Despite the uncertainty and restrictions, the pandemic has been a great teacher.

Despite the uncertainty and restrictions, the pandemic has been a great teacher. It has brought to life the force of sheer resilience on which human life exists.

I see business owners struggle to reshape their reality, I see workers trying to keep their livelihoods intact, I see experts looking for answers to keep the economy from completely breaking down with businesses wiped out, jobs gone and a huge surge in debt; and this somehow makes me understand the power of cooperation and what it really means to be human.

Everywhere people are negotiating, cooperating and creating small spaces of function so that the economy does not fail, people are not left drowning in debt, and there is some form of livelihood available to everyone. And if we were to dismiss empathy from the wheels of economy, you can be certain that there would be hunger, illness and death in huge numbers.

People are breaking down unable to cope with financial pressures whether in the form of payment of bank interest, debts, or the very lack of relevance of their business model in the new context.

Caught in the lockdown, small businesses have been crushed and the sustained economic stress has even forced some entrepreneurs to take their lives. They say the worst is yet to come, and it leaves me questioning a system that is clearly apathetic to its people. I see hope only if people understand each other and reach out to tide over this crisis together.

Whether it is a landlord or a good neighbour, if we can just look out for each other at the very basic level, we can survive.

The World Bank reports that COVID crisis could push over a hundred million people into extreme poverty, and half of these people live in South Asia alone. Our greatest mistake at this time would be to place our trust in the government bailing us out. Intentions do not matter, results do. Today, realty is that leadership has failed its people in almost every way.

Times ahead will not be easy. We must remember that we are codependent and interlinked in our wellbeing – economic, social and mental – in almost every way. Use empathy in your judgment and actions every day, and that is probably the only thing that will sustain us.

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Charu Chadha


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