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Covid-19 has taught Indians the value of mutual aid – and that could lay the ground for real change

On April 29, Surya Pratap Singh, a retired IAS officer, posted a video on Twitter of a tearful woman standing outside Tender Palm Hospital in Lucknow. The woman said that her father’s oxygen levels had dropped to single digits when the hospital faced an acute oxygen shortage. She challenged the government of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath to arrest her for openly discussing the lack of oxygen in the state’s hospitals. This was a reference to Adityanath’s order to officials to take action under the National Security Act and seize the property of individuals who were trying to “spoil the atmosphere” since he claimed there was no shortage of oxygen at all, The Hindu reported.

As India’s medical and bureaucratic infrastructure collapsed due to a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases during the second wave of the disease in India, Twitter, with only 17.5 million users in the country (a mere 1% of the population), became a critical lifeline. Thousands of users took to the website to crowdsource medical resources such as hospital beds, remdesivir, plasma, and oxygen. At a time when the state abdicated all responsibility, 519,000 individual accounts engaged with emergency tweets between March 1-April 21, connecting users to medical resources despite such threats to…

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