In my previous article I wrote about the positive impact of the long lockdown on Mother Nature at large. In this article I would throw a glimpse on the how the lockdown helped the elders, the young and the children unlock their various aspects of life in the Assam state of Indian Republic.
People except those related with medical ,administration ,media, emergency and food supply services were confined at home .As none of them except the babies ,very old and sick were habituated to such a total confinement they were baffled in the first couple of days. During this time they sat glued to the television or mobile besides eating and sleeping a lot .As the lockdown prolonged some of the man-folk ,especially the service holders , a section of businessmen and students of college and universities started making kitchen garden of summer vegetables or flower garden. This was the time when many people did experiments in making organic pesticide and manure at home. Some of them started doing whatever repairing was to be done in the house, farmhouse and elsewhere. The endeavour got a boost with the onset of early shower .Generally people get engaged in celebration of community Rongali Bihu functions in the second week of April in Assam but due to spread of Covid 19 all community functions were suspended allowing people to devote more time in household activities. Some of the women took it as an opportunity to train their husbands in cooking, thus getting relief from the monotonous kitchen chores for some days. Especially, the women followers of the Art of Living rejoiced when the spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gave a challenge to the men followers to engage in cooking and relieve the women family members for some days.As for the mothers they were compelled to learn new recipes on demand of their children who not having to go to school asked for new delicacies every hour every day.
The lockdown period came as a big boon for the followers of SriSri Ravi Shankar to delve deep into inner self as the spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living started free online meditation programme twice a day in order to help people come out of boredom and depression caused by the lockdown and its impact on the mental health. There were two online guided meditation sessions of twenty minutes to half an hour at 12 noon and at 7.30 in the evening where millions of people including dignitaries across the globe joined. The experience of guided meditation was really rejuvenating and it helped people unlock and unite with their inner self . The writers, both the established and budding ones, reaped a lot during this time. Many of them got an opportunity to finish their incomplete works while some got into new ventures. This was the time when literary groups were created and poem and story writing competitions were organised over online literary platforms.
The lockdown also brought webinar to the forefront as an alternative to seminars and meetings though colleges and universities remained closed. Various official meetings and programmes were also organised in virtual mode.Even the official programme of the World Environment Day celebration was organised in virtual mode.
As for children they found it difficult to cope with the lockdown .Many private schools and a few government schools arranged online classes but it was not inclusive .Drawing competitions, singing competitions , dancing competitions were organised online for children by various organisations. The families who were followers of the Art of Living engaged their children in online meditation and various other activities in the evening.
.However, most of the children of rural areas and children of poor families even in cities who couldn’t afford smart phones were deprived of all these activities .The poor parents whose mind was wholly occupied with the thought of feeding their families hardly had room for thinking about the diversions of their children from boredom. The well to do parents tried to train their children in cleaning their bicycles , washing clothes, tidying their rooms, cooking , gardening, playing music, making toys and various other activities suitable to their age. In rural Assam the college level students helped their parents in cultivation while the school children helped in removing areca nut fruits from their cover.
The number of youths trying their skill in blogging and creating you tube channel increased sharply. While most of them spent their time in mobile games or in non-productive online activities. Many social scientists and conscious guardians voiced their concern over the obsession of children with smart phones and its impact on their mental health. On the other hand, there were cases of gross misuse of social media by a section of wicked people to spread rumours and demoralise the people and Govt. agencies engaged in Covid fight.
Though the lockdown proved to be productive time for a handful of people the daily wage earners ,small traders , motor workers and alike had a tough time. As for a large section of the labourers engaged away from their homes they braved the hazards of walking hundreds of miles after the shutdown of their workplaces while lakhs of them were transported back home by the governments, voluntary organisations and individuals .The lockdown left its scars on the livelihood of the people. Many people who were employed in private sectors lost their jobs during this time and many of them were compelled to change their occupations. This happened even to the highly qualified people.No doubt Govts. came up with succour in respect of food security but it could not reassure them about their future.
This was also the time to see the surge of humanity in our societies as a good number of voluntary organisations and individuals came forward to feed the needy people. Finally, three cheers to the angels who risked their lives to save the lives of many in hospitals and elsewhere.