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Calm in chaos

      So, India has declared a lockdown 3.0 for another 2 weeks. This time most of us were expecting it to extend and therefore it didn’t surprise us at all.
      When the first lockdown was declared the twitterati cracked a lot of jokes and thoroughly enjoyed it. Frankly speaking they were happy about the idea of not having to go to work for 21 days. It wasn’t just the relief that they would be safe from being infected by the coronavirus. They were also happy about ‘Not having to travel on top of each other in public transport’, ‘Not having to deal with annoying co-workers’, ‘Not having to face the nagging manager’ etc etc. Most of them stocked their groceries and locked themselves in the houses to enjoy the next 21 days. Yes, most of them had to ‘Work From Home’, but it did come with the privilege of ‘Bad Network Connection’. Almost everyone knew that their salaries that month were being credited on time, and those who earn their bread on daily wages, well they don’t really have Twitter to express their feelings. So all went well for the first lockdown. The daily 9to5ers understood how hard it is to work from home and keep yourself focused. All the freelancers and solopreneurs like myself couldn’t focus on working because of the other people in the home that usually aren’t at home in working hours. Everyone found a way to work and do daily chores at home and post it on social media at the same time. But after a week and half, people started finding it hard to stay inside of the houses, not meeting friends, not eating outside food, and in general ‘Living’. The initial excitement of working from home had started to fade off. That’s when we got the news of the second lockdown. Another 18 days!! Everyone had already started making their plans of meeting friends and going out as soon as the 21 days come to an end. All shattered in a 20 minute speech. Now the panic kicked in. People had to amass groceries again. This time more seriously, more in quantity too. People working from mostly home had their salaries paid on time, and thus weren’t much worried. The daily wage workers had already burnt through whatever little savings they had by this time. But corporate India would survive the second lockdown too.

Now we have declared the 3rd lockdown. This time for 2 weeks. We were expecting it too. The condition of coronavirus in India is by no means safe to live our daily lives. This is because we live pretty bad lives daily. In cities like Mumbai, the job opportunities might be quite more than the other cities, but the packed public transport, the traffic jammed roads, high rate of pollution and substandard waste disposal systems make it quite difficult to be termed as ‘ideal life’. When you put something like Coronavirus in these conditions, which has a great spreading rate of itself, that makes for a deadly combination. To get an insight of how crowded Mumbai is, we have 26000 people per square km in Mumbai, which tells us why we have such a high rate of growth in cases in Mumbai. We are literally living on top of each other here. So Mumbai being considered a ‘Red Zone’ for COVID19 was inevitable. So it was a great and necessary move by the government. The corporate Indians, however, have again gotten used to this lockdown and aren’t thinking much of it, besides how bored they are and how much they want to go meet friends. Actually this is the time for them to look at this issue more seriously. The global economy has been on the downfall for almost a year now. We were already in early stages of recession. The governments tried to boost the economy by cash infusion but it just didn’t work. A pandemic at such a global scale in these times just delivered the final blow to that economy.
Our economy has been bullish since the recession of 2008, or it seemed like it because of the vast amount of money poured in by the VCs in the new age technology companies. So, global recession is long overdue. A recent survey found out that 47% of the SMEs in India have only about a month’s worth of runway left in the bank. Most of the tech companies reliant on the VC money and not making actual sales, (claiming to be following “Amazon’s model of capturing the market”) will be going down first as there will be no more series Z coming in!! Rest of the corporate sector is also hurt deeply due to not operating efficiently for so many days or having lost clients abroad that made a large part of their revenue. Do you think your job is secure because you’re working there for more than 5 years? Go talk to someone who was working a private job in 2008. People often refer to a corporate job as “a safe option” while talking about the demerits of entrepreneurship. Surely, a corporate job does give you a more steady income stream, but is it really safe? Or is that safety just an illusion created of 12 straight years of bullish market? We are about to find out!

Don’t Panic!

       So what do we do in such times? You don’t know how safe your job is right now. We will have to wait for all of this to unfold by itself, and whatever is about to happen, will happen. You may lose your job or suffer a pay-cut, or maybe it won’t happen because your company managed its assets smartly in the past. Also, it’s not only people with jobs who are suffering right now. All entrepreneurs, freelancers and self-employeds are also not getting much work due to the pandemic. You see, the other businesses have to be operational for these people to get work. But, they are generally used to all this happening once in a while because their revenue streams are not uniform and steady to begin with. So, they have a little bit of experience to endure such times.

What should You do?

       Once you accept that there could be unpleasant outcomes of this situation, it’s now time to act. The first step is to limit the outgoing cash. If you are not sure about the incoming months, better keep what you’ve got for a rainy day. The second step is investing. Not just money, the time too! Invest the time you’ve got in developing yourself. Learn something new in your area of work, if not that, learn about how to manage your finances. Get awareness about where your money or assets are, and is that working for you. Learn about share markets or mutual funds. Acquire a new skill. One that could help you in your current job. Or another one that might help you in the next job should you lose this one. Be calm, and keep it moving.

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