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Janta Jagran: A way to illuminate 3Ds: Depression, Darkness and Downfall

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As concern over the spread of COVID 19 is sweeping rapidly across the globe, it is injecting a considerable degree of stress, pain, fear and worry in the population at larger scale. In March 2020, the guidelines were released by WHO’s mental health department to address the issue related to public health. Through their guidelines, WHO advised people to avoid consuming news that made them anxious and should only pay attention to facts than rumors. Being the most effective way to contain the spread of the virus till now, Lockdown and quarantine has some psychological impact too, which elevates the rate of anxiety and stress. It is affecting many people’s usual activities and hence the case of self-harm and suicidal behavior is expected to rise.

Interestingly, on one side the world is struggling with hailed impact of virus and well-being of front line workers. Other side, existing mental health stress condition is a major concern for all the nations. Amid growing concern, PM Narendra Modi’s video appeal on 3rd April 2020 reflects this proactive approach towards the upcoming problem which is tremendously applauded by the Indian Citizen. In this appeal, he once again called for the unity by asking people of India to show solidarity for 9 minutes at 9 pm on 5th April 2020 by lighting Diyas, candles or holding up a mobile light. The request is taken well and as a result of it, we proved the world that we will win definitely as nationwide effort never loose but always win. The statistics is also exhibiting towards our manageable position to combat the virus.

Country like Italy which is only one tenth of our size, having one-twentieth population of ours, has more than 1.25 lacks cases. Whereas, in India, the total no of cases is 6000, out of which more than 40% cases came in last 6 days which is directly from Tablighi Jammat Markaj event. Even in Bhilwara (Rajasthan), where the no. of infected cases were high, there is not even a single case reported after 30th march, indicating, if we left apart the Tablighi Jammat case, the number of cases is very nominal and we Indian already winning in terms of flattening the curve.

However the move of Prime Minister of India was heavily criticized by the so called liberals and opposition parties. In response to PM request, Shashi Tharoor, a Congress M.P. said “listened to the Pradhan showman. Nothing about how to ease people’s pain, their burdens and their financial anxieties”. Similarly, reacting to Modi’s video, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said “what we expect from you today was FAP II, a generous livelihood support packages for the poor”. The contrary opinions by the some senior politicians not only question their sensibility but invoke the need to unveil the other dimension of “DEEP JALAO” movement.

Firstly the Prime Minister of India does not operate in silos. He is not only continuously trying to resolve the issue through execution of economic packages & financial reforms but also come up as a leader who believes in motivating & inspiring his nation and give equal importance to their mental health (stress) also. The step becomes important if we see suicides linked to COVID 19 crisis which is showing no sign of abating. The relationship between isolation and suffering is perfectly illustrated in the book titled “The Plague” written by Albert Camus. In this novel, he aptly compares the plight of habitants with imprisonment which further affecting their mental health.

The result of American Psychiatric Association poll also pointing that 36% Americans have believed that pandemic has a severe impact on their health. Research by University of Sheffield and Ulster University also somewhat reflecting same result, observed a spike in the cases of depression and anxiety after the announcement of lockdown. The statement of Brightside co-founder Mimi Weinberg aggravated the concern. In his interview to Bloomberg he told “All of us that are struggling with the adjustment to new circumstances, some percentage will actually manifest into clinical anxiety or depression”. Undoubtedly, Pandemic have been associated with severe psychological consequences.

The death of K Balakrishan, a 50-year- old Indian and father of three children is the first suicide victim due to coronavirus epidemic. As the virus riddle with the fear, anxiety and chaos, Balakrishan after watching many videos became convinced that he had the virus. Resultantly he decided to commit suicide to save his family from the infection. Similarly, the suicide case of Emily Owen, 19 year old British who had neither diagnosed nor had a symptom with the virus indicates towards the distress in public. The list also includes Thomas Schaefer, the Finance Minister of Germany, has committed suicide after becoming deeply worried “how to cope up with the economic downfall from the virus”.

Sadly, the cases of suicide is not only limited to urban areas but it consist of a man from the village in Himachal Pradesh and migrant labor from UP who committed suicide even after tested negative for coronavirus. A recent death of 42 year old man from Gujarat in a quarantine periods spike towards the urgency to deal with the issue. Given the upcoming threat, the recent step of Narendra Modi seems as blessing in disguise. His several addresses are not only effective to bring solidarity among us but indicate his assurance that we are not alone in this battle.

In addition, the answer of a question to use a light to infuse positivity are well explained in all the religion and does not need any introductory remarks. Light has been always equated with positivity and motivation whereas darkness is also associated with evil. Either is a Veda’s, Bible or Quran in all the holy books, light recognized as first and foremost appearance of God. In Indian culture, light is a symbol of “TEJ” invoked as “Tamsoma Jyotirgamaya” which leads us towards light and give message of peace and positivity. There are reference of light in “Brahmarahasya Upanishad” also. It cited “Brahma is the light of lights. He is self-luminous. He is supreme light. He is infinite light. By this light all will shine”. Light is also equated as ATMA in Hindu scriptures where heart and mind can find peace by harmonized themselves with supreme light.

The Divine symbolized by light is not exception to Quran also. In Islam, Light referred as “Ayat-al-nur” which is one of the names for Allah out of the ninety nine such names. According to Al-Ghazali, “Allah alone is real, true light and beside then there is no light at all”. Similarly, Titus Burckhardt writes, “There is no more perfect symbol of divine unity than light”. Within Sufism also there is concept of Prophetic light called “Muhammadan Light”. In Buddhism, it is regarded as SUN and avenger of evil forces. The traditional chants of Buddhism also mentioned light as symbol to eradicate darkness: “with the lamp lit with camphor that dispels all darkness, I worship the perfectly enlightened one who is the lamp unto three worlds and is dispeller of darkness.  In catholic tradition also the light has a distinct status and symbolized Christ who said “I am the light of the world; the one who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have light and life”.

To conclude, the use of light to unite the nation which is known for its equal treatment to all citizens irrespective of their religion is highly appreciable and clearly indicates PM’s commitment to his vision “Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat” & “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vishwas”. Janta Jagran is not only an appeal to show solidarity but a call to introspect and strengthen our inner soul to fight with the conviction that we will win. From Janta Curfew to Janta Jagran, it’s crucial to note, they are some attempt by the government to assure we are not alone in the battle and seeks our support to break COVID 19 chain. It’s a time to come together for try collectively hard to win against the invisible enemy.

The need of hour is to keep petty politics aside and priorities the interest of nation first. Lighting of Diya and candle does not imply defeat of coronavirus but surely the positive vibes of 1.3 billion peoples are going to help us lot to regain the energy to fight back with Coronavirus without holding our mental health (stress) in stake.

Author: Dr. Neha Nainwal, Assistant Professor, Lakshmibai College, University of Delhi

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