Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
The nationwide lockdown has been extended by 19 more days up to 3 May. Worldwide, Covid-19 has infected more than 22 lakh persons with over 1.4 lakh fatalities. The figures for India are 14,500 persons infected with 480 plus fatalities. In the Northeast, there are 50 infections with two fatalities. The single Covid-19 case of Arunachal has been cured and presently Arunachal is Covid-19-free.
The lockdown has adversely affected the world economy with millions of people losing their jobs. The major impact has been on tourism, travel and hospitality sectors. Lakhs of people are working from home and most manufacturing has been stopped. The global economy is predicted to shrink by 3 percent compared to the forecast of 2.5 percent growth.
On the positive side, the lockdown has led to many indirect benefits. First among the benefits is the drastic reduction in air/river pollution, and preservation of forests and wildlife. Air pollution has come down by a huge margin, to the extent that citizens can clearly see the mountains of Himachal from faraway cities of Punjab. In many cities, starlit skies are visible for the first time. It is reported that the depletion of the ozone layer is being mended. It is also reported that many polluted rivers like the Ganga and the Yamuna are cleaner due to closure of sewages and less pollution from closed industries. This may be Earth’s way of cleaning herself – despite humans.
The other gain is the reduction in deaths due to road accidents. India’s average of 405 deaths and 1300 injuries per day due road accidents has been totally cut down. Similarly, cases of robbery, arson and rioting have come down as people are staying indoors due to the fear of Covid-19.
Another benefit accrued is the reduced indulgence in meat, fish, paan masala, gutkha and cigarettes and liquor due to the lockdown. Reduction in consumption of these items may lead to healthier bodies. However, as per reports, alcohol is a good sanitizer for the hand and throat!
One major long-term positive is healthier habits and etiquette. There is a huge reduction in our favourite hobby, ie, spitting, caused by fears of spreading the disease and due wearing of masks. Other hygienic habits are frequent hand-washing with soap, sneezing/coughing etiquette, social distancing, and keeping house and surroundings clean. Many families are also getting more time to spend with each other. Many are reviving good hobbies and skills like gardening, cooking, singing and even helping wives with household chores.
On the flip side, there are reports of increase in domestic violence due the lockdown, and loss of jobs. Many persons are gaining weight due to lack of work and exercise! Most persons are passing time just watching TV and using mobiles.
It appears that Covid-19 is going to hang around for some time. Like one said, we must use this lockdown period to master at least one life-skill. Go corona go! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)