When a virtual session boosts confidence to re-invent for the new world

Webinars, virtual summits, online panel discussions, Instagram Lives, etc. have become buzzwords in the corporate world during the Covid-19 lockdown.  Recently I attended one such talk by Dr. Anil Kakodkar, a renowned nuclear physicist and former director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Mumbai. Approximately 300 people were glued to YouTube, watching him speak on the advancements in energy and its impact on climate change.

However, this was a virtual forum with a difference. For the first time in seven decades, Amar Hind Mandal, a social organization in Mumbai, adapted digital platforms to host its annual spring lecture series Vasanta Vyakhyanmala. It was an anxious, nervous, courageous and a period of taking bold decisions for the volunteers trying to continue the 72 yrs tradition of this lecture series amidst the pandemic and series of lockdowns. Over 250 live audience, 1000 views and connecting with members across geographies was a moment of elation for this conventional thinking social organisation – giving them the confidence to take the digital leap in their operations, organization and communication.

Amar Hind Mandal’s first online lecture series received 1000 views on YouTube

As a silent observer, it was quite an enriching experience of understanding the learning curve. The popularity of smartphones and access to mobile internet had made our parents go digital. Like other fellow Indians, they use social media, regularly check WhatsApp and forward messages. But this simple exercise of attending an online session exposed them to other aspects of social media – What is a YouTube channel?, Do you pay for subscription, will it be an audio or a video speech?, how can I share this video with others? Can I watch this video later? The joy of listening to an intellectual talk from the confines of their house when the world is fighting Covid-19 and Cyclone Nisarga has just missed Mumbai was boundless. It was a moment of truth for a generation of Indians, making them further adapt and adopt a new means of communication.

While Facebook and WhatsApp have become a part of our lives, other tools like Facebook Live, Video-based meeting platforms, online seminars is still a novel concept for many. Apart from shopping and entertainment, Covid-19 has inclined us towards online tools and platforms in areas we have never imagined. If not for the pandemic and lockdown, so many of this audience of 300 people would have not experienced an online lecture series or a virtual session outside the corporate / professional world.

This incidence is like a drop in an ocean of individual, organizational, institutional and sovereign transformation that Covid-19 has enforced upon the world. I have seen an ordinary shop selling cold-cuts & poultry turn into a one-stop-shop for quick breakfast and ready-to-eat food, a food blogger using this period to reinforce the importance of simple cooking and supporting local businesses, from religiously sharing restaurant reviews on apps a girl dedicating lockdown to become fitter and healthier. The things we do, learn and unlearn, follow and let go during this phase will shape our lives as we emerge on the other side of this pandemic.

As for me, last two months have been a big lesson in facing a personal loss and challenges with stride, finding the silver lining instead of whining about the circumstances.

How have you coped up with this changed world during Covid-19?