Communication from COVID

Life is communication. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi said My Life is my Message

This is much more valid during the current Corona times than ever before. The novel Coronavirus has sent (and keeps sending) plenty of communication.

The 1-2-3 of COVID case are not outdated. They – – Mask, Hand hygiene and distancing – are valid as long as we keep violating them. Did someone say, just as the traffic rules? Well, yes. Very much.

The COVID curve is flattening, however, in several parts of the country and the world at large the attack continues to be severe. Europe is already threatened with a second wave and the TIFR says the next peak in India can happen soon.

I have spent over 40 years in Mumbai looking at the sign – Do Not Spit. As a new comer to Mumbai in February 1977, I used wonder as to why one has to be told not to spit in the open, in public places. That was the last lap the Emergency with draconian laws and on-the-spot punishments that led to strict enforcement of queues at bus stops and railway booking counters. Yet, spitting continued then and happens even now.

The problem assumed serious proportions as COVID struck us. The World Health Organisation has cautioned that aerosols can spread the virus. This prompted us to float the award winning campaign #SarUthakeThuko (Spit up). Since health and habits are state subjects, I have informed the Chief Ministers and Municipal Corporations to impose hefty penalties on spitting in public places. One has to cough up Rs 1,000 if one spits in public now!

Many sported masks for quite some time, particularly during the strict implementation of the lockdown rules. Traffic police were busy checking masks rather than driving licenses. It worked. The sky-bound sales graphs of sanitisers (despite the 18% GST) showed that hand hygiene too worked. But distancing has been thrown to winds, particularly by many politicians who continued to celebrate their birthdays, have rallies, and conduct COVID awareness marches. There were isolated cases of a law maker, such as in Telangana, going round alone in his open vehicle with a microphone in his hand, asking people to stay safe. As always, politicians by large failed to lead by example (or leading by wrong example). I do not have to justify this. Just look at the Bihar election rallies, in case you have forgotten the Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka power struggle meetings.

Certain things in India will never improve. Political  behaviour is one of them.

Be that as it may, the novel Coronavirus has certainly communicated the need for a new normal in our lives at home and outside. Haven’t webinars became the order of the day? What is more, even families and friends are making merry with virtual meetings. Pre-wedding preparations, messaging is happening via WhatsApp.

With work-from-home and work-from-anywhere becoming the order of the day, real estate builders are now coming up with solutions of work space.  New homes will have this facility.

While back-to-BC (before COVID) is still a far cry, at least till middle of 2021 when the vaccine is expected for public use, Corona has been giving us quite unpredictable communication. The way it behaves with different age groups, different individuals and in different geographies baffles scientists. No wonder, the WHO is still working on the modalities of research to detect the source of the deadly virus rather than trying to just nail it down. Here, are no template solutions, as I gather from the weekly, virtual media briefings from the WHO HQ at Geneva.

As communicators we may come out with customised solutions which may or may not work. Doctors and scientists continue to work on trial-and-error formula, be it the use of Remdesivir or plasma therapy. The Navi Mumbai COVID care centre where I underwent isolation and treatment continue to experiment with the two treatment methods, with good success. That’s the communication I have for the world!

In hindsight, many say that the governments should have heard the corona communication in January and February and sealed the airports to check what Donald Trump describes as the Chinese Virus. Europe and the US are reeling under a fresh spurt of cases. Our own Delhi is also experiencing a new spike. And the international and national air travel is on. The festive season in places like Mumbai and Lucknow is witnessing usual crowds in market places. As a corona survivor-turned-observer, I will continue to keep a close watch.


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

BN Kumar
Director, Samachar Foundation (Media NGO)
He started his career with Free Press Journal in late 1970s, worked with United News of India and wrote for The Daily, Times of India, Mid-Day and Indian Express. He also ran a county paper called Newsbank New Bombay catering to the needs of Navi Mumbai before returning to mainstream by joining Business India. He started his PR career with the legendary Dhirubhai Ambani's Reliance Industries and was part of the team that set up O&M PR - the first PR arm of an Ad agency - 30 years ago and till recently, Executive Director – Concept PR.

He runs media and environment related NGOs, five websites, including,, and YouTube channel and does podcasts under Radio Connect brand.

Be the first to comment on "Communication from COVID"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.