Ram Nath Kovind
outbreak of COVID-19 novel coronavirus has created an unprecedented situation
around the world. Humankind is no stranger to calamitous outbreaks of diseases.
However, this is the first viral outbreak of this nature and scale in our
people for their mature response in the face of the crisis. Their support is
helping all institutions to work in a coordinated manner to fight the outbreak.
Our healthcare system has shown great alacrity and competence in meeting the
extraordinary and evolving challenge. Our leadership and administration have
proved their mettle in these testing times. I believe that together we will
weather the storm. I also commend the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for taking
pre-emptive measures in right earnest to contain the pandemic at the very
beginning and reaching out to our neighbours in the SAARC to launch joint
efforts to check its spread in the neighbourhood. Even the WHO has acknowledged
India’s efforts as worthy of emulation for the rest of the world.
outbreak has forced us to keep a respectful distance from others. This
isolation, self-imposed or medically mandated, can be taken as an ideal
opportunity to ponder on our journey so far and the future path. As we are
passing through a tough phase, let us turn this challenge into an opportunity
and try to decipher what nature has been telling us through this crisis. The
messages are many, but for the purpose of brevity, I would dwell upon a few
We all know
that hygiene is the first and obvious lesson. Precaution is the only cure for
this new strain of coronavirus. As precaution, what doctors advise is basic
hygiene, apart from social distancing. Sanitation and cleanliness are among the
humblest of civic virtues, and it is easy to underestimate their significance.
It needed a Mahatma to attach the utmost priority to them. In South Africa and
in India, his historic campaigns always began with, or ran parallel to, the
question of sanitation and hygiene. In 1896, Gandhiji was visiting India, and
plague broke out in Bombay. He offered his services to the state, and the offer
was accepted. As he was in Rajkot, he volunteered there. Do you know what he
did as a volunteer? He inspected latrines and exhorted people to pay attention
to cleanliness. We need to imbibe his lessons in our daily life, and in this
year of his 150th birth anniversary, we may begin by rededicating ourselves to
the cause of personal and social hygiene. The nationwide “Swachch Bharat
Ahiyan” (Mission Clean India) is a precursor to this great social awakening.
nature may be the next lesson intended for us. Homo sapiens is the only
organism that has overpowered all other animals, taken control of the whole
planet, and even set foot on the Moon. Now it stands humbled by a
microorganism. We would do well to keep in mind the fact that, at the end of
the day, we are merely biological organisms, dependent on other organisms for
survival. Humankind’s craving to control Nature and exploit all its resources
for profit can be wiped out in a stroke by an organism we cannot even see with
the naked eye. Let us remind ourselves that our ancestors saw Nature as mother,
and asked us to respect it. At some point in history, we forgot ancient wisdom.
When pandemics and abnormal weather phenomena are becoming the norm, it is time
to pause and wonder where we lost the way, and how we can still make a
may be a factor less apparent, but Nature tells us that we all are equal. This
new virus strikes beyond manmade distinctions of religion, race and region. The
world has been busy drawing distinctions and waging wars over us-vs-them. But
we suddenly realise that in the face of a grave mortal threat like the present
one, we have but one identity — we are human beings.
is also something we tend to overlook in normal times. In my speeches, I have
often referred to the Sanskrit dictum, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, which means the
whole world is but a family. Today, it turns out to be truer than ever before.
We realise how deeply each one of us is connected with everybody else. We are
safe in as much as we take care of the safety of others, not only of human beings
but also of plants and animals. Faced with an extraordinary crisis, most people
tend to be selfish, but this is a crisis that teaches us to think equally of
voluntary services through social mobilisation are not encouraged due to the
highly contagious nature of the disease, there are many ways in which people
can help contain and mitigate the viral spread. Every citizen can contribute
towards raising awareness and equally by refraining from spreading panic,
taking prudent precautions advised by the government. Those who can should also
share resources, especially with less resourceful neighbours, and senior
citizens who are vulnerable to the disease. The coronavirus challenge
underscores the necessity for “action in absence of crisis”.
reminding us to acknowledge, with humility, our quintessential equality and
inter-dependency. It is a lesson — imparted at a heavy price — that will come
in handy in mitigating global challenges like climate change as well as in
building a better, common future. In the meantime, I join you in reaffirming
our resolve to come out of the present crisis at the earliest, stronger than
ever as a nation.
Nath Kovind is President of India.
Headline: Coronavirus challenge underscores the necessity for ‘action in
absence of crisis’
Source: The Indian Express