Monday, 30 March, 2020

Strategy Of Survival Struggle

Aditya Man Shrestha


The coronavirus has brought forth two features in limelight. One is the universal survival struggle and the other is the lifestyle.
The survival struggle has motivated many governments to close their borders to prevent the disease from contraction in mass scale. The consequences are seen cutting down or withdrawal of all international air flights. In some countries, even the internal flights have been adversely affected. Travel restrictions have been imposed on many nations including the citizens of the countries. Perhaps at no time except at times of war, international travel has been so badly affected. Regular visa has been cancelled. Tourism is the industry that has borne the biggest hindrance from the travel ban. One can think of the slowdown of economic activities creating any impediment to national economy. In short, people and the governments have shown a demonstrative choice for survival.
Lifestyle has too been upset in many countries. In those places where there is lockdown, people have been confined to their homes. It looks unbelievable to see big cities like Paris and New York desolate. People have been asked not to attend any gathering. Cinemas have been closed. All entertainment avenues have pulled their shutters down. Even religious gatherings have been discouraged. Social gatherings to mark the occasion of wedding, birthday and anniversary have come to an end. Socialising itself is considered risky for transmission of virus. It is no longer considered a favourable activity for its prevention. It is difficult, if not impossible to change the habit of moving around in a natural fashion.

Immunity in decline
What is forgotten at this hour of global crisis is the basic approach to human survival and lifestyle people have developed so far. As far as the information on the virus has been made available, one crucial factor is human immunity. It is assumed that the higher the immunity, the lower the infection. The lower the immunity, the higher the infection. Modern civilisation has provided a series of physical comforts. Hence, it has taken over almost the whole world. But, on the other hand, it has reduced the capacity of the human body to fight against the viruses and bacteria. The junk food might help enhance body weight and physical look. But it is a detriment to develop intrinsic power of fighting back the attacks from harmful bacteria. It explains why people in the developed countries succumb to common or uncommon flu that spreads out in winter.
Comparatively in the poorer countries, the mass-scale immunity is still high. People have been living with many kinds of viruses and bacteria. That does not however mean that they should remain so. The thrust of modernisation is to get them out of this morass. There is constant struggle to modernise them and ameliorate their conditions by what is called development. However, we are witness to the reality that development means destruction. Destruction of mainly traditional way of life thriving in constant harmony with the laws of nature is evident. Hence, the emerging need is to keep a balance between the pace of development and preservation of nature. There lies the secret of sustainable development. Coronavirus has brought forth the unsustainability of the existing pattern of development.
Environmentalists have been trying over the last 30 years to drive this point home all over the world. But the world is not listening to them. To make them listen, a catastrophe of present proportion has come forth. The main feature of the message is that the developed countries must change their consumer habits as much as the less-developed countries should bring down the population pressure. It is assumed that the earth cannot bear the burden of population beyond 9 billion. The world has attained already a level more than 7 billion. Before humankind attains the optimum level of number, the earth is amply showing signs of cracking down. The climate change is a reality. The Australian fire is a reality. The melting of North Pole is a reality. Similarly, the coronavirus is a reality.

The spread of virus all over the world has shown how inter-connective has it become. The connectivity is not in favour of humanity all the time. It has proved detrimental as in the present case. Efforts to promote exchange of goods, services and people among the countries have proved hurtful and harming. The trend of measuring international trade, remittance, profit, etc. is wrong. Economists have been emphasising on greater volume and upward curve in income and profit. But what is the limit to attain? There appears no limit. The per capita income has gone up from minimal level to $35,000 and upward. However, that does not set an optimal level. Moderation is nowhere considered whereas it is the most desired achievement as Lord Buddha prescribed for human survival and happiness. Unfortunately, Buddha's value is confined to tourism promotion but not happiness promotion. Not that wisdom is less but that money has outbid all other factors.

(Shrestha is a senior journalist, researcher and author.) 

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