Corona Crisis has Some Silver Linings Too

Bob Rupani  | Updated: March 31, 2020, 08:25 PM IST

We all know how cruel COVID-19 has been and how it's pushed mankind into one of our biggest crises and challenges ever. But some good has also come out of this difficult and unpleasant situation.

1)    Due to the lockdown – or should I say "Corona Closedown", the number of vehicles moving around our cities and highways has reduced dramatically. And so have the number of road accidents and fatalities. Before the "Corona Closedown," we were recording some 410 deaths due to road accidents in our country every day. And while no figures are available for the change after the "Corona Closedown", it would be safe to presume that the number of deaths have reduced by 90 per cent or more, because that is easily the decrease in amount of traffic movement too. I am guessing the decline in congestion and social distancing on the road may also be contributing to fewer accidents. Given this, it's prudent to say that the drop in number of road fatalities is surely, at least 350. This means, 350 people saved everyday into 21 days of lockdown, is 7,350 very valuable lives.

I think there is a lesson in this for all of us. Our government has taken the strongest measures possible like a national lockdown to combat corona and the massive economic cost of this and also the social disruption is obvious to all. In the present crisis, these are all extremely necessary steps and like Prime Minister Narendra Modi so correctly said, "Jaan Hai to Jahan Hai", or "if you have life, the world is there".

I hope and pray we lose the minimum number of people to this COVID-19, and at the same time, I also wish that once we have curbed this threat, we also show at least a bit of the similar zeal and activeness to reduce the number of road fatalities in our country. Right now I think our government and all of us owe it to our country that we combat corona courageously. However, subsequently, we must also all rise to reduce the number of road fatalities. If in corona we can stay indoors, then we can surely be more careful once we step out on the roads again. What a shame and waste it would be to have survived corona, to then come out and lose your life in a silly and avoidable road accident. I hope this message gets through somehow.

2)    The other silver lining of the Coronavirus is that the pollution levels all over India and even in most other parts of the world have come down considerably. With many of our factories shut, all construction activity halted and vehicles off our roads and even planes not flying, we are witnessing a "Cleaning Due To Corona" of our country and planet. Many city dwellers have never seen blue skies like these or experienced such silence or sannata, as they say in Hindi. The air also feels much better and crisper and hopefully, this cleaner air will also be an aid in combating the effects of the Coronavirus.

Some reports suggest that the ozone layer is also starting to heal itself. Again there is a lesson in this for all citizens of our planet. A few holidays annually where we stop all our polluting activities like factories, construction, movement of vehicles, etc, can be tremendously beneficial for our environment. So when we come out of this crisis, I hope we just do not go rushing back to our old ways. It's time we actually considered having dedicated national holidays (they could be called "Healing Holidays") where all polluting activities would be shut down. I know many people will say what about the economy, productivity, growth, and so on. But if we can stay at home to protect ourselves from corona, then we can surely also have a few "Healing Holidays" every year, to help improve our environment, which will eventually only contribute to our health and well-being.

3)    Another thing which we have seen in many of our cities and towns is the appearance of wild animals. With humans staying indoors, the wild residents of the great outdoors are stepping out to check out our cities. Social media is buzzing with images and videos of a Small Indian Civet walking over a zebra crossing in a town in Kerala and there are also images of a group of sambar deer using a zebra crossing to go across a road in Chandigarh. Makes me wonder if zebra crossings hold any special fascination for wild animals. Many cities have also seen cheetal (spotted deer) and nilgai (blue bull) strolling through their streets and a leopard was also sighted in Sector 5 in Chandigarh!

With the crazy growth of population in our country and the expansion of our cities and inhabited areas, we have been ruthlessly cutting down our forests and grasslands and converting them into concrete jungles. For a country and people who once had the highest regard for nature and wildlife, we have been behaving very selfishly and intruding deep into our jungles. Hopefully, this Coronavirus will slow this craze for construction and we will learn to respect and appreciate our natural world and environment more.

Tags: Coronavirus  |  Novel Coronavirus  |  Covid-19  |  lockdown  |  Shutdown

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