When people were indoors, this Lucknow University student was out surveying the poor

An MA final year student of Women Studies at Lucknow University (LU) put technology and learning to good effect during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. The student, Himanshu Kaushik, prepared database of poor in Navipur Kalan area of Hathras which helped the government arrange ration for the poor, mainly daily wage earners, migrant labour and slum dwellers.

LU acknowledged the student’s effort and featured him in its virtual magazine, whose link has also been uploaded on YouTube.

“Due to COVID-19 as LU was closed down, I left for home in Hathras. There I saw hundreds of poor struggling to survive, with nothing to eat. Unlike in bigger cities, there were no community kitchens here and even though I did approach the district administration with a proposal to start one, but it never really got going,” Kaushik said. The LU student said he was told that distribution of cooked meal might result in expanding the spread of virus infection. “I was advised to do a survey of the number of poor to help the local administration provide dry ration to the needy. I accepted the offer and carried out a survey of nearly 3000 poorest of the poor, that were a mix of daily wage earners, migrant labour, slum dwellers,” he said. “I prepared a database of the poor in the locality and on the basis of which the local administration provided dry rations to them through the public distribution system (PDS),” he said. Local government officials conceded LU student’s effort helped the poor.

“We are pleased with his work. In testing situation, he surveyed the number of poor and provided us with a data so that we could distribute dry ration among the needy,” said Madan Mohan Sharma, a lekhpal at tehsil sadar at Hathras. Officials said there were government schemes to help the poor. But it was Kaushik who helped them determine the number of needy in the locality in Hathras enabling them to provide benefit of the government schemes.

In March, shortly after lockdown started, the centre announced the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) to ameliorate the hardships faced by the poor due to economic disruptions caused by the Covid-19 in the country.

This package comprised implementation of “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY)”, through which additional free-of-cost foodgrains (rice/wheat 5 Kg per person per month) was provided to about 81 Crore beneficiaries covered under National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA). PM-GKAY that was to initially run till June has now been extended till November.

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