We have been passing through trying times due to the menacing infestation of Covid 19 virus affecting all parts of the world. According to virologists it may take quite some time to smother its effects. Advisories have been issued by Governments as to day-to-day practices to be followed to help contain the spread of the dangerous virus. We are gradually getting accustomed to the ‘new normal’ especially regarding safe physical distancing and covering face with covers. It has also triggered changes in our working modes in office and teaching institutions. On-line transference of information, instructions and decisions has become the new norm. Work-from-home is slowly replacing physical attendance in offices. Teaching is being imparted on line as institutions have been declared closed sine die. Virtual conferencing has become the trend now in place of meetings. Admittedly such virtual activities cannot replace the advantages of physical presence. But at this juncture we cannot help it.
In fact, a kind of artificiality has gripped our life-- a kind of imposed obligation that makes us do things mechanically. Freedom of movement is hindered. Personal touch in voicing views and debating on important topics stands largely scuttled. Learning, for instance, is not confined merely to the process of exchange of book-information between the teachers and the taught. It is far more than that. Learning is not meant only to pass examinations to earn. As our ex-Philosopher-President Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan once commented that teaching in the real sense is to help learners to think about themselves, to inspire and instill values in them. Can on-line teaching do that? Nevertheless we have to put up with these shortcomings of virtual teaching system till the viral menace could be thwarted by preventive vaccines for which vigorous research is on all over the globe.
Time now hangs heavy on our hands. We are busy exploring options how to pass time. Monotonous life may lead to depression unless time is utilized fruitfully with some purpose. Every individual has in some measure creative instincts which should be cultivated in these distressingly vacant times. One can learn new things such as a new language, try painting, practice music and follow some such creative pursuits, besides reading books of choice. Presence of electronic media is now stronger than ever before with the majority of people sitting glued before TV sets for most of the time in a day. Mobile phone usage has increased manifold for imbibing transitory pleasure.
The most disturbing effect is disruption of transportation which has forced people to adopt sedentary habits. Opportunities for earning have squeezed alarmingly. Economy has been subjected to a new low. Debate is raging in the media on the issue of comparative importance of life and livelihood. One may argue that life is more important than livelihood on the ground that without life, livelihood is meaningless. The other side of the argument questions – Without the means of livelihood who will survive? Both the views have valid justification. It should be the endeavor of the Government in power to reach a meeting ground attaching equal importance both to life and livelihood. We must save lives but at the same time ensure job creation. We should also think of those with limited educational attainments. The task is not easy. But we have to find a way out.