The start of a new decade, we all had high hopes and aspirations for 2020. While this pandemic was an event that no one could have foreseen, it made 2020 a year that will be talked about as perhaps one of the hardest years to survive in. Deaths, unemployment, poverty, protests have clouded the news and made it tough for us to find a glimmer of hope.
However, with this year finally coming to an end, it is important to see not only what we have gone through but also what we have survived. This year taught the world resilience, courage, patience and most of all, kindness. It may be tough to look at the bright side of such a bleak year but these were the few moments which made 2020 not completely suck-
For once, wildlife flourished while humans were in lockdown
As PM NaMO announced the world’s biggest nationwide lockdown in March, wild animals were noticed within the spaces of the cities. With humans under lockdown, the beaches and roads that were overpopulated got a chance to be explored by animals again. From dolphins being seen in marine drive, Nilgai’s walking the streets of Noida, Samba’s roaming the streets of Uttarakhand to Leopard’s and Tiger’s being spotted on the streets of Hyderabad and thousands of pink flamingoes dazzling the Mumbai creek, this lockdown certainly served as a boon to wild animals. Even the UN Environment Programme claimed that 2020 helped wild animals and biodiversity thrive.
The quality of air significantly improved during the quarantine
Despite rising covid cases, the quality of air all over India found itself improving as it’s citizens were forced under lockdown. With industries shutting down, lack of vehicles on the road and virtually zero human interaction, particulate matters in the air decreased by almost 50%! Even satellite data showed a 15% reduction in NO2 and SO2 levels, which is a welcome trend for the improvement of the air we breathe. Even the Air Quality Index of India improved by over 33%! While some say the government’s climate change plans could be the reason, the lockdown certainly boosted the cause.
People still found a way to host weddings, with social distancing of course
With strict lockdown and social distancing rules, people were worried whether any sort of ‘Big fat Indian wedding’ could ever be held. However, a video that was circulated in September caught everyone’s attention due to its innovative way of performing the Haldi ceremony (a ritual) of an Indian wedding. Keeping social distancing norms in mind, while the ceremony is traditionally performed by applying Haldi (Turmeric) to the bride with one's hands, a paint roller was used instead! While any applauded this unique way of conducting wedding rituals in a post-pandemic world, many also praised Indian’s and their knack of having a Jugaad ( an alternative) for absolutely anything!
Teachers went the extra mile to make sure their students continued learning
This lockdown was especially hard on students who had no access to online resources once schools were shut down. One particularly unique story that stood out was about 6 children from Mysuru, Karnataka. These children had been living under Vallarpadam Bridge in Kochi for over 10 years. Once schools shut down, they lost their chance to an education and they were left hopeless. However, teachers from the St John Bosco U.P school made sure that their education was not neglected. Taking all necessary precautions, 4 teachers travelling long distances to teach these children. The headmistress, Elizabeth Fernandes said, “We decided to download the previous day’s classes for them and even prepared colourful charts and interactive games to keep them engaged during the class”.
Even a teacher in Chattisgarh made sure that his neighbourhood children were taken care of during the lockdown by holding classes with the held of a blackboard that was strapped onto his bike. Since these children could not afford online education, he brought the school to their doorstep, in spite of the lockdown.
Community kitchens were set up to make sure people did not starve
Throughout India, the onset of the lockdown was hard on people who would earn minimum wage. With access to their daily work opportunities being taken away, they had few chances to eat even 1 proper meal. However, various districts in Kerela set up community kitchens to make sure people did not go hungry. Hundreds of volunteers helped make food packages that would be distributed among the needy.
Animal lovers made sure street dogs were looked after too
In a time where people would not give street dogs a second of their attention, a newlywed couple in Odisha celebrated their weeding by feeding over 500 stray dogs! On September 25, Eureka Apta and Joanna Wang got married in Bhubaneshwar and they celebrated this union by feeding 500 street dogs in collaboration with an animal care group, Animal Welfare Trust Ekamra. Besides that, they also made donations to the trust that is involved in animal rescues throughout the city.
“On September 25, when our wedding was organised, we just wanted to do something good and contribute to society. We planned with Animal Welfare Trust Ekamra (AWTE) and Purvi, its founder, to organise a food drive for 500 animals across Bhubaneswar. We also provided her with medicines, food, and small monetary help for her shelter” Joanna Wang told ANI.
The power of Twitter was used for good when it helped a farmer sell his produce
Twitter is often the hub of all conflict but in a turn of events, it helped a farmer sell his produce that would have otherwise gone to waste and caused him immense losses. Kannaiyan Subramanium - A farmer from Erode, Tamil Nadu, used the power of Twitter to let the internet know that his farm was ready with a rich harvest of over 95 tonnes of cabbage! With the country in lockdown and no one to buy his product, his 4 Lakh investment would have gone down the drain. However, he uploaded a 15-sec video to Twitter which showed his crops and a plea for people to help him find buyers. The tweet soon went viral with over 340,000 views and soon he found much-needed help. WayCool foods (a Chennai based startup), charitable trusts, NGOs and hundreds of people came to the farmer's rescue by buying his produce. Within 10 days, he had sold his produce and is now helping various farmers use the power of social media to their benefit.
Mumbai Mirror helped a vegetable vendor recover his losses
Mumbai’s torrential monsoons are known to be unforgiving but a particularly heartbreaking image of a vegetable vendor sitting at King’s Circle went viral on social media in August. Photographed by Mumbai Mirror’s Sachin Harlekar, vegetable vendor Ashok Singh was seen weeping with his shoes in his hands. He had finally opened his vegetable shop after 4 months of lockdown because his family was in urgent need of money however due to incessant downpour, he was forced to shut down his shop. As the picture and the story went viral, within just a span of 2 days the citizens of Mumbai had come together and donated 2 Lakh rupees to him! Mumbai Mirror even helped advertise his account details so funds would go directly into his savings account.