The worldwide COVID19 pandemic has affected the world and India relatively. There are over 21 million cases reported around the world and over 2.5 million cases in India. Its impact on society is massive and presumably irreversible. The pandemic has changed everything in relationships, beliefs, priorities, income, career goals, and numerous other aspects of life
We are momentarily just excavating the short term effects of this global crisis, but what about its long-term effects? The pandemic has also provoked some long term alterations in the social fabric which are needed to be pondered upon.
Every now and then, we think about our future, but the current situation has compelled us to think more desperately about this topic. This article perpetuates the exact thing.
The education system has been considerably weakened due to the Covid19 emergency around the globe. For instance, in March this year, international students in the USA were compelled to go to their homeland because of the pandemic. And universities started conducting all courses online. In mid-July, a new US immigration policy was declared, threatening to revoke visas for certain international students if they are not taking any in person classes. In response, numerous universities, involving Harvard and MIT, filed a lawsuit to resist the order from being implemented. In an immediate lapse, the administration withdrew that rule after public backlash. The New York Times reported that, about two-thirds of parents in the USA, are against the push of the US administration to reopen schools. While in India, there is no decision taken yet to open schools and colleges. While, the government of India is mulling over reopening of schools, parents are not favouring the re-opening of the schools. According to the Times of India report, only 33% of parents want to reopen schools. Besides, only a few states in India like Chandigarh want to reopen academies. The ministry has been asking institutions to acquire online teaching rather than classroom teaching during the coronavirus pandemic. It has also allocated guidelines for conducting online classes with specific time limits for the different age groups of students. But 65% of enrolled students in Government colleges do not have access to online classes in India. So, it is evident that India lacks digital infrastructure, but more than this, India lacks awareness about digital learning. But still, online classes appear to be the most prudent tool for learning. Moreover, the government has advised universities to cover at least 25% of the syllabus through online mode in future. Hence, we can say that authorities are getting ready to adopt online learning as one of the studying methods. Here, it also seems that India is in no benefit if schools are reopened at least this year.[SB2]
Without a doubt, we can say that industries are extensively affected by COVID19 Crisis. According to The Indian Express, as per government data, 122 million of Indians lost their jobs from April to May, which have propelled the unemployment rate up to 27%. But why has this transpired? Simply due to the nationwide lockdown. But this lockdown was the need of the hour, so what was the real reason? The real reason was the common work culture, in which the employees must have to show up physically in the workplace. But this culture cannot be simply amended completely but is there a room for change here? Yes, there is.
- A change in the work culture
In a typical 9-5 office job, the employee has to commute from home to the workplace, work there, and go home again. But work from home (WFH) is a different functioning structure. It came into prestige in the 1970s. But it took years to get acquainted in India. It is also called telecommuting. It is a work arrangement in which employees do not physically commute to the workplace but rather work from home. The pandemic has pushed the limits of telecommuting around the globe and in India considerably. Recently, a survey called, ‘Life in a pandemic’ was conducted in which 2,033 people participated out of which about 94.5% of Indians accepted work-from-home culture as the new normal. Although, there is a long way to go, for both administration and the public, as still, a considerable part of the social fabric does not even consider telecommuting as a career choice, simply because of their ignorance. But it is evident that, we are accepting this change pretty much. Besides, Zendesk reports that, 92% of millennials are willing to work from home. They find it flexible and more work productive than normal 9 to 5 office culture. Also, Government of India has taken many significant steps to solve this issue; Recently, on 10th August, Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, inaugurated Submarine Optical Fibre Cable, connecting Chennai and Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar Islands which will boost the internet connectivity in that area. Moreover, an independent report of The Times of India claims that rural places in India have more internet active users [277 million] than in urban areas [210 million]; there is a difference of about 10%. Here we can conclude that, now almost everyone is comfortable in using internet which could re-introduce telecommuting as a decent job to them who are still not familiar with this concept.
- Businesses in response to WFH
The employees are getting ready to work from home. But the question is, are the businesses ready to harmonize with this new upheaval? Not yet, but they are aiming to adapt to this change. Like, Google and Facebook said that they will allow its employees to continue their work from home until July 2021. Besides, Facebook will procure an additional amount of $1,000 to its employees to use in home office needs. In July, Apple mandated its staff to not return to offices until at least early 2021. In May, Twitter also told its workers that they can work from home forever if they wish to do so. Although, the security concerns arising from working remotely are still not cured yet.
In this chaotic civilization, we all need some time to escape from the rush by taking a break, having some rest, by being entertained. And what do we do for this? Going out for a walk or going for a vacation, partying, meeting friends and relatives, watching the latest movies, and many more things. Though, we already know that we cannot do these things freely today, because of the current situation. But, thanks to our amazing ability to adapt in challenging conditions, which has been tested since ages, we are pretty much successful in changing our way of living, which is discussed below.
- Broadening functions of the internet
Apps like Netflix, Google meet, Zoom, WhatsApp and many other social media networks are helping us through this. The New York Times claims that the use of Netflix has risen by 16% from the month of January to March. Moreover, there is no chance of reopening of Cinema Halls at least this year. And the use of social media has also boosted reasonably. Use of Facebook has heightened up to 15% at the same time period. Apps like House party have changed the meaning of partying entirely. And people are pretty much accepting the change. Religious pilgrims are either closed or opened with restrictions. Religious tourism has almost stopped. But Google Street View gives a real experience of various places including religious spots, like virtual Char Dham Yatra.
- Changes in lifestyle
People are not just adapting to the changes transpiring today but also modifying their personality, thought process and way of living by finding new hobbies, like gardening, crafting, cooking, reading, and many other things rather than just watching television and surfing the internet. While 65% of respondents in the same survey stated that increased family time has strengthened their relationships. This pandemic has also weakened the spending culture which was increasing progressively before this. In July, this year, The Economic Times claimed that, 78 per cent of respondents said that they have reduced discretionary spending, according to a survey called, ‘Time to open my wallet or not?’, by consultancy firm KPMG.
Medical circumstances and health
Earlier, people were much more uptight about other national and international issues, rather than healthcare, but not anymore, because the present scenario has exposed the limitations of health sector even in the most developed nations like America and Japan. There is so much yet to be done for the improvement of healthcare system. People are now more concerned about the health related issues, and the policy makers in India have comprehended it. In March, Government of India declared that COVID19 treatment would be covered under Ayushman Bharat Scheme, in which even the poorest of poor would get treatment in private hospitals. This is the change for good. Now public is also eagerly waiting for vaccine of COVID19 and because of this, people are now aware about the importance of vaccine in health security, as some ignorant people still did not believe in the credibility of vaccines and did not actively participate in vaccination programmes organised by government from time to time simply because of their lack of knowledge and resistance to change. Besides, the same survey which was discussed earlier in this article, ‘Life in a Pandemic’ claimed that 80% of Indians are now eating healthier to strengthen their immunity and 32% of the same demographic are doing the in-home workout for fitness. And we hope that this change will stay with us.
At the verge of this article, we can conclude that the present condition has made substantial changes in the world, which are going to affect the lives of people forever. India is ready for digital transformation in order to cope up with upcoming challenges. Contrary to this, millennials are more eager to work from home because it is flexible and comfortable. Besides, active internet users in India are increasing progressively. But we cannot deny the fact that a considerable part of the society do not like telecommuting. We should remember that in 1930s, when paid holidays were introduced, some employers opposed it. But this change significantly increased word productivity of workers and also boosted the tourism industry. Similarly, today this change may seem forced, but it will certainly affect the social structure in a positive way. We just need to go with the progression as we are understanding the value of nature and freedom; and yes, we have to reconsider our priorities and goals in life because this pandemic have made us realise that may be we are mostly spending on things we don’t really need. Also, we are getting closer to family members more than ever and health has become an immediate concern. The policy makers are also heading towards this change. We have now understood that we can easily live without much resources. We are taking care of sanitization more than ever.
And these changes will be there with us forever positively because we had unforgettable experiences, whether good or bad which will guide us throughout the journey of life .