By Shreemayee Das

In the last couple of months, social media has been full of messages with donation links for COVID-19 relief (and rightly so). It’s not just NGOs and social workers either, individual citizens too have stepped up and created fundraisers to help the cause. Facebook’s I for India campaign, featuring Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and half of the Hindi film industry, of course, was the star show, raising over INR 52 crores for the NGO Give India. There are many such efforts and even if they aren’t this popular or successful, many citizens are trying to do their bit in whatever way they can. 

Ragini Kashyap, who has worked in education and development for many years, is also fond of cooking and has been posting recipes and cooking videos on her Instagram profile during the lockdown. When it started getting a positive response, she wondered how to translate it to something that would help the maximum number of people. She finally came up with the idea of an e-cookbook. The cookbook has over 40 recipes from across the world, and the price of the book is 680 rupees. All contributions go towards the NGO SNEHA in Mumbai and Family Support Institute in Canada. She’s not focusing on easy and convenient recipes, says Kashyap, but just on good food, even if it takes a little more time. She adds that all the dishes could be made with ingredients in a home kitchen, and with her previous experience as a teacher, she’s used to giving instructions in such a way that everyone can follow them. You can download the book here.

It’s not just Bollywood either. The standup comedy industry too has organised multiple drives, with several comics (including Vir Das and The East India Comedy) doing online shows to raise funds. The Stay Home for India campaign on Tanmay Bhat’s YouTube channel saw over 80 comedians and influencers play games, quiz and make jokes. They raised over 24 lakhs. Comedian Samay Raina has been streaming online chess games on his YouTube channel, to raise funds. The matches feature not just top comedians but also professional chess players (including Vishwanathan Anand). 

Director Satyanshu Singh (of Chintu ka Birthday fame) has been conducting screenwriting workshops, film discussions, and even a cinema-related quiz to contribute to the cause. It’s not just a great platform for cinephiles to get together and feel connected at this time of social distancing, it also helps if you want to pick up new skills, or pitch a screenplay an aspiring writer has written. This is a link to one of his classes. 

India Wants to Know, a Youtube quiz channel too has started conducting paid online quizzes, all proceeds from which go to Feeding India. They have a Bollywood themed quiz on Sunday 24th May and various others through this month. 

While this list, in no way, covers all the inspiring and amazing things ordinary citizens are doing every day to help each other, and fight the pandemic, it’s just a beginning to show how people have clubbed their passions and the cause and is working towards helping India, and Indians, work towards a better situation, literally by doing what they do best.