Asianet News Network's welfare initiative to help quarantined people

Asianet News Network's welfare initiative to help quarantined people

The volunteers help with supplies.

Asianet News Network

MUMBAI: Along with disseminating information, news channels have also turned to social service to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Asianet News Network, a Malayalam news channel with a couple of channels in the south, has taken up the task to help people under quarantine with a unique initiative called Namaste Caregivers.

The campaign is run across its network of news channels and news websites with hashtags called #PhoneAFriend #DistanceSeDosti and #DistanceSeNamaste. It started with seven southern and eastern tier-II cities but has now expanded to central and central-west areas of India. The cities covered are Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhopal and the state of Kerala.

The network urges people to volunteer to help all those who have been tested positive and are under strict self-quarantine at home, especially those who have a travel history abroad. The campaign promo states: “While you follow social distancing, if any help is required to run your daily errands, reach out to a host of generous volunteer organisations.”

With an aim to fight the pandemic and help those in need, the network has created a dedicated website called, featuring contact numbers of various volunteer groups, on which the quarantined masses can call and ask for help to get daily supplies. These groups are city-specific and have been active way before the country-wide 21-day lockdown was announced.

Asianet News Network chief executive officer Abhinav Khare says, “We aim to shoulder the efforts put in by the central and state governments to fight against this virus and make the lives of people easier, who are under self-quarantine. This initiative doesn’t involve any monetisation and has nothing related to business. We aim to help society come out of this as early as possible.”

Kerala was the first state in India to detect positive cases and within a few days, the count was almost tripled. The southern state had many people with a travel history to foreign countries.

“The majority of these people, who are under self-quarantine, are from affluent backgrounds and pay for their daily supplies and necessary items. The volunteers act as a delivery person to get the essential things available at their doorstep,” says Khare. “A few volunteer groups also help all those needy, who can’t pay for their essentials and if required also make available cooked food items to them.”

With rising positive cases and death tolls, the authorities have become strict with lockdown and are taking stringent action against violators. In this regard, many volunteers have been making emergency passes for themselves with the help of local police to help people, says Khare.

The group has been promoting this campaign on all of its news channels, websites and social media platforms. Asianet News is considered to be one of the prominent channels in Kerala along with sister channel Malayalam Live TV Online. It also has Suvarna News and Kannada Live TV Online channels under its banner in the Kannada language along with other regional news websites.

This is not the first time the network has come up with a campaign like this. The channel tried a volunteer-based idea when Kerala and Karnataka were severely hit by the floods and many people were stuck without food or daily supplies. “During testing times people do come forward to help others and we had seen this during 2018 Kerala floods,” says the network’s CEO.

“So far, this initiative has received a maximum response and helped many people to connect to the volunteers,” says Khare. “Going forward, we are mulling to associate some sponsors from the food-delivery category and are in preliminary discussion with some key players from the sector. This would be considered as phase two of the initiative we started Namaste Caregivers.”