‘Learning’ as a coping mechanism

From Harvard offering 67 free courses and Nike’s NTC premium workouts to Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s inspired #LetMenCook challenge — India Inc. Group Founder & CEO Manoj Ladwa explores the many amazing self-development opportunities that will help us get stronger and sharper on the other side of the pandemic.

Who among us, at some point, hasn’t wished for a break, a few leisurely days spent away from the cacophony of the everyday? This, however, is not a well-earned sabbatical. This pandemic has turned our normal on its head, forcing us to conceive of a world very different from the one we are used to.

Millions of people across the world are facing drastic changes to how they work, with many having been requested to take unpaid leave, or even losing their jobs. The sheer magnitude of the loss, both of lives and livelihoods, coupled with the fear and confusion of coping with an uncertain future after no doubt endless loops of scouring the news for COVID-19 updates, is leading to excessive worrying and anxiety. This is causing a massive spike in mental health issues according to some latest studies.

In the US, where the death toll is alarmingly rising, the American Psychiatric Association poll conducted in March showed that 36 per cent of Americans feel the pandemic has had a serious impact on their mental health.

Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a statement: “With the disruptive effects of COVID-19 – including social distancing – currently dominating our daily lives, it is important that we check on each other, call and video-chat, and are mindful of and sensitive to the unique mental health needs of those we care for. Our anxiety and fears should be acknowledged and not be ignored, but better understood and addressed by individuals, communities and governments.”

Learning as a coping mechanism

Learning a new skill I believe can take our mind off the current scenario, even if it is just for a short while, and can really help reduce any anxiety that we may be going through. Many universities worldwide are giving students and professionals a chance to bolster their CVs while they are in lockdown. The most popular among the offerings seems to be Harvard University’s listing of an unprecedented 67 free online courses. I have encouraged my colleagues at India Inc. Group to consider taking any one of those courses. Afterall, which employer wouldn’t want to brag about the fact that he has ‘Harvard-educated’ members in their team – even if was a short course!

Yale’s free “The Science of Well-being” programme has already seen over 1.5 million registrations in recent weeks. Other Ivy League universities are also offering courses on subjects ranging from data science to philosophy. Prestigious institutions in the UK like Kings College London, Imperial College, and even Eton have also joined the skilling mission with certified courses on a whole variety of topics.

To fill the gaps in the learning routine for younger students, a growing number of Indian Edtech companies like Byju’s, Unacademy and Vedantu are offering free access for content to students and educational institutions across India and may even be looking to go global. Leading massive open online course platform Courses has also exempted the fees for 100 courses that cover arts, computer science, cloud tech, among others. Language coaching portal Rosetta Stone is also offering a three-month subscription to students of all ages.

Empowering the future workforce

Tech giants are also on a mission to empower the workforce with newer skills to add to their portfolio. Google Digital Garage offers flexible and personalised training courses to help students and entrepreneurs meet their career goals. Software giant Oracle’s learning portal has made all its content and certifications free until 15 May. Raghu Viswanathan of Oracle said: “We’re making high-quality videos, access to subject matter experts, and recorded demos of hands-on labs available anywhere, anytime so IT pros can accelerate their learning and gain highly sought-after skills.”

In partnership with MEITY, India’s IT Ministry, India’s leading IT trade association NASSCOM has offered their courses on artificial intelligence, part of their FutureSkills initiative, for free till next month. TCS iON, a strategic unit of Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest IT company, is also offering a 15-day digital certification programme called Career Edge, for college students and working professionals to enhance their career skills.

Time to de-stress

Those who are more creatively inclined can look at Nikon’s photography courses or Fender’s guitar lessons. Tune in to Facebook and Instagram where several famous chefs, designers, artists, fitness experts, musicians and other influencers are sharing their skills and knowledge. Sportswear giant Nike is offering its NTC Premium that covers workouts, progressive training programmes and expert tips from trainers for all those who are missing their daily runs.

Renowned yogi and author Sadhguru is offering his online Inner Engineering programme free of charge to healthcare professionals during the coronavirus pandemic. And spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has innovatively proposed the #LetMenCook challenge, followed by #WomenOnStrike, to give some relief to women who often otherwise carry the burden of domestic responsibilities.

In these testing times, it’s certainly heart-warming to see communities and organisations rally together as we face this global crisis. Perhaps using this time to better our skills, improve our health and focus on holistic self-improvement can ease the ride a little.

Let’s all stay safe and positive.

Manoj Ladwa is the Founder and CEO of India Inc. publishers of India Global Business magazine.

About the Author: Manoj Ladwa