COVID-19 Crisis in India and its Transformation of Indian Society
COVID-19 in places of lower wealth have especially turned worlds upside down in education, working, and general communication between others. Where online communication may not have been popular or utilized at all, it is now required because of the country’s restrictions. Especially in more rural areas of India, implementation of online schooling and other measures to prevent the spread while still having a sense of community is pivotal.
As of now, there have been approximately 28.8 million cases, with about 347,000 deaths coming from the COVID-19 virus. In February of this year, a second wave of transmission was expected to be passed over, with the worst of the pandemic being at the beginning. Unfortunately, in April, hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen masks, medicine, and vaccines are scarce, causing the number of people infected to increase exponentially.
Luckily, the number of cases looks to be going down substantially, but is hard to tell if another spike will occur. Experts believe that the lower class groups were hit harder by the first wave, and now that wealthier citizens are starting to slowly go back to normal socialization, and mostly do not have any immunization, are being hard hit.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was harshly criticized for holding political rallies and festivals for Hindu pilgrims, as well as lifting many restrictions. More locally in states or cities, lockdown restrictions including curfews, limiting non-essential travel, and making vaccines both available to anyone over age 18 as well as more accessible is greatly helping.
According to a survey in 2019, 24% of families in India had access to the internet, causing many areas to not offer online schooling for children. If the government wants to make online education widespread, for a majority of students to utilize, more money needs to be put towards a better internet service and raise spending on education to more than the 3 percent of GDP it is right now.
Secondary education like universities are being halted despite the National Education Policy pushing for higher education for young adults. Some fear that because of the pandemic, it will take far too long to come back to normal, drastically affecting the percentage of the population that has any higher education.
On the bright side, those students that have been able to work through the harsh conditions the pandemic brought have taught resilience, teamwork, and a more global connection to other nations to create a better learning environment for themselves. Programs from all around the world are open to students in India varying in subjects in order to compensate for the lack of education, enabling students to take initiative and work with students and teachers from other countries to learn.
Ultimately, if India is trying to return to a normal sense of education for society, efforts from local and national governments, as well as students’ urges to gain knowledge will help bolster the best result. Providing better access to the internet, relations with other nations offering programs to Indian students, or even reopening of schools in a safe way when the surge in cases goes down will all foster better education for all.