Representational image | A file photo of farmers blocking Amritsar-Delhi National Highway during their four hours statewide Chakka Jam near Jalandhar on 5 November. | Photo: ANI
Representational image | A file photo of farmers blocking Amritsar-Delhi National Highway during their four hours statewide Chakka Jam near Jalandhar on 5 November. | Photo: ANI
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The year 2020 proved to be a strange one, perhaps even gloomy. I don’t know if in my living memory I have seen such a time that has troubled each and every one of us so deeply. It has been challenging not only at an individual level but also at a global level.

But crises are not so bad. They offer reality checks — a rude slap, I’ll say, to remind us that not everything is in our control, nature still has an upper hand, and not everything is fine around us either.

It’s better to take our lessons from crises and embrace them. They tell us where we are lacking, what we are missing, our shortcomings and how to fix them. So, this crisis laden year has also given me a bunch of takeaways for a lifetime.

Never take things for granted

This is the most significant lesson that the pandemic taught us. The abrupt Covid lockdown crashed our plans, rendered our to-do lists insignificant and made our futures uncertain too. Some of us even lost our loved ones. So it’s important for us to realise that things and people around us are not forever. Be good to people, don’t hurt them and don’t panic if unexpected things happen. After all, everything is not in our control.

Fight for your rights

The year was rocked by protests. It started with anti-CAA protests across the country and protests in Iran. Then the Black Lives Matter moment arrived in the US, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, protests against Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and anti-government protests in Thailand. Now, farmers’ protest is raging at India’s national capital borders.

You name any part of the world and there are slim chances that 2020 was peaceful for it. Among these protests some failed, some saw varying degrees of success while some are still ongoing.

All these protests provide a significant lesson — fight for your rights. Nothing will be served to you on a silver platter. If you want a change, you have to step outside, a few trending tweets won’t do. You have to make yourself visible, you have to be loud and only then will the establishment consider listening you.

Reinvent yourself

The pandemic took away the jobs of many people. In India, we saw millions of people jobless, starving, walking hundreds of kilometers back to their native homes.

The unprecedented scale of the crisis brought misery to many people, but in the midst of all this gloominess, some reinvented themselves, adapted and became the real heroes.

Sonu Sood won the hearts of many by providing buses for migrant labourers. Renowned chef Vikas Khanna started ‘Feed India’ initiative to deliver food and supplies to those in need. Delhi’s Rajni Sardana started selling biryani after her husband lost his job at a cosmetic firm, and her monthly turnover now is greater than her husband’s lost salary.

Same was the case with former MNC staffer Ravikant, who now runs a successful food stall in Noida. Social media influencers like Saloni Gaur, Yashraj Mukhate and Ronit Ashra shone through their creativity and relatable content.

These success stories tell us that even the bleakest of crises can be turned into an opportunity if we are flexible enough to change and reinvent ourselves.

Frontline workers became true Covid warriors

During the lockdown, even when we were cooped up in our homes, a brave few battled the pandemic. These were our frontline workers, sabziwalas, municipal workers, bank employees, pharmacists and, most importantly, our nurses, doctors and healthcare workers.

One thing that the pandemic has taught us is that it we can do with less, but we cannot do without these warriors. They form the very core of every nation. So, they must be treated with utmost dignity and respect. These essential service providers must be applauded, praised and rewarded for their selfless services during the pandemic.

Crises are reality checks

We are so accustomed to the system and things around us that we don’t realise if anything is wrong with it. We live in a bubble, a bubble of ignorance that becomes our reality. It really took a pandemic to make us realise how flawed our system is. Even over 70 years of Independence, India is still a poor country. Rights enshrined in our Constitution are nowhere to be seen in reality. Our healthcare system is overburdened and inefficient.

But I hope we all take our lessons from this pandemic to create a world that is more equal, just and fair.

Sumit Bhatt is a student of Uttaranchal University, Dehradun.

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