In one of his Ted talks in 2015, tech giant Bill Gates had predicted that viruses pose the greatest risk of global catastrophe; when compared to other threats of humanity. If anything kills over 10 million people over the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war or missiles, he warned. His fears were not unfounded. Five years later, Coronavirus or as we say Covid 19, has brought the world to its knees. Businesses have been shut, schools and colleges are closed, travel banned. The whole world is in a complete lockdown. But as they say challenges create opportunities. Covid-19 may have turned our lives upside down but it has certainly provided an opportunity for all of us to rise to the occasion during these testing times.
Firstly, Covid has given a huge lift to online learning both in the metros and non-metros. Online education, for instance, has got a major boost. Educational institutions, business organisations among others, have taken online education to a new level by offering classes, coaching and courses in an innovative way to keep their audience hooked at these times of lockdown. In India, students and professionals are signing up for online classes- from entrance exams like JEE and NEET or for upskilling, the demand has grown manifold. According to reports, courses on cyber security, cloud, DevOps, AI and data science have witnessed a jump of 15% in March. Several schools across the country have started online classes. Schools have ensured that virtual classroom looks like normal classrooms with hours filled with activities and homework. In fact, according to Comscore, an American media measurement and analytics company that provides marketing data and analytics to enterprises; media and advertising agencies, there has been a significant jump in online news consumption across the world, communication apps are being embraced by even the cynics, and binge-watching has become the new stress buster. Global World Index substantiates by acknowledging the surge in online consumption which is seen across age groups.
Secondly, we have become more hygiene conscious. People have started taking personal hygiene more seriously. The ritual of washing hands, sanitizing things before use, that started as a compulsion is becoming a habit. 87.2 per cent of Indians have become vigilant towards their personal hygiene during Covid lockdown. Health and hygiene brands have risen to the occasion and have started massive campaigns to spread awareness on cleanliness. Public spitting is a criminal offence liable to fine.
Work from Home (WFH) is the third major change that has become a part of our lives. Well, honestly speaking it was never a new concept. Many IT companies in the West and even in India has been practicising it with perfection. Covid 19 has taken it to another level with almost all companies asking its employees to WFH.
The culture has seeped into our living rooms with people especially, women, juggling between cooking, parenting and working at the same time!
The Big Q: Will these changes continue after the lockdown is lifted? As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. A first look at these changes reveals that people from all walks of life have imbibed the alterations. Digital life has become a detox. Watching live you tube shows for hours have become popular. Similarly, people are getting used to WFH culture. According to Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, WFH will become a norm in the post-Covid world. Sanitizing things before use, is likely to continue, as people have recognized the need to stay healthy more so, with no vaccine on Covid in sight for a long time to come. Social distancing and wearing mask in public is also going to stay for a while. But then, the bigger question remains: Is India’s infrastructure well equipped to sustain these changes when things normalize? More important, will these changes enhance our economy or infuse more trouble in terms of employment? The answer lies in how things will shape up in few months. Till then, it’s wait and watch.
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