Thoughts to Think
1 June, 2020
India is flexible to Adapt in Chaos – Story behind the MASK
The day when Government of Karnataka relaxed lockdown measures from 21st May, 2020. Work from home reverted to office. Interesting adaptability among the street vendors is selling of mask, instead of battery covers, toys, cooling glass and hand kerchiefs. These were common scenes prior covid lockdown. Migrant groups from Rajastan, Jarakhand and west Bengal would be the front line to selling their creative toys. Now they are replaced with colourful masks. Every 500 meter of Bangalore Highway we can see street vendors selling masks. Mask with different colors, design and cloth materials.
Interestingly, had a conversation with a street vendor, aged about 26. I was curious to understand where he is from? What is the rate? How he gets supply? Where it is manufactured? What is his motivation behind? It was an interesting exchange of information. At the end one thing I learnt is the willingness to adapt towards the uncertainty and hope to build a livelihood out of it. How far it is sustainable in future? I leave this question to the reader and buyer of the colourful masks.
The street vendor is from shivajinagar, earlier he used to sell travel bags and college bags. Born and brought up in Bangalore only, Street vendor stated that “my brother pulled me in, we were out of business close three months”. Thesecolourful masks are made of fabric, nylon and polyester materials. Few varied designs and He has surgical masks too in his collection (see picture). Each cost varying price from 40 ₹ to 80 ₹. Attractive material and design would cost up to 80 ₹. Upon enquiry where these are manufactured? He was no clue about it, he mentioned that he is receives bundles of mask at shivajinagar at low cost and might be someone from local streets stiches mask and textile factories too. Since we received lot of stock today, we are out of selling. At the end of the conversion, asked about the customer response in Highway. He replied that, in day will be able to sell close to 10-15 masks only. If people movement increases might be able sell more.
On end we are witnessing migrants workers struggling going back to home throughout India, but here in Bangalore few are finding a way to alter their livelihood to secure their future. Covid and fear of covid may leverage the economic activity. Those who are able adapt quickly in response to uncertainty have become true to street vendors story. We need to live with this pandemic, what I learnt from street vendor is his acceptance, willingness and flexibility. During lockdown we saw how medical stores charged masks up to 100₹ to 500₹, amazon and flipkart ran out of sales for so called “N-95 masks”. People were literally panicking and running one shop after the other. Here we go Make in India is visible and demonstrates vendor’s story. Maskin India movement and Video tutorials in Arogyasetu app are building new space, hope and for confident India.
India's Response to Covid-19: Prioritizing Life and Service
30 May, 2020
Dr. Manasa Nagabhushanam, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Chetan B Singai, email@example.com
Dr. Sreevalsa Kolathayar, firstname.lastname@example.org
We have come a long way now, with the onset of third round of lockdown period due to the unusual COVID 19 Pandemic. Initially, elders at home who were fixed to a pattern of life did not know how to sit idle. Their routine has always synchronized with the clock. They kept engaged throughout the day. It is difficult to make them sit at a place, and their argument remains “if we rest, we rust”. Many times, we can't disagree.
For those students who were to give exams, examination was the question of life and death. But today both students and parents, who used to be greatly stressed, have accepted to go ahead without exams. For many employees ‘work from home’ had no meaning and was unproductive, but today it is a reality and reaping benefits out of it. Meetings using technology was confined to the board room decision makers, but today it is a common man’s tool. Passion and aspirations of learners are now fulfilled through the technology connect. With mixed responses, the nation-wide lockdown has been hailed by citizens of the country.
With emotions and a mixed feeling from the common man, India’s response to the pandemic has been timely and with preparation. It is appropriate to take stock of the unique and distinctive nature of our battle against the Covid-19. The country has been proactive in acknowledging the onslaught of the Covid-19 virus. Before the country reported any positive cases of Covid-19, the country had imposed travel restrictions and screening of international passengers coming from a country affected with Covid-19. Further, the government imposed a mandatory 14 days quarantine for all international passengers. Beyond this, malls, theatre, education institutions and many such locations exposed to public gatherings were sealed due to nation-wide lockdown from March 21, 2020, to April 14, 2020. The lockdown is extended to May 3, 2020 and this continues to May 17, 2020. This lockdown one of its kind in the history of independent India is the most critical and bold step taken by the government to arrest the spread of Covid-19, from stage 1 to 2. The government needs much appreciation in adopting a preventive strategy, rather than a curative one. In sum, at the national level, the response to lock down and the advisory of the government aligns to the spirit of 'one nation, one approach' phenomenon. The nation is witnessing a phenomenon of not only physical isolation but isolation from perceived social, political and cultural differences to fight the unprecedented pandemic. The concept of the well-being of humanity, ignoring any form of discriminations is deep-rooted in our culture and ethos towards 'Sarve Janaah Sukhino Bhavantu'.
Countries like China have authoritarian leadership, and it is easy to keep people inside the home using power. In democratic countries like the United States or European countries, people do not listen to administration and controlling people is difficult. The largest democracy in the world with over 130 crore population, India, has come to a standstill on March 22, 2020, with Janata Curfew (of the people, by the people and for the people), a curfew followed by the people, not imposed by the administration. Strength of Indian democracy!
At the global level, India has been lauded for its timely actions to tackle the Covid-19 crisis. Early actions were taken to screen people do testing and contact tracking. The COVID-19 Government Response Stringency Index developed by University of Oxford, UK to measure strictness of measures taken by government across the globe. The Index reveals India's response to COVID-19 is one of the most stringent in the world with a perfect score of 100 in comparison to USA, UK and other developed countries in the world with their scores ranging from 80-90.
There is something culturally unique in this country which money cannot buy. Amidst the crisis, the management of the pandemic in India is distinctive vis-à-vis most nation-states in across the globe. There is something unique which is working at the backend to take care of every individual in the country to face the situation personally, socially, psychologically and also spiritually. The Ministry of Ayush has taken a proactive step in developing a protocol to build immunity and develop the capabilities to fight the epidemic. The UGC and the AICTE have come out with suggestions to the student community to follow specific Yoga Practices and Kriyas to maintain a healthy lifestyle and enhance immunity and caring for respiratory health. AICTE has also called for Synchronized Global Prayers in association with Indian Yoga Association which have been circulated to all educational institutions across the country to pray every day.
The Prime Minister's call for lighting the lamp to make an effort to fight the issue collectively with a unified conscious was a unique way of energizing the people of the country in a situation of crisis and setting a positive mindset to look forward to the scenario to become better in the country. This process is towards building a universal psyche that things can work in the country's favour. The ancient saying 'Yadbhavam Tadbhavathi' which means 'as you think, so it happens', is the spirit behind the call. It was a surprise that many homes in the Arab countries also lit the lamps expressing solidarity and Unity.
It is no surprise, that how the entire country is coming forward to offer maximum help and unconditional support through making masks, running community kitchens, food distribution, delivery of essentials to door step and to help people directly or indirectly affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The lockdown period is challenging for many. There are so many inconveniences, especially for the financially weaker sections. This has not stopped the world moving. With the efforts from central and state governments and with public participation their needs are being addressed. Apart from this there are people who are also suffering loss of business in case of small business owners and also there is great apprehension on the possible economic slowdown for large businesses. Unlike other countries, Indian businesses have shown greater resilience and are prepared for a restart post pandemic.
India is capable of handling any eventuality as it has demonstrated in the past. Today India leads the world in its response to Covid 19. There is potential in the nation to face and cross this situation, through its well defined and devised policies, participation of states in decisions, effective and last mile implementation plans and more over the belief in its potential to achieve higher success levels.
The Indian society is organic, compassionate and resilient. Even if the economy falls, society will move forward due to its cultural and social values. Indian philosophy has always supported co-existence of life. Seva (self-less service) and Tyaga (sacrificing one’s comfort for others) are embedded in the very ethos of the nation and its cultural identity. These two lies at the heart of the path of karma yoga and we always observe a deep sense of altruism and volunteerism reflected both at individual levels and society at large. Whenever people notice that something is not alright or someone is suffering, they respond immediately to reverse it and bring about change. In India, Altruism and Volunteering are enduring instincts. During several, disasters that the country has faced the response has been constant. Indian mind-set is not just about gratitude, but it is also about giving and giving selflessly. COVID 19 has created that kind of feeling in people to set things right, making lives comfortable, give and give selflessly. All those providing essential services during this pandemic are risking their lives for saving others from the spread and suffering. Volunteer groups have initiated several volunteer programs through-out the country which reflects these enduring instincts. Such of those People who are aware of the situation, who have recognized the imbalance are conscious and will make the system work in the country. Today is the day to support such people and platforms that are keeping these long-lasting instincts alive in people. These initiatives are now more systemic and integrated. In the days to come these can be further used as models for handling global disasters.
Liberal Arts Education in India
The Draft National Education Policy 2019 submitted to MHRD, by the Committee for Draft National Education Policy, Chaired by Dr. K. Kasturirangan, has laid special emphasize on introducing Liberal Arts Education in India. The Policy sets its objective as ‘to move towards a more imaginative and broad-based liberal education as a foundation for holistic development of all students, with rigorous specialization in chosen disciplines and fields’. It also a known fact that the holistic living in 21st century requires inter-disciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to every aspect of human life. The Liberal Arts Education as proposed in the NEP underlines this fact. The purpose and importance of a liberal arts education today, as stated in the NEP, is to enable students to explore the numerous remarkable relationships that exist among the sciences and the humanities, mathematics and art, medicine and physics, etc., and more generally, to explore surprising unity of all fields of human endeavor. A comprehensive liberal arts education develops all capacities of human beings-intellectual, aesthetic, social, physical, emotional and moral-in an integrated manner.
Liberal arts education is not new to India. Indian universities such as Takshashila and Nalanda were the oldest universities in the world which were known to emphasize the liberal arts and liberal education. India not only lost its tradition of liberal arts education but also underwent drastic change in the way the higher education is pursued under colonization. As a result, the ecosystem of higher education in India changed over time and it has become challenging for the current HEIs, with some exceptions, to revive the liberal arts education. Pointing out at the importance of liberal arts education, NEP notes that a holistic and liberal education as described in India’s past is indeed what is needed for the education of India in the future to truly lead the country into the 21st century and the 4.0 industrial revolution. To take this forward, there is a strong need to orient stakeholders of higher education on ‘what’ is liberal arts education; ‘why’ is liberal arts education and ‘how’ it can be integrated with / embedded within the Indian education system.