As I have been expressing in my social media posts that middle – class of India has been worst hit due to the impact of Covid19, and no one is talking about it. The job loss, salary delays, salary trims, uncertainty in jobs, are rampant. Middle-class is bearing the brunt of all this and more amidst paying EMIs, School Fees, Household expenses, Electricity & Mobile bills, Water & Gas bills and many such other expenditures. The biggest taxpayer has been left high and dry, there is no compensation for their families, simply because they are too shy to ask for it.
Doesn’t this huge Indian middle-class contribute to the economy? There is no social security for them or their children, even they have contributed immensely to the growth of Indian economy, don’t our children deserve some better life. We study hard, score good marks, struggle for jobs, secure jobs then pay taxes and in return, we get no pension, no reservation for our children in school, colleges, scholarships etc. We are left to fend for ourselves. Is this scenario just?
The latest CMIE data on unemployment disturbed me no end. The rate of unemployment is highest currently i.e. 27.11% post Covid19 spread which was only 7% in March i.e. before Covid19. Unemployment is highest in urban areas and is set to rise. It seems lockdown has locked up again in a rigmarole to look for jobs for ourselves, for our children. Indeed, the Government is trying to fuel MSME Sector, which may revive sooner than later but how about people in media, BFSI, telecom and many other sectors.
In India where one earning parent and one nurturing parent is the norm, how they will cope with the situation? I think the Government needs to prepare a blue-print that how job loss, downsizing, pink slips for the urban middle class would be tackled post Covid19. When the lockdown was suddenly announced, the Work from Home became the buzzword.
Every organisation made its employees work from home, whether they had resources or no. Poor employees had no choice, they were satisfied that at least they were employed, what if the salary was nowhere in the sight, what if salary cut to the tune of 50% was there or inordinate delays of few months. How to sail over such scenario along with Covid19 scare? Yes, COVID is scary, job loss is scarier. Expenses have remained the same, be it lockdown or no lockdown but companies even big companies could not sustain even three month’s salaries, so how would a middle-class employee survive without an income?
A trend speaks that women are more at risk of losing their jobs, the situation becomes alarming as women workforce in India is majorly need driven. What if they are single earning mother, have children to fend or even single earning daughters to support parents in old age. Who is thinking of them? There is a need to conduct a survey in each and every household to understand their job-related needs and work accordingly.
Not only India, but the U.S. has also seen a huge spike in unemployment as over 26 million people have claimed for state support (have been provided for) because of job loss. So, what is stopping us?
Nobody is thinking about this. How so ever big is the suffering, Indian middle-class chooses to suffer in isolation. They would never raise their voice but will expect somebody to raise voice for them.
Lockdown – Once in a lifetime happening – a la Honeymoon!
Never witnessed anything like this before even during wars, pandemic says my nearly 80-year-old mother.
When PM Narendra Modi asked citizens to remain indoors – a self-styled lockdown for Sunday – March 22, I was one of the first ones to tweet – What will happen with just one day’s lockdown that too on a Sunday? Little I had known that was just the trailer – the film is going to be nearly 3 months long, well almost!
This is how our new life began where there was no morning rush of jogging, gymming, exercising, instructing maids, cleaning cars, managing children, cracking heads what to wear today, rushing to catch the local, bus, dancing to clock’s needle…meetings, discussions, writing, editing withstanding. It seemed life had come to a standstill.
Now the worries had acquired a different dimension – no newspaper, just e-newspaper which we were not used to. When you read the newspaper, the family thinks you are acquiring knowledge, getting informed, when you read a newspaper on mobile you are wasting your time – new revelation. Now, the cleaning, mopping, dusting rigmarole followed by making breakfast, cooking lunch, planning dinner and to top it all – office work – which no one realised it was some work. Could never imagine a life without house help, watching movies, visiting family, friends, chit-chatting with building friends, train friends and most favourite – Shopping!
Life took a 180-degree spin for many who never knew what to do at home for 24 hours with the same set of people. But as you say – The show must go on! It started moving on!!
Amidst all this and more, the travelling time saved for work was a big boon, we had nearly five hours extra every day to ourselves, which family thought was for them!
Social Media became mother, father, brother, sister, teacher, mentor…all rolled into one telling you what all you can do during the lockdown and how technology can help you in staying connected. How you can conduct and attend meetings, yoga classes, painting classes, dance classes, cooking classes, motivational speaking, self – improvement, spiritual, religious, talks, dialogues, monologues, webinars …what not to keep you occupied.
For the first time, I realised that I can learn so many things online even at this age, though there is no age to learn. So much so that how to roll chapatis, how to knead the dough, how to mop the floor, how to surf channels, how to iron clothes, how to drape saree, except how to pass time.
Now another breed started emerging on social media who would post pictures of their activities right from leaving the bed to retiring on the bed. They are posting pictures of what they cooked for breakfast, what they will make for lunch, snacks, dinner beside their paintings, throwback photos, work-out sessions, beauty sessions, saree sessions, attending webinars, video calls of friends, family, gardening, view from their window, their children activity and what & what not to do during the lockdown.
So as soon as you reached out to phone early morning, you saw a friend working out for that hour-glass figure, and you were like OMG! The day started with a huge inferiority complex!!
Another hour passed and you see pictures of well-garnished well laid outspread with fresh fruits, juices, oats… other so-called organic (read: healthy) dishes in the name of breakfast. And here we gorged on our makhan walealoo, mooli, gobi parathas. The pleasure of yummy parathas evaporated in a moment and you started brooding on eating such middle-class breakfast.
Now as the day progressed you watched people singing, dancing, writing, reading or pursuing upmarket hobbies. Again, you start cursing yourself for not doing any such activity. As the day moves towards the end you are enveloped with guilt, oh GOD I am not utilising my lockdown honeymoon like other privileged mortals.
There was gyaan all over – enjoy the time you have got to spend with your family! We have always been enjoying time with our family in spite of being so busy. But this statement gave us celebrity wali feeling!
Media made the most of this time by feeding us with innumerable & useless panels discussing some godforsaken topics. We had no choice but to watch these.
Now the webinars – the new kid on the block – became a fad, every Tom, Dick and Harry was doing webinars. If you are not doing or attending the webinar, you have no right to live in this lockdown.
My advice would be: Enjoy your lockdown, keep moving at your pace, in your style, nothing will happen if don’t pursue a hobby or don’t attend a webinar, dance, sing or paint. Life would be just as beautiful. You will have the satisfaction of leading a peaceful life in your own way without being under any pressure. You couldn’t have asked for more from this lockdown.
This is how I watched the lockdown – Covid19 from the periphery!
How I am spending my lockdown would feature in my next post.
Wondering why this quote today? There is no WAR, there is no PEACE, only CHAOS, CONFUSION & UNCERTAINTY.
Actually, I heard this phrase from my dear father who put it in the context of studies like if you study round the year, you would not have to slog during the exams. How apt it falls today when there is a war, well almost!
Indeed, one needs to prepare well for war in peace. You have to prepare, practise & perform round the year so that you bleed less when war happens or a war-like situation arises.
There is no war, but we are facing war like situation which is not fought by armies but every single individual living on this planet – COVID 19. These are trying times when we are overwhelmed with the annoying presence of unwanted guest in our lives. It has sent our world in a tizzy.
The organisations, institutions, business groups, individuals and celebrities who did good PR, maintained good relations with their stakeholders and communicated consistently are standing in good stead. We can’t say that as times are trying so we will stop all this and when times improve, we will restart. This is not going to work for anyone. You need to work during peace, to stay peaceful in war.
Hence, the role of PR becomes even more critical for enhancing the ‘Connectivity quotient’ as people are holed indoors and seeking information outdoors during Covid19.
To bridge the gap is the critical part of PR and Communications. Till now you have been talking to your target audience through Press- Releases, Media Communiques, Authored articles, product write-ups, product reviews what not!
Now, these have little relevance as people are under stress and are not receptive to such information. They need to be served information which is relevant to them during Covid19 while communicating the message which you want to send across.
Though content is the king, the medium is its chariot.
It is very important to look for mediums which can cater to the audience of the global village, where everyone is reaching out to each other through technology. You need to gauge the news you have coming up in the pipeline, which can be adapted to be more in tune with the issues.
The type of communication you deliver as a brand across your various channels needs to be sympathetic, compassionate, and sensitive to how people may be feeling during this difficult period.
Technology to take the lead not only in times of COVID19 but also in POST COVID19. The world would never be the same again…
It would be PRE COVID & POST COVID19 ERA.
In the post-Covid era, PR Mediums like Digital Newspaper editions, Digital Magazine editions, Digital Outreach through Blogs, E-Newsletters, E-Zines, Strong Social Media presence, Webinars, Thought Leadership, FB / Twitter Live / Regular articles/ reactions and News Website/organisation Website with chat lines would rule the roost. Traditional media would take the back seat as this war-like situation is not going to subside anytime soon.
So how can you achieve this?
You can replace conventional PR with digital PR, where human angle/touch should hold the key. As we have noticed that conventional PR has limited audience vis-à-vis Digital PR which caters to the audience across the globe. There is a need to maintain a steady flow of information for which you can deploy new age media to connect with your target audience.
Another powerful tool which can send your message across in an effective manner is thought leadership. It would go a long way in establishing your brand as you can communicate through insightful articles, not necessarily about your brand.
You need to generate content which is compassionate and relevant with the time and with your audience.
Covid19 should not deter you from talking to your audience, you can use live video on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to engage your audience. Take time to produce regular videos that will benefit your strategy in post Covid19 era as well.
Peace doesn’t teach us that much, which war or a war-like situation can teach. So, what we have learnt with the onslaught of global pandemic Covid19? Never say Never – Keep communication channels alive, Even this Shall Pass Away – Prepare for the good times ahead, Explore new technologies/ outreach methods, What did not work then, will work now, One size doesn’t fit all – Tailor your content, Draw insights from the past to develop a strategy for future, Accept the new normal – say work from home and connect with like-minded people for the way forward.
Post-Covid PR needs to be more digital-savvy and Social media would drive the two-way communication.
Lockdown is quite a revelation in many respects like how to stay indoors, what to do indoors, what takes how much time and what is the deadly combo of “Work from Home and Work for home”. But for the first time closely observed swift movement of day & night, the cycle of 24 hrs. Was life always like this? Were days and nights moved in the same cycle? Or was there something amiss?
I marvel, how time was passing then, hectic mornings, rush to office, the mad rush of work, train travel back and amidst all this, we were cooking, cleaning, reading…what not! We were attending functions, visiting friends and relatives, hanging out at malls, shopping sprees…now all this has come to a grinding halt.
Life is certainly more peaceful with its leisurely mornings, lavish lunches, evening tea with snacks with tea time tales along with some business-related work and some worthwhile dinner discussions. Aren’t we enjoying this life when there is no pressure of dressing up, rush to catch 8:20 local, board a cab to office and to follow the official rigmarole! A repeat performance in the evening. Till now we never knew when mornings started, when the day ended! Everything happened in a jiffy!
It was time when we wanted to admire this soulful number from movie Mausam – Dil Dhoondhta Hai…
But I have noticed that many people are devoting time on their long-lost hobbies, exploring hidden talents, spending time with family and children, connecting with old friends, watching the news, Ramayana, Mahabharat, playing instruments and if not all these, picking up quarrels/ arguments with spouses!!
Some are blogging like me!!
Never knew when mornings started, when the day ended!
Everything happened in a jiffy! We were wrapping so much in a day!!
We need to question ourselves, are we ready to embrace that life again? Not me certainly.
There is an aura of positivity, though this is the most overused word today. Every other person teaching others to remain positive. Still, all of us feel that we are enveloped in some kind of negativity. What will happen to our lives post-COVID? Which way we are heading to?
Some days productive, some Uff…
The scenario is owning to spread of COVID19 which forced nations world over to force lockdown to arrest community spread of the deadly virus which has claimed lakhs of lives world over and still counting…
I heard this term “Work from Home” for the first time when I worked with Apna Paisa a Sequoia funded venture – the new-age start-up. This was the official term used for “Working from Home” where I was one of the privileged ones to avail “Work from Home” periodically. I loved this arrangement especially in monsoon, by avoiding clumsy travel and enjoy rains with tea and pakoras in the company of my laptop.
This motivated me to create a small work station in the living room from where I could watch nature in its full glory. This was many years ago but work station remains, I am superstitious that most great ideas for writing emerge from here. I would admit that I have done some great pieces from here and call it “Sinhasan Battissi” So whenever I needed to work on a stressful rather challenging assignment, I would tell my boss, Mr Harsh Roongta, WFH on SB. He would laugh it off…
Coming back to WFH – It’s not that I never did office work at home but it was charitable work, it was never accounted for. In the 90s it was unthinkable – not to go to the office at 9 AM. Going to the office was sacrosanct. It used to give us a different high altogether.
WFH returned in my life again after a gap of four years with a prestigious project in IIT Bombay where I anchored and edited a book – Energy Swaraj. Author Dr Chetan Singh Solanki gave me full freedom/flexibility to plan it all including – WFH. And I must admit that it turned out to be such a rewarding experience and Dr Solanki would acknowledge that with the result in the form of his book and blogs.
This time my approach was very disciplined: Work from 10:30 AM to 1:30 AM (Peak productive time, of course, domestic helps withstanding) followed by a course full meal, not tiffin, two-hour rest back at work around 4 with tea and snacks, till 7:30 followed by a two-hour break and then night shift. It worked well and this is how I realised the importance of WFH. It is a great way to exploit the potential of senior employees in the creative field who have the skillset and expertise but not the energy of fighting the crowds of Mumbai locals and official grind.
Now, WFH has proven to be the lifeline of the corporate world. I knew it will become something very big someday, but this way, never imagined. This time, it is not out of flexibility or a new corporate culture where you can be at home in office and vice versa while working for global companies, it is out of compulsion.
WFH is the new normal, trend favoured going forward ( WFH resurfaced again in my life with me joining corporate sector briefly). This time we are holed up indoors, with no chance of meeting anyone, visiting friends or relatives, it’s just you, your family and laptop. The only difference being “You are working from home and Working for home” simultaneously. It is like playing the double role of 70s movie “Sita Aur Gita” – when the boss calls, you timidly say “Yes Sir / Maam, no problem, I will do it just now! With Jhaadu in one hand and mobile in the other, you don’t know which to bang first. When the husband calls for tea, you become Gita: Can’t you see the boss called, I have to finish that report. Prepare tea and give me too!
Life couldn’t have been busier than this! All domestic / household work – teamwork completely at a toss, cooking, dishes, washing, cleaning, attending phones – personal, official and then humongous office work. Then there are webinars/ FB Live Shows/ Hobby Classes and full-time FB and Twitter. Not to forget regular bantering by husband and children who think mummy/wife is at home to dole out dishes and dance to their tunes. This is when we take over the role of Geeta! Thanks, Sippy ji for giving us endearing Hema Malini ji as Sita and Gita, my all-time favourite.
WFH is the nectar from Covid19, let’s not let it become: Nectar in the sieve.
Let’s exploit its full potential Covid or no Covid.