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मंदार शिंदे
Mandar Shinde

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Mental Health During Lockdown

Hindustan Times, Sunday May 31, 2020

Life Under Lockdown: Mental Health Also Matters

We are under lockdown for two months now. Physical movements, business operations, and social gatherings - everything is restricted. This has a direct impact on the economy, lifestyle and health. But I am a little more concerned about its indirect impact on our mental health.

Most of us have missed going to the gym or going for a walk everyday. Some might have compensated for it by exercising within the comfort of their own house or having a walk on the terrace everyday. However, the feeling of being locked inside the house has created a significant amount of stress among most of us.

There are two major sources - first, the orders issued by Government officials and second, the fear of contracting Coronavirus the moment we step out of our homes.

There is a difference between situations where I voluntarily decide to remain inside home and when I am ordered to do so. And to add to it, when I am punished if I do not follow the orders. I cannot meet friends and family members, cannot travel to places I want to, cannot be a part of social activities, and my business opportunities are also reduced or somewhat vanished during the last two months. Particularly when I am self-employed and cannot expect a full or part salary when I don't work. This is taking a toll on self-confidence, pushing many others like me towards an unhealthy state of mind, even depression.

Words of wisdom and motivation do not help under such circumstances. If the lockdown is extended any further, the mental health of many will get beyond recovery. I am wondering how one can sustain their morale in these difficult times. Are there any exercises that we can continue at home to keep ourselves fit mentally until we are back to normal, if we ever are going to be?

- Mandar Shinde


Friday, May 29, 2020

Gulzar on Migrant Workers

Why does one leave their place of origin? What is the difference between migration for better prospects and a forced migration? What happens when the migrated ones are scared for their lives? How does one choose between life and livelihood? Questions that lead to more questions. Read Gulzar saab's take on the plight of migrant workers and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown situation across the country.

(Click on image to read)


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Sar Zuka Ke Zameen Par Rakhne Se... (Gulzar)

You need not become a politician to make a political statement. Your films, your poetry, your stories, your performances, anything and everything can express your thoughts and views. Salaam Gulzar saab and Vishal Bhardwaj ji!
(Click on image to read)


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Restaurant Business Crisis

The government has partially lifted lockdown after two months and businesses are reopening in phases. However, the restaurant business is still not allowed to operate, except take-away or delivery. There isn't any package in sight for supporting the business either. Take-away or delivery cannot generate enough revenue for this industry to survive. The restaurants are waiting for dine-in customers; the sooner the government allows it the better. Journalist Vir Sanghvi has presented a deeper view into this situation through his article in the Hindustan Times, dated May 26, 2020. The link -

The restaurant business in India lacks public support. Especially, the middle class considers eating out is a luxurious thing to do. 'I can cook a better Biryani or make a cheaper Paneer dish at home,' moms and wives boast proudly and the entire family at the local restaurant eats in guilt, never forgetting the 'right side' of the menu card.

A hidden jealousy and revengeful sentiment has made the great Indian middle class indifferent, rather apprehensive of the survival and prosperity of the restaurant industry. Of course, the industry, too, has failed to establish an emotional connect with the customers.

It's not just about offering discounts or remembering customers' birthdays. The attention when they arrive, the personalized service remembering and incorporating their choices, effective and transparent feedback mechanism can induce a sense of belonging and love about the restaurant among the customers.

Unfortunately, the restaurateurs do not think this could pay them in any way. They consider all these things to be fancy and overheads to the business. On the contrary, my ten years in the food business tell me that customer loyalty depends more upon the way you treat them than the products you serve them. The quality and rates can be competitive and replicable, but your service model can set you apart in the market.

While big brands and star hotels can get away easily on the hygiene and safety part, local restaurants are going to face many challenges in near future. The increased sanitation expenses will eat up their profits or make them lose customers over increased prices. The infrastructure and skill level of employees will hardly be able to handle the expectations of customers graduating from the Whatsapp University. Only restaurants with an emotional bonding with their customers would be able to pull this off in the difficult times to come, I guess.

Hope the pandemic and subsequent market conditions make the restaurateurs and customers rethink about and reinvent their mutual relationship, in a more human and empathetic way. Let the connection step up in the future from kitchen-to-stomach to heart-to-heart.

- Mandar Shinde 9822401246


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Innovative Teachers

Bridging the Gap between Online and Offline

1. Jagadish Kude is a primary teacher from Jalna, Maharashtra. During the lockdown period (because of COVID-19), he couldn't reach out to students in his school. They lived in Shriram Tanda area and most of the parents did not own a smartphone. Jagadish sir approached the youth that had returned to the villages from cities due to lockdown. They had smartphones with internet connection. Sir requested the youth to help at least one student each, living in the same area. The youth responded positively. None of the students in this area is left out now. The youth would visit the students on a stipulated date and time. The homework is communicated to students personally. Students take down notes in their notebooks. The youth would take photos of previous homework completed by the students, to be shared with Jagadish sir.

2. Keshav Pawar is a teacher from Vanisangam, Taluka Sonpeth, District Parbhani. He knew that some parents could not join the school Whatsapp group due to lack of resources. Worried about the students, Keshav sir approached the owner of a xerox (photocopier) shop in the village. Sir started sending photos of homework to the shop owner, who would make multiple photocopies of it and keep them available at the shop. Parents would visit the shop at different times during the day, to collect the copies. Keshav sir also prepares audio clips for students whose parents do not own a smartphone but use a simple phone. Teachers returned to the village due to lockdown are also helping in this activity, along with the member of local School Management Committee, Mr. Sandipan Zirape.

3. Prakash Chavan is a teacher from Karanjwan, Taluka Dindori, District Nashik. His self-discipline of preparing notes for further lessons and next month's activities has helped during lockdown period. The notes are laminated and distributed among students for self-study. Since the distribution took place before lockdown, the students already had worksheets with them during the lockdown period. The laminated sheets were rotated among the students in the village, so that entire homework was covered by all the students, without attending the school. Prakash sir cannot enter the village due to current restrictions, but he has collaborated with the health workers visiting the village for a health survey. The homework is distributed among the parents through the health workers. Previous sheets are also collected at the same time. Considering the huge cost of laminating sheets for every lesson, Prakash sir purchased a lamination machine on his own. The shops are closed during the lockdown period, baut Prakash sir is able to continue his work with the help of this machine at home.

(As reported by Vandana Dhaneshwar for Daily Divya Marathi, May 2020)


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Contemporary Art

Contemporary art is actually the documentation of concurrent objects and incidences. Be it in the form of paintings, stories, sculptures, buildings, and so on.

Many times I wonder what'll future historians conclude about architecture or art in our times? We're just making (substandard) copies of ancient and folk art/literary forms.

Temples built in the 21st century imitate the 12th or 16th century architecture. Wall paintings in the year 2020 demonstrate natural landscapes of imaginary forests and mountains, which we have destroyed decades ago. Even our clothes are full of Buddha and Durga prints (irrespective of religious affiliations). No contemporary motifs such as cars and bikes and machines are found in cloth print. Don't we have enough ideas about this? Or don't we feel these objects as our own creation? Or we're so overwhelmed with the past that we don't want to look around when we need inspiration for art...

We need deliberate efforts in creating something that would be called 'our own art' in the future history books. Is someone reading this? I hope you are.

- Mandar Shinde


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

MMS on Credible Policy Reforms

Important views on policy reforms by Dr. Manmohan Singh. We cannot afford to ignore such knowledgeable persons.

(Click on image to read)


Monday, May 11, 2020

The Great Indian Labour Crisis 2020

Shivam Vij has written an important and detailed article on the migrant labour crisis (The Print, May 11, 2020). https://theprint.in/opinion/indias-heartless-capitalists-deserve-the-labour-shortages-they-are-about-to-be-hit-with/418845/

As mentioned in the article, the labourers are not being paid at this hour of crisis, but it's unlikely to think of a revolt simply because they cannot afford to feel emotionally hurt and seek revenge against the heartless capitalists who've betrayed them today. They'll have to give in and return to work, thanks to our social security assurance, and I'm afraid there'll be increased scope for exploitation, since the labourers will be desperately in need of a job, in the absence of any concrete policy or support coming from the government.

Working hours have been increased from 8 to 12 per day, which is a significant example of the state facilitating further exploitation of the labourers. We need, without delay, a concrete policy about labour welfare and survival, with specific focus on the issues arising out of migration.

- Mandar Shinde