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Facing the world’s largest lockdown together

1.33 billion people, 150 million vehicles and 3.3 million square kilometers – India’s roads are usually a hive of activity. And no wonder: Roughly one fifth of the world’s population lives on the subcontinent. The streets where cars, motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws and pedestrians normally navigate their right of way are now silent. To contain the spread of COVID-19, a strict nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 24. An all-encompassing state of emergency – impacting every aspect of daily life. Just as in other countries, factories, schools, restaurants and shopping malls were closed; flights and trains halted. Meanwhile, business is slowly getting going again following the government’s gradual easing of restrictions. The measures, now in place until May 31, hit the millions of migrant workers who live in and close to the country’s major cities particularly hard – the lockdown has left them with no income. 

The lockdown is also affecting more than 2,800 Freudenberg employees who work for the Group’s seven Business Groups in India. The authorities ordered a temporary stop of operations at all sites, including the 16 production sites. Even though colleagues no longer see each other every day in this extraordinary situation, they still keep in touch: They describe their experiences and support each other in short and personal diaries. The “Lockdown Diaries” not only strengthen the bonds between colleagues, friends, families and strangers, they also illustrate how Freudenberg’s values are practiced even in a state of emergency, and highlight the strong sense of responsibility for society in and around Freudenberg’s Indian sites. 

Cooking for people in need

“The corona crisis is hitting poorer people particularly hard. I wanted to do my part and help people in need,” says Tanweer Alam, an employee at Klüber Lubrication, a Freudenberg company in Delhi. No sooner said than done: Alam joined forces with two non-profit organizations to raise funds for those in need. Together with the local police, he organizes food parcels for needy families. “I’m going to keep helping until the situation improves,” promises Alam who, actually works in the sales office and is responsible for the sale of Freudenberg products.

Tanweer is not content to stand by and watch, but is taking action: Together with two non-profit organizations, he distributes food parcels every day to people who need them.

Jetinder Nath, General Manager at Freudenberg-NOK in Delhi and Ravi Bhowate, who works for Freudenberg Filtration Technologies in Pune, had a similar idea. While Nath teamed up with other families to distribute home-cooked meals to migrants every day, Bhowate persuaded his old school friends to take action. They went shopping together, paid for food packages out of their own pockets and handed them out in the slums of Nagpur. All three are certain: “We’ll get trough the crisis if we stick together.” 

Tanweer is not content to stand by and watch, but is taking action: Together with two non-profit organizations, he distributes food parcels every day to people who need them.

Dhupkar helped the elderly people during the lockdown.

Using WhatsApp to order food and medication

The lockdown is also hitting the elderly hard. Many not only have restricted mobility; they are also alone. Ravindra Dhupkar, an employee at the Freudenberg Regional Corporate Center in Bangalore, was horrified by the thought: “The situation is heart-breaking. Right now, it is our responsibility to provide people with the help they need.”

Dhupkar helped the elderly people during the lockdown.

Dhupkar’s approach is simple and effective. The leading legal adviser launched a WhatsApp group where volunteers and people who need help come together. As a result, more than 80 elderly people have had fast and safe access to food or essential medicine. “One for all and all for one: I’m proud to be able to do my part,” says Dhupkar.

Corona brings families closer together

The corona lockdown in India not only brings strangers into contact; the crisis has also brought families closer.  “Since the lockdown, we have all been at home and have had to fend for ourselves,” says Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions employee Cherukuri Prasad from Mumbai. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for Purushottam Kanadkhedkar, a sales employee who works for Klüber Lubrication in Mumbai. Parents and children are spending much more time together at home: “Of course working from home while looking after my children is a challenge. But we’ve been making good use of the time after work: I try to teach my children yoga. It’s not easy, but I really enjoy doing it with them". Vijaya Hegde of Klüber Lubrication in Bangalore has a similar view: “The crisis has shown me how much security my family gives me - especially in these uncertain times. We do the housework together and care for our parents and grandparents. Corona has opened our eyes in many ways and brought us closer together”.

Work and childcare is an enormous challenge for many families in India.


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