Compared to the United States, India has dealt with the coronavirus promptly, showing no hesitation to reinforce lockdown procedures and ensure proper sanitation protocols. India has almost 4 times the population of the U.S, boasting 1.3 billion people, yet their mortality rate with regard to COVID-19 is significantly lower than America, having a total of almost 54,000 deaths compared to the 173,000 in the U.S.
Recently, I interviewed Chitransh Bhatnagar, a college student from India, who is also the founder of his own startup, ARTSICKLE. His perspective on COVID-19 is quite distinct from the previously questioned industry workers, as he is still attending school, and so perhaps that makes him all the more relatable.
When asked about how immediate and effective the Indian government’s response had been to the pandemic, he, unlike industry employees, believes that they have “accomplished whatever was within their capabilities,” explaining that it is extremely difficult “to manage a country with a population so large and booming”, especially with the concept of social distancing as the most immediate necessity. Mr.Bhatnagar actually feels that the government has used all the resources at its disposal to ensure the safety and health of all individuals, “especially targeting the ones in the workforce and service sectors.”
With regard to how his own life has changed, Mr.Bhatnagar expounded upon the amount of safety precautions that everyone in his family has taken, and how it has ushered in “a sense of hostility,” among his relationships, due to his stringent enforcement of COVID-19 protocol. “I am always scolding my younger siblings for not sanitizing after they touch the groceries, and I only trust myself and my father to go food shopping carefully and safely, so that we do not come in contact with others,” remarked Mr.Bhatnagar.
There’s no question that the education system has been one of the most drastic and challenging alterations caused by coronavirus, as students across the country transferred into the virtual classroom. Mr.Bhatnagar is no exception, but his portrayal of the situation is different than what most students from Monmouth County would expect. “Family is second to nothing in Indian culture, and when school was halted, very few [college]students prioritized learning, but rather taking care of their loved ones, and making sure that everyone around them was healthy and comfortable.
There are clear lessons to be learned from his story as we progress through these unprecedented times, and as school-time nears.