COVID-19: Has the pandemic trounced the human race?
The prolonged pandemic seems to stay for a long time now, its has been more than a year that coronavirus has hit every aspect of human race. According to the count of World Health Organization 169,710,788 cases have been confirmed worldwide and death toll up to 3,527,082 till date and rising contributing to the numbers Sikkim has recorded 14634 confirmed cases with 243 deaths so far,
Further the pandemic has changed the way of living of every human being, with wearing masks, sanitizing hands and maintaining social distance has become the new normal.
Sharin Rose Chettri, an MA course student who has been struggling with her online classes said “A lot has changed since the outbreak out the corona virus. Sickness, death, poverty, unemployment, bankruptcy so long and so forth. Life took a turn for some who adapted to the digitalized system while Life came to a halt who couldn’t do so.”
“The year of 2019 was supposed to be a year of new beginning, a year I wanted to bring about changes, turn things around, not repeat the same old mistakes and try to excel in things that life brought in my way. Well, that was what I had thought as I stood in the admission office in my university. But little did I know that life had other things planned for me and for everyone else. If you guys are familiar with the semester system M.A. program consists of four semesters in total i.e. I had to complete two years degree to be called a post graduate student. These four semesters was a roller coaster ride for me as well as for all the students and the faculties in our university.” Chettri said
“July 2019, beginning of first semester things were going exactly as I had hoped it would. Normal classes, university events, in person exams, face to face interactions, going out with friends, it was when having primary contact with other individuals was beneficial and normal. It was all normal back then but little did we know that the coronavirus had started to spread slowly and steadily till it caught its speed and the WHO had to declare it as pandemic in 2020. As I started my second semester we started hearing about the deadly virus which was about to gobble the whole world. Now, let me stop you here for a little story time, my friend called me one night to inform me about the spread of corona and asked me to visit a nearby medical store and buy some masks and hand sanitizers. I was trying to convince her that it might be just another rumor which would only fill our minds with fear, but her side of the story had concrete witness as to why I had to believe in it. After the phone call I grabbed my purse and went to a nearby medical store, but shockingly the prices of masks had doubled, and the store only had few sanitizers left as it was on great demand. So, that was a reality check for me and after that incident I became that friend in the phone with the newly gained information. And surely later in the year it was not a rumor anymore; our university put a halt on the offline classes and instructed the students to stay at home and not to resume classes until further notice.”
“So unlike any other student we were overjoyed with the news thinking the halt as a holiday, which meant no pressure of studies even if it was for a short amount of time. So, I went home excited and with a big smile on my face, CHUTTI!! Not knowing the severity of the situation. Days passed by and just like any other universities ours too were not having classes. So the university decided that there will be online classes so that the student’s education would not be hampered. Online classes it was all new for the students as well as for the faculties. We struggled with the online mode of education, with the internet connection, struggled to pick up the learning pace just like in any other normal offline classes.” she further added
“In the beginning, not a single day would go by where we started our 45 minutes of online classes and only 30 – 25 minutes remaining in the clock, professors repeating the same things not less than three times, reason “network problem ma’am” “voice is cracking” “he/she went offline ma’am” “he/she will not be attending classes today ma’am as it was raining heavily and there’s no electricity in her area ma’am” “ma’am my network is not good, so I won’t be turning on my camera” etc. In some way these excuses became kind of a mantra of every other student to skip classes. We only attended online classes and had online exams for the second and third semesters. But our university brought an innovative way to engage the students more in their studies by giving tons of assignments, presentations. It was so that we would study on our own and gain some knowledge through assignments and presentations. In a month we had to complete a chapter each and submit our 14 assignments and presentations in total for four modules, so I’ll leave the calculation part to you guys. It was hectic, chaotic at times, but we made it through together.”
Now we have become familiar with the phrase new normal, wearing masks, social distancing, staying at home, online classes, and work from home and the list goes on. As a month of offline classes passed we were hit with another news that the university had decided to continue with the offline classes because of the severity of the Covid-19 and for the safety of all the students and the faculties”.
Farmers have also been affected by this pandemic, with no proper supply and means of transportation
Similarly, Diwakar Bassnet, a progressive farmer from Pakyong said “Education is one area which I am very passionate about. Having worked in this field for the last one and half decade, two years back, as a couple, we decided to take a step forward and work towards building a school in Namcheybong. We started the process of building structures but deep within, the idea of how a school of the future should look and feel is something that has had been gnawing me from deep within. The traditional pedagogy, the way children, especially the younger ones do their bit of learning and assimilation has been something which has deeply affected me, thereby thinking about "our way" of learning engagement. And then lockdown happened. First lockdown and I was convinced that to assist a child grow to their fullest potential, engaging them with nature on a continued basis is most essential. Why should children not know how to say plant vegetables, tend animals, learn by roaming around the open, practice the virtues of smelling soil and loving it, holding earthworm and realizing how important they are to the ecosystem, listen to the sound of birds and recognize their patterns and type, feed the cows, learn about teamwork and discipline from the ducks...these are what I personally believe learning should be for growing minds while their curiosity is at their best.”
“So coming to first lockdown, I got myself immersed into the practical aspects of all of these and with my fondness for soil and nature took this opportunity like duck takes water. It has been extremely fascinating a journey since then with me setting up a small dairy unit in the process, planting crops, fruits and vegetables around the land we have and also in the process having greater clarity on the educational institution we would like to build in the future for the future”. He added
“I may not qualify here to be a "progressive farmer" for there are so many wonderful people who have been doing amazingly well in this field but yes I would certainly qualify to be someone who has been working in the field, trying each day to do something different and curate live results for the future of how and what type of education would be relevant for us and for the ones who want to be a part of this journey.”
Dr E.K Santa natively from Kerela, who has been working as a professor in Sikkim said “Right now we are going through a second lockdown, and naturally we would be better equipped by this time. Right now we are aware of the ways in which it can challenge our health system and how it can hit our economy enormously. The first one caught us unaware, and initially we were not aware of the gravity of the problem. While the whole country was gripped in fear, until the first week of May we haven’t heard of a single case in Sikkim. Then we knew we cannot live in isolation forever; people who had migrated elsewhere had to come back home and people have to go out of state for different purposes; Sikkim too joined the bandwagon of Covid-19 soon.
“When the cases scaled up from single digit to two and finally reached four digits, reality sunk in and administration and people acted somewhat responsibly. However, there were rumors that the higher-ups continued with their partying and socialization and people violated the rule of number of people could gather for occasions often. However, with around 6000 cases and about 135 deaths, the state could contain the virus and bring back the number of cases to single digit by last January to March. We were all relieved when the number of cases came down. The state almost achieved normalcy; educational institutions reopened, tourist activities began and all of a sudden we began to take things for granted; the vigil and some sort of the self-imposed restrains which was shown by the community vanished into the thin air. We behaved as if the virus bid adieu forever. The rules at the Rangpo check posts relaxed; they even stopped asking for the usual identification. Marriages and functions were conducted with large crowds, inviting socialization. So many factors contributed to this surge. Maybe we did not take the warning of a second wave too seriously. Since April 2021, number of cases increased considerably and when I am writing this on May 12, Sikkim had crossed the 10000 marks and number of deaths too increased.” She further narrated
“Though, the second wave was warned, we seemingly were so ill prepared on the face of it. One may argue that this is the case everywhere in India. This argument does not justify our inertia. We could have kept better vigil at the main borders. We could have avoided public gatherings knowing very well that the second wave would be stronger than the first wave. We would have restrained our socialization and partying. Furthermore, we would have maintained proper physical distance. Still some people do not wear the mask properly as if they are immune to virus. This is not just another disease; it not only challenges the health of the people and health system in general. But it challenges the economy- affect people’s livelihoods; it challenges the polity. We have to adapt to a new lifestyle till this pandemic ends. Keeping strict vigil is the only way out.” She added
Pankaj Dhungyal a journalist who happens to be the first one to break the story of fist Covid-19 case in Sikkim said “The day when the prime minister declared the lockdown in the country, I saw this as an opportunity for something happening once in a lifetime, in fact it has been something that happens once in a lifetime because the last pandemic happened 100 years ago”
“There was a Hula-Hoop, panic about what to do and what not to do, when the very first case came to Sikkim on May 23, 2020, the first thing in my mind was to stay away from home and isolate myself a one of my friend’s hotel which happens to be very close to the hospital and my idea at that moment was to keep my parents safe, but elsewhere I wanted on field and working, though I didn’t make that decision promptly I came back home and started working from home to reaching out to hospitals in fact it is also a case of my parents being supportive of what I was doing largely because they understood the profession I was in and respected the fact that I had to go out putting their safety also into jeopardy”
“When it comes to a personal level when you have somebody positive at your home, and that time I was really scared for my father that he might not make it through the pandemic but away from all the medicines and medical advices it was my mother’s home remedy of old medicines like kara which is something made with honey, Turmeric and other herbs which she has learned from her mother and grandmother that actually became an ideal solution for my father, and he recovered, he is 66 years old”
“However, my father’s younger sister couldn’t make it through despite being 6 years younger to him, that’s one tragedy that happened in our family, and it still affects us after which COVID-19 related discussions are never a joke our home because its something that is grave and I also feel like whenever I surf across social media and I see people making memes and trolls about coronavirus, it’s because they don’t know what they are trolling about because it has never befallen into their family, once it falls that’s the time they will come to know about how bad the situation is, for me this pandemic has lot to do with exhibiting how the reality of health sector in Sikkim is as well as in the country, since covid is a larger scale of trouble and that has been the ideal understanding of how what we must be doing” he added
Dhungyal further stated that “We might argue about our economy falling people not getting food to eat but somehow those things can be managed but it’s a problem of people dying and your last hope is at reaching the hospital somebody trying to save you and that doesn’t work out and that’s the biggest trouble we have, this pandemic has exposed our health sector to a great deal and that’s ideally my pandemic story tends to be the health sector of the country”
The ongoing crisis seems to have changed the world fabric, following which it seems like no country is capable enough to tackle this alone. COVID-19 has put our healthcare and safety mechanisms, and also nations, together to rage war against the common enemy. People all over the world are trying to do their part to bring about positive change.