The year 2021 will go down in history as one of the most tumultuous years for India. The second wave of COVID ravaged the country, stealing people of their loved ones and hope. However, as the country grappled with the piling dead due to an unprecedented medical crisis, several superheroes emerged out of ordinary citizens as well as big corporates. Success stories such as Falguni Nayar of Nykaa, who broke glass ceilings while building her wealth from scratch to become India’s richest woman billionaire or Mirabai Chanu, the humble Manipuri girl who clinched the silver medal for India in the Tokyo Olympics, brought some hope.
But for India’s medical community, 2021 was one of the toughest years. Health infrastructure was overburdened and resources were stretched beyond limits. Still, there were doctors like KK Aggarwal who spent most of their time spreading awareness and attending to patients while finally succumbing to the virus. To support the overburdened medical community, people made use of social media platforms, especially Twitter, to allocate resources better. As government helplines and support mechanisms collapsed, Twitter worked as the hotline that was the last ditch of hope for grief-stricken families. Unknown people kept helping out one another. Faceless names arranged hospital beds and medicines. While in Delhi, the Ambulance Couple was braving all odds to ferry patients to hospitals, Abdulbhai Malbari was cremating the Hindus in Surat. As frustrating as it was to see the lack of sound public health infrastructure, common people kept coming together to reach help where needed in true spirit of humanity.
In our Anniversary issue, a team of 15 journalists came together, to bring out stories of 21 changemakers who helped shape 2021. For the first time, meet the superheroes without capes.