Learnings for India from Covid 19, Can Spirituality help

  • What was the strategic intent behind Corona Virus?
  • Positives for India from Covid19.
  • Impact on States of recent Policy changes w.r.t vaccination.
  • How a Spiritual Approach can help? Poem on How to deal with Covid19.

Years ago when I headed the commercial function of a factory in Punjab, every time my manufacturing colleagues saw that I was monitoring manufacturing efficiencies closely, to their discomfort, they would create a crisis in my functional area for e.g. stock out of packaging materials. I then got busy dousing the fire within and got off their back.


So is the case with China. Before the outbreak of the Wuhan virus the world esp. the U.S. were breathing down China’s neck. The virus ensured that most countries in the West and Asia got busy responding to the Pandemic and forgot about trade disputes/security issues with China. China nee saab ko kaam pee laga diya (China put all to work) so that it focusses on its goals and gets rid of disliked adversaries for e.g. Trump’s handling or mishandling of the pandemic was one of the many reasons for his loss.


Not only that the pandemic has caused a global economic crisis. Niranjan Rajadhyaksha recently wrote in the Mint, “The International Monetary Fund estimated in January that governments across the world have collectively spent $14 trillion to soften the economic impact of the pandemic.” Tax revenues have collapsed and fiscal deficits leapfrogged.


Yet one hardly hears of Covid 19 cases in China today. In fact China’s Q1 growth was a record 18.3%. This whilst other countries struggle.


In early April President Biden announced a $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan and said the, “investment that will enable the country to best China on the global economic stage.” When you publicly state that the investment is not for the betterment of your people but to catch up with an adversary, it indicates the U.S. has lost thought leadership in this case to China.


This is a result of stress caused by the Wuhan virus. Similar tools could be used in the future to get rid of governments that disturb China’s plans of global domination. Russia, Canada, Australia and India savdhaan!

Now coming to India esp. the second wave. For reasons that one can debate for eternity, the first wave was managed notwithstanding the fatalities and plight of migrant workers. At this point here are some thoughts worth reflecting upon.


This is the first time in decades that States, are made publicly accountable, for what the Constitution holds them to be. Chief Ministers are being questioned for increase in cases and non-availability of health infrastructure. So far most followed a system of upward delegation meaning transfer the buck to the Centre for e.g. farm distress when India is run by the States Since urban healthcare is essentially the responsibility of local bodies we might see the Centre making direct transfers to them for building infrastructure as suggested by Anurag and Nina  .  


In the run up to any local elections voters were wooed with loan waivers, laptops, electricity and free bus rides for women. Post Covid voters should ask how health infrastructure would be improved. If not, they have themselves to blame.

Kalbelia Dance by a Hungarian at Jaisalmer Desert Festival. 

The first round of vaccination started on January 16 . Then, people had to be motivated to be inoculated. Further, sections of the media raised doubts on vaccine efficacy and there was an avoidable controversy over whether Covaxin or Covishield was better. In the first week of January, Akhilesh Yadav called it a BJP vaccine and said he would not get vaccinated. This added to the self-created confusion.


Now that the second wave has hit us there is a rush for inoculation and the mood has changed to vaccinate all, as if vaccination is a 100% guarantee against infection. Some states now complain of vaccine shortage.


People must realize that vaccine production cannot be increased overnight even though there is a view that production could have been increased and vaccines like Pfizer given approval earlier. Note that when vaccination on such a large-scale is planned governments tend to be averse in granting quick approvals. Consequences of things going wrong are scary!


While the Centre was right in dealing with vaccine companies and its distribution initially people must reflect on Vinayak Chatterjee’s, Infrastructure expert, tweet, ‘Vaccination is now a Distribution & Logistics optimisation issue & an Operations Research modelling challenge. Variables are Supply, Distance, Cold-chaining, Demand hotspots & Eagerness vs Vaccine Hesitancy etc.” Perhaps the Centre and states, could explore if using Hindustan Unilevers Advanced Planning Optimiser, SAP model could help distribute vaccines better. 


Highlights of the Centre’s announcement w.r.t vaccination on April 19 are -

1. 50% of the vaccine produced in India would be supplied to the Government of India i.e. Centre and the balance to State governments and for sale in the open market at a pre-declared price. GOI from its share, will allocate vaccines to States/UTs based on the criteria of extent of infection and performance (speed of administration).


Impact - State governments, Union Territories would have to negotiate directly with domestic vaccine manufacturers and importers of fully ready to use vaccine. Importantly, it appears states will have to pay for vaccines they buy.


Public mood will compel States to vaccinate those above 18 for free. Cost of paid for vaccinations might go up, surely more than Rs 250/. At the state level a black market for these vaccines, till they are in short supply, may emerge.   


2. Vaccination shall continue as before in Govt of India vaccination centres, provided free of cost to the eligible population as defined earlier i.e. Health Care Workers, Front Line Workers and all people above 45 years of age.


Impact - The Centre shall assume responsibility for supplying vaccine to states for all those over 45. Nothing has changed from the present except that states will now have to procure and fund vaccines for all those between the age of 18 and 45. Maharashtra alone has about 90 million above the age of 18. Can healthcare infrastructure cope with the increase in those coming for vaccination? Operational planning at state level will increase manifold!


The Chhattisgarh Health Minister Mr Deo was smart enough to realize impact of change so on an April 19 program on CNBC TV18 he said that the current arrangement with two existing vaccine suppliers Serum Inst and Bharat Biotech should continue.


States have limited scope to blame the Centre now and will have to bear cost of vaccines procured directly.


So overwhelmed are we by the absolute number of covid infections during the second wave that we have failed to reason what percentage of India’s population is infected. Geo-strategist Brahma Chellaney tweeted, “Spread of any disease is measured by number of cases per lakh of population.” Further how can governments be blamed if people refuse to wear a mask.


Actually, so tired were the people and probably the government after the first wave and hardships of 2020 that when the numbers dropped, we declared premature victory and dropped our guard.

Matru Mandir Auroville, Pondicherry. 

Spiritual Guru from Bali Anand Krishna ji wrote before the current wave, Those who are hoping for normalcy, in the sense that they look forward to living irresponsibly again as before, would cause collateral damage to the entire world.


He adds, Whether there has been a human intervention or not, it is because of our karmas, our irresponsible past actions that the virus is here and haunting us. We have to realize this, mend our ways, and start anew by living compassionately, with Karuna or Compassion as our guiding principle.”  


The Ministry of AYUSH has come out with Guidelines for Yoga/Ayurved Practioners etc. for Covid19. They can be accessed here. Part 2 is a National Clinical Management Protocol for Covid19 based on Yog and Ayurveda. This can be accessed here. Wish this is was more widely known to the common man.  


Some learned are warning of a mental health crisis. If there is a crisis it is because we have ceased to be spiritual. A spiritual person would have greater inner strength to deal with current uncertainty and hardships. Instead what we have created is fear all over.


Daaji Kamlesh Patel, a spiritual leader and Raja Yoga master wrote in Speaking Tree, “In a state of fear, it is difficult to see right from wrong.” That is the case today. Our attitudes to dealing with the virus swing like a pendulum, from one extreme to another.


A spiritual mind would observe, be aware, live in the present, look for positivity, follow preventive therapy and live with the faith that this too shall pass.


A positive result of Covid is that people have started paying greater attention to their health and Ayurvedic ingredients. Companies have caught on to this trend for e.g. Red Label Tea with Ashwagandha (rejuvenates body and mind) is now available, the other natural ingredients being cardamom, ginger, tulsi and mulethi.


Another positive is that the generation born post 1991 have now experienced shortages/hardships, post outbreak of the Wuhan virus, and might now be more understanding of what their elders faced in the pre-1991 era.


A third positive is that Indians have become more compassionate. The Pandemic has broken man-made barriers and united Indians.


There is always a learning in every experience, Covid 19 hardships are no different. If we are patient, have an open mind, willing to think free of bias, change and innovate there is a lot we can do in the present to create a brighter future.


Read POEM on How to deal with Covid19

   Article pictures by sanjeev nayyar. To read all articles on Corona Virus


Also read

1. How Yog/Ayurved might prevent being infected by Corona

2. Corona, Karuna, Karma a Sanatani perspective

3. Experiences during Lockdown

4. Learnings from Phase 1 of Corona

5. India's second corona wave and learnings from last year  

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