Necessary, Essential & Desirable in the ‘New Normal’

Microscopic view of a Coronavirus. (Photo: PTI)
Microscopic view of a Coronavirus. (Photo: PTI)

CoronaVirus or the Covid-19 has become a part of our lives since the beginning of the new decade. We have now reached day 28 of the nationwide lockdown and as most of us go through incredible amount of adjustments during the lockdown, I am sure that most of us are also thinking about how our lives will need to change once this lockdown is lifted. 

Every product or service in our lives will now need to be categorised into Necessary, Essential or Desirable.

  • Necessary will include food items and household items needed to sustain and maintain our lives.
  • Essential will be good to have services and products which could improve our lives.
  • Desirable will be products that are nice to have but those we can do without. Those that do not have any impact on improving our lives.

Everyone’s definition of necessary, essential and desirable will be different. These will be based on our unique perspectives of the needs of our families.

All of us will have our own prescriptions and our own ways of coping with the challenges that we have already faced but more importantly, are likely to face in the coming few months and years.

Much as people would like to believe that a cure or a vaccine is imminent, it is important to understand that the process of getting a new vaccine is very long. Once the first set of tests have been successful on animals, they need to be tested on human beings. Getting government approvals on human beings is expedited but if this does not work, most governments will stop the approvals and wait for “someone else” to take risks with their citizens. Even if the trials on human beings is successful, the time to commercialise a vaccine and make sufficient doses available for the world population is another challenge.

Most of us would have done a lot of introspection. Most certainly, we would have appreciated the dramatic reduction in air pollution, clear skies, the last “blood moon”, dolphin sightings near Mumbai and the pristine waters of the river Ganga.

Given all the time we have been spending with our family and more importantly with ourselves, we have all had a chance to do a reality check of what is important in our lives. It is unlikely that most of us would have spent so much uninterrupted time with our families for such a long period of time.

We would have learned to give sufficient space to our family members in our homes. We would also have started to appreciate how easy it is for most of us spend time with ourselves.

Most of us would have also learned to do most of our work at home. While it is true that women have had to face the brunt of this lockdown in terms of the work to be done, all of us must have certainly understood what needs to be done at home and in our own ways, we must have started to help.

It is only when the lockdown is removed, will we begin to understand and evaluate the huge impact this would have had on our nation’s economy. Many people will lose their jobs, and many will see salary cuts. Almost everyone will not get an increment or a bonus. Our EMI’s, (equated monthly installments) which have been deferred for a period of 3 months will need to be paid and there are likely to be serious defaults and repossessions.

What are the areas that will see an impact?

  1. Social distancing, a term we had not thought of a few months back, is now a reality. We have all become conscious and will be very careful before going into large crowds. In our own ways, we would have started to establish communication boundaries with our neighbours and friends, and these will stay well into the foreseeable future. What social distancing will do to malls, theatres, sports and to melas is anybody’s guess.
  2. Focus on working from home will become much more viable. This will have an impact on office space, transportation and eating out. We have seen the ease of video conferencing. I have done my yoga classes and taken my flute lesson online and see no reason why this cannot be continued in the future.
  3. Home entertainment will increase as we have already seen. However advertising of products will reduce since people will not buy easily, raising a question on economic viability of the programming.
  4. Most of us will start looking for deals in everything we shop for giving an opportunity to retailers to launch their “white label” products.
  5. Most people will start cutting back on non-essential items. Purchase decisions for non-essential items will be deferred for as long as possible.
  6. Travel will change completely. People will be careful about getting into aircrafts and cruise ships will struggle to find passengers. This will have a serious impact on tourism, and everyone associated with this sector.
  7. Luxury items will see a very serious demand curtailment.

While I do hope that we will be able to get back to the pre-Corona days, it is increasingly looking more and more difficult.

Over a period of time Covid-19 will become another kind of annual ailment. Not very different from cough, cold or influenza. Till all of us build the required immunity, we need to practice social distancing and stay safe.

We have to adjust to the new normal and we have to accept the new reality fast. The time to indulge in wishful thinking is over.

The most common question we will ask ourselves before taking any decision, be it necessary, essential or desirable, will probably be,

“Do I really need this?”

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