Out of the bubble

The Covid 19 may be one of the most used phrases in the past five months overshadowing and surpassing the previous record holder phrase of “I love you”. Corona has shaken the world out of slumber into a realization about their unpreparedness for a virus of this size, despite massive scientific leaps to even predict what illness will afflict a body in decades from now. Yet the little invisible fast feeding and feasting on the cells of human body once Corona virus enters, jolted even the best brain in science. While the scientists are days and day out trying to understand the virus’ behavioural and growth pattern,  the religious fraternity regularly phrase it as “divine intervention” because the earth was polluted, elite corrupted, poverty spread notwithstanding abundance of food and vulnerable people abhorred, exploited and hatred galore. Capitalists want to earn more even if at the cost of environment and human beings.

Some truth may also be found in the fact that state which is sanctified with the trust of people, constitutions which should be the Holy Books the state adhered and practice in its conduct with society, may have been abused extensively.  The constitutions which are essential byproduct of Social Contract in democracies, have in almost every democracy, been hijacked and made subservient to a majority that believes in in being at the servitude of limited elite with economic muscles. The political elites have brought religion as key element of national agenda setting and used as fear-generator. Exclusion on ethnic lines has become the new normal,  dissidents are seen as enemy of the new “public” and “republic”, citizens voices are suppressed. The rich pay less and lesser taxes and every act envisaged for state to follow in pursuit of delivering welfare to citizen is turned into a business opportunity for the economic elites. The state has withdrawn and businesses have expanded. Poor citizens will have to pay to access basic services. The state has become poorer because it does not receive much tax from the richest and the poor remain unable to pay. Many democratic governments no longer spend on health sector with assumption that private sector will be able to step in and provide solutions when needed.  The private sector will put its money where it can circulate fast so that it can bring faster profit, the only reason for their existence. Private sector with its freedom to invest where it wants , will rarely imagine pandemic. Covid 19 will certainly have far reaching economic, social and political repercussions for years to come.  The attention Covid 19 has received so far is due to its non-discriminatory character.

Health is a major element of the ‘human security’ discourse. Healthy and abled citizens can work and bring prosperity to the country. Covid 19 should wake the state, government and citizens up, to realize that protecting the society is important and the state should not alienate itself to the point of no return nor should it leave every space for private sector.  Maintaining credible presence in key spheres such as health, education, security, economy etc are key stabilizers and to some extent social equalizer. The state does not have to weigh everything in term of money.

To the most distressed, the night is pregnant with new day as Hakim San’is the famous Sufi from Afghanistan said one. We shall overcome this phase but at a higher cost. May the state learn to replace its growth-centric policies with development-focused one and devise programs for all rather then actively playing one group against the other to grab power. Gandhi Ji would have work for the unity of humanity to save the world from the disease.

Javed Noorani

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