2020. What a year it has been for all of us. A once in a lifetime event that has seamlessly crossed all borders. Although in the long and fascinating history of humans there were events that impacted a large scale of population and changed the way humans think, behave and interact, there aren’t many events that have the notoriety of impacting each and every human in such a short period of time. To compare and put this in perspective, let me give an example of a world event that has impacted a large scale of population and the speed with which it has reached that scale. TV was invented in 1926, and there were countries in the world which got their first TV’s as late as the 1990’s. WHO puts the date of the COVID-19 outbreak sometime in December, 2019 and until September, 2020, 188 countries have reported at least one coronavirus infection, and it has still not been a year.
Some people have won while others have lost. Of course, you can draw generalizations based on a few social and economic indicators but each and every one has been impacted in a unique way. We have found both heroes and villains during this pandemic. Heroes who have gone above and beyond to create a positive impact on the human kind, while villains who have gone above and beyond to divide an already fragile human kind. I have always believed that humans as a species, from the earliest we know of them have evolved more on the basis of pride and hate and lesser on the basis of care and benevolence. Yuval Noah Harari, in his book, “Sapiens: A brief history of humankind”, has a very interesting perspective on the evolution of homo sapiens. Homo sapiens came into existence by driving our brothers and sisters, the Neanderthals, Denisovans and other human species, in to extinction and came into dominance by thinking cooperatively in large numbers. We never gave care and benevolence a chance.
Even to this day, we carry the burden of our evolutionary traits of discrimination and our innate nature of destroying others to survive. The current pandemic amplifies these traits. It is easy for us to be selfish than generous, be for ourselves than for others, and discriminate and hate than love and care. But if history has taught us anything – I am not talking about the history that gets taught in schools, that history is audaciously altered to reflect the agenda of the government of the day, I am talking about how our history discriminated and ridiculed a section of the people as slaves, took away opportunities from women, labelled dark skinned people as an anomaly, put gays and lesbians behind closets, that history. It is not a rosy picture and events like the ones we are going through are breeding grounds for the dark history to repeat itself. As humans we have the option to be on the right side of history as it is happening and unfolding in front of our eyes. We can either choose to not do anything, continue the discrimination, fold our hands and say it is not our problem or choose to do something about it, and give love and care a chance. Being aware is the most important step that you can take to be on the right side of history.
When I think of awareness and ponder on its importance, the first thing that comes to my mind is education and my time in school. The knowledge that education helped me gain, the experiences it made me live, the values it helped me inculcate, and most importantly the friends for life it made me have. You and me would never be able to have so many wonderful experiences without education. We are already a country where most of the kids do not go to school and get educated, and unsurprisingly, with the classes moving online, there are a million more kids who are at risk of not getting a school education and dropping off. The impact of this is going to be felt for years to come but we can minimize this impact. I have been thinking hard about it ever since the lockdown, and as a passionate teacher myself, did not want any child to miss out on education just because he or she did not have access to a laptop. The first order of things was to immediately identify a kid who could benefit from my spare laptop. My wife and I reached out to a nearby locality and identified a girl, who is studying in class 8, and set her up with the laptop. The next order of things was to identify the different NGO’s working towards providing a laptop for school kids. You will find a curated list of such NGO’s, which I have researched about and spoken to.
- Bhumi – Technology donation program. You can either donate your used PC/Laptop or Tablet or donate money towards the cause. Be sure to check the tech specifications they have listed down if you decide to donate your used PC/Laptop.
- DonateyourPC.in – They take both working and non-working laptops, electronic peripherals etc.
- Serudsindia – They have various missions and objectives and targets groups who are below poverty line
- Dreamgirl foundation – This is an NGO in Gurgaon and is focused on empowering girl education in the areas around Gurgaon.
- Computeraid.org – They are an international organization and work with industries. They don’t have an individual donation program but if you are running a company and are revamping your IT systems, then you should definitely get in touch with them.
Here is a short clip of what it means for the kid
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If you don’t feel any personal connection with any of these NGO’s then you can always talk to your house help, who might be in need of a spare laptop for her kid. If you think you can do more, then please feel free to get in touch with me and we can work together. The festive season sale is looming up on us, and we will be itching to go and get our hands on an upgraded laptop, an XBOX or a play station, a new tablet maybe and put our old laptops into cold storage and not look back at it. But before doing that this year, spend 30 minutes on finding out the kid who might be in dire need of a laptop lest he or she be devoid of education. The pandemic is going to go away and we will soon go in to the post pandemic world. From the vantage point of the post pandemic world, you are either going to see a world further divided or a world further united. I am placing my bet on a united world and hope you do too.