“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Thus goes the third law of Sir Isaac Newton. In other words it can be pointed out that, when one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body. These three laws of motion were first compiled by Isaac Newton in his Philosophie Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) which was first published in 1687 (Motte 1687). The same axiom is equally relevant during the contemporary lockdown period because the attack of coronavirus, which is the most devastating epidemic after the Spanish Flu in 1918, has brought about large changes in social, political and economic activities in our daily life. We consider it apt to point out two more old proverbs – (1) Where one door shuts, another opens, and (2) Adversity and loss make a man wise. At first the first two proverbs will be explained and analyzed to show the light of hope in the midst of darkness of dangerous disease. Because it is true that, every cloud has a silver lining. After the detailed discussion of the two proverbs in the first section, the second section will be dealt with economic impact followed by political impact in the third section. The first three sections will focus on the affirmative reflections of COVID-19. After a succinct discussion of the positive impacts of coronavirus in first three sections, negative impact of the COVID-19 will be highlighted in the last section. Let us first discuss the implications of the maxims in the following manner.
Let me explain the first two proverbs first in the light of COVID-19 epidemic. When the deadly disease has compelled us to remain confined within our home, we are nervous and panic-stricken of death; hence not going out of our home. In case of emergency works only we are going out to office, workplace or market by using masks and keeping a safe distance of 2 yards or at least one yard from one another on road or in office or market place. Being the hospitals, doctor’s chambers closed we are trying to keep ourselves physically and mentally fit by getting up early in the morning, doing physical exercise or pranayam, walking in the morning or evening, and doing freehand exercise. Also we are abstaining from smoking, drinking, and taking any intoxicating things. However, the coronavirus epidemic created new opportunities in front of us. But how much, and to what extent the COVID-19 is helpful to build a new world and particularly a new India, a progressive and great India, is a matter of billion dollar question. In search of the answers the current research project was undertaken by the researchers. Let us examine the scopes and opportunities that have brought about by COVID-19 in recent history.
Impact of Coronavirus on Society
Coronavirus has brought about enormous changes in our life. Our social, political and economic behavior has already been debilitated to a great extent. The life people used to live in India and many other countries in the world is no more remaining the same during the coronavirus pandemic, and it is believed that the situation will remain nearly unchanged once the epidemic is on the low ebb. Coronavirus has forced the entire world under lockdown. This novel coronavirus made almost all the people – from palace-dwellers to slum-dwellers, Hindus to Muslims, presidents to footmen or sweepers, prime ministers to beggars, city-dwellers to villagers, male to female, from old-age to children, and above all in the very high and high to medium and low human development countries – petrified and scared of their life. Millions of people around the world have already lost their near and dear ones; another few millions are suffering in home quarantine, while hundreds of thousands are now getting treatment in makeshift hospitals or permanent hospital beds and fighting against the disease for life. Thousands of doctors, nurses, and other medical workers are under home quarantine and hundreds have already lost life many of whom had never suffered from any disease even from cough or mild fever. But this dark story has a bring message, which might be explored and brought to light.
Learning from Covid-19
In a recent post Dr. Jyot Mohan wrote in LinkedIn (11 April, 2020) about the lessons taught by COVID-19: “Corona lockdown have taught us to live together, live on minimum resources, help others in need, remove hatred, disciplined ourselves, respect governance, value of healthcare services, value of police force, also understood our own ignorance… Life can be simple but still enjoyable. It is not the money.., but nature is supreme.”
During the COVID-19 epidemic we are not going to educational institutions, but our studies are on through online classes by android mobile phones, tablets, computers etc. The opportunities to participate from home without spending a single Rupee in various national and international seminars, training programs, symposiums and lectures by prominent scholars of different fields are available. Is this not great opportunity for the students and teachers as well? The registration fees are not necessary, the ironing of cloths is not necessary, the hiring or taxi or calling a driver for personal vehicle is not necessary, petrol/diesel is not necessary, reservation of seat is not necessary, standing in the queue with coupon for tea or lunch is not required, and lastly waiting for certificate is also not boring now. Many online courses are being taught free or cost or with minimal fees. Hence, the COVID-19 has brought a lot of opportunities in front of us.
Many researchers have undertaken research projects under lockdown. Hence, project proposals are being prepared by researchers, some scholars applying for and getting board membership on literary magazines, while some are preparing for attending online conferences, seminars and webinars. Many people are studying and writing articles, reports etc. for various newspapers, magazines, blogs, twitter, Face book and LinkedIn. Book reviews are being done, online classes being taken by a section of teachers, projects are given to the students, those are being checked, and a lot more academic activities are being done during lockdown period.
This online education system reduces cost of infrastructure maintenance, staff expenditure, electricity, cleaning cost, A/C or fan charges, unnecessary crowd, shouting – noise pollution etc. students are not loitering, sitting and idling away their valuable time with students of opposite sex or same sex and wasting time; rather they are now under the guidance and assistance of their parents at home, getting ample time to study on his/her own subject as well as others. National library has opened its accession to all the people. Similarly various Universities and national institutions have also opened the opportunity to learn presently as much as one likes. And a lot more academic benefits and opportunities are opened up in front of us.
The government of India has allowed 100 top universities in the country to automatically start online courses by May 30, brushing aside concerns about the digital divide and possible exclusion of underprivileged students. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the prime Ministers e-VIDYA scheme, as the Centre pressed ahead with its agenda of technology-driven education amid the Covid-19 lockdown (The Telegraph, Calcutta, 18 May 2020).
Culture and Innovation
The acting and making videos or films had become the monopolistic business by the present actors and actresses, but now the opportunity has been scattered to all men and women, boys and girls including children having talent or not. Food preparation videos, vegetables preparation videos etc. are being prepared by simple amateur people and are sold in the market. Home decoration, painting, postering, designing, planting trees, watering trees, nurturing, printing sarees, dupattas, ghagras etc. are exhibited online by amateur artists, not only that they are earning by selling also while showing their hidden talents to the global viewers.
Creativity of People Increased
So many creative activities are being developed by people around the world and particularly in our country. Reading habits of people have been increased, genius of drawing/painting pictures was revived, planting saplings, making flower gardens, tub-planting, making kitchen gardens have been grown among thousands of people.
Glass-Ceiling is Over
Male members of family i.e. earning members have learnt the importance of “inside work” i.e. household chores. So far women had been working hard from day to night, but their works were not given importance, now time has come to see from front as what our “women” actually do during the day. However, women’s works are being shared by their husbands during lockdown period. Male earning members are now getting up early, cleaning the floor, preparing and serving tea and cutting vegetables, cooking food, washing the dirty cloths of family members including children and old family members. They are also cleaning fans, chimneys in kitchen, toilets and bathrooms. Thus women are getting more respect at home from their earning members.
Religious Unity has Once Again Strengthened
During the coronavirus epidemic from March to May (till this writing on 16.05.2020) in India, which was just suffering from communal rift between the Hindu and Muslim communities with regard to CAA and NRC, Muslims help in Hindu’s cremation. One incidence of communal harmony may be highlighted here. Mukul Saha and his brother Shyam were feeling helpless when their octogenarian father Binay Saha died on 7.4.2020. As the lockdown was in progress, both the sons had no idea as how to conduct the last rites. However hundreds of Muslim neighbors came forward to help the bereaved family shoulder the body to the cremation and conduct the last rites. The Sahas found no words to thank to Askare bibi, Saddam Sheikh, Rejaul Karim and many others. This happened in Malda (The Telegraph, Calcutta, 9 April, 2020). Similarly it was reported in newspaper that in Andul (Howrah, West Bengal) both the community people were jointly feeding the poor and helpless people there. This is the picture of unity in India where all community people live together happily.
Respite from Media Pollution and Sound Pollution
A large section of people were tired of listening from a few political experts, many of whom used to appear every evening in the television channels often with little academic knowledge often shouting and giving big suggestions. After the outbreak of coronavirus and beginning of lockdown, the governments both Central and State, started to invite medical experts and experts of various health related fields causing the eye and mind soothing television programs. Though the trend did not maintain by most of the channels, and thereby created an antagonistic atmosphere in the country and state. For short period of time initially only very experienced and reputed doctors and medical people were being taken interviews and they were called in the media houses to express their academic and statistical viewpoints which had created much acceptability because of their genuinely and authenticity among the viewers and listeners of popular TV shows. It was a respite from sound pollution and media pollution.
Smoking and Drinking Habit Reduced
As the small gumtis (small betel nut and cigarette shops found in different corners of road and localities) and tea stalls are closed in India, people are not getting gutkhas, cigarettes, bidis, betel nuts etc. As a result, the habit of smoking and chewing guthkas, and betel nuts has been in the wane among a large section of Indians. Similarly, those who are alcoholic are not getting alcohol, and their stock which they stored before lock down began on 24th (March, 2020) midnight was also almost exhausted. So, without getting the intoxicated items many of the addicted persons had turned good and normal inhabitants.
An interesting result in a recent survey revealed that, India’s lockdown, the most stringent in the world, has made many regular consumers of cigarettes and liquor reduce their consumption as its extension has affected manufacturing and availability of both, according to a survey by Edelweiss Securities. As the consumers are unable to visit bars and pubs consumption of cigarettes and liquor is affecting greatly in the out-of-home consumption pattern. Edelweiss surveyed 273 cigarette users and 341 liquor consumers assessing their consumption of alcohol during India’s lockdown that commenced from March 25. According to findings of the survey, 80% respondents said they have reduced their cigarette consumption, with over a third having quit smoking during the lockdown. Roughly 54% respondents said they may not resume smoking once the lockdown is lifted or were unsure about picking up the habit later (LiveMint, 12 May, 2020). Thus it can be concluded that, liquor consumption and smoking of cigarettes of people has been drastically reduced during lockdown period.
Pollution Free Environment
As there is no movement of trucks (very less, because only trucks are being plied that carry medicine, vegetables, and fish or emergency medical equipment and only restricted number of people who are engaged in emergency services). As a result of lockdown majority of public and private vehicles are not plying on roads, making the air clean and healthy for all sections of society. Many factories are closed and production is also closed that reduce the use of electricity and smokes. Because of non-smoking of millions of people the air is now fresh to breath.
The lockdown measures imposed by the government of India to control the spread of novel coronavirus have led to an improvement in the air quality across the country. Recently, the Scientists analyzed the satellite data of the pollution levels over India between January 1 and March 24, 2020, and when the lockdown was implemented, from March 25 to April 20, 2020. They then compared it with the data from the same periods from the previous year, and found that Mumbai and Delhi have witnessed a significant drop in their pollution levels by 40-50%. According to the agency, a significant reduction was majorly seen in the emission of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere in these cities (The Times of India, 30 April, 2020).
Teaching the Lesson of Self-sufficiency
The saloons are closed. Hence, the people are getting habituated with the habit of shaving themselves including top brasses of various corporate houses, politicians, players, executives and the such. The lockdown is teaching us to be self sufficient in production of vegetables. To beat the shortages of vegetables and fruits during shutdowns, grow them yourself, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation has told residents. It also came to newspaper that many film artists, actresses, beauticians, models, cricketers are farming in their home or preparing kitchen garden. Residents of densely populated Srinagar city often find it difficult t procure vegetables, fruits and other essentials because of curfews and prolonged strikes. They face the same problem when snowfall or a landslide closes the Srinagar Jammu highway, the only all weather road linking the valley to the rest of the country.
“To address the issue, it shall be mandatory for all citizens/families (in Srinagar) that posses detached/semi detached plots (to) use the open areas around the house/building for kitchen garden and plantation of fruit trees ad it is right time for vegetable farming and planting trees,” the notice from the joint municipal commissioner (planning), Ghulam Bassan Mir, said. It added that, “Those intending to apply for residential building permission in Srinagar within the municipal limits shall promote vegetable forming at individual household level and shall submit the proposal accordingly” (The Telegraph, Kolkata, 20 April, 2020).
However, people are now planting seeds, nurturing them with sprinkling water on them and home make manures like peels of vegetables. During the lockdown period no maid servants are coming – either voluntarily or by pressure from the malkins. Hence, both husband and wife – may be doctors, professors, footballers, film actors, and many more are now preparing tea, serving tea, fulfilling demands of maggy of their children, cooking meals and washing dishes. This is very interesting.
When the vehicles are not plying, the question of travelling by bus and taxi does not arise. Many workers are resorting to walking. They are either walking to their office or workplace; or going to factories by riding their bi-cycle. Many of them had forgotten to use their childhood day’s favorite bi-cycle.
The lockdown have taught us to be frugal and wise. Many of us are not buying fish, chicken, mutton. Where the Mongenes, Mio Amore etc. are closed how will you go out for dinner and lunch? Hence, home-made food is giving rest to our stomach. And the stomach-ache, giddiness, diarrhea have decreased greatly from the society.
Necessity of Savings was Understood by People
People understand the need for savings. When suddenly a lockdown for 21 days was introduced and implemented, the unorganized sector employees and other private company workers had to rely on their savings. In spite of Government’s appeal to the owners of institutions and organizations and business houses to pay their employees full, many are not paying in full to their employees who are sitting idle at home without work due to complete lockdown. Those had some savings are surviving somehow while others are living in deep crisis.
Criminalization has Decreased
They criminals are also now in quarantine. So they are not out on the streets and roads in their cars and motor bikes as were seen before lockdown in crossings, theks, and tea stalls. The criminals are not also shivering in fear of death from coronavirus. The pick pockets are not getting scope to steal from daily commuters as the buses and trains are not running on road. Besides, politics have also been free from criminalization during lockdown period.
From the above discussion, it is found that the coronavirus epidemic has taught us a lot and we have become wiser and self-sufficient much more than earlier. Hence, it can be concluded that out of disaster and doom there can be some rays of hope and expectation. India during the COVID-19 pandemic has learnt a lot of good lessons which will help the great nation to revive its forgotten culture and tradition. It is finally hoped that with the affirmative attitude and action, India will regain its lost dignity and glamour in the world assembly in the days to come.
- The National Education Policy and Secondary Education: A Revolutionary Step - September 13, 2020
- Socio-Political Impingement of COVID-19 on India - August 11, 2020