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Image Credit: AFP

Appreciating and valuing nature

‘COVID-19’ had an impact on every living being. People were unaware of the impending effects of COVID 19 when it first hit China. As we were busy with our everyday lives making short and long-term plans for vacations, career and education, little did we know that a virus this small would bring the entire world to a standstill. By March, when the realisation dawned, it was initially a big setback as it was the first time we were facing a crisis of this nature and magnitude. Different countries took to their strategies for lockdown, countrywide sanitisation, setting COVID-19 protocols, but nothing stopped the virus from taking its toll on lives. Still, we as a human race are hopeful and stand united in our war against the virus, and this hope is the basis of every being’s existence on this planet.

COVID-19 had halted our vacation plans, and I was missing my family and the greenery back home. I hail from Kerala, also known as ‘Gods Own Country’. All these years, I just appreciated nature but didn’t work towards caring for it. Last year, I decided to give my balcony a makeover. I converted it into a beautiful garden with the help of my daughter. Now, it has a cosy corner for reading, and the other side of the balcony has plants giving an excellent aesthetic appeal. My joy knew no bounds when I planted vegetables in my garden. Using organic produce from your garden is a very fulfilling experience. Unlike the past, where I used to step into the balcony only for drying clothes or cleaning, now, there is a good utilisation of space and time and a motivation for the entire family to spend some time away from gadgets. I also realised that gardening brings about a sense of positivity, satisfaction, and gratitude, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I get my daily dose of feel-good hormones from my balcony, as it has become my favourite spot in the house. I’ve always encouraged my kids to recycle plastic cans and clothes for school. Due to COVID-19, as schools are functioning online, I take the effort to collect even the cereal cardboard boxes, pulses packed plastic covers, supermarket bills, old clothes, glass bottles, and plastic containers and deposited them in the municipality arranged centres. Surprisingly, every week I collect at least one big box of recyclable waste only from my home, which was otherwise going straight to the garbage. It has been almost five months of this exercise, and I never nagged my family about practising it. But I am more than happy to say that seeing me doing this activity consistently, my kids now follow the same; they also deposit their biscuit and chips covers and used pens in the box assigned for it at home. So, practice more than preach holds true when it comes to inspiring your kids to do what you expect of them. It works.

From Ms Suma C Nair


Single jab COVID-19 vaccine

The launch of the single jab COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson and Johnson will be a real game-changer in the fight against the disease (“COVID-19: The single-shot Janssen vaccine could be a gamechanger in the fight against the pandemic”, Gulf News, February 05). Companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnsons have rendered a great service to humanity by delivering vaccines to the world in less than a year. Usually, it takes years to finalise a vaccine. Granted, these companies will earn some revenues and profits through the sales of the vaccines. Nevertheless, Governments should appreciate these companies through recognitions and awards. US President Joe Biden has done well to enable a production deal between Johnson & Johnson and Merck. Merck will now produce vaccines for Johnson, which will ensure augmented availability in the USA. The country plans to inoculate all adults by May 2021, two months ahead of the earlier schedule. In Latin America, Cuba is finalising trials with two vaccines. It has planned the production of 100 million vaccines in the year, 80 per cent of which would be exported, providing some relief to Latin countries. Cuba is also experimenting with a vaccine, which is administered as a nasal spray. If this works, then it solves massive logistical and distribution issues. India has also done well to permit private hospitals to commence vaccinations. Though many of them are yet galvanising, it will accelerate the vaccinations when they come on board. After starting vaccinations, within seven weeks, India has vaccinated about 1.5 million people. The plan is to vaccinate 300 million citizens by the end of July. Health authorities should permit vaccines from the Municipal Corporations to private doctors to vaccinate patients at their clinics.

From Mr Rajendra Aneja


Lack of female voices at all levels

March 8 was International Women's day. This year's theme was women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in the COVID-19 world. Women today, although they have moved ahead in many ways and have shone in every field and made her folks proud. Yet, there are still some places where women are ill-treated or suppressed. Everyone speaks aloud of gender equality, but many deny women at home this equality and freedom. Women today are exposed to many atrocities in their workplace, homes, hospitals, market, and even in public places. No place is considered safe despite central and state governments coming out with new schemes to provide safety and security. Women are still underrepresented in public life and decision-making forums. Newly elected US Vice President Kamala Harris is an icon and proud to all women. But the overall representation of women globally is significantly less. It is vital for policy-makers at all levels to recognise what women leaders are doing – and the challenges they face – to help them fully participate in "building back better" in a post-pandemic world.

From Mr Eappen Elias


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