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‘Need help, not mere gestures’

Love, hugs, kisses and prayers, all virtual, are pouring in for Indians from across the world as the country grapples with a deadly second wave of the pandemic.

Published: 01st May 2021 09:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2021 09:18 AM   |  A+A-

Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Actor Priyanka Chopra (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Love, hugs, kisses and prayers, all virtual, are pouring in for Indians from across the world as the country grapples with a deadly second wave of the pandemic. Popular Bollywood stars such as Abhishek Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra Jonas have put out messages on their social feeds sending hope and good wishes to fellow Indians suffering from Coronavirus. 

While Priyanka Chopra shared an image of her with her dog on her Instagram captioning it: “Sending a virtual hug,” Abhishek Bachchan tweeted: “Here’s sending out a huge virtual hug to you all. RT and spread the love. In times like these, we need it. #MaskOn.”

However, Indian celebrities have come under criticism for being ‘silent’ and not voicing their opinions or helping people with their privilege and resources. For instance, Abhishek’s tweet has been called out, with netizens saying he should be doing much more than sending hugs when people are dying without oxygen and beds. A Twitter user replied to him: “Wish you did more than just sending hugs! People are dying without oxygen & beds. Hugs are just not enough, Sir.”

Illustration: Amit bandre

‘Virtual hugs’ not enough
People are running after medicines, waiting outside hospitals for beds and after losing their loved ones, waiting at cremation grounds and cemeteries to lay them to rest. Such emotional and helpless times call for ‘remaining positive’ and ‘virtual hugs’ seem hollow to many. 

Maleeha Hasan, 21, an ECE student from Muffakham Jah College of Engineering and Technology, retorts: “Instead of sending virtual hugs or just re-tweeting something for the sake of it, it would be nice if celebrities did more with their influence and money, instead of just doing this online lip-service.” As the virus tightens its grip on Hyderabad, strangers are reaching out and helping people in whatever way they can -- donating money and supplies, providing oxygen, holding langars, distributing food and even running errands for those in quarantine. 

Valerie, 25, from Trimulgherry, who recently lost a friend to Covid-19, says sorrowfully: “In the current scenario, random strangers and Insta and Twitter influencers are doing more...” Holding her tears back, she says: “I want my friend’s hug, not these virtual hugs.” 

Chaitanya Ch, an image consultant who founded StyleChai in Hyderabad, feels that “It comes across as being insensitive. Words, along with deeds/helping hands, would be more appealing. Stars have a huge impact and capacity to contribute to the society, and these online messages may be seen as being insensitive and a non-willingness to contribute physically.” Nidhi Bandi, another youngster from Safilguda, acknowledges that “Though the intention behind the tweet might be good, given the current conditions, ‘virtual hugs’ are welcome but not enough.” 

Live consciously
Nobin K John, founder of Orka Wellness Cafe in Jubilee Hills and a National Board-certified functional medicine health professional, concurs with Nidhi. He says, “A hug is a great start, a sign of care. But we need to dive deeper into this concept of conscious living for a better nation.” 

He feels that this situation is teaching us that for our safety and professional aspirations, it is mandatory to take action now to enhance the community and the environment.

Celebrities are human too
Commenting on Abhishek’s tweet, Santha John, a life coach who is the founder-director of Coachlife Asia, says, “In his case, however much he helps, it’ll only be a drop in the ocean. Maybe all he has now is just a hug to give to people.” Santha adds matter-of-factly: “Different strokes for different folks.” Nilofer Safdar, a city-based transformational money coach and quantum healer, replies: “Let’s cut this guy some slack. If any person wishes something good for someone, if they are sending love or prayers for someone, it can transform things, it can really change things for the better.”

Phrases that show empathy, support 

  • I care 
  • Have immense concern/sleepless nights 
  • My heart goes to all those 
  • I’m here to pitch in with all the help 
  • I’m a call away
  • Everyone is going through a lot 
  • This crisis is emotionally/ mentally draining

Think positive
When we focus on news, trauma and get sucked into negative things, this creates more negative energy and no solution. Instead, we should ask: ‘What would it take for this whole thing to turn out even greater than I have ever considered?’ What we are doing here is asking for the best possible solution to everything that is going on, and this can create miracles, recommends Nilofer Safdar

Abhishek Bachchan kicked up a storm on Twitter and got trolled for his “sending out a huge virtual hug to you all” tweet. Hyderabadis feel celebrities should be doing more with their influence and money, than just plain online lip-service

With Covid-19 distancing us, people are sending virtual hugs, love and prayers. And so are some celebrities. However, some actors have got trolled on social media for sending out virtual hugs as netizens feel they should be doing more at the ground level

— Tamanna S Mehdi tamanna@newindianexpress.com @tamannamehdi



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