The unexpected upside of the lockdown
When the world was suddenly taken unawares by the Corona -19 in January 2020, nobody knew much about what it could mean in the days to come. Soon came the clamping of lockdowns by nearly 185 countries of the world in a matter of weeks. People thought it could last a few days or weeks.
Yet it took months to realize how crippling it could be for the economies and for the wage earners who were to look after the needs of their families while the work places remained closed. Jobs were lost. Places of employment closed down in many cases and, in others, they allowed the work-from-home option if it could be possible. It spelt untold misery for many. That is common knowledge and experience after the lockdowns. However, there are some areas where we notice the positive impact of the lockdown.
Universities and colleges remained closed for several months. Young adult students studying at distant institutions got a rare opportunity to have quality family time with parents and grandparents. This prospect , though the child of an unwelcome global situation, proved to be a opportunity for parents to live together with their grown up children for several months which they would otherwise have missed forever , because once the career seeking children leave the nest called home, they return only for an occasional weekly vacation.
Babies of tender years got the chance to be raised together by both parents who were confined to homes during the lockdown. Mothers who used to be out of home in order to attend offices or factories were now in the right place to look after the emotional and physical needs of their very young children. Not only that, fathers and mothers were able to take an equal part in raising the child. The fathers became co-carriers and acquired greater confidence and esteem as fathers.
The young people working in IT industry had to rediscover their potential as remote workers. They were back home, thousands of miles away from their usual offices and it is possible that they might continue to work in this capacity for many months, or may be, for all times.
This has given a new perspective to the employers who may make new decisions in the light of newly acquired awareness that commanding all IT workers to work under one roof had been a costly affair. They may find many reasons to appreciate the cost-cuts that resulted from the Lockdown in the form of savings on transport, free canteens and reduced rent of the workspace at the office. Instead of four floors, they might do pretty well with one or two floors. The revenue will remain the same but the expenses will come down.
During the two months of complete lockdown with a virtual curfew-like strictness, the reflective-type citizens with assured jobs and salaries came to realize for the first time how it really takes too little of money to survive in a world where people of liberal means remain foolishly busy spending on things which are easily dispensable.
The spending in such affluent households came down from several thousand per month to just a couple of thousand rupees on bare minimum needs. The malady was absolutely new and the fears were unfathomable, including a kind of despondency which made amassing of means look both silly and mean.
This was a kind of spiritual awareness that even persuaded people to rise above purely selfish existence and to offer to others what they needed the most during that rough patch of time—ration and financial help. Many donated liberally to help migrants reach their homes. Many arranged voluntary kitchens. It was a blossoming of the loftier side of the human spirit.
The ladies who would often depend upon paid cooks could be seen visiting the U-tube and cooking and baking rare delicacies at home, filling the vacant hours and the home environment with a new hope and mouth-watering aroma! To this limited extent, the Lockdown surely showed that it has an upside , too !
(The author is a Retired Principal Govt. College, Hoshiarpur Punjab. He is a regular contributor to Kashmir vision)