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COVID-19: How Are We Coping, And What Lies Ahead?

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Wall Street was down 30%, the 30% decline took place over 18 trading days. Historically, during recessions, that’s happened over 15 months. This is the fastest fall the markets have had since 1929. Coronavirus has changed economic history!

Ruchir Sharma, chief global strategist and head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

This will not be the first time that we are dealing with a crisis – the ever-increasing global pollution, rampant forest fires, dwindling landscapes for animals leading to their extinction – are just some examples of the mammoth issues that we have been facing for a while now. Then what is new with COVID19? This time, it is affecting us directly. This time the picture is wider and clearer and maybe gloomier because it’s the human race at stake. We face the brunt this time and it’s more lethal and exponential than any other times. It is a war we face – with our immune system as the weapon, one bad or one extra move would take it all away from us.

With heart-wrenching stories pouring in from around the world, the loss is unbearable. Relentless efforts being made in the identification, isolation, treatment and follow-ups for the victims is unmatched. For every person is dying, there are hundreds being saved. For every ruckus that is being created, there are thousands that are making unending efforts to save and treat lives. While all this is taking place, it becomes extremely important to realize the quintessential social distancing norms that are being discussed as the first line of defence.

A couple of months ago, nobody would have even thought that the world we live in today would change so drastically. Our daily routine would no longer exist. The race would break even at a point which was not even a finishing line. Our plans of getting that new house, investing in those skyrocketing shares, travelling to a new country, throwing a party, travelling home or away from home – all these and many more, would just lay there in a corner. We forgot that life generally plays on an inversely proportional ground.

To say the least, we need to seize this moment and only have gratitude in our hearts and awareness on our minds.

Gratitude

  • Because we are at home, surrounded by our family. The companionship gives us the right amount of strength to cope and deal with all the uncertainty.
  • You might be on the verge of losing out on your job or that internship which you always wanted but never got and now that you have it, you have lost it again. But, are you really suffering due to that? You are alive and if you trust your abilities, then you only need the courage to sail through this time, post which, the end of the tunnel would show light.
  • You are not receiving the best food. But are you not being fed at all? Think about all those daily wagers whose livelihood has been completely disrupted, they are the ones suffering the most. With lockdowns everywhere, the farmers are unable to reap the benefits of the harvest. The vegetables, fruits, grains are being produced but are not being transported from one place to another. So, have gratitude in every morsel that you eat because there are people in and around that don’t have that luxury.
Think about all those daily wagers whose livelihood has been completely disrupted, they are the ones suffering the most.

Be Aware

  • Of the immense hard work that the health workers are putting in round the clock risking their own lives to save yours.
  • Of the mental health of a couple of people who are being misled with information on this pandemic.
  • Of correct flow of information in and around the globe, desperate times call for desperate measures and with that, it is your sole responsibility that you keep a check on the dissemination of information.
  • Of your mental fitness, overthinking in this direction would serve no purpose. Having knowledge of the issue and current status is extremely important but it should not lead you to overthink, creating scenarios that have not even happened. You would only disrupt your emotional health and at this time we need to be strong mentally.
  • Of the synergies that are being exchanged. Help in every way possible, it could be a donation made for the relief work or it could just be taking care of someone at home who is not in a good shape to deal with these overwhelming times.
  • Of hoarding, this is the time to invest mindfully. Ignore the luxuries and embrace the necessities. We surely don’t want another global crisis in the form of food shortage at the moment.
AMRITSAR, INDIA - MARCH 16: Nursing students wearing protective face masks as precaution against coronavirus, at Guru Nanak Dev hospital on March 16,2020 in Amritsar, India. (Photo by Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Be aware of the immense hard work that the health workers are putting in round the clock risking their own lives to save yours. (Photo by Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Roles and Responsibilities

Saving an enormous population of 1.3 billion, with about 21% people still living below the poverty line and with India being home to Dharavi (Asia’s largest slum), the government and the health analysts have always maintained their stand regarding the strict measures that need to be taken up to spread the rampant spread of the deadly virus in the country, which, if left unchecked would march its way into the community spreading it to a larger population, thus taking the reign in its hand. The wreckage caused would be inexplicable.

To display all Corona related information, the GOI has launched #IndiaFightsCorona.

GOI has also adopted rapid actions to limit travel by suspending visas and quarantining all incoming travellers, thus, further limiting the entry of the virus. Indian citizens have been advised to avoid all non-essential travel abroad and locally, and citizens have been evacuated from Iran, Italy, China and Japan.

Apart from ensuring the safe return of hundreds of Indians from other countries, the Indian government has taken decisive measures to contain community spread by lock-downs being introduced at various state as well as district levels. While these measures will have short-term economic impact, they will ensure the safety and welfare of Indians.

With private laboratories now authorized to test for the virus, it has lead to the freeing up of more capacity for diagnosis and detection.

India is marching in the right direction, re-instating the fact that though we are socially distanced, we are in this together.

What Lies Ahead?

Hopefully a corona free world or a world that has contained its spread. Vaccination and treatment are what we need the most.

Having said that, to look at it economically, we are only at the tip of the iceberg right now. The relief work is always the most challenging task and this time it will not just be the physical relief that would be required but economic relief as well. The economy is definitely going down and it will take some time to improve it and bring it back to normal. There might be other economic crisis, deficits in market may lead to a total crash down, with the travel and supply chain industries being affected the most amongst the big money makers while the farmers and daily wage earners would be affected the most when it comes to the low-income groups.

The disease has turned the global economy around, let’s be optimistic and believe that this won’t be as bad as the Great Depression of 1929 since that was based on bad economic policies that permitted stock purchase for a fraction of their claimed value. However, this has been caused by a global pandemic.

The key to getting the economy and stocks to recover will be “flattening the curve” of the virus and reducing infections in the next few weeks as well as making sure we don’t see a repeat outbreak anytime soon.

And then there is another theory to it that the Earth is healing, initially, this argument was countered and called a hoax but we can all feel it in the air, it’s all there in front of us. The global temperatures have gone for a shift from the time lockdowns have been introduced, leading to absolute zero or bare minimum usage of vehicles on a daily basis. Waking up every morning with the sounds of birds chirping, winds gushing, we know that something has definitely changed. Maybe not the best ways to introduce a healing event for the Earth but we cannot ignore the fact that even this was due for a long time now.

The world which was running at a fast pace, came to a screeching halt. Surprisingly, no religion, no parties, no politics not even a terrorist, all but a small virus did the craft.

All are forced to be inside, suddenly no professional competition, no wanderlust, companies are shutting down while markets are going bust.

Hopes and spirits are high, with all the bruises that COVID19 will leave us with, I also vehemently believe that it will make us realize the importance of one’s family. The power that lies within us is what ignites us the most to deal with challenges. Maybe right now, we won’t be able to gauge the magnitude of positive changes that are happening in and around but once this is over, we will see that there was always a silver lining which we missed then but which shines brightest now!

In the words of Adam Weishaupt, “The human race will then become one family, and the world will be the dwelling of Rational Men.”

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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