Let Corona Light the "diya" of Science and Compassion (By Prabhakar Timble)

By Prabhakar Timble
04 April 2020 09:39 IST

Technology and digital tools had enabled work from home and shop from residence much before the Corona pandemic. Now, with the total shutdown, all this has turned global. Of course, there are limitations conditioned by nature of trading, businesses and economic activities. The threat of COVID has generated multiple and innovative possibilities to conduct household, business and governmental operations. Some of these forms could gather permanent space and stabilize themselves. In the not so distant future, all these innovated products, methods of work, production and channels of consumption and distribution could form an integral part of mainstream as businesses design the new game plan.  

An optimum intermix of work from home and office saves costs for industry and provides what could be termed as ‘employee surpluses’ and psychological pay-offs to the worker due to the flexibility annexed to the work arrangement. Similarly, E-marketing and home-deliveries cuts costs for traders, hotels, service providers as well as customers. The continuous innovation in digital technology is already revolutionizing the delivery of skill training modules, education and learning. The role of the teacher-instructor and the class-rooms of the future would be spectacularly different. COVID shutdown could also be the precursor to rewrite the strategies of a nation’s economic growth coupled with justice in the post-Corona years. The names of superpowers in international trade and commerce could find different and new players depending on their speed to adapt to these pandemic times.

In India, the social media warriors and politicians are involved in manufacture of fear and discord under the backdrop curtain of Corona. COVID is also viewed as an opportunity by the votaries of majoritarian politics to bash and discredit the minorities, migrants and the underprivileged. All Muslims are blamed for acts of motley few and a campaign with fake news, videos and photographs bombarded to project that all Muslims are Allah-blind, uncultured, uncouth and anti-Indian. Deviations and delinquency of individuals or groups is scrutinized from the lens of faith, caste and community. Thousands of tourists and locals have jostled and made merry at Carnival, Holi and Shigmo celebrations. If not for the diktat of the BJP national leadership, Goa would have witnessed elections to fifty Zilla Panchayat constituencies.  This goes without any reprimand by the people who spit venom on others.

Socially regressive forces and interest-groups of unscientific tradition including the torch-bearers of blind faith and quack medicine are shining with their agenda. The existing economic disparities are getting sharpened; the unorganized sectors and segments are getting pushed into the poverty web. Indians in their attempt to chew the chocolate of national jingoism seem to have accelerated their tempo of losing their culture of social compassion to embrace anger and hate. The spreading social virus of the survival of the merited and fittest is eating the seeds and saplings of the liberal thinkers and social activists espousing for the weakest.

The appeal “We are not alone” of PM Modi and the expression of the resolve to fight Corona through the symbolism of putting off all lights for nine minutes and lighting a candle is yet another stroke of garnering political commitment for the self using the opportunity of the pandemic. The BJP brigade and the ever servile   TV channels as event managers would stay busy in creating the flood of the imagery of darkness and lights. They would also work overtime and revel in demonstrating locations and “mohallas” where life was normal and where the people refused to participate in the PMs political drama. These sections would be lit with the firewood of anti-nationalism and beaten with the sticks coated with the cream of being pseudo-secular, pseudo-intellectual and pseudo-liberal.  Undoubtedly, our PM is the master in the consolidation of power and every such demand though looks innocent is loaded to get confirmation on the idiocy index of general Indian public. As the clock strikes 9 p.m. on April 5, it would be a rendezvous with the stupidity barometer.

What is expected from the PM is a national consultation with political parties, NGOs, public policy experts and industry magnets to roll out alternative policies and reliefs for the economy and the unorganized sector. The national debate should be on the choices between lay-off of workers versus cut down in salaries and commissions. The government needs to consider options to maintain the maximum possible economic activity within the constraints of the pandemic threat. The Prime Minister and the cabinet should have got into the mode to work out incentives and reliefs for industry and business. The issue of seasonal agricultural output such as cajunuts, fruits etc is critical and needs a delicate handling.  We are entering into the harvesting of Rabi crop. Fanciful events of “candle, ‘diya’, torch, utensil and spoon” could be left to mortals of no standing and caliber. This cannot be an agenda point of the Prime Minister of a country unless self-aggrandizement is the sole motivation of the occupant of office.

When a virus turns pandemic, it can be fought effectively when our behavior is community friendly, compassionate and supportive to the weak and underprivileged. Financial resources can be raised through corporate donations, international assistance and even by pumping new currency. It’s an easy road as compared to the challenge of restoring the environment of social harmony and cooperation. This is more so in today’s India, where hate and hero-worship is the nationalist currency. The challenge becomes difficult to surmount when the majority hold minorities as enemies and the economically privileged perceive the delinquency of the poor as a problem of law and order inviting punishment.

 

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Very rightly said. Excellent food for thought for our Politicians.

- Rozinha Dias, Chinchinim | 04 th April 2020 17:22

 

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