Have you ever experienced the pleasure of being home after a strenuous month of hectic studies and exam stress? Nothing can compare to the happiness of returning home; home is where the heart is. The long wait for homemade food and the warmth of the serenity around was over. But alas the privilege of wandering around and hanging out, soon concluded after the prevailing COVID-19 unfurled. Little did I know that this happiness would end so abruptly.
The first move
On the 22nd of March, 2020 a 14-hour voluntary public curfew was ordered. Except the front-liners such as police, medical services, media, home delivery professionals and firefighters, everyone had to take part in the curfew. At 5 p.m. that day, all citizens of India were asked to stand in their doorways or balconies, and clap their hands or ring bells in appreciation for the front liners delivering these essential services. There was chaos everywhere with a lot of hustle and bustle on a rumor that a lockdown would soon be placed. People began gathering essential stuffs needed to make ends meet; as the liberty to shop publicly would soon be curtailed. When the number of confirmed positive coronavirus cases in India was approximately 500, a nationwide lockdown of 21 days was ordered on 24th March, 2020.
I was beguiled with the thought that 21 days at home was a fat chance to relive the opportunity lost in the past 8 years, for a person whose stay had never exceeded beyond a week. The initial days were super exciting. I had all the time in the world to read the books I always wished for, in a place where I always found solace which was none other than – “My Home Sweet Home”. I was further fascinated with the thought that I would soon master the skill of cooking as my experiment toward trying out new cuisines gradually grew day by day. Oh! how could I forget when I tried my hands for the first time on candle making and it was a howling success. Although my interest for creative art goes back in time to my childhood, the unavailability of resources due to the lockdown hindered me from indulging in such activities. Thanks to LinkedIn, Google Digital Garage, Google Analytics, Corporate Finance Institute (CFI), edX and Cousera for keeping me away from procrastinating.
The chronology of the lockdown
But as time passed by, I realized that the media was flooding with the count of coronavirus patients shooting up throughout the world. People lost lives, corona affected families only hoped to go back home and live a normal life. Families of the front liners eagerly waited for the return of their loved ones. On the 5th of April, 2020 the Prime Minister of India asked India’s 1.3 billion citizens to observe nine minutes without electricity at 21:00 local time. He urged them to "challenge the darkness" the virus had created in the lives of the people by lighting candles and lamps. In India, the phase I (25th March, 2020 – 14th April, 2020) initially slowed the growth rate of the pandemic, but by 6th April, 2020 it doubled every six days, and by 18th April, 2020 to a rate doubling every eight days. This led to the extending of the nationwide lockdown until 3rd May 2020, with a conditional relaxation for regions where the spread had been contained after April 20, 2020. The lockdown has been extended further by two weeks until 17th May, 2020 with relaxation applied accordingly. The Government of India has divided the nation into three regions – green, orange and red to take control of the situation accordingly.
The impact of the outbreak was immense. The population hit hardest by the draconian measure of the lockdown were the poor - the daily wagers, the street vendors, the construction workers and the homeless. Around 139 million migrant workers emigrated out of major Indian cities, because they lost their jobs. The shutting down of factories and workplaces resulted in shortage of food supply and increase in the price of food items. Firms came up with the idea of working from home to meet the market demand. Schools were shut down with a few grades being promoted based on previous performances; but unfortunately, the board exams came to a halt. With employees having not to go to work, domestic violence was on the rise. The extended lockdown is set to cost the Indian economy up to Rs 17.78 lakh crore and ascend the affliction of domains such as travel and tourism, manufacturing, auto even as partial opening of select sectors outside of Coronavirus hotspots from April 20 has ignited aspirations. The cumulative output loss over 2020 and 2021 from the pandemic crisis is expected to be around 9 trillion dollars throughout the world.
The role of the government.
The Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was created on 28 March 2020, following the COVID19 pandemic in India. The fund was created for combating, containment and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak and similar pandemic like situations in the future. My family, friends and neighbors did our bit to contribute to this cause, help in the war against COVID -19. 84.26 lakh people have been provided meals across the country during the lockdown, of which nearly 37% people were sustained by NGOs. While rations from the government’s public distribution system (PDS) is usually only for those who hold ration cards, the people who didn’t have ration cards were also welcome to avail free food grains through PDS shops by the Government of Karnataka.
Is someone taking care of the fauna?
The state and district administrations in association with the NGOs and citizen groups have been undertaking the task of feeding stray cattle and dogs starving due to the lockdown. Although I am not an animal person but the pandemic made me develop a bond of friendship with the cats, dogs and birds around who wait for me to serve them food every afternoon.
Is there a way to get out of the woods?
More than a million people around the world are known to have recovered from the coronavirus. But the road back to full health was not the same for everyone. Supplemental oxygen can range from a lot of different things, from the insignificant to the most significant. Some people might need nasal prongs, providing a little portion of oxygen through a nose tube. The most extreme is when people need to be taken care of in the intensive care unit and require a breathing tube and ventilator machine.
Corona has a positive push as well?
Yes, COVID -19 had a positive impact as well; the quality of the air improved; rivers became cleaner. According to the World Air Quality, the average concentration of 𝑃M2.5 (atmospheric particular matter) in New Delhi came down by 71 percent. Nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant also witnessed a drop by 71 percent. Citizens in Northern India are getting a clearer view of the Himalayan Mountain range. Our health has been improving with an extra hour of sleep as we don’t have to commute to get to work or get kids ready for school on time. Most of us have been eating home-cooked food which usually uses less oil, fresh ingredients,
less or no processed foods, making it a healthier option than eating out or ordering online. With domestic helps also strictly following the lockdown, we find ourselves needing to do our own household chores ending up with a much cleaner living space. With most of the parents working from home and children not having to go to school, the bond as a family has been growing stronger. It has also been the time to rekindle friendships through WhatsApp calls with absolutely no complaints of you not visiting them in person.
Update on the vaccine?
Scientists and researchers round the globe are competing against time to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. As of now, almost 100 research groups are working constantly to develop a potential vaccine for COVID-19. We need to hold the fort until the vaccine for the virus is discovered and fight tooth and nail to come out victorious, leaving no stone unturned.
After a tedious day at work the only place any person would find happiness is one’s home. A vacation at home is something anyone would wish for, but amidst an outburst of a pandemic disease as dreadful as Corona? Surely Not! Never have I seen such hue and cry in life; though the air is pure wearing a mask is essential; roads are free but long drives are impossible; there is time to spend with friends but getting together is out of question; you’ve become a master chef but no one to taste your delicacies. “Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam; there’s no place like home, Home Sweet Home.”
Alita William Jonathan
IFIM College, Bangalore.