The corona pandemic has unfolded an exponential human tragedy. Countries are once again caught in the whirlpool of health care crisis. The new lethal mutants of virus are scripting statistics of shock and sadness. Artificial life styles rooted in selfish interests and individual well being hijacked all humane attributes of empathy, love, unity, sacrifice, hope, humility, care, generosity, sense of belongingness, tolerance, kindness. Ironically, the virus has miserably pushed people out of homes in search of oxygen to breathe for life. Can this unprecedented tragedy shake our conscience to realign the fundamental pillars and principles of humanity in the society?
The horrible scenes of people helplessly battling their lives on roadsides and hospital beds are highly disturbing. The brazen and brutal collapse of healthcare system especially in metropolitan cities has exposed their fragile nature. Non availability of oxygen cylinders for the patients in dire need has resulted in substantial loss of lives on the streets. Patients gasping for breath alongside streets with relatives begging for medical help, hospital gates closed for patients due to oxygen shortage and the heart wrenching scenes of crying children carrying the dead bodies of their parents for cremation is unbearable. This failure and blatant bankruptcy of the system to offer basic life saving support has let down the hopes of people.
Calamities of greater magnitude like corona pandemic catch people and governments off guard to respond to the colossal challenges. The unseen ultimately unfolded. Last year, the pandemic had already proved an eye opener in exposing the cracks in the system making it vulnerable to confront the crisis. The prolonged lock down to curb and contain the spread of the virus damaged the economic backbone of the countries forcing people to compromise with odd experiences of deaths, deprivation and depression. Public healthcare system – the guardian of lives of common people is overburdened this time to accommodate the thousands of corona infected patients.
In these dark and gloomy hours, there are some shining examples of philanthropic efforts revealing and reposing the faith in humanity to sustain and survive. Pyarey Khan – a slum dweller turned super rich from Nagpur has dedicated and devoted himself to rescue critical patients by managing much needed oxygen for them. As per reports, Khan has already spent more than 85 lakh rupees for purchase of liquid oxygen supplied to government hospitals. Khan is personally at the forefront in assisting the healthcare workers to reach out to the needy patients. At other instances, for the cremation and last rites of the abandoned dead bodies, volunteers from Muslim community have come forward to manage the cremation custom. These generous acts of assisting people in distress without any show off are truly exemplary and setting precedence for all. Doing away with religious, political and ideological differences, these humane gestures flutter the flag of humanity with pride.
Calamities are colourless. Sufferings are secular. Pain is plural. The hard lines drawn by divisive politics only bred culture of hate and alienation. In a neck deep crisis, accusations and blame game is of no use. The clock is ticking faster. Each life matters. Whatever little can be done to save lives and provide relief to the affected people who are in utter state of helplessness, must be done. Heart-warming extension of support from across the borders and other countries is a welcome move. Softening of egos in an emergency is a bright ray of hope for humanity to reclaim its position and prestige.
Lets us not get bogged down by the information that intimidates, statistics that saddens, news that make us nervous, numbers that turn us numb. Being optimist and hopeful while negotiating with the dark and dangerous times is the key to tackle any emergency. It is time to feel and share the pain of those who have suffered and lost their loved ones. It is time to extend our fullest support and cooperation to come to the rescue of those who are in need. It is time to reconfigure the very idea of our living and fine tune it with passion of fellow feeling. It is time to showcase the strength of our character and express solidarity and support in whatever capacity we can. It is time to be empathetic to realize the pain of others. It is time to be humane. It is time to utilize the opportunity in a crisis to retrieve the lost humanity.
Bilal Kaloo is Assistant Professor, Department of Education (South Campus), University of Kashmir