As the humans stayed inside for close to a month and a half since the announcement of lockdown in the wake of coronavirus threat, most people observe that life seems to have start breathing in nature. The air is fresh, trees look more green and rivers are cleaner. It is a further and direct proof that human interference is responsible for environmental degradation.
Important message in this is that man is not the master of nature. Neither can he or should he ever try to conquer it. In fact, survival of human beings is dependent on nature. The nature provides sustenance to them and therefore controls their life as well as death. Human being is merely one small part of complex web of life and non-living matter. Numerous interactions are taking place which maintain the balance required to support human life. Nature is a wonderful example of unity in diversity concept. That seems to be the ultimate truth emerging from the present crisis. Human beings should learn to respect unity in diversity in larger universe as well as within their species. Their lifestyle should be in harmony with nature and not which disturbs the delicate balance. This implies that any activity beyond fulfilling the needs of human beings which involves large scale, larger than what would be required for fullfilling the need of a community, would interfere with the natural systems and as an extension become a cause of problem for human beings too.
The great rush of life, mostly driven by motives for material gains and which seemed to be inevitable till the other day, has come to a screeching halt. People who travelled by air and would have thought train journeys to be time consuming are not even stepping out of their homes. Money matters but is of no use if you can’t buy things which you would like to buy from the market. Realisation has also dawned that we don’t really need all that much money or resources for survival.
Coronavirus threat has been a great equaliser. It has put all human being on par as it doesn’t discriminate. Rich and powerful are feeling as vulnerable as the poor. There is a message in this. All human created categories of identity and especially any associated hierarchies have no meaning. Conflicts and triumphs in those have no value. One human being may conquer another but both will have to surrender before the deadly virus. Hence equality of human beings and equal rights for everybody are nature ordained principles. Everybody has an equal right to survive is amply clear and accepted now as never before. Hence, democracy is the only way we can function in which everybody has equal right to participate.
Equality of human beings implies that this earth and its abundant natural resources are meant to be shared by everybody in an equitable manner. Anybody, especially private corporations, cannot be allowed to exploit natural resources to maximise their profits. This model of development which fuels growth has come to naught. It is not sustainable in the wake of challenges like coronavirus threat. Now nobody is bothered about Gross Domestic Growth rates. Everybody is worried about their survival. In the period of lockdown human beings have learned to live with fulfilment of bare basic needs. The lesson is, a consumerist model will have to pave the way for a need based fulfilment model. Profit maximisation will have to be replaced by enough for survival. Cooperation will be the guiding human spirit not competition. If people had not come forward to provide relief to their fellow human beings, the lockdown period would have witnessed more misery. Hence compassion should guide all policy making, not realpolitik or economics.
The politics of confrontation and hatred among different identities – cultural, ethnic, religious, nationalities – do not have any meaning and should be rejected in favour of camaraderie and solidarity. Militarily the most powerfeul nation on earth, United States, saw the most number of deaths due to coronavirus. A country which would have never dreamt of so many casualities in any war was helpless against the virus. Of what use is the huge defence expenditure if country’s cannot save their own citizens? The most powerful of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons are ineffective to save people from a virus.
Clearly not preparedness for war but willingness to work with each other is what will save humanity. Hence all animosities and rivalries must be given up, no-war pacts should be signed, if possible collectively through the United Nations, and stockpiles of arms and armies should be dismantled.
As identities of nations become less contested, the idea of nationalism will concede to that of internationalism. UN should become the important form for global governance for countries with democratic participation. Security Council and veto power will have no need in the new global order and every country and communities not necessarily identifying themselves with any country or which could be living in more than one countries should have equal vote in UN. Various bodies like the World Health Organisation, World Bank, World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund, UN International Children’s Fund will have to be fully equipped to handle natural and social challenges. In the present pandemic crisis when governments are expected to increase spending for social welfare why are Word Bank and IMF or various UN agencies behind?
In summary, just as a new economic model of development based not on profit maximisation but fulfillment of basic needs of all humans will have to be evolved similarly a new model of political governance based not on competition and one-upmanship but on co-existence and working together will have to emerge. Human survival critically depends on such a transformation.
Note: I.D. Khajuria is with Internationalist Democratic Platform and Sandeep Pandey with Socialist Party (India).