The figures are intimidating to say the least. When the history of the present times is read in future, the numbers that succumbed to the coronavirus would surely be consigned to the realm of the technology era. As the post corona phase is on the firmament, it is understandable that patterns of the cause will be looked for. A method to the madness will surely be explored. Therein lies the manifestation of the modern day era. Post Mortem. Prevention is passé.
The most affected by the corona are the city bred, urban lives, unregulated, irresponsible. The maps show a significantly urban thematic wave of the corona, in and around the urban agglomerations. In environmental parlance ‘Polluter Pays’ is an oft-quoted principle.
Pay the cities, definitely did. Urban lives and lifestyles reflecting on every aspect of life and living in the cities deserved a kick on the backside. The bubble of development, fragility of infrastructure, bankruptcy of value systems, frailty of human in the face of nature lay thread bare.
The remedy to the pandemic lay in the lockdown, said the modern day seers, politicians, administrators, doctors. And boy did it work. “Stay home” screamed television channels as people kept count of the departed souls. In an irony of sorts, it is the most developed countries that headed the list, just like the Olympics. And come to think of it, 2020 was an Olympic year. As people stayed home out of fear and compulsion, a new normal emerged.
Cars remained in the garages, the air became better. Husbands cooked, families became healthier. Domestic helps abstained; families shared work and became wealthier.
Carrom boards, albums came out of the closet, truth sunk in, life can be better. No visits to the shopping mall, easier on the budget. Peter Scot, Black Dog, scotch of all types were missed, but not only did we survive, we did rather well too.
Health, wealth and happiness were experienced and strangely, we have to thank the corona. Peace made with the family, loving your interiors, learning basic skills, looking inside. All this while the universe continued operations, in fact, it did better without the homo sapien. Nature showed us our place. We were not missed.
So, is there a lesson in the lockdown? Do we want a new environment, a new normal? Have we got so used to the idea of looking and feeling nice with the exteriors that we do not see or feel for the interiors of our homes and ourselves. Can there be a balance, a regulated environment?
From Gandhi to modern age gurus, principles of moderation, restraint and regulation have always been advocated. Celebrate, party, splurge, rejoice but in moderation. The Telangana Chief Minister has been vociferously promoting the concept of regulated farming. Where, what and how much crop will be sown will be decided by the government based on parameters of demand, need, aspirations, and resources amongst others. Farming and agriculture is being brought onto a regulated framework. So also, there is a need to look at Regulated Urban Living Environment (RULE).
How it Works
The corona pandemic in its wake has introduced new vocabulary. Work from home, flattening of the curve, containment zone, community transmission. Life and living will never be the same again. What could be the new normal?
If we were to think in terms of regulated urban living, India has a good geographic system of demarcation of a ward, which even in the present overburdened cities would range between a population of 50,000 and 60,000 for 3-5 sq km.
If we could regulate the needs of a population within the ward, there could yet be a silver lining on the corona cloud. Regulate movement for essential needs within the ward, have a primary health centre for the ward, walk in the ward, avoid cars or any form of fuel-driven transport. Explore electric autos for the elderly and senior citizens. Stay, move, aspire, and grow in the ward. Connected, yes you could be, but regulate your life and lifestyle.
In a Ward
• 3-5 provision stores
• Small market area
• Public transport – electric autos in parking bays
• One bank
• Green areas/parks
• Police outpost
• Education online
• Music/literary clubs
• A temple, mosque, church
• Sports fields – use schools and college infrastructure during off hours
• No liquor stores, no shopping malls, no theatres, no stadia, no huge markets
A ward where everyone knows everyone, shares the community, loves the common agenda and lives in a regulated manner. The important feature of a regulated environment is that we know where the problem is. Wuhan? Freedom with regulation could be a paradigm shift. And why not?
Regulation could be the harbinger of the new environment with RULE – Regulated Urban Living Environment.
(The author, a strong votary of decentralised management systems, is a PhD in Development Studies)
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