Positives of Corona Virus


Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

27 Apr 2020 – Ever since the world became familiar with the new pandemic named Coronavirus or COVID-19 about two months back, we have seen so many of its tragic features — infection of more than  two million people, about 150 thousand deaths worldwide, normal lives disrupted by lockdown and other restrictions on movements of people and vehicles. All means of transportation by air, road, rail and sea have been stopped, except for movement of some essential services.

The casualties have been witnessed in several countries — USA, Italy, Spain, Germany, France Russia, China, etc. There have been some confirmed cases of infection and consequent deaths in India also but not to the extent as its population would suggest.

This is largely because the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Modi, has faced the challenges on lives and livelihoods by imposing a heavy lockdown on people and factories and offices. He directed the people to remain at home and where possible to work from home. Industrial output unfortunately has come almost to a standstill.

Industry, trade, farming have been badly affected, with hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs and work in farms and unorganised sectors of the economy resulting in loss of wages, and no means of supporting themselves and their families . Migrant workers from different parts of the country, having lost their work and wages, are unable to go home because all means of public transportation has come to a standstill in India.

Many pregnant women have been unable to go to hospitals to deliver their babies or to receive medical care. Unfortunately, the youngest child to succumb to the virus in India is a 45-day-old baby.

Even some doctors, nurses, and support staff of hospitals have been infected leading to undesirable situations among the over-stressed medical facilities. Under these conditions, unusual reports are coming in of some people trying to overcome their hardship and suffering by unusual means. Many free kitchens have been set up to serve food to migrant workers and other poor people.

A jobless worker was forced to sell his smartphone to get some money to feed his family. Another young migrant worker Mahesh Jena has bicycled about 1650 km distance over seven days to reach his village Jajpur in Odisha (Northeastern part of India) after he lost his job in a factory in Maharashtra that was forced to close down.

Under the trying circumstances of the pandemic, some unintentional positives have also emerged. One important gain is the research that is being carried out in laboratories and hospitals to determine the causes of the virus and its cure.

Another is the use of Namaste (folding of our two hands) for greeting people instead of shaking hands. Even President Trump was in favour of this form of greeting when he visited India about two months back.

Pollution levels have drastically come down, air quality improved as motorised vehicles — cars, trucks, two wheelers have almost been stopped during the lockdown. Industries have almost also stopped working leading to reduced pollution from them. Many rivers have also become cleaner now.

Number of accidents, street fights, brawls has also been reduced, although not completely stopped.

Reading habits of not only children but their parents and even grandparents have gone up to utilise the leisure forced upon them by the virus. Some people are trying to learn foreign languages by suitable apps.

Parents are spending more time with children, husbands with wives, and children with their grandparents leading to social bonding and learning about the vastly different circumstances in which the grandparents lived.  Another positive feature is that pets have not been found to be infected by the virus. We can continue to cuddle our pets.

Interesting innovations in words and phrases due to the pandemic are being invented:

Self isolation — ISO
Keeping safe distance from one another — social distancing
A person not observing the regulations during the pandemic — Coidiot
Sanitiser — Sanny
Nurses and doctors in hospitals — COVID warriors

Prompt refunds by Indian Income tax Department to taxpayers are also taking place. More money is being deposited in ATMs for the benefit of people who find difficulty going to banks. Several rich industrialists, CEOs, and other individuals — sportspersons, film stars, celebs, etc. are donating large sums of money for the welfare of poor people and boosting the economy.

Dignity of labour— many men are learning household chores like dusting, cleaning the home and toilets, cooking food and looking after small children to supplement the efforts of their wives or maids who now cannot come to their homes.

Emotional bonding: Iceland, which has a very small population of less than half a million, has proposed a new form of Chipko. We may remember that in the 1970s a movement called Chipko Andolan (hugging of trees) was started in North India by Sunderlal  Bahuguna, Chandi Prasad Bhatt and hundreds of villagers to prevent massive cutting of trees by the timber mafia. The movement succeeded.

Iceland has suggested a new form of Chipko — hugging of trees for emotional bonding.

The COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in different forms of suffering and large number of deaths of people across the entire world, and some analysts are comparing it with the devastation of WWII. However, there is also a positive impact. Inner strength and resilience displayed by large numbers of people in these troubled times are also noteworthy.

We hope the pandemic comes to an end soon but we think that the lessons learnt by people and the peace and harmony displayed are retained by humanity.


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. ravipbhatia@gmail.com

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 Apr 2020.

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