We shall overcome
India can pass through the harrowing second wave with a long-term strategy and advance towards sustainable consumption post-Covid
The post-Covid world shall need a serious rethink on the global ideology of progress and development, and how could it be translated appropriately in national contexts. Hopefully, a transition from sustainable development to sustainable consumption would gain a firm foothold in learned global discourse. Human existence on the planet earth is all about sustaining a harmonious balance between progress, growth, development on one side; and replenishing of natural resources on the other. It is a 'give and take' relationship between man and nature. The essence of Indian thought and philosophy on this count was best articulated by MK Gandhi: there is enough for everybody's need, but not for anybody's greed. In a very subtle manner, this articulation explains the root cause of human misery; reflected in hunger, poverty, ill-health on one side — and on the other side, a mad race for destructive weaponry, unhindered dividend-searches, and the immoral and unethical human urge to dominate and accumulate. The Gandhian articulation of man-nature mutuality invariably reverberates in most of the international deliberations on pollution, climate change, water crisis, violence, wars, fundamentalism; and similar concerns that face humanity. Corona would be a significant new addition. Its severity, intensity and global spread have created a sense of despondence, anxiety and uncertainty. There is no credible international strategy that could restore the confidence of people in their own selves and the future. Universalization of elementary education; a great achievement of the last couple of decades; could not create moral and ethical values on a larger scale; neither it could strengthen the 'character-formation and man-making aspects of education. Democracies have not succeeded in creating leadership devoted to the 'service of the people' and striving to ameliorate the lot of the 'last man in the line'. In India, getting elected; right from Panchayat to Parliament; is now a game of 'huge investment and luxurious returns'! It attracts young and old alike. The credibility of the political class is at its lowest at present. India is passing through harrowing times. Everyone is impacted in one way or the other; has suffered personally, or someone in the family, amidst relative, or close acquaintances. We are in a hapless situation, help and succour coming to us from countries that are essentially in no position to set their own house in order. It is a demoralizing state of affairs for every proud Indian.
In WWI and WWII, not every nation was involved; some were on one side, some on the other, and the remaining were out of it. It is not so this time. No nation, no person could escape the wrath of the pandemic. The pandemic has given us a global onslaught of unprecedented magnitude. It is against every human being, irrespective of caste, colour, creed, nationality, or any other visible or invisible 'difference' discovered by human beings to display their superiority over the others! On record, over 160 million have been impacted, more than 3.3 million people have already lost their lives, and these numbers are increasing by the day. Actual numbers must be much higher. Was it not the time for the global community to stand up as one entity — Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam; one global family — and ensure that the vaccine is distributed for free to both rich and poor, without any technical, procedural or administrative bottlenecks?
The proposal by India and South Africa, to relax the Patent restrictions and ease the production, supported by a large number of countries, is opposed by Germany, for purely business and marketing considerations! 75 million people perished in WWII, and has Germany forgotten all that? It had suffered much, but Nazi Germany and its allies had murdered six million Jews. Was it not an occasion for Germany to have supported not only the India-SA proposal but also join hands to help other nations? It is also expedient on the part of international agencies and organizations like the UN, WHO and UNSC to assert and ensure that vaccine production distribution becomes the top priority of all such nations who have the infrastructure, and resources. A humane global approach; suitably coordinated; could save millions of human lives
It is now globally realized that an unprepared India was thrown into a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. India will have to reorganise, remodel and refurbish its health systems; as also the management machinery. Unfortunately, India's vaccine programme that began on a high note — assisting other countries by sending vaccines — has now slowed down, due to lack of coordination and absence of alert monitoring systems at various levels of operations. It has earned India sympathy, assistance and considerable criticism for lack of vision and failure to mobilize its internal systems and resources. The manner patients have suffered and died, due to the non-availability of beds and oxygen in hospitals; has resulted in widespread misery, death and has earned international ridicule!
Army, Navy and Air Force are assisting the civil administration, frontline warriors and voluntary agencies are working round the clock. India is working seriously on short-term strategies and shall certainly succeed in controlling the onslaught. It has to plan long term strategies on its own and; it has the strength of its culture, tradition and thought to guide it ahead. The second wave has clearly indicated that human survival would certainly suffer if global challenges and calamities are not confronted cumulatively by every human being and every nation.
The writer works in education and social cohesion. Views expressed are personal