By Rajesh Kumar
COVID-19, I think, is a watershed moment in history for all countries: henceforth our times would be known as pre-Covid-19 and post-Covid-19, which calls for a paradigm shift in the way we live, think and conduct ourselves. Time has come where we need to reorient our focus on hygiene, healthcare, basic infrastructure and increase our spending on cottage/rural/agro-based industries, education and everything that qualifies for subsistence living instead of exorbitant expenses on defence, aero & nuclear science, extravagant, modern & luxurious living and flaunting technological advances to prove one-upmanship.
As for India, agriculture, harmonious living, cultural and spiritual values have been at the core of Indian civilisation rather than the imported modern tenets of exhibitionism, greed, consumerism & rat race. In just one stroke, Covid-19 pushed us back from Kalyug to Satyug which was marked by exalted existence founded on simple living.
Umpteen adverse & negative stories, impacting our daily lives ranging from unemployment, economy slowdown to our feeble healthcare infrastructure and the governments’ unpreparedness to deal with coronavirus fallouts, especially the unfortunate migrant labourers’ mass exodus, have added to the woes afflicted by the unprecedented corona crisis. But do we have the intuitive understanding to foresee or predict Nature’s ways? Probably not.
Yes, COVID-19 did catch all of us unawares. But it reminds me of what Winston Churchill once said, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste.’ This pandemic has given all of us an opportunity to do our bit which majority of us have failed to do so far; mend our ways of excessive exploitation of Nature ravaging the bowels of Mother Earth for selfish pursuits. As the Corona shadows loom large on humanity, it’s time to take note of the positives this global upheaval has presented:
- We have been given the much-needed space and time for self-realisation (to introspect and draw inward rather than indulge recklessly in material pursuits) and adoption of sustainable living.
- Air pollution has vanished; also, all man-made monuments of luxury such as air-conditioners, wasteful consumption of food, energy and wealth are no longer craved by mankind.
- Lakhs of litres of diesel & petrol, which again are rare natural resources, have been saved for future generations; maddening vehicular traffic & honking have given way to birds chirping; peacocks dancing in the backyard; tigers crossing the road adjoining thin forest areas; bringing Nature’s vistas at their best.
- The lockdown has kept all of us indoors, which in turn has given us an opportunity to connect with ourselves as also few extra hours to oil, rejuvenate and lubricate our body physique neglected for years in the mad rush for consumerism and the compulsion to make both ends meet.
- Given the social distancing diktat, we have been forced to spend quality time with family, and pursue our aptitude and hobbies which we ignored for years in the run-up to earn our livelihood.
- We have developed a better sense for cleanliness & hygiene, and stand close to finally understand that ‘Health is Wealth’ & ‘Prevention is better than cure’.
- Also, we all have turned more humane than ever before as majority of us had become complacent and arrogant, realising little that we are just one of countless species in millions of galaxies. Also, we are now more prone to offering gratitude and thankful to the Almighty and society for whatever we have.
- Finally, it has opened our eyes to be spend-thrift and to see wisdom in the old proverb ‘Cut your coat according to your clothes’ instead of being extravagant and lavish. Corona has made us wiser and endowed us with a better sense to ask for more budgetary allocations on strengthening infrastructure including cleaner air and water, keeping every belly nutritionally fed, every able youth fully employed, the country’s every street electrified, and most importantly preserving our cultural ethos of ‘Unity in Diversity’ rather than on mindless expenditure on nuclear weapons, military power, imperialism and space war.
(The author is a senior journalist who has been associated with ToI/India Today Group/Yahoo/Media TransAsia/Discover India and Hubert Burda)