In 2020 the government started a wave — a pre-emptive response that was far more draconian, more inhuman, than any disease. Hundreds of millions of displaced Indians bore the brunt of this man-made force. Yet they absorbed it peacefully as they took on the suffering of long journeys home.
Hundreds of millions in India, who had homes, retreated into them, converting them into jails and themselves into jailors. In real jails, inmates get sunshine, exercise, and smiles from their fellow inmates. In the new jails, under lockdown, Indians stared at screens for almost a year. They did not get exercise, they did not get sunlight, they did not get social contact, they got nothing positive.
In real jails, there is little fear, the human spirit stays alive, it struggles for freedom. The new jails were filled with fear, imagined terror. Fear enough to make people immobile, and avoid struggle.
The person that desires life gets support. Immunity comes from physical sources: food, movement, sunlight. Immunity comes from social sources: smiles, touch, the feeling of belonging. Immunity comes from spiritual sources: prayer, chanting, satsang, and acceptance of the unknown, of the divine.
All sources of support were yanked out. Beaches closed. Smiles masked. Visits banned. Temples closed. And replaced with a non-stop barrage of fear-filled news. And other fast-motion stress-filled activity such as stock-trading. And, keeping on working online, extra, to ensure some chance of keeping the job, added pressure to some.
Imagine a person isolated for a year, fed junk — the pre-packaged, oil, sugar, salt, and only taste-deep — food, deprived of all physical, social, and spiritual support? What would their immunity, their resistance be? Can thousands of years of wisdom of yoga and Ayurveda be compressed into a spoonful of amla-juice or chyawanprash ?
And can we imagine all the ‘normal’ health issues that existed in India in 2019 and earlier? Colds, coughs, fevers, malaria, dengue, … Did they all disappear?
So, in April 2021, are we seeing something new or just a wave crashing on a completely malnourished, weakened, exposed population? Not a ‘normal’ wave, but the first wave, with additional human impetus, coming down fear-filled people.
Are we able to see a second big man-made push? In 2020, Indians did not see the need to get vaccinated. They got frightened, but stayed calm. How to get them to rush for vaccination, for medicines? The so-called second wave did the trick. More than fear, it induced panic. And added a little push to the rest of the world too.
Times like these are not times for contemplation. For building resistance within and without. The powers know these, so these times are likely to continue. It will take courage to see the second wave as just the landing of the first wave, crashing down on an hapless society. Without this courage, without contemplation, without resistance, such cyclones are going to become a regular feature. Created by governments who want control without accountability. Backed by the rich who want profits, and more profits.
The elite are safely on board a large ship in calmer waters. Where it is raining money. And the engines exude power. But maybe their ship is called Titanic.