottle available in the open market. Where these were available, they were extremely expensive and hence unaffordable.
A little while later, one of my parents’ contacts got in touch with us, saying that he had a distillery in Madhya Pradesh, from where he could transport sanitisers to us. However, he stated that as the inter-state movement of goods was an issue, hence, we would need to arrange for safe passage of the vehicle into Delhi. That got us to reach out to another contact of my father’s who got the police headquarters to arrange for the requisite passes. The next issue facing us was that of distribution. The wholesale supplier in Madhya Pradesh informed us that since there is a shortage of drivers and transport vehicles, he could only send the sanitisers to us in two (2) drums of 250 litres each. As there are 187 police stations in Delhi, it would only help if we could provide containers to reach each of these stations. Thus, with the help of the supplier, we contacted the local dealer to provide 5-litre cans, into which we could fill the sanitisers before distributing the same.
He, too, had the problem of movement within the city, on account of the national lockdown announced by the Prime Minister on March 24, 2020. Once again the protectors – the Delhi Police itself came to the rescue by organising pick- up and delivery, with the vehicular assistance provided by the sanitiser manufacturer. Within 3 days of sending out the message, we were able – from family and friends as also some angels who had been informed of the cause by means of WhatsApp groups – to collect the required amount (we finally collected approximately Rs.3,00,000/-). We transferred the amount to the supplier in Madhya Pradesh, who then dispatched the truck carrying the drums on March 28, 2020. The drums arrived at their destination – our residence – on March 29th 2020. The drums were collected the very next day by a small procession, consisting of a truck and the Inspector of Vigilance, Anil Sharma, who had taken on the responsibility of distributing the supplied amount of sanitiser to all 187 police stations. The gentleman was to travel along with the truck and oversee the transfer of the sanitiser in the 500-litre drums into 5-litre cans and then proceed to distribute the same among all the police stations.
However, sometime after the process began, we came to the realisation that the present stock of sanitisers would not be enough for all the police stations in the Delhi region.
Even though there were some funds available from the first step of the campaign, the balance would not suffice. So, once again, the campaign was carried forward and the message was circulated among school teachers and principals, my parents’ colleagues and several others who, on understanding the gravity of the situation, lending a helping hand. By April 13, 2020, when all 1000 litres of sanitiser were delivered to the police stations in Delhi, we had accomplished a major part of our goal.
At present only one step of the campaign remains – distributing the required amount of sanitisers to the small number of police stations that are yet to receive the same.