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Coronavirus pandemic has been a terrible shocker of an experience for the people born after the smallpox pandemic era. No other disease has caused such large-scale death and misery. For Indians, battling with coronavirus has brought some new lessons and has reinforced the importance of a few learnt during the course of the existence of the oldest civilisation in existence.
The first lesson is that age-old practices are time-tested and useful. It was pleasant to see the prince and prime minister of UK and president of United States or even German Chancellor doing a hand-folded Namaste instead of shaking hands during their official meetings and visits. They needed to fall back on a time-tested namaste, just to avoid catching a virus.
Namaste is a time-tested tradition that ensures distance and rules out encroachment of a personal space. There cannot be a more polite and safe way to greet one another. This time-tested Indian system wins hands down. And the lesson is that we should avoid ridiculing and rejecting our time-tested traditions in social or individual life.
The second lesson is that our age-old belief in vasudhaiv kutumbkam is more than true. In fact, it is the hard reality. A virus from Wuhan in China has underlined the importance that the entire humanity’s fate is not only inter-linked, but hangs on a precipice precariously. No one can say – a specific challenge is limited to a particular country, race or location. All are on the same boat. And any irresponsible act, in any part of the world can easily capsize the boat.
The third lesson is that Indian system and institutions are capable of working efficiently. effective leadership and fast decision-making at the top can make a difference. One can make a mistake in decision-making. But fast and effective leadership can and does make a big difference. Not making a decision or delaying a decision and not doing anything is not an option when confronted with a big challenge, like a coronavirus pandemic. The countries that took decisive steps at the beginning did succeed in containing the spread of the virus and were able to manage the course of the pandemic in a much controlled way. It helped us that a doctor was at the helms of affairs as the Union Health Minister in our country at the right time.
Effective decision-making does not mean you have to be right every time. Things may go wrong some times. Yet, inaction is not a substitute while dealing with a big challenge that affects crores of lives.
We can take solace from the fact that India has done reasonably well in dealing with the pandemic. Our institutions did stand up to the challenge and acted in a planned manner to effectively counter the virus. The challenge is not over yet. Coronavirus is still amidst us. However, India has been doing well to tackle the pandemic. Our scientists and doctors have risen up to the challenge and the amount of work that has gone behind the preparation to battle it out has been tremendous.
Once we have won the war against coronavirus, it is possible we can look back and say that we rather did well despite all the difficulties.