Just when the country was returning to what it used to be before the Covid-19 struck us around March 2020, the virus with many new mutations has surged again. March 2021 has seen a sudden spike in the number of patients infected by Corona and India is once again shadowed by a probable lockdown.
The Union Health Minister in a press conference said that this new rise in cases is due to the festivities, local body elections, farmer’s protests, etc. which made people put their guards down. Of course, the local body elections reasoning could also be extended to state election campaigns by both the ruling government and the opposition parties where the people who are meant to be the leaders aren’t seen following any protocols. Many people in India had given up precautionary measures way back in the mid-2020. Therefore, the timing of this second wave being now is a matter that needs better elucidation by the authorities.
COVID has been around for over a year now and it indeed has changed a lot. The most prominent one is the economy. Though the tertiary sector could still be continuing via work-from-home mode, the limited internet accessibility and disruption to the global value chains pose challenges. Similarly, the already lagging behind sector, that is, the secondary sector has seen a bigger debacle. It was only the primary sector that showed some positive signs, one of the reasons being the counter-migration of labourers that increased the people investing in agriculture. Nevertheless, overall a negative impact on the economy made the GDP contraction become -23.9% in the 1st quarter of 2020-2021. How this second wave would affect this time is yet to be seen, but the IMF has already decreased the growth estimation of India from what it had predicted before in its World Economic Outlook report.
Another area affected by the COVID is the education sector. The Telecom Services Performance Indicator Report by TRAI says that the broadband penetration in rural areas is just around 29% when in the urban areas it is around 93%. With this infrastructure, students accessing online classes easily is still a distant dream. Enrolment too has gone down even in states with high literacy rates like Karnataka as parents are waiting for the pandemic to pass. Here, just as the government schools are providing ration facilities to students under the Mid-day Meal scheme, pupils could be clustered in small groups and mass communication media could be used to at least keep them updated with the academics.
Apart from all this, Indian society has been affected too, rather much more than many foreign nations as the very social fabric of our society, togetherness has been affected with people being confined to their houses. With curb on festivals, increased pressure of the work-from-home assignments, job uncertainty, etc. many people is falling into the darkness of depression. Also, a scary report by the Ministry of Women’s and Child Development said that the calls complaining about domestic violence have increased manifolds during the pandemic time. Thus, women and children are facing this dual war within and without their homes. Here, a silver lining is a fact that many relationships have also got the time to rebuild and strengthen. Family time has gained a lot of popularity in 2020.
COVID has made people find out a new value for their lives and also for the others around them. Still, in a complex and diverse nation like India, things could be more challenging. Self-care along with a responsible gesture towards several societies is the only way out we as common citizens can work upon. Between gasping for each breath of air being infected and adhering to the COVID protocols, the latter is what any sane and rational person would choose. Our fight with this second wave is on and let us contribute towards breaking the chain that has distressed the whole world.
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