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July 09, 2020

Let’s embrace the New Normal way of life

Online learning may be more suited to some personality types. Source: Alain Jocard. Photo:AFP
Online learning may be more suited to some personality types. Source: Alain Jocard. Photo:AFP

After every crisis of global proportion like the present COVID-19 pandemic, there usually were certain significant changes. They may be in the way of thinking, execution of a task, outlooks on the economics, social, politics and etc. In the past the world had been subjected to drastic changes due to major crisis, such as the world wars, plague, cholera, small pox and flu pandemics. This time around we were being hit by an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus unexpectedly. The virus had struck the whole world like a tsunami; sparing no country. It knows no national boundaries and without any discriminations against wealth, class, might, age, gender, color, race, religion or culture.
It had impacted greatly on almost all the aspects of the human society, health, economics, education, social, politics and environment and on almost everything. Today some experts had written about the impacts, especially centered on the economics, politics and a few on the social impacts. Each has their own outlooks and views in their writings. As for me, I’ll be discussing the impact of the outbreak on the aspects mentioned below.

Educational Impact
Fortunately the outbreak in our country coincided with the summer school holidays. Though the reopening date hasn’t been decided the schools are expected to reopen soon. One consideration to be given to the reopening is, will it be safe for the children. Taking into consideration the experience of South Korea, school reopening shouldn’t be done hastily. Resurgence of the disease amongst the students could happen.
In such situations I believe the authorities will be contemplating on other methods of teaching besides the traditional classroom teachings. Today with the widespread use of smart phones among the youngsters and the access to the Internet is getting more easy in the country, e-learning or online learning or virtual learning should be introduced on a wider scale. As I am not an expert in such matters I will leave that to the experts for detailed planning.

Economical Impact
Though I will not be discussing the impacts on economics in detail, I would like to mention what one economist from Ireland lately said. He had coined a new word to describe the effects of the COVID-19. He introduced a new word “pandession”. Yes, it is very appropriate as the crisis is causing a combination of pandemic and recession. According to him, it is a one-in-a-generation event with no economic blueprint for recovery. Most economists around the world are worried about the tailspin dive the economy had plunged into due to the pandemic and no one is sure when it will recover. This could lead to a great change in our ways of thinking related to the economy. Who’d have thought it would take a global pandemic and an economic crisis to see how we can re-imagine our future on the planet?
The economic cycle is broken, or at least disrupted for a while. Our usual way of being has changed—irreversibly and forever, or maybe for the better. A search for different answers has begun and a “new kind of normal” has quickly taken shape.

Health Impact
As it has much affects on the economy, the pandemic has greatly impacted on the health aspects in unprecedented ways and measures. In the beginning people were greatly concerned, or frankly, doubted the ability of our country to cope with an outbreak of such a large scale. However, contrary to our concerns and doubts, we were proven wrong and it had spotlighted the efficiency of our health services — dedications and selflessness of our healthcare staffs and volunteers. Above everything, it has shown how much our nation is resilient to this disaster. If one is not prejudiced or biased, they must give credit to all our frontline heroes who gallantly fought the disease and those who managed and directed the whole operation efficiently.

Political Impact
In many countries this incident will make or break a government. We are witnessing where some leaders are losing popularity among their people for mismanaging the control of the pandemic. I don’t think it will be necessary to single out any particular leader who had failed in this latest test of their leadership abilities, but one thing for sure is, our leaders passed with flying colors. For a developing nation with limited medical or healthcare resources to have controlled the causalities to a respectable minimum is no small feat, but an outstanding achievement. Directly or indirectly, this pandemic had delivered a blow to some leaders in terms of political losses, while providing some with political gains. It also provided our country an opportunity to reconcile. Various political parties and armed groups should seize this opportunity to work hand in hand with the government towards national reconciliation and build a peaceful and prosperous nation.

Social Impact
The impacts on the social aspects of human life are more diverse and significant. One thing for certain is more and more people will acquire the good and systematic methods and habits of washing hands that most of us had ignored in the past. Hopefully, also the habit of tea shop lounging will be somewhat diminished. Tea shop lounging in our country is a unique habit that has become almost a culture or a national pastime for adults, irrespective of age or gender in our country. People could be seen crowded in such shops from dawn till late into the night in the past. Wonder whether this will get reduced in the post COVID-19 period. Staying away from the tea shops or spending less time there will benefit people in the form of social distancing, especially in the immediate post COVID-19 period and help prevent the resurgence of the disease.
People should have learnt the importance of queuing and distancing, which they were required to undergo while purchasing their requirements from the drug stores, the convenient stores, shopping malls and making transactions at the banks during the crisis. Reluctance to queue at public places like the banks, shopping malls, stores, bus stands and any other public places are very annoying and undesirable. Out of the large variety of social impacts that the COVID -19 can deliver, if it could change the behaviours of the people and make them nurture these above mentioned habits it would be doing a great favour to us.

Environmental Impact
With the forced shutdown of the factories, stoppage of the the commercial flights, lesser trains, ships and cars commuting during the lockdown, the air quality became noticeably cleaner. With less Carbon Dioxide emissions and the lesser greenhouse gases contributed much to the environment. Thus in a positive way the COVID-19 gives the Earth some respite to recuperate. It proved to the deniers of the climate change that using lesser fossilized fuels can safe the world.
During the the lockdown and stay home period we started seeing lesser plastic wastes in our wards and streets. It means lesser plastics are reaching the streams and rivers and hence lesser plastics end up in the oceans and seas. Thus it can be summed up that COVID’s bright side is the cleaner environment that we failed to achieve in years. The air today is cleaner, and visibilities are getting higher with the absence of the pollutant particulates.

General Impact
The crisis also exposes the ugly side of human selfishness — people stock-pile perceived necessities at the expense of others, ignoring requests to stay at home and refusing to keep social distance. Yet, it has also shined a light on the strength of our community, as thousands have volunteered to help out. They are the real heroes who place themselves in danger every day, providing vital services, fighting the virus, and caring for the vulnerable and the sick. In some countries companies set aside their competitive focus and profit-making activities as they transform products and services to overcome shortages in equipment and facilities. Families are seen spending more time together. There is also a renewed discovery of the value of nature and the outdoors as people find they have more time on their hands. People walking, where once they would have used cars or buses.
This crisis, despite its many tragic implications in terms of sickness and death, is exactly what we needed to galvanise us, to unite us as a global community, to see more clearly what we are collectively capable of achieving. As the old ways of doing things have broken down under the pressure of a global crisis, we become mindful of new ways of doing things breaking through. Enforced social isolation has dramatically accelerated virtual working. Much of the face-to-face activity once thought necessary for business — meetings, coaching, briefings, presentations and conferences — are now firmly rooted in the digital world. At home we rely more now on the Internet for connecting with family, shopping, entertainment and social activity. Working in the virtual space saves money and it may also save the planet. Let us embrace the newly evolved “normal way of living” or the “New Normal” way of life and work towards the betterment of our lives and the planet.
Reference:- Life after COVID-19: An invitation to re-imagine the future.

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