Rediscovering joie di vivre
Can we sustain this relative success at a time when the whole world is suffering a third wave caused by the Delta variant? An evocative ad on television showing an elephant being pushed out of a small home with the tail still not quite out presents an evocative video of the possibilities and the residual threats… However, there seems hope
How have we all approached this pandemic that has served to weaken the economy in India and most parts of the world? It has exposed the weaknesses in our healthcare systems and driven a large majority of our white-collar workforce behind the safe doors of their homes while the blue, grey and rust collar folks have been hard put to keep their livelihoods and sometimes their lives intact.
For the few of us, who have been privileged to work in areas where one can easily oscillate between the workplace and home, we can still be productive. For people like me, who have been able to focus more on writing and intellectual pursuits that are often put aside because of hectic travel, work and party schedules, the pandemic has actually been positive. However, for the vast majority, it has led to both physical and emotional stress.
Apart from the enormous work that entities like the Pune Platform for Covid Response, the CYDA, GTT Foundation and our very own Lighthouse Communities Foundation have been able to do to for the population battered by two waves of Covid, what has been interesting is the response of different organisations and individuals to the real as well as perceived impact of the pandemic.
Perfectly brave individuals have turned overly cautious and stayed behind the closed doors of their home except for absolutely necessary travel or interactions while some of us chose to keep our offices open as much as legally permitted to give young people living in large families and/or cramped homes the opportunity to come to work and enjoy the spirit of collaboration. Many firms have preferred to save time (and costs) by keeping their employees at home and in spite of many concerns, will probably continue to work from home for the foreseeable future. No wonder that the very nimble IT and BPM Services companies have been able to show record profits for the recent financial year and continue to do well in these times.
"The pandemic has been a lesson in resilience and I hope we will all be the wiser and happier for it"
What now, as the rampaging stock markets and the braver of the companies in every segment start to reopen their doors to customers and employees and people start rediscovering the joys of interaction at work and play? In our own organisations, our consulting firms 5F World and Kalzoom Advisors have been active at work, having engaged clients right through. Our skills company, Global Talent Track managed to post its best-ever financial numbers in the Covid year and our social ventures GTT Foundation and Lighthouse Communities more than held their own. They managed to get beneficiaries to successfully find employment and entrepreneurship opportunities even through really stressed times for youth and women. And what is most heartening is the camaraderie and bonhomie we have seen in recent months.
The Independence Day celebrations at our Lighthouse and cultural events performed in the offices at our consulting and skills companies showed us that the inspiration, initiative and the need to love and be loved is very much intact in the teams and the joie de vivre that comes only through human interaction has been well and truly restored.
Having started my fairly active travel schedule within the country a few weeks ago, it is also interesting to see how different parts of the country are recovering from the crisis. In the national capital city, after the horrible oxygen crisis of just a few months ago, Delhi has bounced back and people are on the streets again going to work and meeting friends and family.
Go from North to South and Chennai seems like there never was a crisis with people at work and restaurants and businesses very much as usual except in the IT Parks. In the East or at least Odisha where I spent three days, people are much more circumspect with all eating joints closed except for takeaways and double masking being the norm rather than the exception. And the West is still a mixed bag with months of “Can we Will we” reopening efforts finally culminating in a near return to normalcy in Mumbai and Pune.
Can we sustain this relative success at a time when the whole world is suffering a third wave caused by the Delta variant? An evocative ad on television showing an elephant being pushed out of a small home with the tail still not quite out presents an evocative video of the possibilities and the residual threats. It’s up to us to hasten the recovery through patience and “Do Gaz ki Doori Mask hai Zaroori” as our watchword for the next few months.
What makes me particularly happy about the period April 2020 to August 2021? Two of our books that Bloomsbury and Rupa published on Digital Success and the China challenge respectively, have necessitated thought, reading and writing of a higher order of quality than column writing and webinar speaking necessitates. The satisfaction that comes from helping industry CEOs as well as urban and rural poor to think beyond the crisis and find pathways to a better future have been truly heart-warming. The pandemic has been a lesson in resilience and I hope we will all be the wiser and happier for it.