Yogendra Puranik ‘Yogi’, Edogawa City Councilor, Tokyo, Japan
Looking at the past, corona (covid-19) pandemic is going to be one of the biggest lessons for the mankind, isn’t it? As of this date, more than 30 million people got infected with corona virus across the world leading to a bit less than 1 million deaths.
On the negative side, corona has created a divide - divide between the rich and the poor, divide between the healthy and not so healthy, divide between the educated and the uneducated, divide between the informed and the uninformed, divide between the adaptive and the conservative and so on.
I think, corona came with a plan, and that is why it has stayed with us longer than initially expected. We the mankind, somewhere during the course, probably forgot that we are not the only one on this earth. Corona gave us a strong realization that we are the tiny ones in the whole ecosystem of the living beings.
On the positive side of things, good news is that Himalayas are now visible from a distance of 500 to 600 kms, people are spending more time at home with their families, corporates are offering work from home opportunities to their employees and are looking for further process improvements and better product adoptions. People are trying to suppress their wants and unnecessary actions, reducing waste and pollution to a greater extent.
In-fact, going beyond these positives, I envisage that corona will bring loads of opportunities to us. The first and foremost, it will offer us an opportunity to look into our private lives and social lives to bring in higher sense of compassion, towards families and society and the environment. On the face of it, people might sound to be selfish, that is what usually happens when disaster strikes. However, corona will ultimately make people think and change from inside. From a community perspective, sad that we are going to miss the festivals and get togethers that we have every year. However, we are giving much more importance to information sharing regarding all possible matters.
Corona pandemic will offer us a chance to make those things happen which we never ever thought to be possible in near future. For example, for most of the Japanese companies, working from home was a taboo. However, that changed since May of this year. More than 20% of Japanese companies, including the hard-headed financial institutions, have employed work from home (WFH) schemes or staggered working shifts thereby reducing the congestion in morning trains and in the offices.
Even if this working style does not continue after the end of corona crisis, we would have surely acquired the knowledge and experience to execute the same again in the case of a future crisis. People, in general, will start questioning and improving things. While, there will be job losses in some specific industries and work types, a new talent pool is expected to get added to the overall workforce owing to the new ideas and work types shaping up.
Technology leverage is definitely going to increase. The Japanese public schools are gearing up with giga school scheme that will handover tablets to each primary and secondary school student thereby creating equal opportunity of online education for all the kids. Many adults have chosen online programs as a means of continuous education giving them a sense of new achievements.
On the city administration side, I am already witnessing discussions about change in the allocation of budgets. Governments are deliberating on a larger shift in the way tax money is utilized. We will surely have much more efficient disaster management systems, medical services etc. at our hands. I am actually seeing a big push in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially since the corona crisis. It could also mean rapid changes in laws etc. creating new opportunities.
I have lived for 43 years, and experienced SARS, Lehman shock and the great eastern Japan earthquake. But this corona is different in many ways. All of the other disasters taught us lessons, to get blurred over a period of time. However, corona pandemic will leave a deep impact on each one of us, practically changing our lives in so many ways, not allowing us to go back to the same scheme of things. I would like to see a higher degree of international cooperation to handle such disasters.