We often talk about legends making history, but it’s quite different to living through an event that’s going to make a mark in the history books of the future. And that’s exactly what Covid-19 has been, an unprecedented experience that will define this time. Simply put, it has changed the way we live and interact with others. Nothing prepared us for it, and nothing prepared us for what’s to come after it. That’s why we’re trying to make sense of the changes that define our new normal, and how they are likely to impact the nation moving forward.
Before we get started, let’s remember that uncertainty is the only thing that’s certain these days. So it’s possible that even these changes may not be permanent. Perhaps in a few years we will return to life as it used to be, or perhaps we’ll adapt to these post-Covid norms in a way that changes the structure of our society all together.
The stark class disparity has become evident
It’s that dreaded statement you never want to hear – the rich are getting richer (at least, Jeff Bezos is), while the poor are getting poorer. And that’s the glaring disparity between classes that the pandemic has brought to light. Because for most of us, the lockdown simply meant banana bread experiments and watching endless YouTube videos, but for the working classes it has only meant looming or actual unemployment. And that outcome means there is a stark difference in people’s attitudes towards virus safety as well. For upper and middle classes, a second lockdown is a viable option since it could save lives, but for the migrant workers in our society, the cost of living in Delhi, Mumbai or any other big city without a daily wage may just be too high.
Home as an all-purpose space
WFH – work from home. Three words we’ve become very familiar with in the past year. But even if Covid-19 is on the back foot, this trend doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere. Most of us already know that many MNCs like Accenture, TCS, and Facebook have decided to use work-from-home as the standard norm for a large percentage of their employees from now on. And we’re sure some other companies might follow. This is going to change the relationship between employer and employee as there will be an increased need for trust rather than control. But it will also mean a breakdown of the line between personal and professional, especially for women who may be expected to fulfill a larger share of household responsibilities despite competing work expectations. Home is going to become a multipurpose space.
No-touch living is the new norm
Think about how many things you do that require touching – whether it’s opening a door or reading a book. Well, the pandemic has reminded us of the high price that comes with touch – that of infection. In fact, in a world where both the flu and the common cold are widely prevalent, perhaps the emphasis on contactless services should already have been in place, but Covid-19 has made us more aware of just how important washing our hands can be. And with this at the forefront of our minds, there has been a shift towards contactless manufacturing and supply. Whether it’s your favourite food delivery app that’s implemented a no-touch protocol, or experimenting with drones, many top companies are rethinking regular processes to comply with new protocols. And this is impacting the choices we make in our daily life as well. For someone moving to a new city, this might mean opting for a professionally managed housing service like Stanza Living which provides contactless meal-services and ensures there is routine sanitization of all common areas as compared to just a local hostel with tiffin services in Delhi.
The rise of health tracking software
If you’ve tried to book a flight recently, you know that the first requirement you need is a test that shows you’re Covid-free. And if cases continue rising, then the rest of the country might have to follow along with Mumbai’s rules of getting a negative test even before entering a shopping mall. Your Aarogya Setu app might become more important than your Aadhaar card soon. And there’s many more apps that are coming up to help track the spread of the virus. Perhaps these can be modified to track the spread of other infectious diseases in the future, and make a huge difference to our collective health.
These are only some of the changes that are forthcoming in our country but they could make a major difference to the way we live and work. In order to ensure that we don’t end up negatively impacted in the long run, we will need to work on collective solutions and consider the needs of not just the majority but also the marginalized. So stay safe, mask up, and hope for the best.