No one on this planet has ever witnessed anything like the COVID-19 pandemic ever in their lifetime. This situation is a war of sorts, thousands dying, millions affected, countries on lockdown, businesses shut and trillions of economic loss. While the whole world is battling this deadly epidemic, Indian traditions and methods are being sought after like never before, be it medicine, our way greeting Namaste, or the last rites – cremation.
We list down 5 ways in which India is at the forefront of this fight against the deadly epidemic and feel proud of Indian traditions.
Crores of Indians are making sacrifices in their way to fight this deadly epidemic, but we can take comfort in this reassuring position and hope for a brighter future.
Coping with COVID-19: India Leads the Way
Amid the chaos of a global pandemic, nations far more powerful than India have turned to us for assistance. The Novel Coronavirus – better known as COVID-19 – broke out in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It now has at least 185 countries & territories in its grip.
The deadly disease has led to over 1 Lakh deaths worldwide. Not to mention, businesses are running dry, the stock market is plunging and several thousand people have been rendered unemployed.
The unprecedented attack by an invisible enemy has left the world grappling with wide-spread losses. Coping mechanisms include staying at home – by far the only effective countermeasure.
At a time when the Coronavirus had not unleashed absolute terror, staving off infection included social distancing. These tactics comprised doing away with contact greetings like hugs and handshakes while resorting to the equally respectful ‘namaste’. Our traditional gesture, practised by Indians for centuries, suddenly became the most sought-after by Western countries and the far East alike.
Videos of Prince Charles and pictures of world leaders like president Donal Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu resorting to the ‘namaste’ have been doing the rounds. Indian Prime Minister Modi has also encouraged this as a no-contact way of greeting.
Not a tradition but this “magic drug” has been mass-produced in India and is categorized under generic medicine, making it extremely cheap in the global market.
Indian is proving Hydroxychloroquine, the drug used to treat Malaria to over 13 countries. It is now coveted by First World nations. India is the main supplier of generic drugs, was coerced by the USA President Donald Trump to call off the ban on exports. He even hinted at retaliatory action if demands were not met. The drug has shown promise but the results in an anti-Coronavirus trial were inconclusive.
Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten! Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2020
Though the curative properties of HCQ haven’t been proven yet, President Trump is of the opinion that the drug is a ‘game-changer’. In fact, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro even wrote to PM Narendra Modi, stating,
“Just as Lord Hanuman brought the holy medicine from the Himalayas to save the life of Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana, India and Brazil will overcome this global crisis by joining forces.”
What’s more, India’s collective efforts have been praised by the WHO.
Thank you @narendramodi and the Government of India for approving the export of paracetamol to the UK. Global cooperation is critical in the fight against #COVID19. UK and India have track record of working together as a #ForceforGood tackling global challenges.
— Jan Thompson (@JanThompsonFCO) April 9, 2020
The ban has now been lifted, with a promise to reserve supplies for Indian needs. “After having confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged, these restrictions have been largely lifted,” said the Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava.
Besides being forced physically apart, COVID-19 has caused the world to come to a lot closer. Despite strong opposition, the Sri Lankan Government has amended a law to make the cremation of COVID-19 victims compulsory. Irrespective of faith, a Coronavirus victim will be cremated to prevent the possible spread of the virus through burial, which could further contaminate underground water tables.
USCIRF is concerned with reports of forced cremation of Muslims who died from #coronavirus under new govt guidance in #SriLanka; a violation of Islamic burial practice which forbids cremation. Under @WHO guidelines, both burial and cremation are permitted.https://t.co/JM0Fg4FZMB
— USCIRF (@USCIRF) April 7, 2020
Countries are now rising above religion and putting into action mandates that are best for their people. Interestingly, cremation has been a widely-accepted practice and is traditional to several Indian communities.
4 Strict Lockdown
A tracker, based on data from 73 countries, that calculates governments’ response to Covid-19 has identified India’s response as one of the most stringent in the world. Created by researchers from Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, the “Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker” is designed to systematically record government responses worldwide and aggregate the scores into a common ‘Stringency Index’.
India, along with Israel, Mauritius, New Zealand and South Africa have scored a perfect 100 which means that the Indian government has implemented all measures factored by the Oxford research team to contain the virus spread.
With lockdown extending till May 3, India is taking extreme stems to keep the citizens safe and turning a blind eye on a possible economic recession.
PM Modi’s address to the nation on April 14, 2020, announcing the extension of lockdown till May 3
Address to the nation. https://t.co/26sVP2br5n
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 14, 2020
With gyms and other activity centres being temporarily shut, people have taken to exercising at home. Yogic practices that trace their origin to ancient India are a huge hit abroad and back home too. Disciplines like meditation have also come to the fore, more than ever before. People across the globe are collectively battling physical, emotional and mental stress the Indian way.
Harvard Medical School recommends yoga, meditation to deal with coronavirus anxiety
The global crisis seems to have turned the tables in favor of long-standing Indian traditions and cultural practices. Indians have always advocated clean eating and healthy living. Here’s hoping these ideas adopted by nations worldwide are able to collectively combat COVID-19 and turn the tides in favor of human life.
Although the above validates our traditions and practices, we are still far from the finish. There are lapses in testing and reporting the correct number there hence but managing a country of 1.3 billion people is a mammoth task in itself.
Namaste and stay safe!
Co-Author: Kashish Mahtani