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COVID-19- Life on pause

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Lockdown has now been in place throughout India for over 30 days. Life is on ‘PAUSE’!

This is good, because people now have an opportunity to reflect on their life – where did you begin; where have you reached and what is left to be done. This is a good time for self-introspection in order to get one’s priorities in life sorted out. Until the Lockdown, everyone’s lives were on a frenetic pace – students preparing for examinations; office-goers on an automated mode of ritualistic travel to and from Office and the monotonous office routines; business owners, small and big, on their ceaseless pursuit of profits; politicians, in their machinations to retain power and last but not the least, housewives left alone at home with their household chores as company.

One important fallout of the Lockdown is that, finally, housewives are reconnecting with their family and strengthen the bond which had frayed due to each one’s busy schedules. So, this is a good time for introspection since we now have time to see what we have done to ourselves and mother earth in the pursuit of material wealth and to achieve ‘happiness’.

Over 200,000 people have lost their lives within the past 1-2 months which includes more than 40% of population below 50 years of age! To them, death has come without a warning leaving chaos and despair among families and friends. These 40% of population were in in the prime of their life and in the midst of intense jostling with their peers to get ahead in life when it all ended with a thud. People, generally view life as on a downward slide only post retirement when they inexorably begin the descent to the inevitable. But those who do not retire – politicians, businessmen, social workers, religious leaders, some even in showbiz etc consider themselves to be immortal and irreplaceable which is why obituaries and eulogies of such people always propound their  ‘irreplaceable loss’!

Hundreds of millions of humans have traversed the earth to be replaced by a succeeding generation. Then, why this insatiable avarice for wealth and power accumulation for self-aggrandisement? As the famous song-writer / singer, John Lennon wrote, “Imagine there’s no countries.. nothing to kill or die for and no religions too. Imagine all the people living life in peace”. But alas, John Lennon himself succumbed to the fanaticism of a maniac. Welcome to the real world!

Fanatics have wreaked havoc in the world over civilizations. Fanaticism combined with martial chivalry and demagoguery has been a sure recipe for conquests spilling blood and spewing hatred in society. Europe bore the brunt of most of these military conquests for centuries causing untold miseries, death and destruction from the medieval times until World War I. After the end of WW I, reparations brought ignominy to Germany which saw the rise of Hitler, the ultimate rabblerouser and demagogue who spat the venom of ethnic cleansing of millions of Jews. This Holocaust and the defeat of nationalism and fascism brought a late realization in the minds of the people in Europe, the futility of these militaristic conquests. Millions of people had lost their lives fighting these wars which brought only absolute misery to those who survived.

Look at the present-day Europe – Germans, Dutch, French, English, Italians, who were killing each other barely 70 years ago, now live in peace and harmony with mutual respect for each other. This has been the longest period in European history devoid of any major wars and conquests! Germans, who had brutally slaughtered, raped, looted and ravaged most of Europe, are now partners in a unified European Union where they are putting their efforts to build a safe and environment friendly world. Europe, finally, seems to have come to terms with the futility of endless wars and conquests of the past which has left indelible scars on the minds of every European citizen. Military adventurism, other than satisfying the egos of a few, only brought misery to millions.

What lessons for India, Asia and the developing world, most of which have never in the past witnessed such horrible crimes against human mankind as witnessed in Europe in the past. The only disaster of any comparable magnitude was the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan which resulted in uprooting of hundreds of thousands of families and the exodus of these refugees across the border. This carnage had religious bigots going on the rampage and bringing death and destruction on a scale hitherto unheard of in Indian sub-continent.

Partition of India took place after the end of WW II, but whereas Europe has reconciled itself to the mistakes of the past and decided to move ahead for the betterment of the younger generation, India and Pakistan continue to spill venom at each other, have upped the ante and are now nuclear rivals awaiting the final solution! It is a pity that these two nations are spending millions of dollars on accumulating military weaponry when millions of their people live pathetic, poverty-stricken conditions comparable to sub-Saharan Africa! Politicians should begin to act as statesmen for the betterment of living conditions of their people and not for furthering their troposherical egos and self aggrandisement in the name of nation building. 

When the whole world is suffering from the effects of Corona virus attack and the global impact of Lockdown, one should also be aware of the developments in neighbouring China which does not augur well for peace and stability in the world. China’s authoritarian regime has refused to accept the visit to Wuhan of international researchers and experts to study the origin of the virus, which arouses suspicion of its ulterior motives. It has already banned internally, publication of any papers on the subject without the approval of concerned Authorities! Some Chinese scientists who questioned the regime’s duplicity in this subject are either dead or missing.

WHO, which was castigated by US government for being too China-centric, is now cosying upto China. China is slowly moving to centre-stage of world politics taking advantage of the vacuum created by President Trump’s America First Policy of isolationism. China has also begun to invest heavily into Western economies taking advantage of the present  downturn. In the midst of all this havoc was the news that China had recently conducted a nuclear test and its Navy has also been flexing its muscles thereby showing scant regard for world opinion or solidarity with the world in this time of human crisis. 

History has shown that world should sit up and take notice when authoritarian regimes begin to flex its muscles and plan to export its tyranny. Let us hope that the 70 years of peace and prosperity in the world is not stymied by the hegemonistic ambitions of a nation or its Leader. Lockdown is giving us sufficient time to ponder over these developments and ensure that peace, prosperity and stability is not compromised at the altar of political and economic expediency.

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