IT was not an easy decision announcing countrywide lockdown in the wake of Corona virus or Covid-19 pandemic. However, this was the only solution to prevent the virus from spreading among people. The decision to implement the lockdown came suddenly and took everyone by surprise; many not even knowing what it actually means and how it has to be followed. The administrative machinery had to work relentlessly to make people understand the lockdown and to ensure its implementation further.
The effects of lockdown surfaced a few days later and as a result of it people experienced a life that was unheard of. Lockdown affected different people in different ways. Some just tried to get through it, others felt it has brought forward opportunities for personal growth. For some it took off as fun and relaxation and culminated in boredom. For some it has been time for multi tasking as they took care of family needs while also working from home. For students it has been most exhilarating experience as they got hooked to online classes, perhaps, for the first time.
Talk to different people and they have a different ‘Lockdown Tale’ to tell. The social media too has been full of all kinds of gossip stuff and videos to ‘Gyan ki Pathshala’ (School of Wisdom) to keep your senses on the right track.
While the lockdown has been welcomed by people largely it also invited resentment from some quarters. Though merits and demerits of lockdown or its worthiness is a matter of debate there is nothing wrong in admitting that it has taught us many a new lessons in our life. It is not wrong to say that the lockdown is going to change our life and style for many more months or even years to come. It is also not wrong to say that post lockdown our lives are going to be same again as things have changed altogether for a long time to come, if not forever. We, the people, have to present a ‘New U’ (you) if we want to live a safe and secured life and ensure a happier and brighter future.
The lockdown has transformed our lives in more than many ways. While many people would revert back to their older lifestyles, few of us might adopt the positive changes that we have experienced all these days. Surely, many of us have reinvented ourselves during this time. Knowingly or unknowingly, the new life has been very positive for many of us and has also transformed our mindset for the better.
HEALTHCARE: Post lockdown the biggest focus is going to be ensuring good health for all. Corona virus, which took its wings from Wuhan in China, traversed all over the globe spreading fear and panic everywhere irrespective of nationality, colour or religion. Even the most developed nations with sound medical facilities crumbled resulting in lakhs of deaths.
India, which ranks very low in medical care, however, managed to keep the virus impact under check by implementing lockdown and appealing to maintain social distancing. The prolonged lockdown did cause unrest among people and the government also faced criticism from various quarters it cannot be ruled out that the mortality rate has been among the lowest in the world. But this does not mean we should become complacent in future.
The lesson that we learn now is that there is an urgent need to further strengthen our health care system which is in a poor shape despite so much of investments in the past several decades. We should also learn that the governments, both at the centre and the states, would henceforth determine honestly that strong public health system would be their foremost priority. The present condition of public health system is not hidden from anyone and there is no need to write more about it.
Even the private hospitals will have to change their outlook now. India today is an important nation for health tourism only because of high quality and prompt medical facilities largely provided by the private sector. Sadly, the treatment in private hospitals is very expensive and beyond the reach of a common man. Time has come when the management of private hospitals as well as private medical practitioners should change their thought and make treatment more affordable.
ONLINE CULTURE: The lockdown opened the doors for online work culture, online classes, online tests, online fests, webinars, online concerts, online entertainment, online music and movies and much more. Everything on computers without the need to step out of your home. Many people had already been working from home earlier too but during lockdown it became the new norm. This is the future, the new world, new work culture, new working environment, new normal that we are going to see more often in years to come.
Online work culture will have further impact:
a) Lesser Demand for Office Space: It’s a reality that the real estate might see a decline in the demand for large office space. The companies might consider going for comparatively smaller offices, either rented or purchased, and ask majority of their staff to continue working from home. Staff might be asked to come to office for collective meetings etc on a pre-scheduled date on rotational basis. This will help the corporate save huge amount of money which may be invested in expanding business.
b) Redesigned Homes: Work from Home (WFH) meant you fix a corner in your room or go for a separate study room which is presentable and equipped with all necessary facilities like a book shelf, study table, internet connection, desktop/ laptop, headphone etc. In future we are definitely going to see homes being renovated or redesigned to make them compliant with WFH culture. A study corner or a study room is the new necessity. The builders too will not lag behind and include study rooms in their apartments which will surely give them a reason to attract more clients. And more clients means more business.
GREATER ROLE OF MEN IN HOMES: I am a man, why should I cook? Why should I perform domestic chores ? So far the men folk have, generally, lived with this kind of reputation in our society. Up till now the men had the reputation of being a grumbling, order-passing figure who sits on a couch and watches women perform all domestic chores only to find mistakes or criticise them at the end. So much so they would not even serve their plates and expect the lady of the house to do this miniscule job. Ironically, level of education does not reflect on their personality from any corner.
Of late, a change in personality was noticed, particularly in metropolitan cities, where men shared the household responsibilities since their spouses too went out to work. The lockdown, however, saw a drastic change in the role men played in their homes. Many men ventured into kitchens and cooked, good or bad, for their family, rendered a helping hand in mopping the floor or washing clothes. Social media was abuzz with photographs of food cooked by the ‘dads’.
Men, hopefully, will stand up to their newly earned reputation post lockdown. Don’t be surprised when you go for lunch at a relative or a friend’s home where the hostess introduces you to a new chef and serves a stunning new dish prepared by ‘him’. A meaningful change that we are going to see in our future lives.
DO IT YOURSELF: The lockdown and social distancing norm created an environment where the domestic help was sent on leave and the work fell on our shoulders. Most of us proved we are good at everything and can clean the utensils, mop the floors and wash the clothes quite well by ourselves. Besides this, we also took care of our flower pots, took care of pets and did car cleaning as well. Post lockdown too the ‘new domestic work culture’ is likely to continue as social distancing will have to be observed to the keep the corona virus at bay.
Surely, we have imbibed the western culture in true sense now; so far we just wore western dresses, listened to western music and spoke English loudly to show off our modernity. The lockdown has made us westernised in true sense.
SIMPLICITY IS THE NEW RULE: During lockdown when we did most of the work by ourselves and remained confined to our homes many people realised that life is all about simplicity but adopting it has been so difficult. Many of us awakened to the fact that we needed one decent, well designed home to live, lesser clothes than we have in our wardrobes, lesser commodities that have cramped in our homes, simpler food that we never thought of eating, not more than one or two cars and the need to lead a more disciplined life.
SPREAD HAPPINESS: Life is so simple but we made it complicated. Hope we retain rules of simplicity and lay more stress on stress-free life and happiness of our soul. We need to shift our focus from more of material world to nature, environment, wildlife and seeing places within the nation and the world.
We must realise we are in the world and should make the most of it. We should make happiness our pursuit, spread a little sunshine here and there. We should enjoy the flowers, the breeze, the waving trees, the rivers, sea, sky and the mountains. Should we not say hi to a passing child, wave at children going to schools in a rickshaw early morning, help a pregnant lady by sharing her luggage, stop and ask the well being of an old person whom we meet on the pavement. Life is great and much beyond the commodities that occupies most of the space in our homes just to pump our ego and vanity.
SPECIFIC INDUSTRY WILL GROW: The new living environment and Do it Yourself (DIY) lifestyle means that some specific industries will see growth as the demand for certain products will escalate. There are huge opportunities for such industries engaged in manufacturing and selling of home maintenance gadgets. Besides, the food and beverage industry too stands to gain in the post lockdown world.
Things of everyday use like an easy to use broom which does not give an aching back, fast and convenient floor mopping gadget, brushes to wipe out dust, floor cleaners, smaller washing machines which use less water, folding racks to dry clothes, convenient ironing tables etc are many such things which are likely to come in greater demand for some time to come.
Similarly, ready-to-eat food stuff, pre-cut vegetables, variety of packaged food including heat- and- eat chapatis, packaged salads, variety of yogurts, sprouts and a variety of takeaway add-on fresh food products are likely to see growth post lockdown. The sweet shops remained closed during lockdown and it became difficult to control our cravings for them. We have seen many families posting photographs of variety of sweets, cakes and cookies that they made in their homes. Those who could not make them were jealous and felt helpless. Packaged sweets too is likely to see a huge growth since social distancing norms are there to stay for many more months to follow.
Who says recession is going to stay? Only thing is the focus will most likely change and the industry needs to capitalise on it as it becomes more innovative, sensitive to consumer needs and changed way of life. Industry will have to do some research work, find out what has changed, look into new lifestyle, find the gap, cater to the new fresh, fill the vacuum and introduce products as alternatives. Of course, the success mantra would be reasonable pricing and good quantity spiced up with purity of ingredients and hygiene.
There have been many a talks and controversies about the lockdown, its implementations and effects but the second opinion only goes on to say that it was a necessary evil to keep us safe and healthy. It would become more meaningful if we forget the difficulties that came our way during this period and share our stories of change to our children and grandchildren.