“It’s a time of firsts,” something that we hear almost every day now or find us saying to ourselves each day. Most mornings have now become peaceful yet the world is in chaos, the air is unsullied yet we have to wear masks, we have gotten closer to our people yet this is the farthest we have gotten from them.

Lockdown of an entire country seemed quite unrealistic and unanticipated at first thought, making it frightening when it happened. At the very beginning, it was truly peaceful, the streets of Delhi had seldom been so open and deserted in the middle of the day.

Those desolate streets initially created true fear amongst our people, a feeling of uncertainty— about the health of our family, our locality & the entire city. It was something never seen before. Initially, the idea of even getting infected with COVID-19 was always present in our hearts yet we were in denial.

India managed to prolong the peak of a deadly virus that had engulfed the world, most of which is in turmoil. A strict lockdown was declared on the country of 136 crore persons, out of which 400 million consists of the workforce whose lives have been disrupted, income lost & lakhs of which were left stranded in a state that wasn’t even their home. Citizens were asked to stay in their homes, yet doctors couldn’t possibly go near their homes.

All of this, in turn, has led to the contraction of our labour-intensive economy that had been building for several years. Had the government not taken the most difficult decision, India might have been in a far worse position than most countries. India managed to slow down the impact of the inevitable by bearing the mark that has been left on its economy, leading by example to act upon what the situation asks from us.

Leading economies, all across the globe have been brought down to their knees by a mere few droplets of this virus, that have caused widespread chaos and wreaked havoc amongst the poor, disrupted the life of the middle class & made, some of, the rich even wealthier. Reality had become extremely frightening, that acceptance had become an arduous task. But some leaders & countries have had to take the measures that are required, despite the consequence of their actions.

 

In a world where a mundane task such as going to the supermarket has become high risk, Dharavi’s success story serves as a beacon of hope, at a time all light had stopped shining on the world. How Asia’s biggest slum which was expected to be India’s largest hotspot, truly, chased the virus against all odds of bureaucracy.

This was the place where people were more afraid of starvation than COVID-19 & social distancing was almost next to impossible & it managed to serve as an example to the country’s most posh localities. Mainly because authorities have knocked 47,500 doors, screened almost 700,000 people, shifted symptomatic ones to schools, sports clubs and set up clinics. The ignorant would not be able to appreciate Dharavi’s model as it managed to make up for all the tests it could not conduct by isolating the possibly infected, making all of this perhaps, totally serendipitous.

Today, my terrace is a transformed space like the world. It has changed me too— I am more mature than ever and have rekindled my connection with nature. I’ve recognized the need for nurturing it for our good. A simple truth, which I was too busy accept all these 17 years, got it into me just after seventeen days of lockdown. It made me realize that we should make time now for the things we always thought we’d be too busy for.

Self-quarantine has given us all some time for introspection. With a few months of isolation and radically altered schedules, men in some parts have developed a sense of profound empathy for their female counterparts. They have realized that the power of empathizing with one another and providing assistance through the sharing of duties with a taxonomy of tasks would go a long way in sustaining harmonious relationships in the household. This pandemic has truly broken the chains of gender disparities to some extent & made some impact on gender roles in our society as well.

 

Also, on a rather unfortunate end, domestic abuse has increased more than ever, injustice all across the world has come to light and the people have not been quiet. But fortunately, people are standing for what they believe is right even in the middle of the pandemic. All this has given us a sense of hope and strength, the hope that things will go right before they go wrong again and the strength to prevail against all odds even if they do.

Circumstances have eventually forced us to do our part, to contemplate, to feel, to discuss our issues, problems, concerns and let go off the shackles of race, class, religion and/or country and admit the existence of the common adversary that binds us all in isolation. To unlearn our externally imposed expectations of male and female beauty— or embrace our own much more relaxed conception.

The time has come for humans to overcome their undying thirst for power and supremacy, and utilize this opportunity to create a just operating space for humanity by investing in renewable energy resources and economic models on doughnut economics.

Something humans have never truly done is to deal with the damage they have caused. Most of us have said and heard this, but for once in our lives, time and tide have forced us to do and accept what comfort and routine won’t, making this the most unprecedented measure in our time.

 

But do we learn from these instances? Or will we return to a world that asked from us what we couldn’t give, the difficulties that have forced the reforms that simply couldn’t?

– Jasmann Singh Narang, K.R. Mangalam World School, Vilaspuri

 

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