While humanity’s worst fears come knocking randomly at our doors in the form of Covid 19, the growing anxiety across the globe is getting fueled by a deadlier assassin. A challenge which is proving to be as big as the pandemic itself is ‘wrong communication’. The intensity of irregular and wrong communication that the world is witnessing at the moment is scary and might be the biggest challenge to overcome as we try everything at hand to sail through this never before seen crisis of unprecedented level. India might not be the epicenter of the deadly Covid 19 virus, but the various nonsensical versions of the factual information being shared carelessly have certainly made us the epicenter of misinformation.
A country which is 3 times smaller than America in size and 11 times bigger in population density, India is sitting on a ticking bomb of misleading information, which can go off with a single wrong communication resulting in absolute chaos and mayhem. The need of the hour is transparent and regular communication to fight at various levels to put a strong fight against the Covid 19 menace.
Central and state governments
Clear communication between central and state governments is an absolute must to ensure similar directives being rolled at all levels. It is even better to have a single-window communication or a joint task force that updates the public at large about the developments on a daily basis. The task force should have a senior health expert who is in charge of overlooking the arrangements and has an update on everything related to the medical arrangements. The complete communication must be distributed in video and written form as well up to the level of gram panchayats and RWAs. The practice can bring the rumour mills to a grinding halt and stop them from cooking up a version basis their whims and fancies.
This seems to be the ultimate test for the Indian media houses which are generally seen caught up in a never-ending battle of TRPs and readerships, taking them far away from communicating the facts. It is important that instead of the usual speculative and accusation mode they start educating the masses and report only verified government sources. Something as critical as the rising number of causalities must be in sync with the government records at all times. While billions of people locked in their houses are dependent on them for the latest updates, the media houses cannot afford to report wrong numbers or updates.
Business establishments and workplaces
Transparent and clear communication about changing business strategies is critical to stay productive and sail through the impact. In such a crisis scenario the trust level between the management and the employees needs to be maintained at the highest levels. To do away with the atmosphere of rising anxiety and fear of losing jobs, virtual town halls must be organised at regular intervals. AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions with the senior leadership, a dedicated intraportal to update, discuss & enquire, designated SPOCs to address concerns can be some of the ways to ensure effective communication. Besides this, clear WFH (Work From Home) guidelines and protocols are required to be communicated to ensure that neither the management, nor the employees can misuse the situation to their advantage.
Citizens at large
The ones, who will play a decisive role in this biggest communication battle of all times, are the 1.3 billion citizens of India. Armed with lethal communication weapons in the form of whatsapp or various social media platforms, they have the power to turn any vague or unbelievable communication into a hugely accepted fact. It is important that such communication platforms also keep a check on the spread of wrong information through them. But in the end it is the responsibility of each one of us to show some restrain and check the facts before loosely putting up together some random thoughts and adding to the overwhelming ocean of communication woes.
It’s now or never
Even though Covid 19 has already made almost the whole world kneel, for India the battle has just begun. While an army of medical and essential service professionals work relentlessly round the clock to put up a brave front for our safety, we must do our part by communicating right. The country is in a desperate need of all hands on deck to build an impenetrable attack against the invisible enemy, which is very much possible, only if we can use the power of effective communication to its full potential. The world is watching us and expects us to lead them through the biggest calamity of recent times. Let’s not disappoint them and put up a brave fight by communicating right and supporting the ones who are the real heroes in this decisive war of humanity against nature.
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