Letter from Arunachal: Coronavirus pandemic reveals India's spirit of fraternity

Aaditya Tiwari

Harbhajan Singh recently tweeted a picture of the Dhauladhar ranges, now visible from his home in Jalandhar, Punjab. He tweeted in ecstasy, "Never seen Dhauladar range from my home rooftop in Jalandhar...never could imagine that's possible". The coronavirus pandemic has become an opportunity for many to clear the haze that surrounded their hearts and minds. Before the entire globe was struck by the Covid-19 virus, each of us was in a race: to achieve some goal, to reach some destination, to give our children a better education or to feed our families. For many, the race was more real; for others there were invisible gains in the future.

Covid-19 has caused great misery and loss of life, affecting thousands of people across the world -- India, too, has not remained untouched by the pandemic. At the same time, it has caused everyone to slow down and pause.


We live in times of 24x7 news and, more often than not, we see images of violence, riots, a lack of human empathy and dying emotions. We see this day in and day out and have almost become immune to other's suffering. India was particularly engulfed by lot of negative news before the advent of the pandemic. There were attempts to divide us on the basis of caste, religion, region and ideologies. There was a missing sense of brotherhood -- or so we believed!

Covid-19 has caused great misery and loss of life, affecting thousands of people across the world -- India, too, has not remained untouched by the pandemic. At the same time, it has caused everyone to slow down and pause.

The preamble to the Indian Constitution resolves in the name of "We the People" to secure for all its citizens "fraternity". Fraternity, or universal brotherhood, forms the core of the virtues we as Indians should stand for. This pandemic has been an opportunity to see firsthand this fraternity, and the large-heartedness of the people of our country.


The state of Arunachal Pradesh borders Bhutan, Myanmar and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. It is in a remote corner of Northeast India with abundant natural wealth and beautiful people. The state has limited connectivity, with only a few train options. Due to the lockdown, many workers and students in various parts of the country could not go back to their homes. There was initial panic and concern about managing food and rations. The state administration started a helpline number, and we were getting frantic calls.

In this hour of crisis, private citizens and governments of other states helped. The National Disaster Management Act was invoked to assist migrant labourers, and there were offers of help from civil society groups around the country.

All organisations helped in the spirit of service, without any discrimination. Be it in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi or Uttarakhand -- the prompt support that people offered everywhere would fill one's heart with gratitude.

People opened their hearts and doors. They are helping like they would do for their loved ones. A simple search on social media platforms shows how the entire country is flooded with acts of common people offering whatever they can, without seeking any recognition.


As the lockdown began, there were acts of racial discrimination against our fellow citizens in certain parts of the country. They were reprehensible incidents, and I felt a sense of shame and guilt at being unable to do anything then. But my conversations with students over the last week have been re-affirming. It is not only Arunachalees who have received help, but people from other Northeastern states, too, have found a home away from home.

Similarly, migrant workers in the North East from other parts of the country have found constant help and food supplies. Arunachal Pradesh, on its part, has started door-to-door delivery using a phone app and WhatsApp. Cash support is also being offered to migrant labours in distress.


The fight against the coronavirus has just begun and will test our resilience. While the support that our sisters and brothers from different states received was heartening, it isn't enough. There are people still struggling to get one meal a day. While the government and district administrations are doing their best, we as citizens need to do much more. These acts of kindness might seem small but will go a long way in strengthening the unity of our nation.

Let us recall the Preamble to the Constitution and inculcate the virtue of fraternity, so dear to the makers of our Constitution. We must promise ourselves that in this time of crisis, we will not let anyone go without food. That we will help those in need, and stand by our elders. Every act of generosity will bear a fruit greater than each of us. In the spirit of physical distancing, let us resolve to 'Stand Together, Alone'.

Aaditya Tiwari is an Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister, Government of Arunachal Pradesh

Source India Today

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