Coronavirus – A Blessing in Disguise for Our Planet?

Providing a glimpse of today’s scenario, we observe that the world is seething in depression and recession all around. It was in December 2019 when the world was preparing to step towards a new year with renewed enthusiasm when China was in a frenzy. A deadly streak of novel coronavirus (and the associated disease Covid-19) had begun to spread rapidly from Chinese city of Wuhan to other parts of the powerful nation. Fast forward to March 2020, the majestic world slowing started realizing that it wasn’t just another flu and WHO declared it a “pandemic”. Since then Covid-19 has been compared to the Spanish flu of 1918, which is claimed to have taken a million lives. Are we slowly heading towards mass extinction or this is the time when the earth hits a restart button? Scientists from around the world have united in this fight against the virus but how long till we reach the finishing line or is there a finishing line at all? When the Covid-19 cases were first reported in India earlier this year, some citizens started looked up to our government. What steps would the government take? How would it manage umpteen patients? What if the number of patients goes up like Italy or Spain? The questions are many but the only legible answer is HOPE – hope that everything will be alright, hope that the economy will be on track once again, and hope which would unite everyone.

The government announced on March 24th that there would be a lockdown of 21 days all over the nation. As of this writing, though the lockdown has been eased, we can still see some closures. Schools, colleges, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, malls, gyms, industries and shops – all non-essential activities were shut down. Is coronavirus so infectious that such precautions had to be taken by the government? Yes, of course! However, amidst all this fear, what I felt was something unique -I took lockdown or recession as a blessing in disguise.

“Sometimes when things are falling apart they actually may fall into place.”

We all agree that the pandemic has brought everything to a standstill, and led to a slowdown in everybody’s life in every possible manner. I strongly believe, and I am sure most of the readers would agree that since lockdown had started, the nature has gotten better and greener to such an extent that we did not expect – the snow covered Himalayan caps could be seen from Jalandhar as well. A report has clearly stated that pollution levels have gone down alarmingly as there was no vehicular movement on roads and no industries were emitting smoke. Moreover, on perceiving the clear blue sky, one realises that even the birds are now flapping their wings in the air oblivious of airplanes and helicopters. During the day, the squabbling squirrel has become an everyday sight. The backyard at my house has new visitors – birds and beautiful butterflies flying from one corner to another. We all have seen the viral videos on social media that showed us animals approaching the roadways and pathways. Are the plants and animals reclaiming the planet earth? Probably not, but it may be a gentle reminder!

Kids now spend great times with parents and grandparents. Parents seem to understand more about their children and vice versa. Grandparents telling stories to their grandchildren have gone up during the pandemic. Kids are learning to live more friendly with their siblings, especially on sympathy, caring, sharing, etc. Thus, family values have shown marked improvement over the last few months. Furthermore, whether it be kids or elderly, they now have time to realise their hidden talents and explore themselves from within. Many people are realising the importance of indoor games and how they can enhance mental abilities.

Technically speaking, coronavirus transmission can be prevented if precautionary measures are taken. The precautions we are taking now should have been inculcated in our lives much earlier – washing hands frequently, sanitizing everything, and some aspects of social distancing. Probably in the times of my great grandparents, as told by my mother, all these practices were followed with immense respect. Washing hands before and after every meal, taking off shoes at the entrance of a house, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding crowded places – all these were a part of our cultural heritage. Thus, we have now learnt that living a hygienic life is not difficult but it seemed to be tough for us before the outbreak of Covid-19. It is only after the ‘fact’ (i.e. damage caused by coronavirus) that we have realised that hygiene is the key to good health, which makes me think pandemic is a mixed blessing.

It may be in our best interest that the pandemic taught us the importance of simple living and high thinking that nothing is as motivating and as precious as an unadorned lifestyle – nothing could be. Our elders would repeatedly say – save money and money will save you – and that has come true in the current context. Although the government is coming to the rescue of those who don’t have much savings, many people have realized the importance of savings.

As of this writing, some of the businesses are still shut – restaurants, parlours, fitness centers and recreation activities. Most people have learnt during the pandemic that they can survive without indulging in these activities. In retrospect, you might be thinking how come I spent so much time and money on all these activities when most of it could be done from home? Thus, before the Covid-19, we may have got used to a high lifestyle, which will be on a downward spike for quite some time. On the other hand, charitable activities are on an upward swing! Many have realised how important it was to help the poor and downtrodden such as migrants.

Teenagers who were glued to their phones are now knowing more about their culture, especially when the television shows are flooded with Indian epics Mahabharat and Ramayan. Before the pandemic had started, children would think about and wait for holidays; now they are waiting to back to school as they miss their friends. Thus, we may see some positive behavioral changes as a result of the pandemic.

The pandemic is definitely an unfortunate thing to happen – we have lost lives; the economy slowed down; and we still may be missing our near and dear. However, we shouldn’t forget the positive impact it had on a substantial number of people and such an impact might remain for a lifetime.

-Muskaan Arora (Winner of Second Prize, Covid-19 Article Writing Competition, 13-17 Age Group)

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