COVID-19 calls for a cultural change and a cooperative society
Improvement in our health and education system must be accompanied by a more collaborative society and better understanding and empathy between people
It was hard to believe that an invisible virus could cause such havoc in the world. A world which took pride in its scientific and technological prowess and wealth has been brought to its knees by the virus, which is apparently cleverer and is immune to the vaccines we have.
Five months after the virus first surfaced, there is utter confusion in the medical world with conflicting claims and labs in a dozen countries racing to develop a vaccine that can take on the virus and make us immune to it.
But rather than spend our time, energy and resources in finding interim solutions to lives and material wellbeing, we seem to be spending our time is debating and disputing on the origin of the virus and in propounding conspiracy theories.
The virus may have originated by accident or by design. It is possible that it is part of a sinister plot which has gone awry. But our immediate task is to make an all-out effort to stop the spread of the virus. If mankind is still seen as struggling to contain it, it is largely because we find it so difficult to change our habits overnight.
While physical distancing and lockdown were essential, a sense of discipline and new social habits need to be cultivated to cope with the post-coronavirus world.
But how can we protect others and ourselves if we don't know who is infected? Even one infected person is going to pose a threat to the rest of us. And as experts keep telling us, the majority of the infected people will not show us any symptom. This is a question that is increasingly going to be asked over the next few months.
But while we grapple with moral and ethical issues, a new social order and an alternative to capitalism, the more urgent change required, our education and health systems will need to undergo radical improvements.
Above all, we will need a cooperative culture to survive. We need to hold each other’s hands and lend our shoulder.
(The author is Professor of Economics at Ch. Charan Singh University, Meerut)