Back to the Old Normal?

Saturday, 06 March 2021



Back to the Old Normal?

Sidharth Bedi Varma | June 10, 2020 17:27 hrs

As Unlock 1.0 makes India sprint back to normalcy, all the weeks that humanity’s self destructive habits were kept repressed is starting to burst out. 

People are back out on the streets spitting, urinating and defecating. As nature’s vacation comes to a halt, the open roads, chirping birds and cool air is getting replaced with jammed streets, honking cars, rising temperatures, filthy roads and soon enough, Earth will be back to the version we’ve known for decades. 

With humans locked-down, nature was undergoing a beautiful rejuvenation which many couldn’t enjoy out of sheer paranoia and rightly so. But nature’s much deserved vacation has been cut short and this is going to haunt us. 

Let’s accept it; a lot of us miss the lockdown. Maybe not the part where we were cooped up at home, but we certainly miss the calm. The chaos in our neighborhoods, the bustling marketplaces, the hour-long commutes all were a part of an uneasiness that we learned to live with – and this is why we value holidays and weekends so much. It breaks the cycle. 

Now imagine you are earth, where you have to work all week and instead of breaks on weekends, you have to double your efforts. This is why the lockdown was earth’s much deserved vacation.

Apart from the COVID pandemic, just last week’s headlines would tell you that things have gone really wrong this year and there’s more likely to come. While Indians kept talking about “Black Lives Matter”, a lot of us at home ignore hate crimes, caste murders and mob lynching. After having changed our social media photos to a black background, we go on to call our friends, Momo, Hakka Chow, Miya, Chinky, Madrassi, Kalua and this list gets extremely creative to a point where everyone seems to have accepted this ‘casual racism’. 

A friend of mine said to me, “The problem with casual racism is that it blurs the line between offensive and acceptable...” 

My friend, nothing about racism is acceptable! As he put it, with ‘casual racism’ ingrained in us, we are the last authority to be speaking on ‘Black Lives Matter’. Indian history, pop culture and commercials have taught us the Brahmin-Dalit divide, the fairness cream ads fed on insecurities, the Bollywood movies gave acceptance to patriarchy. All of these have given space to ‘casual racism’. And we’ve used and abused it like it is a birthright.

The second headline that attracts attention is much closer to home.  We are barely halfway into 2020 and there are fires that have been going on for the last 14 days here. Vegetation, homes, forests have all been gutted and this is not even the full extent of the damage that is expected if the fire is not contained. We’ve all seen the image of the dolphins which have died because of the oil spill – imagine that photos that have not made their way to your WhatsApp groups.

Consider the fire as climate change and the line still stands true – if it is not contained, it will only worsen. This damage can neither be assessed and after a point, neither can it be contained. A lot of people see climate change only as a diversionary tactic. You already see your groundwater running out, temperatures soaring higher, animal species dying out, forest cover decreasing and landslides and earthquakes becoming stronger. So can you really ignore climate change? 

Maybe the US Government did this to divert attention from the rising number of deaths because of the Coronavirus and maybe the Indian government’s Chinese stand-off hints at the same. But neither of the countries is close to recovering from the damage they’ve taken in the past 3 months.

The question that remains is how long can the earth bear the damage we’re doing to it and how long can humanity share content on social media garbed with fake concern and long captions and be only concerned with how many likes and hits their stories got?

It is unfortunate that ‘remove Chinese apps’ and ‘Ban TikTok’ became a movement for Indians while thousands of migrants lost their lives, millions lost their jobs and lakhs have fallen sick and no one questioned the government’s statement about being ‘aatmanirbhar’ and where our donation for PM Cares funds will be used.

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