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Moving from COVID-19 crisis to opportunity with Seva, Swadeshi and Sustainability

With its traditional value system and knowledge Indian society is better prepared to face the pandemic and lead the global community in this hour of crisis

Dr Gyana Ranjan Panda

In a crisis entangled society, people usually look up-to leaders and crisis managers to anchor the difficult situation and convert challenges into opportunities for the larger social-economic and political benefits. Such situations make rare historical appearance and are destined to be significant markers in the annals of human history. Consequentially, leaders are born from the debris to lead, create new, positive and innovative society out of such a crisis.

While PM Modi and the BJP led NDA Government has already defined leadership in global-national-local landscapes in mitigating the crisis, the ideological backbone of the government, the Rastriya Swayam Sangh (RSS), has been working away from public glare and acknowledgement to reach out to the needy, poor, distressed, migrants, unorganized communities and preparing the nation to accept the crisis as an opportunity by underlining the need to embrace the core civilization values of the country.

India is not a just a country, it is a civilisation, whose core values rest on love, peace, selfless service, sacrifice, togetherness, unity, inclusiveness, dialogue and debate.

These values have very often shown to the world how to steer through crisis. Unlike the Western Civilizations, India is the sum of its traditional knowledge system, social values and spiritual outlook. These can actually complement and supplement the scientific communities in complex global environment to find solutions.

Backed by its traditional value system and knowledge Indian society is better prepared than other nations to face this global pandemic and lead the global community in this hour of crisis. In his recent address, RSS Sarchanchalak Mohan Bhagwat reiterated the importance of Indian value systems which have been forgotten in the wake of Western idea, individualism, lop-sided policy priorities and the resultant competitive politics. His insightful speech on COVID-19 pandemic highlighted several challenges that will face the post-Corona society. The so called critics may brand him conservative, anti-liberal, regressive and divisive. Such criticisms are unfounded and are based on erroneous understanding of civilisation values and fundamental value systems of Indian society.

Irrespective of all diversities characterised by religions, castes, class, ethnicity and livelihood opportunities, Indian civilization rests on certain cardinal virtues: community living with love and peace, bhaicharra, Seva hi param dharma, Lok hita hi Desh hita, and other inclusive and sustainable ideas. The Sangh chief underlined the need to revive and accept these age old traditions to help the COVID-19 infested communities within society and stand tall in this global crisis. Evidences from the fields show that thousands of Shakhas and karyakartas and affiliated organisation like Seva Bharati are working tirelessly to reach out to the affected people without discriminating among communities, fearlessly, patiently and with compassion.

In a time-relevant message to people Mohan Rao Bhagwat cautioned the people about disinformation campaign undertaken by divisive forces.

With the expansion of internet and social media, it has become increasingly easy for nefarious elements to mislead and divide the society on political and social lines. Lynching of Sadhus in Palghar, attacking doctors and paramedics in various hotspots can be attributed to well-designed disinformation campaign and its nefarious outreach in communities. In such a scenario the solution lies in vigilance, discipline and patience. As emphasized by Mohan Bhagwat, it is time for people to remain united and not to fall into the trap of fear-mongers. Indian civilisation provides huge space for dialogue and deliberations among diverse communities and scope to build partnership for collective living and protection against internal and external enemies. These are intrinsic strengths of the Indian society and that need to be revived.

An important element of Indian civilisation has been its self-reliance and self-sufficiency that attaches huge value to natural resources, their optimum utilization and a sustainable lifestyle. The current crisis has exposed how the model of globalisation can be easily manipulated to the benefit of few pushing other economies into crisis. Bhagwati too emphasized the importance of Swadeshi and how it could counter the pitfalls of globalisation. In this context, PM Modi’s Make India and Skill India projects would help significantly to develop rural economy and strengthening livelihood opportunities for those who have displaced economically due to Corona outbreak.

The Sangh chief's enforcing narrative “each crisis comes with huge opportunities” should be the guiding light for the Indian society and government in this changing world scenario. Indian civilization has always believed in 'Seva' or the spirit of service, justifying the government’s huge initiatives to reach out to affected countries and distributing whatever the country had in terms of experiences and resources. India has always stood with the global problems and has provided with timely leadership. With its timeless values rooted in spirituality and humanitarian values, India can show the path to the global community.

(Author works in the Department of Public Policy, Law and Governance in the Central University of Rajasthan)



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