Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2020 > Corona has endangered the existence of human race | Arun Srivastava

Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 34, New Delhi, August 8, 2020

Corona has endangered the existence of human race | Arun Srivastava

Friday 7 August 2020

by Arun Srivastava

While evolving the strategy to fight the corona pandemic, the policymakers found the phrase “social distancing” as the most convenient tool to fight the menace. In their discernment probably this was the most effective device. But unfortunately they could not comprehend that it has a dangerous dimension and it would expose society’s fragility.

A crisis of this dimension often provides the opportunity for a society to reinvent both its best aspects and the worst, but in the present case the pandemic has simply exposed the lack of imagination of the policy makers and the governance. For fighting a pandemic of this nature it is imperative that people must have a social connect with a physical distancing.

Most of the countries just after eruption of corona as pandemic in March had opted for lockdown and keeping social distancing. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as usual resorted to gimmick; Mahabharat war was won in 18 days and we will win corona in 21 days”. But his loud talk exploded on his face. Even after four months of his high voltage declaration the pandemic continues to ravage the Indian cities, towns and even villages.

Every country whether developed or developing has strictly enforced lockdown. But none of these countries could get the desired result. Even after the imposition of the lockdown huge loss of human lives took place around the world. In most of the cases the people even those from the developed and countries were reluctant to obey the directives. Though the people of the countries faced the threat of losing lives, they refused to be confined within the four walls of their houses. The consequence of this defiant attitude was quite disastrous; not less than 1,50,000 people across the world died of corona.

The pandemic has laid bare the cruelty of welfare policy, the hypocrisy of a system in which every time a crisis hits we are told “we’re all in it together” but in which, before and after the crisis, the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable are largely ignored.The economic burden imposed by the policy of social distancing has fallen most upon the poorest and the lowest paid, many of whom cannot work from home and have few savings on which to fall back.

Coronavirus has exposed the fragility of social life. The fact remains that most of the people could not withstand the rigours of the social isolation. No aspect of our bodies or our lives is immune to the coronavirus pandemic. This is the case for mental health. A bunch of 72 published studies involving more than 3,500 patients found that a quarter of people hospitalised for coronavirus infections have some kind of delirium. This reflects a direct attack on the central nervous system.

The concept of the social distancing manifests the intellectual bankruptcy of the society. The policy makers ought to realise that keeping the people socially apart is not the right type of panacea to cure the malaise. The people must be encouraged to have close societal relations, not distancing. Instead they should maintain physical distancing. A person is a social animal and he needs a strong social bond for survival. If from the beginning the main thrust would have been on physical distancing, certainly such large number of persons must not have succumbed to the disease.

During this time besides the corona no other disease or problem is getting health attention. At least two prominent features are visible; the rich and middle class people prefer watching the pornographic films and having plentiful sex. The numbers of domestic violence have also increased. In sharp contrast the labourers are suffering with the trauma of hunger. The reports from the rural areas of states underline that there has been an increase in the number of suicides. Isolation and fear of survival have added to the despair of all vulnerable people caught up in the pandemic.

Lockdown is straining relationships. Romantic and family ties are facing new kinds of challenges. What has been painful is the sttae has been found to be wanting to face the challenge. Experts nurse the view that the world will witness a tremendous rise in baby population.

One of the reasons for allowing the people to resume their livelihood work, has been aimed at diminishing the mental tention and easing them of the stress. In England, ministers have decided to allow an incremental increase in the number of people we come into contact with, and appear to have prioritised economic over social contacts, encouraging people to return to work before allowing them to socialise in multi-household “bubbles”.

The main challenge before the people has been how you can manage your mental health and well-being during a lockdown. Unfortunately this question has so far remained unanswered. People in modern times have already been suffering with mental diseases. Sizophrania, amnesia have already acquired a much bigger dimension. In the backdrop of the spread of corona and subsequent lockdown, the crisis of mental disease has aggravated alarmingly. This will degenerate an entire generation.

The current lockdown can mean a lot of things to us, but one thing that we all are collectively facing is a disruption in our daily routines. People are cooped up in their houses all day. This is having very bad impact on the health of the people as they barely step out for some fresh air and work stress is only adding to it.

The word social distancing is merely used to terrorise. This is wrong. The need for social or physical distancing right now should not be mistaken for ostracising yourself completely from your friends and relatives.

Recent survey conducted by the Indian Psychiatry Society indicates that there has been a 20 percent rise in mental health cases since the outbreak, with at least one in five Indians suffering from some form of anxiety and depression. We can all relate to these feelings on some scale or another. However, instead of trying to push them away, it’s encouraged we take professional help. There is no shame in that.

Itr is widely believed that easing social distancing without a proper programme of testing, contact tracing and isolating will lead to a second wave of coronavirus. But the fact remains that the procedure of testing has not been satisfactory. The governments across the world have been found to be faulting on this count. Mass testing, contact tracing and isolating require a huge effort.

Everyone is desperate to know when the lockdown will end and life will go back to “normal”. With pretty much unlimited internet access in a nationwide lockdown, people are spending most of their time streaming online, gaming, or scrolling through social media. Let’s take a deeper look.The pandemic has plunged the world into a great deal of uncertainty. The sudden and strange upheaval has brought our lives to a screeching halt . People are worried about their health, jobs, and finances but the real struggle, for most of us, is to deal with the isolation and the mental toll it takes.

With friends and family away from each other and unable to meet, mobile gaming is offering an interactive way to stay connected. Multiplayer games like Ludo King, Houseparty, Pubg and Psych are at an all-time high right now with the digitised version of the classing family game ludo enjoying as many as 50 million daily active users. On the other hand, reports show that user engagement on Houseparty and Psych reached a level where people started experiencing lags. If you haven’t tried these games yet, now would be the time.

Self-motivation is good but that is not all. One needs to take some steps to remain positive during the lockdown. Amid the continued lockdown, many of us may be experiencing stress and anxiety, for reasons ranging from the fear of contracting the virus, challenges in work-life balance to simply the feeling of confinement. This is also giving rise to negative emotions that affect our well-being.

As the days go by, things are getting tougher because we are coming to an understanding that the crisis may take a very, very long time before we all go back to a normal life. Dr Rachna Khanna Singh, HOD, Holistic Medicine & Psychology, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon said; “We must take advantage of the lockdown and utilise the opportunity to detox our mind and body and bond with our family”.

People are also scared of being the victim of stigma of corona. The middle class people living in the multiplexes have been discriminating against the victims. In fact these people with their rightist mind frame have been causing much damage to the society. Incidents of sporadic attacks on health workers and other ‘potential carriers’ of the virus have already surfaced social media and it can be now said with precision that protests by locals during burial or cremation of Corona victims has become the order of the day.

It is really sad that when humanity should come together through empathy and understanding, grief-stricken families are not being able to give even a decent farewell to their departed ones. What adds insult to injury is that some authorities decided to name and shame those affected, through name plates outside quarantined houses. In many cities, including

These people with the rightist mind set have been insulting and even been assaulting the doctors, nurses and other paramedical personnel who have been risking their lives by working round the clock with COVID patients. Reports of doctors being stigmatized and assaulted by those refusing to undergo medical tests are everyday.

ILO estimates are that as many as 25 million people could become unemployed, with a huge loss of workers’ income. But in reality around 40 crore workers have lost their livelihood. It is already becoming clear that these numbers may underestimate the magnitude of the impact. This pandemic has mercilessly exposed the deep faultlines in our labour markets. Enterprises of all sizes have already stopped operations, cut working hours and laid off staff.

If there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it is that it has injected a sense of togetherness into polarised societies. But the virus, and the economic lockdowns needed to combat it, also shine a glaring light on existing inequalities. Today’s crisis is laying bare how far many rich societies fall short of this ideal. Pandemic has exposed the unpreparedness of health systems, so the brittleness of many countries’ economies has been exposed. The total lack of proper medicare has also been the reason for mental sickness.

The economic lockdowns are imposing the greatest cost on those already worst off. Overnight millions of jobs and livelihoods have been lost in hospitality, leisure and related sectors, while better paid knowledge workers often face only the nuisance of working from home.

The way we wage war on the virus benefits some at the expense of others. The biggest victims of the lockdowns are the young and active, who are asked to suspend their education and forgo precious income. Sacrifices are inevitable, but every society must demonstrate how it will offer restitution to those who bear the heaviest burden of national efforts.

While we were talking about the lockdown and the affluent were busy organising the safety and travel of their loved ones return home, we almost forgot the existence of a section of people who also have families and who also feel equally for the safety of their own. It is the poor labourer and the common man of R K Laxman that has to suffer a lot.

The author, a Kolkata-based senior journalist, can be contacted at sriv52[at]

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