The Covid pandemic has exposed our fragility at several fronts. It concerns our health. It expects us to learn new ways to treat our planet. Community life is experiencing a vigorous resurgence. The pandemic expects us to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of the society. “Self-isolation and social distancing are not about you; they’re about protecting the people who are especially vulnerable.” In short, your mindful behaviour is needed to avoid a breakdown of the system.
Coronavirus has no restrictions to travel to any country. Its genetic structure is known. Its proteins have been characterised. It can be bioengineered. It can be used as a bioweapon. More than attacking the lives of its citizens, it can attack citizen’s most prized possession, its industry, its economy. It can change warfare strategy. It can make humans morally more vulnerable. To live in this world, we need to create a new order. And as they say, life science is too important to be left alone in the care of a select few. It needs the care and supervision of many. Let us join hands in creating the new normal.
The post-Covid world has too many contradictory expectations. We want remote digital learning, and at the same time, we want to keep student mobility and interaction. We want ‘open access publications’ without causing much agony to ‘blue sky funding’.Few things are easier said than done. To deal with the post-Covid world is one such thing. There is a tussle between living and livelihood. There is a tussle between ideology and reality. There is loss of employment in several areas, gain in few areas. There are issues related to subsidy and charity. There is war of priority – health over wealth. The worst is that with any new invention or strategy, there is major overhaul in predictions and proposed strategies. Economists and planners are in deep trouble. We expect them to walk the extra mile, and that too ahead of time.
What should we do at the individual level, at the group level, at the country level, and at the global level? How different the post-Covid world will be? Some people blame ‘modernity’, and go away from nature for all our ills. Some say we have to learn to live as ‘humble wanderers’ and not as the ‘conquerors of the world’. They think by unlearning modernity we can resolve many of our problems. Are we too afraid of the crisis? Are we reading too much from the wall? Is the present crisis so powerful that it can change the world so much that we will have ‘new normal’? History says we are experts in facing catastrophes and disasters. Backed by a strong technology base why can’t we do it this time also.
Wherever there are challenges there are also opportunities. This pandemic has the potential of worsening the situation, unless we are extra alert. We must act before it is too late. The good thing is that a lot can be done to reduce the impact of the crisis, but that will require, besides infrastructure, a lot of efforts of the society, the government, and of course the major stakeholders. All the strata of the society will be affected, middle-income and poor-income groups more. If we are careless we will allow inequalities to amplify. We must minimize the differences in opportunities, as much as possible. It is time we put our dysfunctional strategies behind. Political bickerings must stop. The pandemic has touched each one of us in different ways. It has reaffirmed the importance of community, emotional and professional connectivity and sense of belonging for our wellbeing. It has renewed our interest in self-growth, reflection, and refocusing on new ideas and strategies. It has once again emphasized the need of finding time to reconnect with families. For some, spending time with the family has been enjoyable, while for some it has been whimsical and challenging, for some stressful and isolating. Our collective behaviour must change. We are different when we are in a crowd than when we are alone. We have to move from “ignorance, hate, and fear” to “curiosity, compassion, and courage.” If there is a need to maintain social distancing, there is also a need to open the heart and mind. Denial worsens the situation. Blame game doesn’t help. Trust is essential for any healing. Don’t feign blindness. Coordinate and collaborate. False propaganda is dangerous. Shift from ego to eco. Don’t unnecessarily panic. Stress is a form of infection.
How long will we allow this weird virus to disturb our daily routine? How long will this ‘cytokine storm’ reside in our bodies and minds? Are precautions enough for prevention? Social media has to play a more positive role. Don’t create panic even if ‘death’ sells more than ‘life’. Reduce irrationality. Don’t take the responsibility of what is not your competence. Half-truths are worse than complete lies. Use scientific intelligence and rationale to deal with the pandemic. Desperation and the urge of self-promotion do not lead to solutions we are looking for. Hastier than thou is only good for the menace and not for humanity. Too much pessimism makes one incurable. Keep faith in science. Always remember, good science doesn’t create Frankesteins.