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Editorial – June 2021

Our country is reeling under the onslaught of a pandemic, which having slowed down for a while, is now hitting back with greater fury. Perhaps, we have been unprepared for this disaster and therefore plunged into unprecedented agony, complete helplessness and utter loss of human dignity. Where the state machinery has failed to mitigate the sufferings of millions, it is heart warming to witness the efforts of the common citizens to alleviate the misery. Even different religious communities have come forward with whatever help they can offer in this respect. It is not only the availability of a well geared machinery to fight the calamity that makes it possible but also requires the united will of a community to render the much needed assistance. In this connection I would like to share with the readers, one of my grave concerns.

After the new Government has been formed in the state of West Bengal, the Chief Minister has met representatives from different religious and social organisations to discuss the plan of fighting the pandemic in the state. There have been representatives from different communities like the Muslims, the Sikhs, the Christians, the Buddhists etc. Each one offered to help in whatever capacity possible. The Sikhs have started safe homes in their Gurudwara premise which they have now extended with the help of the Christian and Muslim communities to their respective Church and Mosque premises. Some of them are offering to feed the distressed under-privileged in community kitchens; some have volunteered to associate themselves with the government initiatives. It appears that each community has planned to consolidate its strength to help out in the catastrophe. Apart from financial resources and man-power, the most important strength lies in their combined will.

I feel a little disheartened to find no representative from any of our Brahmo Samajes. In spite of the fact that in the past the Brahmo Samajes were at the forefront during any national disaster, now we have become hardly visible. The Balya Bhaban and the Mahila Bhaban came up with the sole purpose of giving shelter to the orphans and destitute women who had been rendered homeless during the communal riots and subsequent partition of India. I remember going out with June 2021 The Indian Messenger 134 my parents and their friends from the Samaj on the streets to collect donations in cash and kind after each flood or drought, which were sent to the affected areas.

There were teams of volunteers in all the Samajes who worked enthusiastically. They even went to the border of East Pakistan and India at Gede during the early sixties to help out the asylum seekers who came here in large numbers. True, a trickle of such social work still continues, thanks to the individual efforts of only a dedicated few who are not backed by adequate organisational support. During the last Amphan, small group of members from different Brahmo Samajes have done wonderful work in the cyclone affected areas. Medical camp still continues due to the efforts of the Medical Aid team members.

But this time we have duties to perform. Unfortunately, we have no leadership to enthuse us and no organisation to assist. Can we not organise vaccination drive at our campuses? It will need little man-power as the Government will surely send its team to organise such drives. It only needs proper initiative from our side to organise such an endeavour. We have a large number of schools and colleges under our umbrella. Unfortunately, we have lost touch with them. These buildings could have been given out temporarily as Safe Homes or vaccination centres much like the buildings, church, mosque and gurudwara premises of others. The students of our colleges could have been motivated to act as volunteers if only we had not severed all ties with the institutions that our forefathers had built with much love and care.

We are isolated and alone. Should we try to reorganise and reunite and draw more people in our folds, irrespective of their religious affiliations, to build a solid social organisation?

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