During a crisis of any sort, there are some who succumb to fear, and others who rise above it and also reach out to help others.
At this time when the world is grappling with the Novel Coronavirus and its crippling effects on medical and economic health, we speak to a few of those who have shown character in dealing with their own situations and magnanimity with regard to those who depend on them.
Pattern of help
Sabyasachi Mukerjee, Designer
He is the man who has made his billions selling dream dresses to brides-to-be. Now, in the middle of the season, faced with the need to shut down every factory, he has sent his staff on paid leave “as long as he can”.
This despite the fact that there will be continued expenditure, but no revenue, he says. His stores have also been closed from March 21, until further notice. He is ensuring the health, safety and economic security of his employees.
“And it not just karigars who we will be paying, but also tea makers, drivers, cleaners, carpenters, electricians” says Sabyasachi, speaking exclusively to Deccan Chronicle from Kolkata.
“My parents brought me up wisely with very solid middle-class values. My team has them to thank. It’s not always about profits, but also about being humane and looking after the best interests of those who have been loyal with you”, he adds.
Integrity in troubled times
Sunil Sethi, FDCI Chairman,
As the “bossman” of the Fashion Design Council of India for the last ten years, he has steered a largely difficult industry to navigate. He is known for tough decisions, beneath which lies a good heart.
The Lotus MakeUp India Fashion Week A/W 2020 has been postponed. Almost 100 designers were to have participated in it from March 11-15 and crores of rupees were riding on the event. He not only returned all the designers’ money but also paid all the staff who had started work - whether it be workmen or event managers.
“There was consensus in the Board on this”, he explains, adding, “a few even offered to leave a small amount for us to manage in this difficult time. Our sponsors Lotus MakeUp and EbixCash trust us and we have returned their money as well.”
Taking responsibility for the less privileged
Anamika Khanna, Designer
Hers is one of the oldest and most coveted labels in the business. So, when she and her twin sons Viraj and Vishesh decided to shut their factories till March 31, they sent almost 300 workers home with money.
And not just that, they also gave away hand sanitizers and soaps and created Whatsapp groups to support them in case of any emergency.
“Some of the craftsmen have been working with us for almost 30 years, some are daily earners and we thought we should pay them till we can afford to, as it is a service to society,” says Anamika. Adds Viraj, “I think whoever can afford to do so, must pay.”
A conscious decision to serve
Dr Sunil Sharma, nodal officer, Covid-19
He has two children, aged 5 and 11, as well as an aged mom. Yet, he handles infectious patients fearlessly.
“I believe we doctors chose this profession to save human lives; it was a conscious choice, and this is the time to fulfil those promises we made, not to sit back in fear. We must take necessary precautions, but even soldiers put themselves in the line of fire to keep us safe. It is our turn now”, says Dr. Sharma. He ensures his staff is well equipped with masks, gloves, caps, shoe covers and of course hand sanitizers and other cleansing materials.
In the thick of all the action in the capital, he works almost 18 hours a day and even after he goes home, he is often called back to the hospital if an emergency arises.
“When I get back home I have a bath and change. I ensure that my children, wife, and mother are not in any way endangered by my line of work”, he explains.
A family concern
Rahul Mishra, Designer
He is the only Indian designer to have participated at the Paris Couture Week. He treats his workers like family. He realised the situation would be grim as sales dropped by 90 per cent last month and this month there were no walk ins.
“Friday, March 20, was our last day at the factory”, he says, adding, “I will support my workers till this impasse lasts. It may take three, or even six months. I will pay them in full.” He estimates that at present, he has the capacity to pay them for five months without them coming to work and vows to even mortgage his new house in Noida if necessary.
Charging in prayers
Sanjuckta Ghosh Arora, ENT Specialist
She has decided to stop all routine ENT consultations till 31st March and attend only emergency cases. But the doctor has a reassuring note for her patients
“Don't worry I am always there with you in this time of crisis. Please feel free to consult me online on Whatsapp and over telephone. For the online consultation I will not be charging anything except prayers that this virus goes away. This is my service to you all at this time of crisis. Stay safe Stay home”, she said in a message.
A Fund of Help
Anita Dongre, Fashion Designer
“We shut Anita Dongre stores from the 18th of March; on 19th we closed our offices and on 20th all the manufacturing units. We suspended our e-commerce operations as well”, she says.
The HR team held a training session on COVID-19 for all teams - how to look after themselves and their families. The workers have been given paid leave until this crisis is over. “Also, we have created a helpline staffed by five key people for our people to reach out if they feel distressed or need any information”, says Anita.
“All House of Anita Dongre employees and their families are covered with medical insurance. Yesterday we created a fund of Rs. 15 Million for independent vendors, women in our rural training centres and self-employed artisans who may need medical assistance and don’t have insurance”, she adds....