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The Crisis of Corona

Corona will not leave the readers any opportunity to fight, let alone the defences, to continue attending the schools, keeping the children and staff and all those who serve the country to raise our economy and GDP vulnerable.

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The whole world is vexed with Corona the biotic Trojan. What if this were not a one-off event and just the beginning of biological warfare? What are we doing about it? There’s an old saying that goes: “when you shut one eye, you also don’t hear everything”. This is a wakeup call!! 

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, announced at a recently held media conference, that in the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China had increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries had tripled and that there are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives and termed it a pandemic. COVID 19 is disrupting every aspect of life. People have been quarantined, several pushed back to their homes, schools and colleges shut, and business has come to a virtual standstill. The small traders are left to fend for themselves. The mayhem caused in the financial markets has left them in an "unsettled" state. These are paroxysms of uncertainty. It's no longer a matter of facing higher risks. Today, the financial markets are haunted by fears unknown that have even prompted several countries to halt their trading. There cannot be any disagreement about where the markets are heading: south, dragging the real economy, jobs, incomes, profits, with them. Nobody knows how far down the bottom will prove to be or how hard the landing. Surely, if ever there was a potential catastrophe in the making it must be this. 

What does one do when overwhelmed by circumstances? Is it really practical that people will not congregate, will not touch each other, will not sneeze, will not cough and just stay indoors? If forced, for how long would they do it? After all, there are no free lunches. If the virus as is touted, spreads through the air, can we afford to stop breathing? Churchill during the WW-II made a profound statement. “Never let a good crisis go waste” Can we turn this crisis into an opportunity? 

It is said the COVID 19, originated from a small province, Wuhan in China. Like everything made in China that we all are accustomed to in our daily lives, could we have stopped this one from leaving the Chinese shores? Chinese is a language that is idiomatic and not alphabetic like English. They use characters that represent idioms, unlike English that needs alphabets that create words and words in turn that create idioms. Two characters that represent “Crisis” in Chinese are danger and opportunity. Since none of us was equipped to stop the crisis either from leaving the Chinese towns or entering ours, can we turn this danger into an opportunity? Education plays a vital role in both understanding the malady of gigantic proportions that has hit us, as much as in finding a cure for it. Until we find effective medicines that cure the virus, can we re-engineer education next? This is serious and the full impact of this needs to be understood and reconciled with!

Without going into the rhetoric of what this means and keeping it simple, can we suggest that the schools must either own up the responsibility of ensuring that the corona does not infect their campus, which of course is impossible? Or they must disclaim that a single student or employee infected as a result of this will not touch seats, or bus handles or tabletops and will most certainly be not entitled to the pat on the back.

If the Canadian PM’s wife and Hollywood celebrity superstars Tom Hanks and his wife are getting infected, we can be assured that it’s knocking on our door. Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany has gone on record to say that two-thirds of the German population is already exposed and vulnerable to Corona. The US has shut its borders and all travel. Countries are advising their citizens to avoid public contact. What has the world come to? Yes, the do’s and don’ts are all there and the governments are possibly doing all they can. Such extraordinary times call for extraordinarily disruptive solutions. 

We rest our case and leave it to the management to either justify their waking albeit not wakeful enough hours in the schools or close schools and immediately move to online dissemination of purposeful education. That alone would be a befitting opportunity to stand up to the crisis and face it and not our self imposed hypnosis of imagining that this is how things have been running and will continue to! Schools must shift to online teaching. It's simple; the teachers now at their own homes, record their lessons on video and send it to the students on WhatsApp. That also prepares a digital library of content for the schools. The students can visit that content several times rather than over a single limited period in the class. This must include all the teachers and support staff in addition to the students that must immediately be asked to stay at home and learn. This is the paradigm waiting to blow conch unless we don’t want to open both our eyes and ignore the war cry of COVID!

It will optimise education, bring the cost of education lower, release stressed infrastructure and provide much better referenceable archives than the current classroom system provides. Gutenberg invented the printing press and with that, the Bible left the church and reached homes. The churches stay as does the Bible in homes. 

Only the realm of God expanded in the process!!

Organizations and companies could allow their employees to work from home in this highly digitized times. Industries could metamorphose completely into digital manufacturing conglomerates to produce goods and trade on the World Wide Web. COVID 19 and the WWW in one stroke, have turned the world into the proverbial “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam”, however, the former by the capacity to destruct and the later by its benevolence to engage. A most endearing flip side to the malaise of Corona would be, on one side a complete obliteration of the differences that religions, races and castes bring about and on the other, the web uniting all human beings as one. 

Corona will not leave the readers any opportunity to fight, let alone the defences, to continue attending the schools, keeping the children and staff and all those who serve the country to raise our economy and GDP vulnerable. A certain thought must be shared and a tear must be shed for all those who still would need to be on the streets and at the borders so that we live to see another day. The article must stay in the records to be held as a mirror to the next impending Corona case in our vicinity.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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coronavirus pandemic

Dr. S.S. Mantha

Former Chairman of AICTE, Dr. Mantha is an eminent academician. At present he is the Adjunct Professor at NIAS, Bangalore.

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Yogesh Kochhar

Yogesh Kochhar is a tenured veteran from corporate India, with work in UK & US. He consults on strategy and is a serial investor.

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