When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, it hit hard. However, it also became the backdrop for each one of us to realise our exemplary courage, determination and resilience. And then, among us are those colleagues who went out of their way to ‘Rise’ above the extraordinary challenges posed by the pandemic — the Mahindra Covid Warriors.
Even though the pandemic continues, the efforts of the Covid Warriors still inspire us, which is why this special issue of Echo, which showcases some of their heart-warming stories, is dedicated to them.
From lending a helping hand to migrant workers to setting up a website to aid people in finding hospital beds, and from conducting awareness sessions to providing policemen with meals during the lockdown, Mahindra’s Covid Warriors did it all. Read their stories from the next page…
Other leaders including CP Gurnani, MD & CEO - Tech Mahindra; Rajesh Jejurikar, Executive Director - Auto and Farm Sectors; SP Shukla, Group President – Defence, Aero and Agri; and Ramesh Iyer, Vice Chairman and MD, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services; also showered praise on the Covid Warriors in a tribute video.
Are you also a Covid Warrior? Share your story with us in the comments section below.
Touching lives, one initiative at a time
He created a system instead of blaming it
After facing a bad experience when his grandfather tested positive for Covid-19, instead of blaming the system, Sriram Srinivasan decided to do his bit. The enterprising IT professional who has been with Perigord Data Solutions for six years set up a website — www.covidbeds.info — to help people find available hospital beds. He then spent his spare time calling hospitals in his vicinity to update information on the website and Twitter handle (@beds_covid). Impressed by his initiative, over 130 volunteers comprising his own family, friends and colleagues joined in. Together, Sriram and his volunteers provided reliable information and relief to many in a time of deep distress.
Tackling the problem from its roots
Lack of strong immunity and inadequate oxygen supply have contributed to the fatal effects of the pandemic. Dharmendra Kar of the BFS-INDIA team decided he could help by going to the heart of the matter and addressing these issues. Apart from providing meals to the needy during the lockdown, he has planted 20,000 neem trees across the country to naturally boost immunity and create good quality oxygen. By sponsoring tankers and manually watering 5,000 trees in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, he saved them from two scorching summers. Dharmendra has also been instrumental in creating 10 EcoGhats in Odisha by planting 1,000 trees and ensuring effective waste management at river basins. He continues to drive mega oxygen plantations to connect communities and social groups in ‘Mission 1 Lakh Neem Trees’.
Individual social responsibility is an ongoing activity for this relentless Covid Warrior
Privil Rodrigues, from Tech Mahindra’s AIM 2020, CDU PLTCOR business, took it upon himself to get at least 10,000 people from his village registered on the CoWin portal for vaccination. From helping the elderly who were struggling with the technology to conducting vaccination drives for migrants since August along with the Asha workers of the Government Primary Healthcare Centre in Mangaluru, he considers it his individual social responsibility.
Apart from registrations and vaccinations, Privil also helped raise $12,000 towards the Tech Mahindra Covid Relief Fund by orchestrating Zumba fundraisers in the US along with colleagues Shruthi Vijayan, Anuradha Menon, Aishmeet Singh, Sarah Aezaz and Sumit Grover. He conducted a virtual summer camp for kids to raise INR 40,000 further and, as a Covid Task Force member with the NGO — Being Social Ek Nayi Shuruaat — helped with yet more fundraising and awareness events.
Mother and son duo support the abandoned with essentials
When the nation went into lockdown, many daily wagers were left to fend for themselves. Mubin Shaikh — a veteran of CME — came to the rescue of nine such construction site workers who were abandoned by their contractor. He made sure they got their necessary supply of rations, medicines, fans and other essentials even as his mother, Shanaz Shaikh, cooked them breakfast every morning for two months.
Finding more people in their neighbourhood who required their help, this selfless mother and son extended their supply of meals and essentials to more than 70 people over 90 days with the generosity of donations and 30+ volunteers.
Showing they care about the less privileged in our society
The team at Rogers Communications in Pune launched a commendable initiative called the ‘Rogers Cares Program’ in August 2020. Starting with the support staff at their own office in Hinjewadi to whom they donated essentials, they went on to help a women and children’s Home with over 3,000 inhabitants. Subsequently, Team Rogers donated daily essentials, cooking stoves, cleaning materials and toiletries to a Home for the differently-abled with 80+ children suffering from physical ailments. Through their programme, they have touched over 300 lives and continue to be committed to the more vulnerable sections of society.
Hero supporting the Heroes
Amidst all the problems caused by the pandemic and lockdowns, there was one group of people that nobody thought about — the policemen who risked their lives to protect us. Quite a few policemen had sent their families back to their native villages due to the fear of passing on the infection to them. The police force in Pune received snacks and, at times, fruits, but they did not get any decent meals.
Nobody came forward to ease their stress except Sagar from the EBS SAP team of BPS, Pune. “In the initial days of the lockdown, I realised that the police force was not only battling the virus but also had long duty hours with no proper meals,” he says.
With the support of a restaurateur friend and two senior inspectors, Sagar started providing around 100 tasty and hygienic meals every afternoon to policemen at two police stations at a heavily discounted rate. He recounts that the mini thali included, “Three chapatis, two sabzis, dal and rice…and yes, at times like Ram Navami and Mahavir Jayanti, we added dessert to the menu.” With the help of funds from family and friends across the globe, Sagar provided more than 1,375 thalis to the grateful police force in the initial months of the pandemic.
Messiahs of our manufacturing plants
Protecting plant safety
As the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the world in 2020, manufacturing organisations faced significant operational challenges. Amidst these cataclysmic changes, a select group of employees like Khaja Mohinuddin of the Tractor Assembly department of Mahindra’s Farm Equipment Sector (FES) in Zaheerabad, Telangana, continued to provide critical services and monitored plants through the crisis.
When the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25, 2020, he worked relentlessly to check the health condition of all equipment and tractors of the manufacturing plant. Khaja also handled the finished goods inventory in April 2020 during peak Covid-19 lockdown and provided support to maintain zero variance in inventory. His commitment to work was exemplary even during the devastating second wave that fuelled a massive spike in the number of cases. Once again, he did not let the pandemic interrupt production work. He handled the assembly line with unskilled operators to tackle production-related woes.
“I managed the entire tractor assembly operations during both the waves and ensured that production remained unaffected. If I didn’t love what I do, I could have walked away and sat at home. But that’s not me,” he reminisces.
As simple as that!
The pandemic compelled people to think carefully about what makes healthy and resilient communities. Sai Prasad from the ER&D department of Mahindra’s FES in Zaheerabad, Telangana, came up with innovative approaches to follow the Covid-19 guidelines. Keeping the risk of Covid-19 spread in mind, Sai Prasad designed tea and lunch table partitions to avoid facing each other. “I even conducted awareness sessions at tea tables,” he says.
In addition, he created audio-visual modules and display boards in Telugu for better awareness. Sai also sensitised new joinees in his department about the risks of the disease and contributed to spreading awareness about Covid-19 precautions.
Real life superhero inspires hope
Nimba Bhamare, from the Mahindra Auto Sector in Nashik, was safe during the pandemic but couldn’t help but notice the struggle that the rest of his fellow drivers were going through. They spent hours on the road transporting essential commodities and couldn’t see their families for months. A worried Nimba was motivated by his family, and along with his wife, distributed food packets for the drivers on the road.
Nimba took all safety precautions, and along with his colleagues, ventured out to deliver the food packets to the drivers in the Nashik Cross Dock. Furthermore, in June, Nimba and his colleagues even set up the Annachatra Gallery or food gallery at the Nashik and Chakan Cross Docks for the drivers. Along with food, they also distributed medicines to ensure that the drivers could maintain their immunity during the pandemic.
Nimba and his colleagues went a step ahead by organising a blood donation camp to support the children of the local orphanage. “I cannot stop myself from being thankful — for the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and for being able to witness the power of kindness,” says Nimba.
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