The novel coronavirus outbreak has now been detected in more than 200 countries affecting millions of people across the globe and has created a worldwide havoc. The nations across the globe are deploying all the resources at their disposal to combat the unprecedented crisis. India has been at forefront to in the fight against the pandemic and as directed by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under lockdown since 22 March 2020. The cooperation extended by a more than 1.3 billion is exemplary.

The usual and anxious time has created a death-like crisis not just for individuals but for businesses and economies. While times are challenging, it has also provided unique opportunity to humanity to understand and reflect on human suffering and underlying reasons.

If we observe dispassionately, there are some very positive changes that have happened around us. These are changes, we yearned but never made conscious efforts towards achieving them.

  • Nobody is hurrying up early in the morning to rush for the office
  • No unwanted traffic of polluting vehicles
  • Rivers are cleaner due to closure of polluting manufacturing units
  • Families are spending more time together at home
  • People are learning to adapt to non-luxurious lifestyle
  • Kids are at home and eating healthy food
  • Latest fashion is no longer a concern

There has been a remarkable transformation in condition of the planet. It is evident from the fresh air with significantly lower AQI levels. The visibility of mountains from cities, returning of dolphins in Marine drive beach in Mumbai, shows quick self-regeneration and healing capability of the planet in the absence of human interference. While, there is improvement in climatic condition, it took a pandemic to do so is a pity.

The fact that a microorganism ‘coronavirus (COVID-19) can bring the humanity to its knees shows that the countries across the globe that they are living in false sense of invincibility and exposed our vulnerability. People must take note of hidden message – it is possible to live a life without overindulgence and incessant exploitation of resources. The pandemic shown to the world that even with most sophisticated weapons you cannot a fight a nature’s wrath.

It is critical to understand moving away from lifestyle which is driven by overindulgence and living in harmony with nature are only ways for humanity to survive. While concept may new to the Western world but for Indians, this was always part of our culture – we just need to dig deeper into our texts and traditions. The foundation of our culture and tradition lies in ‘The Vedas’. Vedas are the most precious source of all the knowledge. They consist of thoughts and ideas about living in proximity to nature. One of the shlokas from our oldest Veda – Rig Veda, describes the current situation aptly

तवं नो अस्या अमतेरुत कषुधो अभिशस्तेरव सप्र्धि | तवं न उती तव चित्रया धिया शिक्षा शचिष्ठ गातुवित ||

It clearly says that whenever there is a suffering from an uncurable death-causing disease, then the only ways to deal with it would be creating boundary (self-quarantine), using your own wisdom and being disciplined.

Though teachings of Indian culture have been systematically degraded, most of them had solid scientific rationale which is evident from relevance that hold even in the present times.  Our ancient heritage has all the precious knowledge that we need to know. In the race of adopting western culture and lifestyle, we have abandoned it. A sudden standstill to human activities and subtly visible impact on earth’s environment is not a coincidence. It is a clear indication of lost balance between interrelated mutually sustaining resources on earth. This illustrates that nothing in the world is as uncontrollable as it appears.

Though, it seems that life has been stopped. But humankind has been given another chance to rethink of their actions and act sustainably in all ways. At the time of uncertain clouds, there is a visible silver lining which we all should see. Possibly, overcoming of this pandemic can prove to be a ‘blessing in disguise’.

Kale varshatu parjanya,
Prithivi sasya shalini
Deshoyam kshobharahitaha
Brhamana santu nirbhayaha

Let the monsoon be timely and plentiful
Let earth be covered with vegetation
Let the country live without problems
And let good people never have fear.

Author’s Note

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Mr. Vineet Mittal

A social entrepreneur, pioneer and evangelist of sustainable development Vineet has been a vanguard of the clean energy transition in emerging economies across Asia and Africa. His passion for sustainability originates from the ancient Indian Vedic philosophy of ‘Mata bhoomi putro aham prithiwaya” - The Earth is to be protected like a mother and nurtured for future generations.