HOPE FOR A BETTER WORLD
As the world grapples to fight the COVID-19 virus, most of us are hunkered down at homes in a lockdown to help break the circuit of infections and thus enable our governments to deal more effectively with the medical crisis at hand.
The virus has taught us many things; some that we already knew and some that have been new learnings.
It has certainly given us a sneak preview of a better world. A world where there is greater cooperation, empathy and stronger bonds. A world that is not consumed by the noisy engines of factories and vehicles that have for so long symbolised growth and development. A world that can see the difference between needs and wants, and can set better priorities. And, a world that has somewhat been rightfully reclaimed by nature. Clear blue skies, starry nights and merrily chirping birds are sights and sounds that I look forward to each day. I fervently hope that the “new normal” that is set in the post-Covid-19 world, fosters and retains some of these positives.
Importance of decentralisation
The way local administrations across the world have had to deploy fire-fighting strategies to contain the virus, the importance of decentralised, empowered governance along with robust and credible local ecosystems, cannot be understated. The administrative set up of several cities including Gurugram have collaborated seamlessly with civil society to widen their reach and impact. Many NGOs, corporates, RWAs, citizen initiatives and ordinary citizens have come forward to help the administration in unimaginable ways. Hopefully, this sets the trend of greater private-public partnerships in the coming times.
Lesson in Sustainability
Post Covid-19, sustainability should find a renewed urgency. As we discover that more office work and meetings can be done from home, the need for creating physical infrastructure (office buildings, expanding road network) should reduce.
There should now be a greater realisation that messing with forests and natural resources can be counter-productive. With the hum-drum of busy, hectic lives gone, people are enjoying the simple pleasures of life – composting, gardening, growing vegetables, cooking and finding time for old hobbies, recycling, reusing can eventually, lead more to join the “minimalistic lifestyle” bandwagon.
The pace of technology adoption has been unprecedented in this time. Be it virtual meetings and webinars, taking yoga classes and music tutorials online, or students attending school virtually, technology has been a huge “enabler” that has empowered our lives. Most of us have used and upgraded our e-skills to spend our time more productively.
The Reality Check
It has also made us think more empathetically about certain sections of our society such as daily wage earners, construction workers, farmers and small businessmen, as the crisis has exposed how vulnerable these sections are in such situations. The government must create innovative and practical schemes for these sections to withstand this crisis.
The lockdown is perhaps also a time to take our attention to critical city functions and fix them for once and all. For instance, Gurugram’s waste management is crying for help. The need for handing out segregated waste, practising zero waste dumping or waste burning and sending minimal waste to landfills, cannot be felt more than in these times. The risk that our sanitation workers bear and that of spreading contamination through non-sanitised practices seems so “real” now.
Lock-down undeniably is an opportunity to build patience and resilience within, to have compassion and be useful to the society at large, and perhaps a time to re-invent and re-orient ourselves to make us future-ready.
Before I end, I must thank the doctors, nurses, paramedics, police officers, sanitation workers, delivery men and many others have been working on the frontline and putting themselves at risk to ensure our safety and well-being.
About the author: Shubhra Puri is a journalist and Founder of Gurgaon First (GF), a social enterprise that promotes sustainability in Gurugram through workshops and research books.