Curiosity, compassion, and action, as Mr. Balakrishnan said in the recent IDEAS@Neev session, encapsulate Neev’s spirit of giving. We can and we must find where we lie in the circles of impact and engage our hands, head, and heart. Be it by reading books with government school students or supporting non-profits.
Frank M. Snowden, a professor emeritus of history at Yale, believes “Epidemics are a category of disease that seem to hold up the mirror to human beings as to who we really are.” The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and inequalities in our society–the public health and education systems are broken. Our efforts as students can polish its veneer but that isn’t enough to seal the cracks that lie beneath. Government spending, reforms, and public support are of paramount importance.
Last year’s NEP marks the first change in India’s education policy since 1986. This gap of three decades gives rise to new aspects such as a 5+3+3+4 system to focus on early childhood education. While the changes in policy are commendable, we are yet to see if it will change outcomes for India’s children reliant on government schooling. The pandemic has made education difficult for underprivileged students who may not have access to a device and steady internet, or whose family now needs them to join the workforce. Why was it easy, almost effortless for us to shift to online pedagogy? Isn’t that unfair?
India was unprepared to tackle the pandemic. Our health care per capita pales in comparison to the world average. Why did healthcare expenditure increase by 15% between 2000 and 2018 when India’s military expenditure increased by approximately 136% during the same time period? Increasing public healthcare expenditure from the meager 1.29% of GDP it is currently at, promoting impetus to research, improving accessibility, and establishing a homogenous standard of healthcare across all states are all critical to improve outcomes and mitigating future pandemics. The question is, how will this happen, and when?
In reading more, increasing our awareness, and then asking the hard questions–to ourselves, to our peers, to our leaders–we can create room for conversation, invite change.