Final Year During Consecutive Lockdowns Online

‘Online Studies Took Away The Zing Of My B Tech Final Year’

Shivangi Mishra, 22, completed her B Tech final year during consecutive lockdowns online. Mishra narrates what all she missed out

I was in my B Tech final year from KIIT University, Bhubaneshwar, when we heard the news about the outbreak of Covid pandemic. I was in the hostel, studying labouriously for the final exams and at the same time enjoying the hostel life with my friends.

As the pandemic and the panic spread, we were asked by our college administration to vacate hostel premises. Strict lockdowns were to follow. So, we bundled up our stuff and headed home thinking that the situation will be brought under control in a month or two and we will be back to our normal hostel life soon. However, in good time we realised the intensity of the outbreak the world over.

With no signs of returning to hostel to attend classes, we received information from the college administration about online classes. Studying technology online can be an uphill task for students. To make matters worse, many teachers as well students were not aware of the online education procedures; besides, there were intermittent network issues. To clear the concept, many a time several students would start asking questions at the same time. It seemed chaotic and much would get lost in the confusion.

We had always been to the classrooms hitherto where teachers were physically present and answered our queries. The online classes had their limitations. We struggled to complete the course. Many lagged behind. Those who were not good at studies suffered the most. It was very hard to face an examination after online classes for one whole year and that too for final semester exams.

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During first couple of months, we were completely confused on how to continue studies as the atmosphere at home is entirely different from that of a formal classroom. Sometimes I was frustrated with disturbance with family members moving around. But slowly I devised a routine. Also, as I missed my friends, I started catching up with them online. Despite all what I suffered in academic front, I am really grateful to my parents for their support. At times of Covid, we felt safe with family.

The examinations brought in fresh challenges. The weaker students who used to take additional help from the teachers post-classes and those who had joined the university from remote areas struggled the most.

The placements were also hard to come by as the interviews were done through online apps. It wasn’t the way we had prepared ourselves. A group discussion with interviewees and aspirants in a room is entirely different than how it is conducted online. We couldn’t see the expressions or the faces of the interviewees clearly. At times we couldn’t hear the subject or the arguments placed properly. I would consider myself lucky that I was able to find the position of an associated integration engineer with a private group.

Thankfully, things are getting better now, and students and teachers are getting well versed to online classes. However, online education can never replace the physical classrooms, the hostel life and the atmosphere of a college. I hope the pandemic ends soon and everything goes back to normal.

Suspending Internet Services Near Farmers

‘Work, Studies, Business… All Suffered From Internet Ban’

Noushad Saifi, 34, a social activist, says by suspending internet services near farmers’ protests sites, the government caused untold miseries on local residents as well as peaceful protesters

Roti, kapda, makan and the internet! In the current times, especially in the post-pandemic world, the internet has become some sort of a lifeline, a basic right of people. Many people’s livelihoods and education depend on the smooth and efficient functioning of the internet. Thus suspension of internet services near farmers protest sites by the government was a body blow for local residents.

One can understand an internet ban during riots, to check mindless violence, to keep miscreants or anti-social elements from spreading fake news. But to ban the internet during a peaceful protest is uncalled for. This is brutal suppression of democratic dissent.

We are a family of eight staying together: my parents, my wife, my two children and I. We also have a nephew and a niece staying with us because they wanted access to better education opportunities available in Delhi-NCR. One of them is in Class 10, another in Class 12, both Board Exam candidates and for them each day is crucial. Their studies suffered when the internet was banned twice in our locality recently.

ALSO READ: ‘Studies, Protest Both Important For My Future’

Students have anyway had a difficult year because of the pandemic and classes shifting to online mode. This is the year when they need support the most. We can’t afford them getting anxious about their future. I just hope their exams go off smoothly.

Saifi (inset) says people in his locality in Loni, UP, were badly hit by internet ban

If the internet spreads fake news, then it is also the most potent tool to counter disinformation. The day after the Republic Day violence in Delhi, our local representative tried to distance himself from the farmers protest. He said he never supported Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait. But locals circulated videos and photographs of him being present with Tikait that very day. Thus the internet ensured that the public can’t be taken for a ride anymore. They are not dependent on media to get the correct picture, for they can get it themselves and report it.

I have been taking part in the farmer protests from the beginning and I believe banning the internet leaves many people feeling unsafe and anxious. Many people draw courage to go to these protests because they feel connected and know that they can call or message their friends anytime if they find they are lost in a sea of people.

ALSO READ: ‘Rihana-Greta Amplified Voice Of Farmers’

Moreover, even though farmer protests is in the forefront, the shadow of coronavirus still looms large. I have nearly 200 groups on my WhatsApp where we coordinate together to provide help and support to people around us and even in remote areas. On the days when internet services were suspended, we were unable to help or reach out to people.

Even though the lockdown has ended, many professionals are still working from home. These men and women could not attend office when the internet was down.

Modiji encouraged everyone to go cashless and opt for online modes of payment post-demonetisation, but by banning the internet, the government has backtracked on its own promise. If a vendor cannot make an online payment in time due to internet ban, they will switch back to traditional mode of transactions. The government should keep all these factors in mind before taking any such drastic step.