The world has come to a staggering halt, countries have sealed their borders, factories are shut, events are cancelled and much more. Not only has the Coronavirus Pandemic exposed how fragile we have become, but also our arrogance. We still think the lifestyle we so proudly boast about has no role to play in these kind of outbreaks. Covid-19 is not just one outbreak, even if we look at just the twenty years of this millennium, we would right away see that every other year there was a new virus identified and every two years WHO announced a virus outbreak to be a pandemic and a threat to the mankind.
Don’t believe me?
SARS-COV that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome was first isolated in 2003 and was right away called as a global threat. In the years following, two new Coronaviruses were isolated and were called out for causing deaths NL63 in 2004 and HKU1 in 2005. In 2006, the H5N1 virus was regarded to be the world’s largest pandemic threat and it continued causing its menace for the next two years.
In June 2009, the (WHO) declared the new strain of swine-origin H1N1 as a pandemic. This novel virus spread worldwide and had caused 18,500 laboratory-confirmed deaths with an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 deaths total by August of 2010. It is estimated that in the 2009 flu pandemic 11–21% of the then global population (of about 6.8 billion), or around 700 million to 1.4 billion people, contracted the illness—more in absolute terms than the Spanish flu pandemic. Actual fatalities ranged between 12,000 to 18,000. However, 9 members of the CDC estimated 150,000–575,000 possible fatalities worldwide. In August 2010, the WHO declared the swine flu pandemic officially over.
In 2013 MERS-COV or Middle East Respiratory Syndrom was called as causing the menace. During the same time another variant named H7N9 was isolated by the researcher and was called to have a potential to cause another pandemic. The year 2014 was dedicated to Ebola and continued posing the threat to the existence of mankind for the next few years. In 2015 Zika virus was called out and posed a threat to the mankind for the next two years. In 2018 another virus from the Coronavirus family SADS-COV was isolated in China, it killed more than a quarter of pigs across the world.
And in 2019/20 SARS-COV-2 was isolated, which is now called as the global pandemic. And there are many many more viruses and other pathogens that are different than the flu virus, behave differently and transmit differently that were identified before 2000s but kept causing havoc, like HIV-AIDS etc.
Quite interestingly, every other pandemic was supposed to kill millions and was compared to the Spanish Flue of 1918 or Black Death or some other deadly pandemics in the past. And I am pretty sure it will continue like this in the future as well. Because there is no dearth of viruses around us. There are more than 200 coronaviruses that have been identified in Bats so far, and when and how these viruses spill over to the humans is not known.
The measures that we see in place now are reactive measures and are done after the crisis has stuck. How long can the world survive with these kind of lock-downs? How long can you keep up with this kind of social distancing?
Can there be a better, more lenient, proactive way of living so as to avoid these kind of predicaments?
In fact there is! There already is a feasible solution, and it is not at all required to re-invent the wheel. However, there are ego issues while following them.
[Disclaimer: The author has no intentions whatsoever to convince anyone to follow or not follow, believe or not believe in Sanatan Dharma popularly referred to as Hinduism. As such, the article should not be read by anyone who does follow, practice or believe in Sanatan Dharma. The article is written keeping in mind the readers who are like me and frequently come up with a question : “Where did we go wrong?” We as in the people who practice Hinduism.]
When China banned funerals for the infected bodies and asks for quick cremation. The world appreciates it. However, when Hindus cremate the dead, it has no science attached to it and this is just a ritual that causes air pollution. We have been cremating dead for ages. Moreover, it also explains the rituals like shaving the head, taking a shower, disinfecting the house once the men return from cremation “shamshan-ghat”. Why shaving head? Coronovirus is not the only virus that lives longer on hair as compared to skin. Maybe next time a feminist sees a discrimination in why women don’t get to cremate, you should ask them if they are ready to get rid of the long silky hair that they are so proud of. The funny part is, if the system was such that women had to go for cremation and get the head shaved, the very same feminists would have argued that Hinduism treats women as less, makes them cremate the dead and get their heads shaved, why can’t men do it? Maybe the evil energies and impurities associated with the shamshaan-ghat are these dangerous pathogens. But some saw the word “purity” in a sense that helped their agenda.
When the International community says Sun is a natural disinfectant, it makes all the sense. But when Hindus practice Surya-Namaskar in the morning it is religious and has no scientific value. Why in the morning? Because in the afternoon you get the side effects of the sun too, the strong UV rays etc. And by the way, have you heard of an exercise called Burpies? It is Surya-Namaskar the gym/modern way.
When the international community says wash hands regularly, it is hygiene. But when Hindus used to wash hands and feet before entering their homes, keeping slippers and shoes outside the house it was meaningless activity and had no scientific means. In fact the west does not even like to wash their asses, it is supposedly more hygienic.
When the international community talks about nutritious diet in order to improve the Immunity, food is important. But when Hindu households have proper cooked vegetarian food, it becomes primitive and waste of time. Have you seen some of the traditional Hindu meals? For ex – Salad, Roti, Sabzi, Daal, Chawal, plus lemon – a perfectly balanced meal. You don’t need to drown in Lemonade to improve your immunity, you just need some lemon drops but every day. That’s it. Have you been trying Ginger-Tulsi tea? Ginger helps in improving immunity. You must be tempted to say the Brits got us tea, if that is the case please google it more you will find the truth. If you think non-veg food is the best choice, good for you, but I would like to keep my distance, because the pathogens your body hosts, I am not immune to them and I would not like them those pathogens to take shelter in my body. As simple as that. I would write in detail about what all bacteria and virus non-veg eating people or people who work with live stock or people who even visit such a market carry with them. But some other time. Corona Virus is not the only virus that spilled over from an species other than human, there is a long list of zoonotic diseases.
When WHO explicitly mentions healthcare workers and people who work with livestock or animals are the groups of people that are at a higher risk of getting Corona Virus because of their professions, it is not discrimination and is absolutely fine. But when Hindus have their own social hierarchies based on different professions, it is discrimination. When WHO recommends Social distancing, (i.e. a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions or measures taken to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into close contact with each other. In short, reducing the probability that a given uninfected person will come into physical contact with an infected person, the disease transmission can be suppressed, resulting in fewer deaths), it is absolutely fine. But when Hindus say keep distance from people who come from different professional backgrounds, it is outright discrimination.
If you work in the meat market, the person who does not work with animals should maintain the necessary distance. If you work in a mortuary, the person who does not work with bodies should maintain some distance. If you work with the running drains, the ones who don’t should maintain some distance. It is not if something is above or beneath or good or bad, it is about the different lifestyles, different occupational hazards, different exposure to different pathogens and different immune systems. This social system in Hinduism is intentionally distorted and portrayed as inherently discriminatory as “caste system”. You might like it or dislike it but it works, works for all, works for long.
Varnas in Hinduism were based on the profession rather than the birth, castes are politically motivated concept that came into existence during British rule. There has to be a reason why, Hinduism, even though confined to India, never tried to expand forcefully, has been surviving for the longest number of years. Its not just luck.
We went wrong when we started discarding the rituals as meaningless activities. We went wrong when we started comparing Hinduism with other religions, because it is a way of life and not a religion.
Two years ago, I learnt an important lesson during my masters thesis: “never change a working system; unless you know the change you are making covers all the corner cases covered before“. How do you know that you covered all the corner cases? by regression testing during simulation. The problem is, life does not provide a simulation set up. So, if you don’t know what you are doing, either do what your grandparents and parents would have done and not what an Indian-liberal cum intellectual says or sit and research each and every aspect by yourself and then make the change.
The increasing number of such outbreaks is because people are changing a lot of things without thinking them through. A proactive system is better than a reactive one. Just before the lock-downs were in place, I did see some of my friends who used to call Hindus racists and caste-ists, washing hands by a soap after shaking hands with random guys. Should it be called as promoting untouchability? If you think Hindus were mean, racist, discriminatory and the system they successfully followed for millenniums was wrong, you are going to do the exact same thing if you want to survive. I bet you can’t just go and hug someone in an overcrowded hospital without a mask today. Can you? Are you discriminating? or are you a racist? No, and you shouldn’t do that.
Pathogens do not care if you are politically correct or liberal or broad-minded or if it is done with consent or anything, they just need a conducive way to transmit.
Although not relevant to corona virus outbreak, but do you know how many pathogens can crossover in one kiss (smooch)? There is a reason why pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex is considered bad in Hinduism. Just imagine the severity of the viruses that transmit when body fluids are exchanged. Are you able to imagine or should I give more details? Hint: there are 27 different types of virus (almost all more deadly than SARS-COV-2) that can transmit during the act. Can you name a few? Stick with one partner, and you might just live a happy, healthy, long and a meaningful life. Unless it is the only goal of your life.
By the way, that Wuhan-Shake (instead of hand-shake), the one that some are doing with their feet is a joke, you get the virus ten minutes later when you tie your laces, chapter closed. Instead say-
Thanks for reading, stay healthy!!