We tend to underestimate the power of “one”. But COVID-19 really showed us how everything could change in the blink of an eye!
Instead of going to cinema halls, we were confined to streaming movies and shows on mobile devices or TVs. Instead of meeting our friends over drinks or dinner, we all moved to apps like Houseparty to video chat.
Working from home became the “new normal”, as did the empty roads and dropping pollution levels. Even sex workers went digital during lockdowns in a bid to keep their heads above the water!
As the months rolled by, new variants and strains of the same virus made their rounds and impacted millions across the world. How could our country of nearly 1.5 billion be any different?
Fortunately, humans are far more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. Indians, in particular, rose like a phoenix from the ashes after these trying times. Everything — from the economy to how we interacted with our families — changed with the onset of the pandemic.
So today, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on what the coronavirus cost us and how our lives have forever been altered.
The Tumultuous Economic Changes
According to a study, India became the third-worst affected country worldwide after a surge in COVID cases in June 2020. But the economic crisis had kicked in long before — when the sudden lockdown was clamped by the Union government back in March 2020. At that time, the GDP growth dropped by 23.9%, which was an unprecedented drop in such uncertain times.
The manufacturing sector was one of the worst hit, with over 70% of businesses facing issues like reduced cash flows.
But the Indian economy is getting back on its feet post-covid — slowly but surely.
RBI data reflects an 8.5% increase in Indian companies’ direct overseas investment in March 2022. Furthermore, we’re in line to becoming the world's fastest-growing major economy in the coming year; our economy is expected to grow by 6% by March 2024.
A post-pandemic retail boom, increased investments (both domestic and international), greater demand for consumer goods and services, and the government's covid-specific financial relief package are just some of the reasons the Indian economy seems to be recovering.
Changes In The Job Market Or Its Absence
The pandemic, unarguably, has changed the Indian job market on a fundamental level. Our homes became our offices, and all meetings were also held online. Funny instances from the new “workplace” also went viral more than once.
But let’s see how the job market was impacted in the wake of the coronavirus.
Even though there had been a slump during the lockdown, the good news is that the job market is booming post-covid. Be it the health, IT, finance, or HR sectors or even blue-collar jobs, data has shown that the hiring demand increased by 6% in March 2022.
Plus, some surveys have shown that the number of Indian women joining the workforce has also increased. That’s a welcome sight for everyone — both socially and socio-economically.
The one thing one can’t ignore is that the coronavirus changed everything about the way we work, especially in a country where an employee is expected to show their face every day in the office.
With everything moving online, many professionals found respite from the usual hustle and bustle of life before COVID-19. Almost everyone loves the flexibility and independence that comes with working from home.
Today, however, the debate between returning to the office and working from home is sweeping the nation. There are conflicting reports on what people want; while some are in favour of continuing to work from home due to security and traffic concerns, others want to go back to the workplace, get out of their homes, and also socialise with their co-workers.
People’s preferences also depend on several other factors, such as what sector they work in and their productivity levels.
Life After COVID: Changes In Our Social Lives
Everyone’s social life went on a hiatus because of the pandemic. All of us “slowed down” and took time out from work to focus on our interpersonal relationships, be it with friends or family.
What other options did anyone have, given the strict lockdown, quarantining, and social distancing policies being enforced in all states?
However, this sudden social isolation also took a heavy toll on many people’s mental health.
As per another study, Indians gained weight, felt more stressed out, experienced poor to little sleep, and did not work out as much once the coronavirus was in full swing (and the gyms and yoga centres were closed). They couldn’t even visit the salon for their usual upkeep.
All these factors had snowballed into a harsher impact on their morale and self-confidence.
But as the restrictions were gradually lifted, people relished the opportunity to see their loved ones face to face. As restaurants, hotels, movie halls, shopping malls, and religious institutions reopened, people felt a sense of “normalcy” returning after a hiatus of nearly two (long) years.
There is no denying that the pace of life has slowed down in a post-covid world. But it doesn’t seem as though Indians have any problems with that. Our resilience has proven once again that we, as a society, can survive all odds — and do it graciously, too!
Further Digitisation Of Life
India was a country set in its old ways; we are suckers for traditions, after all.
But as the virus spread and everything shut down, we were forced to rely on technology for even something as routine as paying for groceries. The coronavirus showed us what embracing technology truly meant.
Schools and colleges shifted online, which meant the education sector was swiftly digitised.
People also bought online workout subscriptions since they couldn’t physically visit the gym.
Food delivery apps saw a huge surge in business, especially since many working professionals in urban areas relied on them.
Virtual payments replaced cash.
In fact, did you know that over 80 million Indians made digital payments for the first time only after Covid hit?
Even the older generations happily embraced technology, especially for all their healthcare and home cleaning needs, as per yet another study.
As you can see, nothing stayed the same — even in a country as traditional as ours.
Life after the pandemic became all about adapting — and doing so quickly — to more innovative technology that can serve us better and faster, more safely and seamlessly.
The Emergence Of The NEW NORMAL
There’s no denying that the coronavirus brought us to the brink of collapse as a society. But Indians are nothing if not tenacious. We’ve managed to do pretty well since the pandemic first hit.
Yet, the journey was, by no means, an easy one.
Rising death tolls, greater isolation, and being confined at home 24/7, among other things, definitely took a toll on all of us. At that time, none of us was sure of what the future holds and if things would ever get back to normal — or at least — better.
Depressing headlines were hitting us left, right, and centre!
But even the darkest clouds have a silver lining.
We concur that life after covid has been very different. Almost everything has changed; we’ve all adjusted to the new normal.
A slower pace of life, more fulfilling personal relationships, and a work-life balance are just a few good things that we can think of that have come out of this extremely dark time.
The “real” normal is a thing of the past now. Nobody wants to go back to those extremely hectic days when we couldn’t even take a moment to breathe. People now seem to be more invested in what genuinely matters and makes them happy.
After all, they’ve realised what they’ve missed out on all these years — to live healthier, more fruitful lives closer to their loved ones! Perhaps there has been this collective realisation that life truly is short and that every moment counts.
And we thank the heavens for that!