Picturing life after COVID-19 pandemic subsides, including the consequences of present-day actions on our future.

Three months ago, SARS-CoV-2 was a thought none of us were even familiar with. As individuals, communities and countries – we were battling too many other forces of disruption already, in India itself; widespread protests against Citizenship AA-NRC were being endowed nationwide to save the fabric of democracy. In hindsight, all of that seems like a prologue to what feels now is an apocalypse we only read and saw on cinema screens – as a form of entertainment. Oh, how the tables turn.

Covid-19 has crashed economies, broken healthcare systems, and devastated the lives of the working class. Modern society has been disrupted on a scale most of the living people today have never witnessed. We’re living in historic times – something that will so profoundly shape our future from now that we won’t even have time to process what our ‘normal’ past felt like.

According to The Atlantic, all children who’ll be born into a world forever altered by Covid-19 should henceforth be referred to as Generation C. In a post coronavirus world, which in itself is still a luxury to imagine (there is no cure or vaccine for the virus, as of today); our relationship with the digital world will be tremendously interrelated.

If the current round of social distancing measures work, the pandemic may ebb enough for things to return to a semblance of normalcy. But as the status quo of chaos returns, so could the virus. Stephen Kissler of Harvard said, “We need to be prepared to do multiple periods of social distancing.” There’s a greater threat of recovered survivors of Covid-19 being stigmatized by society, a pattern familiar in history with survivors of Ebola, HIV and SARS. There is also a mental health pandemic running unchecked, one with increasing chances of proving fatal due to dearth of community mobilization in these times – isolation, especially in a toxic environment, is dangerous for those who suffer from mental illnesses.

Over the coming weeks, much will be at stake collectively, and for some of us also individually. Today, uncertainty about what the post-pandemic world will look like is rife, but we do know it will be built upon the words and deeds we choose now”, writes Javier Solana

Feature Image Credits: Joan Wong for The Atlantic

Paridhi Puri

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In this age of globalisation, how much importance is given to English? Is it justified to let go of your mother tongue for the sake of your colonizer’s language? 

In the English Communication-Ability Enhancement Compulsory Course (AECC), as I sat cursing my life for having to study the same, a random statement by a student made me think deeply about something as basic as language. India has traditionally been a country of Multilingualism aka, a nation with a plethora of languages, ranging from the discourse of Hindi domination to the slow death of tribal languages; India is a land of languages. An average Indian has the fluency to converse in their mother tongue, their colonizer’s tongue and the apparent ‘National’ language of the country. This tradition has been prevalent through generations as families converged into different communities and castes, exchanged their languages and thus, gave birth to what we popularly call as khichdi.

Our generation is perhaps the only generation that speaks the tongue of the colonizer better than their own. The superiority complex, elitism, and classism surrounding the English language take us centuries back in the revolution of social change and diversity. The dominance of English and pursuing other foreign languages such as French, Spanish, German, and Japanese in schools run on the assumption that the student is familiar with ‘at least’ two-three languages. The dying roots of Indian languages arise because of the invisible discriminatory lines between English elitism and the regional ‘lower-class’ mentality. Sardar Patel Vidyalaya in Delhi promotes students to take up regional languages in their middle school instead of international languages. What’s the point in learning French when you cannot even understand your mother tongue?

Nouresha, a student of Kamala Nehru College whose mother tongue is Mauritian Creole and is well-versed with 4 other languages says, “Being born and bred in Mauritius, I was able to read, speak and write English, French and Hindi fluently from a young age. Sometimes people wonder how we are able to speak more than two languages, this is due to the country’s roots in a complex history of immigration and colonization. I can tell from personal experience that, be it in the business context or a social one, the ability to speak various languages fluently has never failed to attract attention, admiration, and awe.”

Gone are the days when people were well-versed with a multitude of languages and could sweep one off with their multilingualism, today, a heavy English word, would get you all the appreciation. With the rising trend of losing our language, we have given birth to, kya kehte hai, Hinglish; the perfect mixture of not having a proper command in either of the languages. The failure to communicate in a particular language, mostly a regional language is seen as an ‘achievement’ and comes with a sense of entitlement and reeks of privilege. But, the failure to communicate in English, comes with a sense of shame and feeling left out.

How ironic is it that I am writing this in English. The rise of Hinglish prevents an individual from not only trying to enhance or expand their linguistic aptitude but also makes them proud of their privilege.

Forget International languages or other regional languages, on an average, every Indian is well-versed with English as a first language and their mother tongue as a second language. How blinded are we to notice that we are going wrong? The ‘global language’ credit surely floats with English, but where does the supremacy come from? In the media industry, the prominence given to English news channels and English newspapers is unparalleled to the recognition and prominence of regional platforms.

The failure to comprehend even one language in its entirety is rather seen as a self-pity thing instead of something to be worked upon. The rate at which we are proceeding, it seems to be a close reality that the future generations would prefer Hinglish or a mixture of other languages (English + another regional language) instead of gaining proficiency in various languages. The entire point of learning diverse languages is to ‘diversify’ your skills, not create a mixture or let go of your roots.

Sarah Susan Varkey, a student of Jesus and Mary College who is proficient in 4 languages says, “I feel the invaluable cultural teachings and traditions can be transferred successfully only by learning the mother tongue; which is extremely important to preserve in the current scenario where everyone is getting influenced by the west. However, learning a foreign language provides a competitive edge in career choices. In a way, multilingualism improves knowledge of one’s own language.”

Feature Image Credits: Indian Institute of Legal Studies

Anandi Sen

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“Why am I so tired? I just woke up.” And several other questions the younglings ask themselves these days. We’re tired, too tired to complete necessary tasks, but too scared for our future to stop and take a nap.

‘Adulting’ – the term that haunts me, everyday. Why? Because it’s so hard! Even though it means the accomplishment of basic, but mundane tasks, tasks that need to be done. It’s a privileged statement, I know but it is what it is.

I might be doing the work that would allow me to get by, but I would never, never find it in my heart to complete my small to-do list. It essentially includes tasks like cleaning the mess in my room, replying to long pending emails or texts on WhatsApp or even as easy as scheduling an appointment with the dentist. Even if I dedicate an hour to all this, I could get it done with but no, I would procrastinate to the point where it starts killing me from the inside.  I would rather eat a bag of chips to control my hunger, rather than going to the kitchen and make a sandwich for myself.

So, what is it? Am I too spoilt, too lazy to do things? Why couldn’t I get it together — especially when the tasks could be easily completed? I realized that the vast majority of these tasks share a common denominator: their primary beneficiary is me, but not in a way that would drastically improve my life. They are seemingly high-effort, low-reward tasks, and they paralyze me. Am I tired? Am I completely burnout? To my mind, burnout was something aid workers, or high-powered lawyers, or investigative journalists dealt with. It was something that could be treated with a vacation with friends to Manali.

My generation is known for things like wanting to work to bring changes in the society,  instead of money, and perfectionism. We’ve been sent misleading messages about what’s attainable—from body shape and beauty to work success and relationships. We tend to push ourselves very hard, often beyond sustainable levels, and become disillusioned when we have only exhaustion and self-depletion to show for it. We’ve internalized the idea that one should be working all the time.

What has made us the burnt-out generation? It’s the economic crisis, lack of jobs, the growing divide between the rich and the poor.  We face huge competition and have to work harder to prove ourselves. Financially speaking, most of us lag far behind where our parents were when they were our age. We have far less saved, far less stability, and far, far more student debt.  This is also what happens when you throw tech 24/7 connectivity into the mix. The previous generations enjoyed real downtime during which they could check in with themselves in absolute privacy and recharge their batteries without performance pressure; we are constantly engaged, permanently ‘on’ and, in a way, always ‘working’.

Our brain is always on overdrive, thinking about what has to be done next instead of enjoying the moment. Is it because we are always continuously doing things without a break? One thing after another? One chore after another? At this rate how long can we go? This is the reason we feel mentally fatigued. We are bound to break down.

Can we help ourselves here? Should we meditate more, drink and eat healthy food more? What is the solution, I have no idea but this is something to think about. Oh wait, you do not have time to think, you’ve to rush to attend your last lecture of the day. Sigh.

Image Credits: Thrive Global

Disha Saxena

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