The COVID-19 crisis has once again brought to fore a nationalistic sentiment with many volunteering to feed migrants and poor people and many others contributing liberally to the PM-CARES Fund.
The crisis has evoked an empathetic wave in these fearful times of a deadly uncertainty. However, the Tablighi Jamaat incident led to a large spike in coronavirus cases and made many more vulnerable to the infection.
The attempt to protect the organisers resulted in developing a bias against them, and got further aggravated due to social media videos showing some people trying to infect others with the deadly virus.
Public sensitivities have been very conspicuous and many have gone against government instructions. At this critical juncture, the underlying sectarian differences cropped up and marred the bonhomie across the entire nation.
Instead of subduing the societal/caste/religious differentials in our sub-consciousness and gaining momentum to come together during the national calamity, a blame-game ensued.
The Indian government’s bold initiative of imposing a lockdown despite the likely economic adverse fallout has been widely appreciated internationally as it is considered best solution to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Thus, while the nation may suffer considerable economic slowdown, but precious lives are being saved hopefully.
It may not be immediately possible to fathom the time lost in economic activity and its fallout, which may not be easily recoverable, but we need to ensure that we are back on our feet and hit the ground running on mid-term basis or soon thereafter.
While a lot of departments are actively involved in fighting the virus outbreak, others in the government’s machinery need to start working overtime to put in place the steps required to revive and accelerate the economic growth curve once the crisis is over.
Industrialists and businesspersons will not be able to restore the lost activity on their own, but will need active government support. The Finance Ministry needs to evolve a blueprint along with a major economic package for them and financial aid for the poor.
Indians are known for their unique ingenuity. They can turn this crisis around by setting aside personal or individual interests and prejudices to dedicate themselves to the national cause work by helping the needy.
At the same time, history shows that for centuries, Indians have been administered by a monarch or been subject to British rule, thereby, being psychologically subservient to the state authorities.
For centuries, they have been used by empires to further their own economic and strategic interests and expansionist ambitions. Even the political hierarchy has not been left out of this mindset, which has a direct bearing on governance issues and functioning.
As a consequence of this colonial mindset, most of us have been nurtured to grow up with individualistic ideals than to be a part of the organisational pack.
It is generally observed that most tend to prioritise their individual aspirations having inherited them at the cost of national interests. However, it is observed that these people have still done extremely well for themselves in their respective fields.
However, Indians serving abroad have been known for their ingenuity, hard work and dedication, and are capable of working much beyond their capacity.
Their highly efficient performance abroad makes them indispensable and this facet has seen many Indian-origin foreigners heading their organisations or occupying high positions.
The culture Indians generally adopt while working in the home country is quite different with individualistic prejudices.
For inexplicable reasons, Indians working abroad are more disciplined than in India. We can observe some people hoarding donated rations and food items at this time of crisis, when most migrants along with their families are undergoing huge sufferings
Some even project inflated bills to the government treasury, and is not considered unethical by them though actually it is a major disciplinary default.
It is said that a young nation like India has tremendous potential and advantage of economic growth, which makes it imperative to demystify the mantra and bring in a paradigm shift in the mindset of our people.
National growth can be given an impetus by our contributions in whatever form possible, bringing the country quickly back to double-digit economic growth.
We need to inculcate and imbibe the culture of honesty and be able to differentiate between ‘avoiding tax’ and ‘saving tax’. Some weeks before the outbreak, the prime minister had said that only 1.5 crore Indians pay income tax, while 3.5 crore go abroad annually.
This habit of people finding ways to ‘beat the system’ to avoid taxes is sad, resulting in considerable loss and shortfall in tax collections, which adversely affects our infrastructural upgrade.
Looking at the half-filled glass rather than the half-empty, COVID-19 should be considered a blessing in disguise to boost India’s powerhouse, and to strengthen the facets we as a collective body have been found wanting.
We should rise above all perceived personal prejudices and provide the urgently needed stimuli to become an economically strong India to reclaim our erstwhile position in the world.
We have numerous examples in history, wherein nations devastated by war, came out a winner by the resolve of the people and their dedication to the national cause.
For the next few years, adopting the ‘Never Say Die’ philosophy and eloquence of morality and integrity would vault us into an orbit never ever seen before.
It is believed that the world will not be the same, post this crisis. Can we therefore reboot ourselves and make this crisis a tipping point to usher in a new galloping India or continue with the same old trot?