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Between COVID-19, National Lockdowns, God and Gandhi – By Dr. Bobby Luthra Sinha

A moment that redefines our past, present and future

COVID-19 outbreak followed by the related reports, News and a steady stream of data flowing from and around it has begun to dominate our existence from end of 2019 pilfering into and becoming prime over all other concerns of the year 2020.  From what it appears, the pandemic that has gripped our present is going to leave neither our past nor the future alone. While some analyse the pinnacles of individualism and consumerism which have come to dominate the global discourses and lifestyles in the recent past with a sobering hindsight; others are busy telling us how we will need to work on redefining our future modes of thinking and being.

But all agree that the present raises questions, concerns, worries and brings on dead ends that seem either difficult to resolve or completely invincible. In one way or the other, the newest Corona Virus disease has shown us how fragile our world is and how easily all, -the fortresses in which we have invested our energies and wealth in, – can be torn asunder, permeated, overwhelmed and undone.

A changing, searching World

From whichever way we assimilate the emerging scenario, there is no contesting the fact that the world as we knew it, has suddenly changed in the past few months and will not stop short at that. It promises to keep on changing further. This brings me back to the issue of COVID-19 outbreak followed by the related reports, News and a steady stream of data flowing from and around it.  The World seems to be in search of News and views that are significant of a breakthrough, of shedding some light and showing a clear path. But will there be a feasible solution? If yes, who and what will help us..? 

Where will the strength to recover and heal come from?

Whether real, actual, virtual or fake, the information and news pouring in on the pandemic has given us both an endless gloom and an insuppressible hope all over the world. But the question remains, how are we to live hereafter?

Can there ever be any universal model during and post COVID-19 times? I firmly believe in the negative.  All peoples and cultures of the world must dig deep to solve the challenges and arrive at their own ideals of humanity to put up a brave face against all that COVID-19 pandemic signifies.

The question of recovery and healing has never been solely physical and all the more so now. Mankind requires a solace from endless exploitation of natural resources and a limitless association with the extreme materialistic, hedonistic, reckless, prodigal and ego-centric thrust of the past thirty to forty years. These imprudent postmodern existences have certainly received critical theoretical and practical counters and warnings from many a think tank and local community. Obviously these contestations  have not been enough to convince the mainstream World  against imposing over others and investing in purely universalist notions of objective realitymoralitytruthhuman naturereason, language, and social progress

Perpetual living on the edge, amplified by deafening and  numbing, blind global trajectories of social, political, economic, administrative and psychological rat races  have depleted many of our strengths, individually and socially. We, from every house and living place  that we occupy or the forest, river, mountain and desert that we live in must own up and reclaim peace and harmony.

We need to recover and search for spiritual and physical energies in the scary but ameliorative pause that the COVID-19 triggered drama of lockdown has brought to our doorsteps. We can do so by going back a bit and at the same time, taking a step forward. 

Networking humanity and Immunity to fight the dangers of the newest Corona Virus Disease

However, is this re-looking at the world, as I speak of in the preceding lines,  going to be a mere top down process given to us by the powers that be, especially those that pretend(ed) to control the Globe..?

Once again, I firmly believe in the negative just as the many experts and commoners who now propose that it is we, the people, who will play a lead role, as we always have, in placating humanity out of its fears and misgivings. We, the people must re-establish models of hope, safety, sanity, prosperity, peace well-being and judicious use of natural resources.

While governments ponder at the national and international implications of the pandemic and lockdowns, people are doing   their bit too. They are building networks of charity, goodness and immunity by giving help, food and care where needed. Respecting lockdowns and understanding how to deal with them using creative energies, talents and capabilities people are surging ahead by organizing donations and assistance, education, social dialogues, entertainment and community work both online and offline. In the real and the virtual world, we witness a tooth and nail battle against the pandemic caused by latest Corona Virus strain known as COVID-19.

The Globe seems to be insidiously pushing us into forming a human chain of positive energies.  People are coming together to create an intricate local as well as a global immunity for self and one another as well as remembering the virtues of a distributive justice, whereby the travails of the poor, hungry, sick, unemployed, displaced and oppressed, marginalized and vulnerable individuals and groups  can be alleviated . In a hard hitting, practical and compassion evoking way, the COVID-19 crisis is reminding us of eternal values proposed by philosophies such as India’s Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam  or  South Africa’s  Ubuntu, both inspired by ancient Asian and African knowledge systems respectively.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is made up of three Sanskrit words – Vasudha, Eva and Kutumbakam. Vasudha means the Earth, Eva means emphasizing and Kutumbakam means a family. As a social philosophy emanating from a spiritual understanding of the World, the term, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ implies that humanity is made of one life energy and whole Earth is just one family, as diverse and different that it may be from one anotherUbuntu denotes and refers to the essence of being human, i.e, ‘I am because you are’. It speaks particularly about our interconnectedness.  The fact that you cannot exist as a human being in isolation or be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. 

National Lockdowns, God, Godliness, and Gandhi

In COVID-19 times, has God closed shop? Well, the diehards would never answer this with an affirmative! No, they would say, the houses of worship, God’s own temples, mosques, shrines, synagogues, cathedrals, churches et.al have merely closed doors to maintain and aid social distancing. God continues to reside in our hearts and live within us, if we only care to listen deep, search our souls and let godliness flourish in our spirits and temperaments. Here I imply an ethereal and ephemeral godliness which leads us to be free from many bondages of our own making, as Gandhi would have wished and hoped for had he been walking the terrains of 2020 with us.

Way back in time he carried on a tireless campaign for promoting and implementing the values of proper cleanliness, sanitation, hygiene, disposal of waste and dignity of labour. By equating cleanliness with Godliness and in giving the world a philosophy of peace, harmony, truth, non-violence and humanity, it is obvious that Gandhi spoke of a composite spiritual as well as internal godliness and cleanliness, over and above the physical. 

What’s the takeaway from National Lockdowns and Social Distancing?

Resurrecting our ability to identify with and practice as well as empathies with the ethos of a profound humanism is a difficult ideal which the dreaded Corona Virus disease seems to have suddenly brought focus upon. In fact it seems the most natural ideal and many of us cannot fathom why should it have got left behind at all?

It is visible how many cultures the World over seem to be finding their equilibrium and searching their solace in critical humanism and humanitarianism. Such a takeaway wisdom from our dark and encumbered existences under lockdown is nothing short of a silver lining. My firm belief is that we can still overcome the travails and encumbrances of national lockdowns and address the gaps between God, Godliness, COVID-19 and Gandhi to bring on environmental wellness, topical cleanliness, compassionate interconnectedness and a global well being.

Dr. Bobby Luthra Sinha currently works as Senior Vice-President, Research at the Osianama Learning Experience (OLE), Delhi; Executive Committee Member (Hon.), International Commission of Migration at the International Union for Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences(IUAES); Deputy Director (Hon.), Centre for Asian, African and Latin American Studies (CALAAS) at the Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), Delhi. She is an independent social scientist and a writer who is passionate about inter-disciplinary researches, including documentary making, on issues pertaining to Anthropology, Political Science, Environmental studies, Migration and Art.

(The views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion, beliefs and view point of the owners of asiannewsmakers.com)

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