What I learned about Gurugram during the COVID-19 outbreak?
The world is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Close of 1.5 million cases and over 82,000 deaths are reported so far, and the number is rising.
It would be not wrong to say that that the Coronavirus pandemic is a global public health disaster of almost biblical proportions. The pandemic will not only take away numerous lives but will also ruin economies and stress national and international institutions to their breaking points. After the virus recedes (hopefully soon), it will leave behind a geopolitical carnage with will take years if not decades to overcome.
Lockdown was a ‘farsighted’ decision, implemented well in time by Prime Minister Modi on March 24. The projection of the spread of pandemic was perhaps alarming, and lockdown came well in time to keep the situation under check.
As non-essential activities take a break, the lockdown is also throwing some exciting insights. I am talking about our very own millennium city – Gurugram. The three weeks of lockdown and the ongoing fight against the coronavirus have highlighted some interesting aspects. Here they go:
1. Home, the new workplace
Work from home (WFH) is not a new norm. Yet, many organisations in don’t promote it among their employees because of a lack of trust. The COVID-19 outbreak has shown that employees can perform to exceptional levels from home. The current situation is not a typical work from home as people have to juggle between work and their daily household chores, including babysitting their children. There is an observation that the employees contribute way beyond what they would do in the offices normally. It is time to look at working from home with much more seriousness not only from the Human Resource (HR) perspective but also from an economic point of view.
2. We can work together!
One of the biggest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic is how we can come together in times of crisis. Countries across the world are learning from each other on how to fight this deadly virus. Information, knowledge, relief is all flowing across the globe. Back home, the national government, state governments, local bodies are all in sync to take down the deadly virus.
In Gurugram, the public administration is working very closely with Civil Society, Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), Corporates, Citizens to provide essential services to the residents. The result has been local innovation, be it grocery delivery, mask distribution, mobility to stranded, food to the poor, and so on which was unthinkable, just a few months back.
The pandemic has shown that we can work together. We have to take this collaborative approach to problem-solving in the post-COVID Gurugram.
3. A blue sky reality
A study conducted in 2018 by IQAirAirVisual and Greenpeace found Gurugram to be the most polluted city in the world. The lack of a coordinated strategy and action is the main reason for the toxic air. Besides, there is always a conflict between economic growth vs health impact.
However, the pandemic showed n that we can keep away the air pollution. PM 2.5, an ultra-fine Particulate Matter with a size of 2.5 micrometres and a key metric to assess toxic air, has gone down by 71 per cent in Delhi NCR one week. The Nitrogen dioxide level went down from 52 per cubic meter to 15 during the same period. Forget the readings, the sustained spell of blue sky in Gurugram for more than two weeks has shown cleaner sky and cleaner air. When life gets back to normal, it’s time that we treasure the learnings from the unprecedent times like the holy grail.
4. Alternate paradigm
The COVID-19 pandemic is also an indication that we need to rethink our model for development. It has been well documented that since 1940, around half of the new diseases that jumped from animals to humans find their origin in either change in land use, agriculture, or wildlife hunting. For example, SARS, Ebola, West Nile, Lyme, MERS, and others all fit the profile. Research shows that more than Ten thousand mammalian viruses are potentially dangerous to people. Therefore, it is time to relook at our model of development. Biodiversity protection in one part of the world can prevent new diseases from emerging and leaping into another.
An invisible virus has shown some new direction; it’s time that we embrace these learnings for a better tomorrow.