• Archit Pandey

The Paradoxical Corona-virus

The Corona-virus outbreak has, more or less, tempted public intellectuals globally to re-think the overall model of growth and development. The neo-liberal model, which held sway at the dawn of this century till date, came to be regarded as universally acceptable model of growth and development. Now, coming of this model suddenly under the radar of public intellectuals is bit surprising. What is even more surprising is the fact that these public intellectuals who are now questioning the credibility of this acclaimed model are the same people who earlier used to glorify its graciousness. They must be reminded that in this exercise they are even losing their own fake integrity which they have acquired after so long and tiring efforts of intellectual jugglery and rhetoric. This is a serious paradox which requires ICU-like care, and more importantly, treatment.

This takes us to another paradox which needs special attention and investigation. This paradox engulfs various other paradoxes. But because all of them ultimately point to one single paradox is the reason why I am using this in a singular connotation. Like the hazard of corona-virus, another hazard – social media – is also spreading some eye-opening messages these days which tend to claim that amidst this outbreak and universal lockdown humans have come to realize their real worth which they were not even aware or reminded of as they were totally enmeshed and crushed in their ruthless life-style. This seems so convincing, indeed! These social media viruses also carry accounts of some of the most instantaneous truths which humans have encountered, as they are claiming, this lockdown. We will consider them one by one and will also try to show that the real story lies somewhere else. Although, all the arguments that we are going to discuss below will indeed appear to us liberating, which they actually are, but we will uncover their inherently paradoxical nature as they are highly incompatible with the real nature of the present and upcoming generation of humans. Let us begin!

One, now America is no more a hegemonic superpower. The cases of COVID-19 in America are taking hugh toll and they are soon going to surpass even Italy as the reports suggest. Relatively, Indians are in a much better position to tackle this outbreak atleast in containing its spread. But here lies a catch – our efforts and resources to deal with the outbreak are based on the same vision that we have learned from the American-led West. This further adds upon her hegemony.

Two, China cannot even think of global welfare. The problem here is that despite blaming China for keeping the world in dark for months regarding the virus outbreak, we are heavily dependent on it, even now, for our technical, electronic and medicinal imports (viz. PPE kits). What seems even more paradoxical is the fact that before this outbreak took place, we were outrageously running an anti-China product campaign at the level of civil-society and were intent on overtaking China as quickly as possible economically. Even this could not put even a slight downgrading impact on the amount of Chinese imports.

Three, Europeans, as they are generally perceived of, are not that well educated. This argument came much in vogue after Italy’s reckless behaviour amidst the outbreak for which she had to pay an immense cost. Her vulnerability and proneness with respect to the number of deaths emasculated despite having the world’s second-best health system. But while questioning the actual educational qualifications of the Europeans, we forget that our entire education system and study curriculum is based on western (or, colonial) order. The paradox is even more heightened by the fact that we are even trying to surpass the growth rate of economies of the West which is based on the fear of death, diseases and war (underpinned by heavy investment in insurance, pharmaceutical and defense sectors respectively). Only on the basis of this disorientation, we are trying to reclaim our title of viśwa-guru.

Four, we can spend our holidays even without travelling to Europe or America. When we say this, we are ignorant of the fact that the entire conception of spending our holidays is Euro-American. In our Hindu (or Brahminic) civilization, it was leisure which was accorded prime importance. The notion got faded away gradually under the aegis of corporatism. This thing can be validated by the fact that we have converted our holy places into picnic spots and covered our sacred pilgrimages with the devilish notion of tourism. These are nothing but the signs of a satanic civilization.

Five, Indians have better immune system that their western counterparts. I think there is nothing really to be boastful about it. We should keep in mind that India still has millions of people which do not even have access to proper food. This we are right now observing the case with migrant workers on a pan-India basis. Even now, the number of people who are malnourished, disabled and die of tuberculosis is serious. Many deaths occur due to starvation. Our focus, therefore, should be on building a very strong and pro-active health infrastructural capacity.

Six, no pastor, priest, cleric or astrologer was able to save even a single patient. Should they be held responsible for this? Why do we start blaming our misdeeds on religion? Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that there is a very important and effective trans-temporal (or, transcendental) cause of suffering and pestilence in the world. The crisis which humans face is the result of the inner spiritual crisis within them. The solution also lies in regaining our spiritual bonds but the truth, and also the problem, is that we are far away from re-considering such aspects of human life.

Seven, it is health, police and administrative workers and officers who are our real heroes and not the cricketers, film celebrities, and the like. Everyone has their own responsibilities; circumstances sometime make these obligations deeper, as is seen today. All those people who faithfully discharge their duties in peace or crisis should be considered as our all-time heroes. Changing our heroes everyday like our undergarments and regrading cine-stars and players as our role models is nothing but a sign of a very perverted and misguided civilization.

Eight, gold, silver and oil have no importance in the world without consumption. As a matter of fact, no item may hold any importance without consumption. Also, all items have relative importance. Now, how we are going to see and interpret this depends on our civilizational vision. However, any great civilization will allow only such levels of consumption which will enable its inhabitants to carry on with their bare necessities of life. They will certainly not delve into a luxurious lifestyle. Such signs are barely visible today. This we can say today, atleast, by looking at the pathetic condition of our economy. Our economy is under severe depression this lockdown when only essential services are being continued. This clearly shows that the entire growth rate of our economy is generally maintained by the continuance of non-essential services and production of non-essential goods.

Nine, for the first time, animals and birds felt that this world also belongs to them. According to anthropocentric perspective, beings other than humans are bound to find themselves incongruous with the entire world. Without considering the power of God at the centre, the feeling of companionship of nature cannot come in human beings. It is only by reinvigorating this God-centric view that homeostasis can really be established. Are we ready for this?

Ten, stars do twinkle – children of the metropolitan cities came to believe this for the first time. The rapid pace with which metropolitan cities, in particular, and urbanization, in general, are spreading their tentacles is a clear indication not of upsurge but the downfall of our civilization. The notion of metropolitan in itself is entirely contradictory to human values, conducts and relations. Such a notion is an accumulated manifestation of everyday increasing human desires.

Eleven, most of the people in this world can do their work from home. Now, this is a very situation-centric assessment. This policy can never be adopted on a long-term basis. Work from home is possible only by completely rejecting the present working model of the world. Modern world system in which we are working is an anti-home system. The entire consumption, structure, decorum and arrangement pattern of home is antithetical to this modern world system and its operating working model. Therefore, one who finds himself compatible with this system will necessarily be at loggerheads with his home and family.

Twelve, we can sustain ourselves even without resorting to junk foods. Now, this is again a claim which we are making not rationally but only under compulsion from our outside environment. What if junk foods would have been supplied in abundance even during the lockdown period? The more our kitchens are turning modular and the more the women of our houses are getting employed, the tendency to have home-made food is getting lesser and lesser. There is a clear-cut inverse relationship between the two. Let the lockdown period end and see the crowd reappearing across various hotels, restaurants and street food vendors.

Thirteen, to live a neat, clean and hygienic life is not a gargantuan task. Yes, no doubt. But the problem is that dirtiness, waste generation and profaneness, all are natural outcomes of large-scale urbanization. As far as all such unconscientious activities are considered, one may point to some quantitative and typical differences between them in rural and urban areas and east and west but qualitatively there is no difference at all.

Fourteen, cooking food is not the domain of concern for women only. Indeed, men can also cook food but dishes can be prepared only by women. We have tried to omit the natural divide of public man and private women under the impact of feminist movement which is presently under strong current in India after its eventual failure in the West (look at the paradox here). In India, everything comes like a fashion. Fashion in itself is a temporary phenomenon and temporariness is necessarily unstable. This thing should be able to make you understand the fate of feminism in India. Women are now being alienated from their homes and this has led to innumerable damages to our overall cultural heritage. Myriad of dishes, cultural festivals, holy songs and handicrafts are now objects of history.

Fifteen, the media is only but a bundle of lies and nonsense. Primacy of information can never be held in any civilized society. The more confused the society, the more abound information will be in it and the more misguided the society, the more diverse the information will be. Hence, we should not expect anything from this media which is a pure system of information spreader and diversifier.

Sixteen, Indian women is the single most important pillar of our household. To quote Ananda Coomaraswamy would be apt here:

Capitalism attacks at the most tender point of a civilization, usually at the women content of it, and tries to convert them into a factory worker or a career-oriented lady.
(From East and West and Other Essays)

The impending crisis has now come at our home only. Our next generation is restless in inviting Euro-American catastrophe over our subcontinent. One should remember the fact that around more than half of the children in Europe and America are born outside the formal family system.

Seventeen, money holds no value when we are out of health due to lack of basic food items. Indeed, money is not everything. But, lack of basic food items, our ideas being limited by it and our eternal thinking over it can never be called as signs of a perfect civilization. This is simply concentrating our entire energy on a particular subject which, nonetheless, is necessary but brooding over it continuously will act as a hurdle in our path of transcendence. Oh, are we really following this path?

Eighteen, barring one or two, Indian riches are full of humanity. I wish that could have been the case. But as a matter of fact, humanity has nothing to do with richness. Humanity is a component of wealthiness which emanates from aristocracy. Such values hold no place in value-less democracy.

Nineteen, tough times can be handled effectively and efficiently only by Indians. This was the case in the traditional Hindu hierarchical society when there was caturvarṅa system based on the spirit of cooperation. It was a duty-centric system. Today, we have a right-centric system based on the spirit of mutual antagonism which we have created ourselves out of the hollow and alien values of liberty, constitutionalism, democracy, human rights, etc. This pandemic has given us a very great opportunity to rethink over these modern discourses in line with the traditional thought.

And twenty, this virus outbreak has strengthened the process of reverse-globalization. This apprehension came into the minds of public intellectuals when they saw state re-emerging as the most potent, and not only the primary, actor in the domain of International Politics. Supply shocks also got accentuated over the globe. This view point, again, is very myopic and transient in nature. Globalization, specially its economic dimension, has intermingled so deeply with our global system that to disentangle it suddenly is not a very achievable task.

These are some of the ‘eye-opening’ messages that are circulating on various social-media platforms these days. These view-points are indubitably true. Imagine how beautiful this planet would look like if our entire lifestyle is structured around the points discussed above. But why have I, then, countered all the points? This is because the points mentioned above are nothing but temporary spurts of knowledge (śamśāna jñāna) which fades at a faster rate than it appears when life switches back to its mundane form. The view points above also simultaneously raise some important questions. Are we really ready to embrace the qualitative change we just talked about? Will such a change not rewind our life back to the primitive Vedic (or Medieval) Age considered exploitative and oppressive by modern morons? Can we really afford to give up all our luxuries for the pursuit of higher ends? Are we really now capable to spend our life with only bare minimum needs? Can we shed off our love and affection for democracy? Please think.

Nonetheless, we should atleast now comprehend that this so called ever mounting and escalating world in the twenty first century can come to a sudden halt. Perpetual progression has its limits. This we all must realize. The proliferation of this proverbial, secular and profane world will surely breakdown if stretched beyond its own limits. The COVID-19 outbreak is the inexorable outcome of the vandalizing spirit and the inherent spiritual crisis of the humankind. Therefore, now, why shouldn’t we cultivate some positive habits by developing our civilization which moves slowly putting every step forward by looking backward and with caution. Then only, we shall re-member with our divine roots.