As the country cries for help through the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shocking shortage of oxygen cylinders, medicines and hospital beds. Many have taken to social media pleading for help and one name that is always tagged is that of Srinivas B.V., president of the Indian Youth Congress. With his volunteer team of 1,000 people, he has been trying to help people with oxygen cylinders, refills and admission in government hospitals.
Speaking to Mitali Mukherjee, Srinivas said the same team had helped support migrant labour through the first COVID-19 wave. Through the help of state handles, district networks, WhatsApp groups and social media, Srinivas and his team of volunteers are trying to reach relief measures to those who need it urgently.
Srinivas said other parties have also reached out for help and the aim of the support group is to save lives and rise above politics. On the recent spat over foreign missions’ request to IYC for helping with oxygen, he said it is both an Indian tradition and a Congress tradition to help those in need and oxygen cylinders were provided without any political intentions.
On questions about accusations around hoarding and getting special access to hospital beds, Srinivas defended his team’s work and said they were trying to circulate the oxygen cylinders they had and also help people with refills. He also explained that it was implausible to help people get a bed in private hospitals as the ordinary person could not afford the high cost of private care, which is why the effort was to help procure beds in government hospitals.