Coronavirus | The worst of times, the best of times

Published - March 22, 2020 12:05 am IST

Representational image.

Representational image.

COVID-19 has put the fear of death in many of us. But while some find the prospects frightening, it’s frightfully attractive for others.

Like all good citizens, let us behave responsibly. To begin with, it is the worst of times, it is the best of times, but it is the age of wisdom, to paraphrase Charles Dickens.

It is the best of times for couch potatoes; they can indulge in inactivity without any sense of guilt. Children should be happy about early closing of school. A nephew working in Singapore has come home to India as his office instructed him to “work from home”.

Prices of petrol and diesel have crashed along with the Sensex. Spouses are getting “isolated”; some may like it. Chicken is selling at a price lower than onion’s. Inflation is down. Travel and other restrictions will not only help narrow the current account deficit but also boost individual and family savings. Foreign exchange reserves are at a high, though the rupee has plummeted against the dollar.

India has become the fifth country to isolate the virus SARS-CoV-2, which would help develop drugs, vaccine and rapid-test kits. Indian steel and leather industries see a silver lining. Masks are becoming a fashion statement.

Collaborative tools such as MS Team, Zoom, Google Hangout, et al have surged. Universities and other institutions of higher education can start courses in “social distancing”, with online options, of course, and churn out innovative Ph.D. theses on esoteric topics, such as “Is one metre enough?’

Namaste (Trump, or ‘no trump’), the traditional Indian greeting, has become a global favourite. Roads are much less crowded, and the air is cleaner. Though it is a bit ironical that the ancient Indian civilisation is being educated on hand wash, it may come as a big boost to the Swachh Bharat campaign.

My wife and I have happily cancelled our 50th wedding anniversary celebrations, and nobody minds it.

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