2020: A Planet Under Repair and Maintenance

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Shriyans Bhandari

Quarantine, Social Distancing, Self Isolation. Lockdown. While these words have always existed, it is the first time that we have come to fully understand their meaning.

The same is true for all other words: hard work, compassion, family time, love. We get a grasp of their true meaning once we experience them.

2020 will go down in history as a year of great challenges. The year started with the catastrophic Australian fire which devastated the country in unimaginable magnitude. No sooner had the world come to terms with this devastation when an unexpected virus struck Wuhan in China. It then spread globally, striking without impunity. We would not be accused of being naïve if we have been thinking or imagined what a World War and other crisis would be like, but when one descends upon us as suddenly as this present one – the coronavirus or COVID-19, do we understand the gravity of the situation. We have been discussing World War III happening in outer space, but here it is, in a mode, we least expected, and probably creating more damage and fear in such a short period. 

There is also an urgent need for an active risk management department in all governments which sparks an alarm as soon as they see any potential development which could potentially derail society.

COVID-19 has become a crisis as it has all the elements: the spread, lethality, unpreparedness, absence of a vaccine and so on. Likewise, new things always catch us unprepared, unless we identify the early signs of disbalance in the environment; from increasing forest fires to natural calamities. There is also an urgent need for an active risk management department in all governments which sparks an alarm as soon as they see any potential development which could potentially derail society. We have been investing in defence, missiles and bombs; all destructive, rather than constructively building up other areas of our systems. 

It is also true during a time of crisis that our true self is revealed; thus this is a test. So then, do we think only of ourselves or are we mindful of the wages of the workers? Do we do charity for the sake of garnering likes on social media? Do we truly donate or do we get involved in charity so that we are not left out from the bandwagon of do-gooders? Are we doing our part in saving the economy? Are we preventing deaths? Do we only see the number of cases rising or do we sincerely feel bad for the lives that have been struck down by the virus, and the unfortunate ones who lost their lives to it? Do we think only about ourselves or do we spare a spare for others too? Only we can be the judge of our intrinsic motives.

On the other side, I see that a lot of youth have been wasting their time instead of building themselves up by engaging in constructive activities, apart from spending time with family and catching up with friends, which is also important. One cannot wait for the storm to pass to restart, to grow. The good and bad times need to be used to equal advantage. It is surprising to see that the most successful startups we see today started just after the financial crisis of 2008 – from WhatApp, Uber, Pinterest to Airbnb. This is a good time to spend on planning on your current startup, writing the book which you have been putting off, taking online classes, ideation and many more things. 

It also brings about the human potential and the fact that no matter how tough the day is it eventually gets better. After all, we have 4.5 billion years of survival planning in our genes. This may seem new to us but our genes have been programmed for this, time and again. If we can identify what kept us going during these tough times, we could use that as motivation later on in such situations.

We will rise from the ashes and rebuild ourself all over again. It does make us think if there could be a larger reason behind this – to motivate us to change our lifestyle, reduce climate change, self introspect on what matters

Looking back at history we find out that the earth has been plagued by a pandemic every hundred years. We will rise from the ashes and rebuild ourself all over again. It does make us think if there could be a larger reason behind this – to motivate us to change our lifestyle, reduce climate change, self introspect on what matters. 

We should brace ourselves for more such crises in the 21st century; with disasters taking different forms. Businesses must build themselves like Lego blocks which can be easily dismantled and require less time to restart and have a low debt ratio. Governments must holistically employ their budget for different measures, and individuals should know the difference between necessities and wants and spend accordingly. But most importantly, there is a need to understand the response time to a crisis and how we rise after it. 

We are in the middle of this crisis and things may get worse before they get better. However, we must not forget the lessons of this crisis and bring about necessary changes. We have been using historic statistics from 1919 to 2008 to measure the impact, but we must all work together during this current pandemic and ensure that it does not become the mother of all crisis.

Shriyans Bhandari is a social entrepreneur who founded Greensole, a company that refurbishes old shoes to create new footwear. He holds a Master’s in Entrepreneurial Leadership from Babson College, USA. He is also the Director of Heritage Girls School Udaipur, ranked among the Top 10 boarding schools in India. Shriyans is on the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 list for his social venture and has delivered more than 200 talks. 

*The article is independently written and the views are the writer’s own. Facts may also slightly vary. For more information, Shriyans can be reached at shriyans@heritagegirlsschool.com