March 26, 2020

COVID-19 in 2020 | News and updates

A curated collection of news, resources, and stories on COVID-19 in 2020 to help you cut through the noise. Crowdsourced, vetted, and updated daily.

16 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent nation-wide lockdown have severely impacted the development sector. While foundations are committing funds and pledging support to their nonprofit partners, grassroots organisations are striving to provide much-needed relief to affected communities across the country.

As our sector comes together to support those most in need, we at IDR want to ensure that you have access to all the relevant updates and resources. To that end, we will work towards bringing you the latest development sector-related information on COVID-19.

To make sure we don’t miss out on anything important, please send us any relevant announcements and resources that you think would be valuable for your peers and the sector at large. You can [email protected] or reach us on our social media handles: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


This article was last updated at 3.00 PM on August 10th.

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Latest coverage of COVID-19 news relevant to the sector.

August 10

A new collaborative is launched to support 10 million+ migrant workers

Migrants Resilience Collaborative (MRC) is a grassroots-led multi-stakeholder collaborative of nonprofit, philanthropic, and private sector actors, focused on ensuring dignity, safety, security, and mobility of vulnerable migrant families across India. It is an initiative of nonprofit Jan Sahas, along with Global Development Incubator and EdelGive Foundation. The MRC’s goal is to reach out to more than 10 million migrant workers and their families in 100 districts and cities across India, over the next five years.

June 11

Global Impact Investor Network (GIIN) releases its 2020 annual survey report

The survey indicates that the impact investment market is growing despite headwinds, with the estimated size of the market being USD 715 billion, an almost 45 percent jump from last year. While some adjustments in investment activity are expected in the face of COVID-19, a majority of the respondents (57 percent) indicated that they are unlikely to change the volume of capital they had planned to commit to impact investments in 2020. Fifteen percent said they are ‘likely’ to commit more capital than planned.

June 1

SEBI releases report on Social Stock Exchange

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has released the report of its working committee on the Social Stock Exchange (SSE). The report throws light on the opportunity of having an SSE in India, and it’s implications for nonprofit and for-profit entities. It also talks about leveraging the SSE for COVID-19 as well as policy recommendations.

May 8

Deadline for renewal of 12A and 80G registrations extended

According to the Finance Act 2020, all 12A and 80G registered organisations were required to renew their registrations between June 1 to August 31, 2020. In light of the current pandemic, the Ministry of Finance has released a notification, extending the dates to between October 1 to December 31, 2020.

May 1

New fund announced for youth-led organisations taking on the COVID-19 crisis

The International Youth Foundation (IYF) has announced a ‘Global Youth Resiliency Fund’ to support young entrepreneurs who are responding to the pandemic in the areas of health, livelihoods, education, human rights, and access to information.

April 30

We will need INR 65,000 crore to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on the poor, says Raghuram Rajan

Former Reserve Bank of India governor and economist Raghuram Rajan, in conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, said that India will require INR 65,000 crore to help the poor who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. On the issue of migrant workers, he said the government needs to provide them money and food for the next three to four months.

April 27

The central government is hosting an interactive session with civil society organisations and nonprofits on April 30th

Acknowledging the role of civil society in providing relief to vulnerable communities during the lockdown, Dr Harsh Vardhan (Minister of Health and Family Welfare) and Amitabh Kant (CEO, NITI Aayog), will be hosting an interactive session with civil society organisations on April 30, from 11 AM to 1 PM, to hear their views and suggestions. The session can be accessed through NITI Aayog’s YouTube channel, or their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

April 24

Centre releases around INR 20,000 crore against outstanding dues under MGNREGA

The Ministry of Rural Development has asked states and Union Territories to scale up works under Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana Gramin (PMAY-G), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), and National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), to provide relief to rural communities hit by the lockdown. It has also sanctioned INR 33,300 crore under MGNREGA to meet expenses till June 2020, out of which INR 20,225 crore has been released against all outstanding dues of previous years.

April 17

RBI announces refinancing facilities of up to INR 50,000 crore to NABARD, SIDBI, and other financial institutions

Financial institutions such as the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), and the National Housing Bank (NHB), will be given special refinancing facilities by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in order to meet sectoral credit needs. In addition, banks will be provided liquidity measure to the tune of INR 25,000 crore to lend specifically to small and mid-sized Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and micro-finance institutions (MFIs).

April 16

“No upper limit to the amount of foodgrains that can be procured by nonprofits from the FCI” – NITI Aayog

CEO of NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant has written to chief secretaries and district collectors of all states asking them to partner and associate with local nonprofits to ensure vulnerable communities have access to food and shelter during this crisis. He has also said that foodgrains will be supplied throughout the country at the uniform rate of INR 21 per kg for wheat and INR 22 per kg for rice to all charitable organisations or nonprofits running relief operations for migrant labourers and other vulnerable groups. There will be no upper limit to the amount of foodgrains that can be procured at these rates.

April 11

Only donations made to PM-CARES, not CM Relief Fund, would counts as CSR

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) had earlier stated that donations made by corporates to the PM-CARES Fund—which was set up to fight the COVID-19 pandemic—would be counted as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The MCA has now notified that financial contributions made to any ‘Chief Minister’s Relief Fund’ or ‘State Relief Fund for COVID-19’ cannot be claimed as CSR.

April 10

Trusts and Societies in Maharashtra required to contribute to the new ‘Epidemic Disease Relief Fund and Disaster Relief Fund’

This new ‘Epidemic Disease Relief Fund and Disaster Relief Fund’ shall vest in the office of the Charity Commissioner, and all public charitable trusts (except those exempted by the state government by a general or special order) shall contribute a percentage of their gross annual income as prescribed.

April 8

To ensure uninterrupted supply of foodgrains to organisations providing meals to communities affected by COVID-19, the government has directed the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to provide wheat and rice to them at the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) rates, without going through the e-auction process. So far, only state governments and registered bulk users were allowed to buy stock from FCI under OMSS rates.

April 7

Philanthropists urge CSR foundations to join hands to fight COVID-19

Rishad Premji (Chairman, Wipro), Rohini Nilekani (philanthropist and Chairperson, Arghyam), and Vidya Shah (CEO, EdelGive Foundation), have issued a joint appeal to CSR foundations and philanthropic organisations to support and strengthen their civil society partners by introducing flexibilities in their grant-making and monitoring mechanisms.

April 7

Ministry of Home Affairs asks nonprofits with an FCRA licence to undertake and report their COVID-19 activities

The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued an order asking nonprofits that have a Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence to send them information on their COVID-19 related activities by April 15th, 2020; and to do so every month thereafter as well. However, not all FCRA registered nonprofits have received the notification, which has led to confusion among them, on whether they need to undertake COVID-19 related activities, and what happens if they are unable to do so.

April 1

Donations made to the PM-CARES Fund eligible for a 100 percent tax deduction

The government passed an ordinance that allows individuals and companies contributing towards the PM-CARES Fund till June 30, to claim a 100 percent tax deduction under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. More importantly, the limit on deduction of 10 percent of gross income shall also not be applicable for donations made to the PM CARES Fund.

March 31

Companies contributing above their CSR limit to the PM-CARES Fund can offset it against CSR obligations in the future

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs had earlier stated that contributions by companies towards the PM-CARES Fund will be counted as their Corporate Social Resposibility (CSR) obligations. Now, it has urged companies to donate beyond their minimum CSR limit (two percent of profits), and clarified that any amount above the limit can be offset against CSR obligations in the future.

March 30

The government invites civil society to help in the fight against COVID-19

Niti Aayog CEO, Amitabh Kant, has written to all civil society organisations, highlighting the pivotal role they’ve been playing so far. He also listed the areas where organisations could look to supplement the efforts of state and local administration. This includes providing food, shelter, and care for migrant workers; spreading awareness about protecting oneself from the virus; delivering services to vulnerable groups; promoting social and behavior change; and so on.

March 28

Central Government issues directives to help migrant workers

The Union Home Secretary has asked state governments to set up relief camps along highways for migrant workers and pilgrims who are trying to return home during the lockdown period. The camps must practice physical distancing and conduct medical check-ups, and states have been asked to use the State Disaster Response Fund for this. State governments have also been advised to utilise the services of volunteers and nonprofits to spread awareness of the relief camps and the relief package available to the workers.

March 28

Farming and allied activities exempted from lockdown

In order to ensure the uninterrupted supply of foodgrains, the Union Home Ministry, has exempted activities related to agriculture from the 21-day nationwide lockdown that started on March 25th. The activities that are exempt include farming operations, procurement of agricultural produce, operation of mandis, manufacturing of fertilisers and pesticides, and so on.

March 28

Tata Trusts commits INR 500 crore to fight the COVID-19 pandemic

The fund will be used for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the medical personnel on the frontlines, testing kits, modular treatment facilities and respiratory systems for infected patients, and the training of health workers.

March 27

RBI permits banks to delay instalments on farm loans

The Reserve Bank of India has permitted all commercial banks, co-operative banks, financial institutions, and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) to grant an extension of three months on loan instalments falling due between March 1st and May 31st, 2020. This would include term, agricultural, retail, and crop loans.

March 26

Last date to give feedback on the CSR amendments extended till April 10

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has extended the deadline for citizens to give feedback on the recent amendments to the Corporate Social Responsibility rules from March 28 to April 10. You can read more about the amendments here.

March 26

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announces an INR1.7 lakh crore relief package

The Central Government has launched the PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme to deal with the economic distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Benefits include insurance cover for medical professionals, ASHA workers, and sanitation workers; increase in MNREGA wages; direct cash transfers; free LPG cylinders; collateral-free loans to Self-Help Groups; and more.

March 25

Crowdfunding platforms waive off service fee

In a bid to encourage individual giving towards fighting the health, economic, and social impacts of COVID-19, crowdfunding platforms such as Ketto, Milaap, and Give India have waived off their service fee during this period. Any donations made on their platforms to organisations working on COVID-19, will go entirely towards the cause.

March 24

Omidyar Network (ON) India commits USD 1 million (INR 7.5 crore) towards solutions for COVID-19

ON India announced rapid response funding for COVID-19 towards solutions focussed on the ‘next half billion’. They have called for proposals to tackle the challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation and its consequent socio-economic impact.

Nonprofits, research organisations, social entrepreneurs, and for-profit businesses seeking to do this on a no-profit basis have been encouraged to apply for this fund. Proposals can be sent to [email protected] with the subject line ‘Next Half Billion – Covid19 related proposal’.

March 23

Funds spent by companies to tackle COVID-19 will be counted as CSR spend

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that funds spent by companies to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak will be considered as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. The government has issued a notification to this effect.

March 19

MCA relaxes rules for physical board meetings till June 30th, 2020

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has relaxed the rules with respect to board meetings for companies, including Section 8 companies. Members are now allowed to attend audio-visual meetings on matters relating to approval of financial statements, board reports, and so on, up to June 30th, 2020.

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Essential tools and reference material for individuals and organisations in the sector to do the best they can during these uncertain times.

Crowdsourced directory of COVID-19 resources 

This directory contains information from across the country on nonprofits and volunteers providing on-ground support, community kitchens, night shelters, helplines, elderly care, animal care, volunteering opportunities, and so on, for those looking for support or looking to provide support during COVID-19.

Guidelines for management of COVID-19 in Child Care Institutions (CCIs)

Children living in CCIs under the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015 are especially at risk during COVID-19. Here is a compilation of guidelines and tools by organisations and institutions working in child care, to ensure the well-being of these children. It includes checklists for persons in charge of CCIs, preventive measures for CCIs, protocols to be followed for staff and visitors, and more.

List of surveys carried out in India around COVID-19

This page compiles findings from surveys conducted by nonprofits, academic institutions, and research centres, on the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations across Indian states. If you would like to add a survey by your organisation to the list, write to [email protected].

13 steps to respond to domestic violence during the lockdown

This six-minute Hindi language video contains excerpts from experts working in the space of domestic violence, offering practical advice and steps that can be taken by those facing violence as well as by their friends and family.

Checklist for nonprofit leaders to sustain impact through worst-case scenarios

As nonprofits focus on ensuring sustainability of their organisations during COVID-19, Dasra has shared a ‘COVID crisis response framework for nonprofits’, which can be followed to ensure both resilience of an organisation and optimisation of impact.

Effective crisis management for nonprofits

Crisis communication is important not just during a crisis, but also weeks after it. This guide by Sahayog Foundation shares 10 steps for effective crisis management for nonprofits—from identifying the crisis communications team, to establishing monitoring systems.

List of resources for well-being of children

The COVID-19 Resource Collaborative has put together a list of workshops, webinars, articles, manuals, and other resources that can be used by parents, caregivers, and nonprofits to ensure the learning and well-being of children during COVID-19.

Mentorship programme for nonprofits

The COVID-19 Resource Collaborative, an initiative to help development sector organisations work effectively both during and after the crisis, has started a mentorship programme to provide support to nonprofits in key challenging areas. Nonprofits can indicate their areas of interest, and a mentor would be allocated to them accordingly.

COVID-19 response alliance for social entrepreneurs

This collaboration brings together 40 global organisations to help 1500 social entrepreneurs in 190 countries, as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Social entrepreneurs can seek funding support from the alliance, as well as non-financial support such as legal services and technological assistance.

Information on public food shelters and night shelters

Seeking safe shelter is a critical priority for many during the COVID-19 crisis. MyGov, Google India, and Smart Cities teams have mapped public food shelters and public night shelters for 33 cities on Google Maps. Search on Google or Google Maps for ‘food shelter near me’ or ‘night shelter near me’ to find the closest shelter.

#COVIDActionCollab has compiled a list of dashboards and bulletins run by 16 different state governments in India. It can be used to find state-specific information, such as COVID-19 numbers, directives, advisories, lists of hospitals, and so on.

This guide by The Bridgespan Group will help nonprofits take decisions about their programmes and organisation during the ongoing crisis. It talks about establishing a clear set of decision-making principles, and steering the organisation based on those principles.

Azim Premji University has put together guidelines by experts and practitioners to help civil society organisations amplify their efforts and provide support to vulnerable communities during the pandemic. It covers different areas of support such as essential items, livelihoods, and healthcare, in both rural and urban regions.

India’s artisans and craft-based communities are among those affected by the lockdown. This website highlights fundraisers by verified organisations working with the artisan communities. It also shares news, updates, and resources related to artisans and COVID-19.

The #COVIDActionCollab has put together a list of vendors who can supply PPE, masks, COVID testing kits, and other essential equipment during this time. The list currently has vendors in Delhi, Bangalore, Gurgaon, and some places in Tamil Nadu. It is being regularly updated with more vendors from different cities.

The Mariwala Health Initiative has curated various resources to help the LGBTQI community during this time. It includes details of mental health practitioners, legal professionals, community support groups, and so on.

Nachiket Mor, Visiting Scientist, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health, has put together ideas, approaches, case studies, and other resources for primary care providers and nonprofits to help them better serve affected communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oxfam India has recommended steps that the central and state governments can take to ensure that forest-dependent communities in India are protected during the ongoing pandemic. The steps include making the Public Distribution System (PDS) universal, opening forest-related works under MGNREGA, and withdrawing certain advisories issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Contact between caregivers and people with disabilities is inevitable inspite of physical distancing norms, because many of these individuals are in need of constant care. SELCO Foundation, along with the Association of People with Disability (APD) and Voice of World (VoW), has developed a toolkit with guidelines specifically suited for low-resource institutions working with individuals with disabilities.

In a bid to ease the distress caused by the nationwide lockdown, state governments such as Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and West Bengal are providing cash assistance to migrant workers and students stranded elsewhere in the country. Here is a list of the states, the amount of assistance, and how one can avail it.

Dost Education is running a programme where parents can give a missed call on 01140844943 to receive audio messages in Hindi on research-backed information on COVID-19, as well as activities and ideas for parents to keep children productively engaged during the lockdown. Slam Out Loud is running a similar initivate, where children can engage in hands-on art activities, share their art, and interact with accomplished artists, via WhatsApp.

Skillr has created an Indian hiring tracker to provide free and easy access to information and opportunities to job-seekers during this period. Organisations in the social sector can also share their hiring details on this database.

Released by the Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) of the central government, these guidelines for state and district officials aim to ensure the safety of persons with disabilities during the pandemic.

With people being forced to stay indoors, there is a risk of increase in the cases of domestic violence or intimate partner violence. Breakthrough India has put together a list of helpline numbers for different parts of the country. Point of view and Oxfam India have also put together similar lists.

With the country under lockdown, we are seeing an increasing number of Indians turn to podcasts to keep themselves entertained and up to date with current events. Here’s a curated list of six podcasts covering different aspects of the pandemic.

The National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (Government of India) is running a free helpline for mental healthcare of the transgender community. The helpline will be active from Monday to Saturday, from 11 AM to 1 AM and from 3 PM to 5 PM, till May 1st.

Rawpixel has created a repository of images, illustrations, infograhics, icons, and other design resources that are available for unlimited free downloads during this period. These can be used by anyone working to spread awareness and information about the pandemic.

This list curates more than 300 advisories, posters, flyers, toolkits, and resources in audio, visual, picture, and text formats, and in several regional languages. Nonprofits can provide these to the communities they work with.

This resource by Azim Premji University shares information on relief measures that the central government has announced during the pandemic. It also tells us what exactly the benefits comprise of, and who is eligible for them.

An INR 100 crore grant has been created by the venture capital and founder community in India, to combat the pandemic. Nonprofits and startups with capital-efficient, innovative, and scalable solutions looking for an initial seed grant can apply.

Database of government regulations on COVID-19

Aapti Institute and Samvad Partners have created LegalCovid, a database of advisories, notifications, and orders from the central as well as state governments related to COVID-19. It also has state-wise information on where to apply for curfew passes.

List of fundraisers for organisations providing relief on ground

Amnesty International has put together a list of fundraisers for organisations providing relief and aid on the ground. It comprises nonprofits working with different communities—migrant workers, sanitation workers, healthcare workers, the elderly, and so on. Indiaspora has also launched a giving campaign to raise funds from the Indian diaspora in the US, to help vulnerable communities in both the countries.

Best practices for conducting phone surveys

As we practise physical distancing due to COVID-19, organisations conducting surveys and evaluations in the field are now forced to conduct them remotely. J-PAL has shared crowdsourced tips and factors to consider when conducting remote surveys, in particular phone surveys.

Portal to help set up relief facilities for migrant workers

India Observatory has launched a portal that can help the government and nonprofits to plan setting up relief camps, quarantine facilities, and healthcare services for migrant workers who are currently on the move. It displays the migration routes from hotspots like Delhi or Mumbai to the headquarters of various districts and blocks, and maps all the schools and hospitals within a two km radius where facilities can be set up.

Webinars and online conferences on COVID-19

IDR has curated a list of relevant virtual events taking place in the next few weeks on a range of themes. These include crisis management for nonprofits, mental health in the time of crisis, and so on.

Virtual volunteering opportunities

Given the lockdown situation, Connect For is offering individuals various volunteering opportunities that can be done from one’s home. These include content writing, website creation, development of curriculum, research, and so on.

Central and state government orders related to COVID-19

This tracker lists all orders issued by the Central Government, every state government in India, as well as the Reserve Bank of India, related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also shares summaries of the orders and additional resources on them.

Tracker of testing centres across the country

HealthCheck and IndiaSpend are running a tracker that lists the operational and upcoming COVID-19 test centres in India, and their locations.

Dashboard on the ongoing efforts and resources available to fight COVID-19

India Data Insights, a part of Sattva Consulting, is running a dashboard that includes a summary of the initiatives taken to fight the pandemic in India and across the world. It also has information on the resources available in the country today, and the opportunities and gaps in funding.

How to work with marginalised groups during the COVID-19 crisis

The Regional Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Working Group has released a guide on how to include vulnerable communities—such as persons with disabilities, the elderly, or sexual and gender minorities—in community outreach during this period. This includes understanding their issues, giving them priority assistance, engaging them in decision-making processes, and so on.

Emergency support for migrant workers and vulnerable communities

The Jan Sahas Helpline is a 24×7, toll-free number for those seeking emergency support during the lockdown. Also listed are emergency numbers of the central and state governments, as well as the numbers that labourers stuck overseas can contact. Haqdarshak is also running a helpline that provides information on COVID-19-related welfare schemes and other support for vulnerable communities in 11 languages.

Information on the COVID-19 relief package

Haqdarshak has created infographics in 11 languages that explain what people can claim as part of their relief package during the lockdown.

List of relief efforts by civil society in India

Here is a detailed list of nonprofits and other organisations providing support (monetary support, food, medicines, etc.) to vulnerable communities. If you are running such an initiative, you can get it listed by filling this form.

List of interventions by state governments

Dvara Research has collated the various initiatives that the central as well as state governments are taking in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It also includes information on the budgets allocated under each initiative, wherever available.

Online counselling sessions

To help people in the development sector and others ensure their mental well-being during this time of crisis, there are several options for counselling or therapy sessions:

  • The Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists has shared a list of volunteers who can provide tele-counselling and psychological first aid during this lockdown period. The Association of Psychiatric Social Work Professionals has also released a list of mental health professionals who have volunteered to provide online support during this period.
  • Arpan is providing free mental health support, which includes chat-based counselling, tele-counselling, and WhatsApp groups for parenting and mental health resources in English, Hindi, and Marathi.
  • A group of psychotherapists from the Hank Nunn Institute is offering individual or group online counselling sessions to nonprofits and corporates.

List of mental health resources

A crisis such as the one we are facing now can have debilitating effects on our mental and emotional well-being, unless we focus on taking care of it. Here is a list of worksheets, strategies, and exercises that one can use to ensure personal and community wellness.

Preparedness of primary health centres for COVID-19

A team of public health specialists have put together a checklist for workers in rural primary health centres to prepare them in case COVID-19 reaches rural parts of India on a large scale.

Managing your team while working remotely

Most organisations across the country have moved to working from home during the lockdown, and many are struggling with the new experience of an entirely remote workforce. In this IDR article, we share five ways to manage teams successfully—from honouring the quiet to maintaining social connections— while practising physical distancing.

COVID-19 cases trackers for India

This volunteer-led initiative gives us real-time, state-wise data on the confirmed, active, recovered, and deceased cases of the COVID-19 virus.

You can read IDR’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic here.

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India Development Review (IDR) is India’s first independent online media platform for leaders in the development community. Our mission is to advance knowledge on social impact in India. We publish ideas, opinion, analysis, and lessons from real-world practice.