Coronavirus in India Photograph:( IANS )
While other countries were busy battling coronavirus in their individual capacities, the Indian Prime Minister was reaching out to other nations to unite in the fight against the pandemic.
The world that was divided along the fault-lines of social, religious, economic, historical, geographical or ideological supremacy, is now speaking in one voice on the need to save humanity.
Around one-third of the world population is estimated to be under lockdown as humanity comes to terms with the pandemic Covid-19 after initial denial.
With over seven lakh cases globally, people are restricted to their homes. The streets bear a deserted look, and the world has come to a standstill. Yet the world is in flux.
The crises of seclusion, isolation and social distancing is not only changing our perception for life, but has also forced us to ponder over the existing way of life itself.
Mystery Surrounding the Deadly Virus
Besides the worldwide criticism of WHO in the handling of the Covid-19 crises, the virus itself has been referred to as the ‘Chinese Virus’ and it is widely believed that this virus originated in Wuhan, China.
In addition to this, there are also inputs on how this virus was predicted by a writer in her book written in the early 1980s. Daily, we keep on hearing new theories and information rendering the situation ambiguous.
With many world leaders and personalities testing positive, the Coronavirus, being christened as the ‘Chinese virus’ by world leaders like Donald Trump, is shaking up the global politics. It is set to change and possibly weaken the role of China in the modern world.
The US response has enraged many and China has gone on a propaganda offensive. One set of information says, in the year 2019, there were about 40 lakh Chinese tourists in Italy and these are said to have played a role in the propagation of the virus on such a large scale. There seems to have set in, a certain incredibility being attributed to China’s role in the genesis and spread of this virus, thus throwing up questions on China’s aspirations to be known as a world leader. Though we do not have much information on the source and genesis of this virus, what is very evident at this point of time, is that the whole world is in the grip of fear psychosis, and it is hell-bent on stopping this virus in its path of destruction and fury.
The Other Side
What is unique about this predicament, is that never before in modern history, have governmental and non-governmental organisations and individuals across the world, prioritised an issue and pledged their complete support to each other to see its resolution. The world before COVID-19 was immensely competitive, with countries competing with each other to establish their supremacy in world history and politics. From being the first to set up an asylum for humans on Mars, to spreading their ideology across the world, the priorities were always cantered on competition as opposed to the stress on cooperation in this post-COVID-19 world. The world that was divided along the fault-lines of social, religious, economic, historical, geographical or ideological supremacy, is now speaking in one voice on the need to save humanity.
Obsolete Vs Relevant
Another post-COVID 19 scenario that we are witnessing, is the increasing obsolescence and growing irrelevance of global organisations like the UN, which was established solely to eradicate poverty and war from the world.
Other than giving out statements on the progress of the virus across the world and updating the casualties and results, not much has been under the control of the UN or the WHO, in terms of battling and mitigating this pandemic. It seems WHO took too long to act and gave China a long pass. Both organisations need recasting. In fact, much more has been done by individual governments and the civil society, notably by the Indian government which has been taking strong positive and assertive steps to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and keep it in check. In fact, the WHO, lauding India’s past missives against small-pox and polio, has stressed upon the country’s fight against the virus as the crucial part of the battle.
Can India Show the Way?
For ages together, India has been propagating the idea of 'One-world family' or 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', and which was not really comprehended in its truest sense, by the western world. This pandemic has not only taught the essence of 'one-world family' to the entire world but also demonstrated its practical implementation for all to appreciate. All man-made divisions have been thrown out of the window by an unseen and unknown virus, reasserting the superiority of Nature, and its ability to blow all our plans to smithereens.
Additionally, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first leaders to establish a fund for the battle against the COVID-19, in coordination with its neighbouring countries. While other countries were busy battling the virus in their individual capacities, the head of the world’s largest democracy was reaching out to other nations to help them in this war against the pandemic. This has assertively pushed India into the league of a global leader, despite its conspicuous absence from the UN Security Council, not just politically but also culturally, as is evident from the endorsement of the Indian way of greeting, the Namaste, as being the safest way to greet in the present scenario.
The Indian Way of Life!
The way Italy’s health care system is groaning under Covid-19, it is a warning to the world. The west today values ancient Indian wisdom and its ayurvedic home remedies for an enhanced immune system,
Studies have shown that people with a stronger immune system have a higher chance of being cured of this virus. This explains the estimated whopping 300 per cent increase in the export of turmeric to Europeans who are looking for Indian spices to increase their immunity. Giloy, an ayurvedic herb, known to cure fever and flu in a matter of days, works wonders in the prevention of the Coronavirus. It is widely consumed in India for the treatment of viral cold and cough, and fever, and is known as the root of immortality, since it enhances the immune system like no other medication, in addition to its utility in the treatment of diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders.
Copper and Brass have been an inseparable part of the Indian civilisation, and were, perhaps, the only materials to be used as utensils in India. The practice of drinking water from brass is inherent to all Indians, that we have forgotten the same, is another matter.
Meanwhile, it is believed that virus strains degenerate when brought in contact with copper surfaces and cannot survive on it, unlike other surfaces where it can survive for days together. Bill Keevil, Professor of Environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton, says that viruses land on copper and it just degrades them.
And finally, the practice of Namaste, being incorporated as the norm in the Coronavirus –infested atmosphere, shows the relevance of the practice of avoiding physical contact, which, according to Indian tradition implies the accumulation of memories by physical contact, something which was to be avoided at all costs.
The Final War
This current pandemic should cause us to revisit our civilizational values and rethink our plan of development. Information technology and mass urbanisation must be guided by higher consciousness to nature and the earth, because, without the right foundation, no civilisation can endure.
Given its contribution to the war against the COVID-19, India is bound to be catapulted to the role of a global leader, also on account of its dauntless war against the pandemic, devoid of fear psychosis, and armed with fearless and practical solutions of lockdown and precautionary measures implemented by the government and executed to perfection by its dedicated medical, surveillance and security personnel, and the citizenry, as opposed to the ground realities in places like China or Italy or even the US, where the virus has wreaked havoc beyond one’s imagination.
The world, in the wake of this disease, is turning to spirituality, which by my definition, means questioning one’s origin, one’s relation with Nature and fellow human beings, one’s longevity and one’s legacy for the future generation. All of a sudden, we have been introspecting into the kind of world we are going to bequeath to our children, questioning the way of life we have been leading.
Another example of this is the inadvertent focus on family life and family bonding as advocated in the Indian culture, during the long durations of forced isolation during the lockdown. Though the Western world had,
all along, smirked at the emotional family orientation of the Indians, and were proud of their capitalist culture of independence, this lockdown has unveiled to them the joy of family bonding and its importance in the larger scheme of things. They are realising that the frantic race for economic sustenance had never been capable of giving them the psychological security and reassurance that the family, in these difficult times, has brought to them.
This Pandemic has further highlighted the fact that the excessively exalted notion of independence of individuals has fallen apart in favour of stress on interdependence, without which people cannot survive in this Post- COVID 19 world. In countries with a high per capita income and independence also, people have realised that one’s survival is dependent on others. Money may not save your life but someone’s help may.
Also, even if one person chooses to throw caution to the wind, hundreds of others are affected. Hence, this virus has made us realise that no man is an island and that the world is an archipelago.
This brings me to the next observation that the faultlines of religion, region, language, race, nationality, ideology and culture, which had barricaded the world into small units, have finally begun to give away, with the greater identity of humanism overshadowing all other identities. This bringing together of the world on the basis of a common human identity and experience by this virus, in a way that even the UN was not able to do in all these years, augurs well for the coming future. This experience has fostered a culture of sharing and caring beyond an established identity, novel to the western world, enabling us to think uniformly of mitigating poverty, starvation, sickness and war.
The Last Lesson
Richard Louv, in his 1995 book, ‘The last child in the woods,’ strives to tell us how exposure to Nature is essential to childhood development, and the emotional and physical health of children and adults and how we have gone so far away from nature in our thought and habit, that we have started to consume anything and everything, disregarding the thought of when, and what to eat. He talks of Nature- deficit disorder which is the cause of this degradation in our culture and behaviour where we have not spared even a creature from our gluttony. This is where India has a role to play. Maria Wirth talks of how India may need to send a yogi like Bodhidharma to China and teach them what to eat and what not to eat. There have also been talks of how no deadly viruses have emanated from Indian vegetarian foods.
While Indian civilisation has been mocked for the longest time, for the world to now acknowledge it as the most scientific, and beneficial one, is a validation of the age-old practices of this dharmic land. The Indian civilisation has been one, which has its fundamentals deeply rooted in science, medicine and something that modern civilisations lacked- common sense, all along misconstrued as superstition. The world is actively switching to a healthier, and the more sensitive, Indian way of life, absorbing everything from turmeric latte to Sanskrit to yoga. To summarise, India seems to be the last child in the woods, we need to protect and promote it. For a better world, for a better future.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)