Elocution Competition Topic: Social and Humanitarian Changes Brought by the Pandemic Covid-19

Pandemic Covid-19 has changed the global landscape completely. It has made us realize how unpredictable life is. I would like to focus today on the social and humanitarian changes brought about by the pandemic.

The first change that has been effected by the pandemic is social distancing. There is an increased awareness of keeping oneself safe while going about one’s daily routines and businesses. Wearing of masks has become the norm while fashion statements are made through them too. Normal social greeting like handshake has disappeared while smiles are hidden by the masks we wear.

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The next change brought about by the pandemic is the isolation and confinement it has brought on the elderly as well as little children below ten years. Many elderly people are now unable to meet their kith and kin due to travel restrictions and the need to stay at home. Children who are used to grow up playing with friends, going to school and having an outing in the park or beach find themselves totally imprisoned within the four walls of their homes. This can seriously affect their socializing and making friendships beyond their immediate neighbourhood.

Again we find classes going digital. It has brought with it possibilities as well as challenges. There are small segments of the student community who do not have access to internet and unable to buy proper gadgets required to continue studies. At the same time geographical boundaries now do not prevent you from taking a course on the area of your interest from esteemed massive open online course provider aimed at professional adults and students like Udemy for example.

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Another change we cannot forget is how the definition of work has changed. With the aid of technology Work from home (WFH) has been effectively implemented. It has been prominent in the IT sector. Work from home has created much stress as people are made to work more and be available on duty for more than normal working hours. Reduction of local as well as international travel related to work is also part of the change.

We also need to remember how wedding ceremonies and the way funerals are conducted have changed as a result of the pandemic. We need to see the fact that many top brands have faced a decline in sales as people started to rethink on the futility of displaying the pride of life through brand statements they made.

On the humanitarian side we have a new awareness of how sacrificially medical and paramedical staff including doctors, nurses, volunteers, ambulance drivers etc. has stood along with us to fight the pandemic. We cannot forget the role of the law enforcing agencies which mainly consists of the police and their constant alert and vigilance which has helped us prevent rapid community spread of the Corona virus in many areas. We cannot forget the media which has played a critical role in raising awareness about the need of personal hygiene and the importance of simple hand washing using soap or sanitizers.

But the greatest challenge in the humanitarian front seems to be the plight of daily labourers. This includes, for example, auto drivers. Many people have lost their daily means of sustenance due to less business activities. Many businesses have closed. Any move to normalcy should take into consideration lending a helping hand to those put out of business by enabling them to have access to long-term loans and other infrastructure support.

We also need to seriously consider the attitude of people towards those once affected by Covid and then tested negative. These people should not be discriminated against and awareness should be created so as to how they can come to back to resume their normal life at home as well as in their careers.

Let me end by saying that Pandemic Covid has disrupted life globally. It has a many-sided socio-economic and humanitarian impact. We cannot expect Governments alone to handle the crisis. NGO’s and other organisations have a key role to play in rebuilding normalcy as far as it is possible. We all have a role to play.

Let us approach this situation with trust in God, with optimism and hope. Let us lend a helping hand to all who need it. And let us believe in the words of the old negro spiritual that we shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome some day, oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day! Thank you.

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