Sunday, June 20, 2021

Unusual times

Against the backdrop of the current COVID-19 pandemic, its disastrous consequences for the global economy, its ruinous impact on education, and its catastrophic effect on all societal interactions, there is a nagging thought about the future – is there a life beyond this pandemic, and how will it look like? Right now even experts of the respective fields cannot tell us with precision what the future holds for us. Great minds on international politics, economy, education, healthcare or sociology can only warn us of the problems that we might face in future. They can suggest alternatives to keep things going. But all this is a hazy picture put on a dimly lit wall. Fact of the matter is that no one knows what everyone wants to know: When will the pandemic end, and how will life resume as it was before this pandemic. Now it has been almost three months, but the crisis is far from over. In the initial days we thought that we will have to endure it for some weeks, and then everything will limp back to normal. Then some more weeks, and followed by more. Then we saw people talking about relaxing the restrictions and allowing the life to breathe normally to an extent, and also observe caution. That the life and the crisis will go along and we will, down the line, do some fine balancing act, and rescue ourselves finally. Though that seems to be the latest in the management of crisis, but the rise in the numbers of COVID-19 cases is sending counter signals again up our minds. For some days now we are seeing a steep rise in the number of positive cases, and there is a degree of alarm that cannot be wished away. The question that was staring us first day in our eyes doesn’t seem to take its gaze off. Despite all efforts by the Government and observance of guidelines by the people, we are not out of this crisis. Add to it the mounting pressure of economic troubles. Again we ask ourselves the same set of questions, and are met by the same set of answers. It looks that we all have to be very tough mentally. The hurt caused by this crisis is deep but if we lose patience it can only get deeper. So the first thing is that we rehearse the lesson. What one should know, and hang on to, is that tomorrow has not died and this is not the end of the road. Our problems will be immense but not insurmountable. But what is required at all levels of human interaction – from local to global – is a reassurance that the tide will finally pass. Indeed, in such crisis there are no short cuts. People have to, as the global bodies and government’s world over have underlined, learn to live with COVID-19. Meanwhile the Government needs to speed up its efforts further to bolster the system of testing and treating the positive cases. We cannot run away from this crisis, the only option is to fight it out. Beyond this the governments around the world will have to revisit their strategy of spending too much on warfare and too little on welfare. To this end, at the level of international politics, a peaceful resolution of disputes within a state, or between states, must be preferred over the use of force. Also, the corporate sector will have to undergo a major change on the distribution of resources. Focus on life style, and market oriented spending pattern should now be replaced by values like equity, and needs like security. In our societal relations we need to unburden our minds, and make these relations mutually reassuring and relieving than mutually hostile and entangling. To this end education, and community activism constitute the key. But all this can happen as long as we remain hopeful. Loss of hope renders humans inactive or violent. Both lead to destruction.