Address By Dr. Sankar Bose, Professor Geology, Presidency University, Kolkata

The worldwide spread of Novel Corona Virus (Covid19) has caused an unprecedented collapse of social and health order, possibly never witnessed by the human race in modern history. It started with a few sparks, followed by wildfire across the continents. Since no proper medication is available, almost all the countries have followed a partial or a total lockdown. This mechanism of abatement is a highly challenging task for a country like India where the population density is very high and health infrastructure is considered poor.

A total collapse of public life is expected to escalate economic disaster in the coming days for which we should all be prepared. Moreover, the social distancing and isolation practices have created a larger social depression irrespective of caste and creed. Every citizen is expected to follow these practices in the strictest sense to avoid a looming possibility of an apocalypse.

We all are suffering due to the bleak reality of the present world, but what lies ahead is a more menacing pain. As a component of the system of higher education, I have a personal story to share. A sudden break from academic vibrancy in the middle of March left me in the lurch, clueless. Certain fieldwork travels to carry out, reports to prepare, manuscripts to complete, and most importantly, a number of courses for undergraduate and postgraduate students have to be completed: all gone with a single stroke. It took me some time to adjust to the changed scenario with an arrangement of transferring online resources to students and the preparation of online classes.

On the other hand, a student must have faced similar yet more complex problems. They have to plan for their future and aspirations which, under the present situation looks quite uncertain. I am particularly worried about those students who are appearing for board examinations to enter universities and colleges. This is the time for securing their future and undoubtedly, one of the most precious times for their academic life. With the suspension of board examinations midway, postponement of entrance tests and jeopardy of public life would cause immense agony and depression of this community. I completely empathize with them but I wish to share some of my personal views in this context.

Firstly, nobody is enjoying this life but we don’t have a choice under what seems to be a warlike situation. So, one should accept it and use one’s education to sensitize fellow citizens to bear this pain.

Secondly, this corona scare has given us a unique opportunity to introspect about our priorities in life. We all can see who the real warriors are, fighting at the front line. You can plan your career choice by learning from this calamity.

Thirdly, this lockdown time will give you the rare opportunity to spend your time with the family, carrying out daily chores, learning from your parents, taking care of your garden and so on. I consider this a very important lesson for your life which can never be achieved by reading books and solving equations. So, enjoy this and enrich your domestic life with music, stories, and cozy discussions.

Fourthly and lastly, I am amazed by the absolute reversal of environmental pollution over the last two weeks. You can see clear blue sky and enjoy chirping of birds from your window even within a metropolitan city. This is unbelievable yet true. These facts only show how fast the nature can regain its balance and this will certainly give us hope to fight with the pollution and global warming. As a student of natural science, I am overwhelmed with this natural experiment.

I have briefly pointed out some of the positive outcomes at this dark hour. Your future will depend on how our society as a whole responds to the call by doctors and political leaders. Do not get upset, this is a crisis of the entire world which will pass over in time. What it leaves behind will have an immense impact on socio-economic structure and scope for future academic and industrial research. So, please abide by the rules and do your contribution staying at your home. You will see a new world tomorrow.

Read more about careers and jobs in geology.

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