Covid-19 has changed our lives forever. It is a phase that everyone went through together and we are still coping to the changing environment. Ever since the pandemic has started, it has uprooted millions of lives. People went from being desk ridden (9 am -5 pm) to working from home at a self-paced time. It sure did change our mechanical lives but in this course, it made us realize the value of time and self-improvement. Many people have taken this pandemic in the wrong sense but to realise what a blessing in disguise it has been for those who never got a day off in their work life. It sure has changed the entire world but to take things in a positive sense is all on us. People were not used to this sudden change when Covid-19 has just started, we all took it lightly and continued with our daily work. Soon after the first hit, people started to worry which led to different problems in the society. People started to worry more about their health and safety but even after months of being under strict lockdown, this pandemic has led to a drastic loss of human life all over the world. It has created disruption to the human kind. The economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating: tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, while the number of undernourished people, currently estimated at nearly 690 million, could increase by up to 132 million by the end of the year1. It is quite alarming to see the entire world in the shackles of this pandemic but we are making progress. People have understood the importance of social distancing, washing of hands and wearing of masks before stepping outside but there has been a down fall in the society. Different segments have been affected due to this segments be it minor or major aren’t being highlighted more due to the effect of this pandemic. It is only a matter of time now before things start to deteriorate more.
Effect on the common man
It is not shocking to read about the effects this pandemic has had on people. People have been affected in ways which have uprooted each segment in one’s life. Different classes have been affected in their own sense which has brought drastic changes. When the pandemic had just started, people were mostly worried about their jobs, their daily source of income and supply of food. What we did not realise was how it was going to create an impact on those who could not fancy all these luxuries. Millions of people had lost their jobs; the work from home culture started which had its own pros and cons. With everything being shut, there were limited shops open which led to mass chaos in all sections of the society. People started buying stuff in larger quantities while there were people who were worried about their jobs. Undue advantage has been taken by shopkeepers, since they are the ones who had a drastic boost in their sales, which led them to increase the prices. People were panicking to these changes as there was a thin line between saving money for emergency purposes and using money to buy overpriced stuff. Working people were the most affected as it was their daily bread, offices had to let go of everyone. Businesses had to shut down which led to millions of people losing their jobs. People who were once used to the 9 am-5 pm job were now in desperate need for a job which could help with their daily requirement. But there is a downfall in everything, with the less income that families had during covid, people became choosy and could not buy fresh stuff. They relied more on frozen food, packaged food and tinned food as it would last long which resulted in many health issues. Not all packaged food is fresh and one cannot tell the difference between freshly packed food and stale frozen food. Since people had less money which meant less healthy food but more health problems. The surplus had a huge price hike due to the increasing number of buyers which resulted in a gain for a lot of people but for the others, it was all about choosing what to buy and what not to buy.
Psychological and Social Effects
With months of staying at home, following the same routine, people do get upset which results in various mental health issues. It has been more than a year since we have stepped out of our houses properly without the mask. Nobody ever knew that this pandemic would strike so bad and continue to stay. It is hard to say, but our lives have changed throughout the course of multiple lockdowns, quarantining and social distancing. These words have been included in our daily conversations which have led to multiple levels of distress when people venture out just to have a fresh breather of air. People became so hesitant in touching any surface or eating anything before washing their hands. With people wearing their masks wrong, to sanitizing surfaces before touching, to making sure that social distancing is being maintained, we all have come a long way. In the initial stages of the lockdown, there was a huge havoc. People were panicking as to how will they manage their daily bread; overcome the stress of working from home and the fear of losing their jobs. With this fear, the trend of panic buying or hoarding started. It gave people the comfort that the longed, the fear of having few resources during these times. It started from people hoarding essential items for days, and with the commencement if the lockdown it went for weeks and when the entire world was sealed, people hoarded for months which led to a due depletion of essential items for the others. Since people were bombarded with Covid news all over their WhatsApp, social media and news, their minds automatically thought of the same thing “what will happens when we run out of material” hence, people stocked up for days leaving nil for others. Social media plays a huge rule when it comes to clouding one’s mind; the more drastic the news is the more impact it creates on the people. We are caught in a vicious cycle and it has become more dangerous that what we as a world are going through together. But as the situation is deteriorating by the day, it’s not just the essential items that are in demand, oxygen cylinders, medicines and vaccines are the new essential items for people. Suppliers have taken an undue advantage of marketing illegal medical oxygen.
It is a known fact that if a tragedy has struck, people automatically think of the worst outcome, the ‘what if’ takes over the thinking which results in damage.
Many women across the world have been the affected the most by this pandemic. In many households, due to the sudden increase in work, domestic violence has also emerged. There has been a sudden rise in violence during the lockdown period due to the excess stress of household work and office work. The grasp of domestic violence perpetrators has tightened in times of the pandemic in India. Abuse victims are distanced from their regular support systems making it difficult for them to call out for help. On 24 March 2020, the Prime Minister of India announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the Novel Coronavirus. Within a fortnight, the National Commission of Women (NCW) reported a 100% rise in complaints of domestic violence cases. A nationwide WhatsApp number was then launched by the NCW to provide an alternate method for women to report domestic abuse2. It is very sad to say but many domestic violence cases are being unreported worldwide because of this situation. Since people have limited interaction with the outside world, it has become a problem. People consider their home to be their ‘safe’ place, but for a few it is not. ‘Home is where the heart is.’ It is a very famous saying but for people who go through tons of problems, it is the worst place.
Illegal trade of Oxygen
Illegal trading of cylinders is not something new we hear and read every day; many families have been suffering due to the high pricing which in result has caused them to sell off their assets in order to afford a single cylinder. According to various sources, at least 10-15 medical suppliers get caught on a daily basis selling illegal cylinders, medicines at a higher price in the black market. The black market has been there since ages but due to Covid, there has been a tremendous increase in sale of medical supplies. The prices fluctuate like the weather in these markets but as the demand is increasing, people who cannot arrange for cylinders, the one thing that is saving the people from dying; have no option but to buy a cylinder 10 times higher than the market from these illegal sellers without any knowledge.
Medical oxygen has become the lifesaver for Covid patients with low oxygen levels. It is an essential part of treating people and when medical suppliers and hospitals sell oxygen cylinders 10 times higher the price, how is it possible for a middle class man to afford one cylinder along with the hospital bill. Many hospitals have hoarded oxygen cylinders just to keep up with the increasing demand; this has caused an increase in the illegal trading of oxygen cylinders amongst people. When the entire nation is in distress, people are selling adulterated oxygen 10 times the actual price just for their benefit not realizing the damage they are causing for the families that are in urgent need. It is very sad to read that daily people are dying due to the shortage of oxygen cylinders due to illegal hoarding by people. India has seen an alarming amount of cases in the past few months which have caused a nationwide concern amongst people as there is a drastic depletion in cylinders. It is very disheartening to see that doctors are risking their own lives to save people every day on one hand and illegal hoarding kills people due to lack of supply of oxygen cylinders.
It is very sad to see people gaining profit from ones misery, a loved one will go to any extent to save their family even if that means to pay Rs. 3/4 lakhs for one oxygen cylinder. The government is trying very hard to find illegal hoarders everyday but according to me, such people should pay for the damages they cause whether they are intentional or unintentional. The laws should be made very strict and proper paper work should be done before supplying oxygen to anyone be it hospitals or certified sellers.
Effect of the Education System
It has been more than a year since the first lockdown was initiated and students from all over the world were told to stay at home. Schools and Colleges were shut in March 2020 and since then students have been dependent on online classes. Even after shutting down educational institutions, many students have been affected by the virus. As a student, one wishes to be in the vicinity of their peers and enjoy their school life, but all good things must come to an end. Online classes have been very popular, students and teachers have been interacting through various online platforms. But every effort made by the teachers has been taken for granted by many students and the trend of bullying started. Students started making false accounts to join their online classes just to entertain the class which used to end up insulting the teachers. There have been a lot of cases reported across the world wherein teachers and professors are getting bullied by their students. It is very demeaning to see students insulting the efforts put in by their teachers to make sure that each student is being given all the study material and support to help them understand. It is just disrespectful to see the education system failing everyday due to a few troubled students.
This is a cause for concern as it amounts to people gaining illegal commission through ones misery. Proper justice should be given to the grieving families. It is not fair for them if these law breakers are not punished accordingly. I believe that punishment should be given to the law breakers. Strict implementation of rules should be there so that the repeated offenders know the consequences. If the laws become strict, it will scare the people more which will lead to less law breakers. One needs to understand the damage that they cause to another and the judiciary should make sure that they go through the same pain as the aggrieved person. Law should help those who have been victims of such people so that they get justice for their loss.
As a country that is in distress, it is a very proud moment for us that many NGOs, organizations and companies have come together to supply oxygen, medicines and food for people suffering from this monstrous disease. Many people have come forward with volunteering to help people search for beds, oxygen cylinders, providing them with plasma. Funds are being collected for a good cause and it has been observed that in the past few weeks, the cases have had a decline because people are finally getting the proper treatment through the heroes that came forward to help in these dark times. Not all heroes wear capes and we should pay back the people who have been working tirelessly since day one and won’t stop until they see the change themselves and this is indeed is a small ray of hope for things to become normal as soon as possible. Social media has become the need of the hour and it has helped thousands of people, it is quite true when people say that social media does have an upper hand and has its pros and cons but people are finally putting it to a good use.
There is always a rainbow after a bad rain and we can all pray and hope and try our level best to help people even if it calling hospitals or finding them a good bed.
Author: Nandini Sharma from Army Law College, Pune.