By Markandey Rai (Chancellor, IGTAMS University, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh, India}
(This statement is prepared to celebrate the Earth Day 2020 which is an annual event celebrated globally on 22nd April to demonstrate support for environmental protection. This year is 50th anniversary of world Earth Day and the theme is Climate Action)
When PM Modi ji announced the lockdown in March 2020, he had said that: Jaan Hai to Jahan Hai (the world exists if the life exists). Now after little more than two weeks of lockdown in India, he address the 13 Chief Ministers of states on Saturday, 11th April 2020 and said that Jaan Bhi; Jahan Bhi (lives as well as the world). One cannot imagine future without the existence of the other. It has no meaning without each other. A virus called COVID- 19 has paralyzed the world and whole humanity is in crisis. According to scientists, this Virus has been attributed to human interferences such as deforestation, encroachments on animal habitations and biodiversity loss, which has led to the beginning of it in Wuhan, China. This demonstrates a trade off between consumption driven society and resiliency of nature ecosystem.
COVID- 19 is a common enemy of humanity and it had challenged all of us and hit hard because it is affecting everybody irrespective of cast, religion, race and nation. Virus knows no boundaries. This is worst crisis since World War II. Prevention is better than cure. Lockdown and social distancing is practiced everywhere and lives have been lost in all part of the earth. Global Economy has been shattered and people are becoming jobless. It is predicted that it will continue further and until a vaccine is developed or majority people are infected it will continue like this. Everybody feels helpless; we do not know what to do. It is expected that 2020 will be like this and it will teach many things including some good lessons. UNDP Administrator, Mr. Achim Steiner has rightly said that our Economy, our society, our communities have to rediscover how to live with nature. How to turn this crisis into opportunity is the main issue.
Importance of life over livelihood will extend the lockdown period. However, CMIE report of March 2020 says that unemployment rate in India is currently 23% compared to the Government of India report in 2019 that unemployment rate was 6.1% which was itself higher in the last 45years period in the past. It is expected that it will further escalate and go to higher level every month. Post effect will continue till the economy stabilizes which may take years to recover $ 5 Trillion setback.
When I think of trade off with loss by COVID- 19 in terms of life, jobs and economy, I still feel that balance is in our side. It has biggest but positive impact on climate change. Air pollution has reduced tremendously in big cities like New Delhi. One can breath fresh air even if we are lockdown and remained at home for the last three weeks. We can listen the chirpings of birds in the morning and see the blue sky. One can see clearly for a long distance and the Himalaya is visible from far away for the first time in 30 years, as the pollution level in India has dropped. There are no road accidents and no death especially of infants and elderly people due to pollution. Crime rate of all type has gone down. There are several scientific reports to support it.
Onward, Forward and Godward
Mata Bhumih Putroaham Prithivyah
( Earth is our mother and I am son of Earth)—Atharva Veda
We worship tree gods, forests as gods, mountain gods, river goddesses, and cow goddesses. The Vedas state: “Protect trees, trees will protect you.” We believe water is a purifier, and thus we offer a daily prayer to the water.
As Mahatma Gandhi had said that: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed”. Mother earth can meet everybody needs but not our greed’s. We have become greedy and exploitation and abuse was seen everywhere. Human was treating himself or herself as demy God the Almighty and doing all nonsense to destroy the nature and by doing this, digging its own grave. In our Indian culture, Earth is our mother, which provided everything for our life. We grow our food and fruits from its soil and drink water from water bodies like rivers ponds and lakes and ground water sources. We call rivers as our mothers. They are treated as sacred but we have polluted them and exploited to the extent that they are not fit for survival of life. Now due to closure of industries, construction and other polluting activities including waste of all kind, water of several rivers have become cleaner and fishes and other lives are visible.
“There can be a plan A or a plan B but there cannot be a planet B-there is only one planet. Make this Earth Day a Worth Day- by pledging to protect, preserve and serve our home for all beings.” —Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Permarth Niketan, Rishikesh, India
I eco with the sentiment expressed in an open letter from African intelectuals to leaders over COVID-19 and this is true for the whole global fraternity. I quote:
“Like a tectonic storm, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to shatter the foundations of states and institutions whose profound failings have been ignored for too long. It is impossible to list these, suffice it to mention chronic under-investment in public health and fundamental research, limited achievements in food self-sufficiency, the mismanagement of public finances, the prioritization of road and airport infrastructures at the expense of human well-being. All of this has in fact been the object of an abundant specialized research, except that it seems to have escaped attention in spheres of governance on the continent. The management of the ongoing crisis constitutes a most glaring evidence of this gap.”
Stay at home, stay in hospital or stay in a photo frame
COVID-19-an invisible particle, which has no life in itself unless it touches human or animal bodies, has made the world filled with fear for survival and everybody is scared of life, rich or poor alike. Whole life style of people has been changed. There are no cars on the road so there is no pollution and as a result there is no accidents. Reduced pollution due to almost nil driving and no coal burning has saved several thousand lives. You do not need unnecessary dresses and belongings since we are at home. No more shopping but still people are safe at home and healthy. All are working from home so work culture will also change. There are no need of big offices and their maintenances and fatty electric bills. Travel time to office is also cut down to almost zero except for essential services and it has become productive hours for all. It is clear that COVID- 19 is due to conflict between nature and human activities.
Everybody is convinced that stay at home is safe for themself and for others as well. Social distancing is the new mantra for survival. Do not go out and remain safe. This is very difficult but there is only one choice then to go to stay in hospitals. As we are social animal and socialization is the nature of human being but the life is in reverse gear and you have to remain in self imposed and self contained in a house but not lonely. We can be social by compassion for all and support to the needy because what is the use of wealth which you can not spend on anything which you used to do till now in shopping, fuelling cars, going to restaurants and bars, travelling to your places of choice within country and abroad. No one would like to go to Europe or America for fun for a long time to come. You are better in India but choice is yours to be at home or in hospital. The chances are that once in hospital due to COVID- 19, nobody will visit you and nobody including your near and dear will visit for knowing about your wellbeing. Perhaps nobody will participate in the cremation ceremony and most likely that you will end up in a photo frame.
The world is now less and less safer and more discontented place than it was before. COVID- 19 is threatening internal peace and security. UN SG Mr. Antonio Guterres has appealed for engagement of all partners is critical. He has also appealed to families everywhere, and leaders of all levels: Protect our Children
In-spite of blame game which is going on, time has come to introspection to correct yourself from going towards self-destruction. We have developed several weapons of self-destruction and COVID- 19 is a warning to re-thing before nature takes its one action in retaliation.
Einstein Pain Waves (EPW)- responsible for natural calamities. (Noripson waves is the main reason for three earth quakes in India. These waves are generated from pain in the slaughter houses where innocent animals are killed brutally (50 killings –generates EPW of 1040 energy megawatt. Total it is about 50 lakh Crore megawatt worth energy in the world everyday)
Nirbal ko na Sataiye Jaki Moti Hay; Mare Khal Ki Swas se Loh…
How to be happy is a great concern to everybody
We should evaluate and do cost benefit analysis of what we gained and what we have lost. Let us join hands in fighting with this crisis and any threat in the future to humanity. Power of Yoga and meditation and proper hygiene and nutrition to strengthen our immune system is essential and to stay calm and peaceful. For that I shall suggest the following:
Wash hands with soap regularly
Do Namaste and do not shake hands
Do not touch face, nose and mouth often
Social distancing is the key to remain safe
Use cotton scarf (Gamchha) as dress code
Practice Yoga and Meditation which strengthen immune system
Cremation is the best way to dispose the dead body
We should go fro Disaster Management courses and
Training for Peace, mercy and Acceptance (Tolerance).
We should think of a common denominator based on Global Ethics and principles, which can combine us as one family. The Golden Rule is that Treat Others the way you want to be treated.
If you want to be respected, respect others. If you want to be loved , love others. Etc.………
We have to learn to live with peace and harmony with nature and pray that let the sky be peaceful; let the universe be peaceful; Earth be peaceful; water be peaceful; all plants and trees be peaceful; all gods of universe be peaceful; may peace prevail; let the people be peaceful and let there be no fear from any animals. This mantra will promote the ancient wisdom of India of Vasudhav Kutumbakam- World is a family- be it a human being, animals or plants or the whole earth.
Finally, I shall quote Mother Teresa:
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other
As Swamy Shivanand ji had said that: I HAVE COME TO RECONCILE
I am a peace-maker,
I have come to reconcile,
I belong to the brotherhood of all.
I disseminate the message of love and peace,
The message of unity and goodness.
I sing the song of oneness,
The song of “Be Good, do Good”,