Ardern’ed victory!

Few days ago Labor Party in New Zeland won outright parliamentary majority and in the process another term as Prime Minister for Jacinda Ardern ( ). The victory appears to be hard-earned (I prefer the similar sounding Ardern’ed) as the Ardern-led Government has had to deal with, in this term, a terrorist attack in Christchurch, a natural disaster when the White Island/Whakaari volcano erupted, and COVID-19 pandemic too.

Sound familiar to Northerners on the other side of Pacific?

It’s instructive how the NZ Government handled the terrorist attack and COVID-19 pandemic in their country. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack the Government first acknowledged a need for action and, within a short time, issued a ban on possession of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. The Government has also garnered praise for its handling of the COVID-19 cases and for success in measures taken to contain the spread. Obviously it has come with a price. Travel and tourism would have taken a big hit and the country is in recession now. For a country with ~ 5 million total population a major outbreak would have been a great setback. Yet, with good implementation of safety measures the country is back to as-close-to-normal-as-possible at this time. I do not follow NZ news regularly. Obviously terrorist attack points to existence of some individuals or fringe groups intent on creating racial/religious tension in society (which can be expected in any country). It’s the response to such tragedies that makes a big difference. Likewise COVID-19 related measures likely caused hardship to people while making the country safer. It’s also likely some mistakes were made and lessons learned in an evolving situation ( ). Going by the result of general election – a resounding majority for the incumbent, the people have approved the performance. That’s not to say everything must have been done perfect. The lesson to learn, in a functioning democracy, is that if the leaders share known facts people understand and are also more forgiving of honest mistakes made. No economy can survive being shut for a long time and it’s not easy to balance safety with minimal economic impact. It’s good to see transparency and sincerity still matter. Wish it could be replicated on a bigger scale by other countries too 🙏

Fight against the pandemic

Few weeks ago read Dr Fauci interview where he described his daily routine during the coronavirus pandemic. He puts in like 20 hours/day all 7 days of the week. While that in itself is impressive, especially for a 79 year old person, and puts to shame many people much younger what impressed me most was him being able to squeeze in 4 hours of sleep each day! I dug deeper to find out how he makes that happen. He used to run 7 miles/day earlier. Now he has cut it down to 3.5 miles/day. Aha, the guy is slacking off! 😂
Jokes apart, his background makes for interesting reading. Raised in a religious family, service to others was instilled in him very early in his life 👍 Prior to attending medical school he studied the classics ( giving him a well rounded personality. Learned to listen to critical views during the HIV/AIDS epidemic bringing out the humility in him. Speaking truth to power and holding on to job is a big achievement in itself these days which he has been able to do 👏 Professionals like him may not get it right first always but give hope to ordinary citizens their heart is in the right place even as they let their scientific training guide their approach to work 🙏

Novel exercise

The past week has seen, in the wake of coronavirus scare, spate of announcements from companies asking employees to work from home and colleges moving courses online in an effort to reduce the risk of infection and contain the spread of virus from human interactions. First, shoutout to all those in the frontline fighting the battle to help people already infected and risking infecting themselves in the process. Second, prayers for people infected and trying to recover. Third, prayers for welfare of workers who cannot do their job from a remote location and are at higher risk of exposure to infection.

While working from home is not new in professions where the job can be done electronically the concept of large volume of employees and most of college education moving online is novel indeed. The announcement of national emergency with recommendation of social distancing has in effect forced everyone to find ways to go about their business in a different way. It’s going to be interesting to see how this new Business As Usual (BAU) under unusual circumstances works out, especially considering there is uncertainty on how long this will be the norm for doing things. Willy-nilly all of us are going to be affected whether we are active or passive participants. Which throws up some interesting questions

1) Will multiple people working/studying under one roof called home result in individuals feeling invasion of their space in some way?
2) Will it result in increased quality family time due to much higher interaction between family members and bring families closer?
3) Will there be more frequent trips to the pantry/kitchen snack counter due to more easy availability and lesser distance to walk?
4) Will network bandwidth be a bottleneck as members of families compete for a slice of it for their work or study?
5) Will grocery stores witness a continuing surge in buying or see a drop as people work through the extra foodstuff they have bought in recent times?
6) Will snacking companies need to work overtime due to increased demand as people seek comfort in snacks/chocolates/ice creams?
7) Will oil prices at gas station depress more due to supply exceeding reduced demand?
8) Will businesses like restaurants, movie theaters, sporting events that need people coming in go belly up?
9) Will students’ grades improve helped by parent/s being around to help?
10) Will employee productivity increase thanks to potential help from their children? 🙂 I know of one co-worker who took credit for all the hard work done by his dog jumping on the keyboard when he was away 😉
11) Will all the forced changes ensure policymakers do a better job of preparing for situations like this or shift blame by pointing fingers at others?
12) Will this become the new normal way of doing business?

Questions, questions and more questions. No immediate answers but there should be more than enough data in a few weeks to analyze how all this works out. As for myself, I cannot get away in the near future claiming I had a bath or ate my lunch on time 😦 Life is getting tough but I will hang on 😀