“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx


Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?

It took a microscopic, invisible virus to expose the wasteful, predatory and unsustainable life style we have evolved- exposing the arrogance of a species which has been around for just about 80000 years, but has already undone most of what nature and a systematic evolution process had achieved in the millions of years which preceded it.

Man is the only living thing which has the power to alter its external environment, and we have been at it, with a vengeance, ever since the Industrial Revolution-ravaging our forests, our oceans and rivers, pushing species into extinction, poisoning the air, even cluttering space with more than 5000 objects.

All this in the never-ending pursuit of pleasure, convenience, gluttony and greed. Homo sapiens has been behaving as if there was no tomorrow. But the Corona virus has now shown us that ugly tomorrow- one which will be the last if we do not change our lifestyles and frenzy of consumption. Those who die of the virus may well turn out to be the lucky ones.

The virus has so far spread to 100 countries, infected 145,000 people and killed about 4500, far less than do malaria, heart attacks, cancer, road accidents. But it has already altered our life styles and caused economic losses like no other affliction has in the past, and generated a fear not experienced before.

In the coming months aviation expects to lose a hundred billion dollars, tourism eighty billion (estimates for India are about two billion dollars if the outbreak continues till the end of the year), the cruise line industry has already lost forty billion.

Global GDP growth may be halved in this fiscal. Country after country is walling itself off from the outside world, tens of millions of people have been forcibly quarantined, health infrastructures collapsing, factories at a standstill, markets and roads deserted. Tribalism is taking over. If the panic continues civil strife may not be too far off.

Under the widening onslaught of the coronavirus the brittle layers of our "civilisation" are peeling off , one by one. This is because this was never the way nature intended us to live, nor can the planet sustain this insane consumption of natural resources- eating and drinking stuff brought from thousands of miles away, burning fuel to travel all over the world just to fill our leisure time, emitting green house gases to watch Netflix interminably instead of going out for a walk, stripping the planet's green cover just so we can build more towns, resorts, airports and golf courses. It takes a while to grasp the horrific extent of our cruelty to the planet and the demands made on it, but some figures of our depredations might help us to understand:

* Rampant non-vegetarianism. Global meat consumption is about 400 million tonnes, the per capita annual meat intake being 43 kgs. Why is this bad? Because live stock rearing accounts for 17% of total green-house gas emissions and millions of hectares of forests are being cleared to provide ranges for this livestock.

* We harvest 100 million tonnes of fish every year and 75% of fishing grounds have been exhausted. By 2025 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.

* More than 6.80 billion persons travel every year for pleasure on 150,000 commercial flights every day, spewing 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

* Every year 793 million TEUs ( Twenty feet x Twenty feet containers equivalent units) are transported across the world, carrying goods from one country to another, because of a production/ consumption mismatch.

* The insatiable demand for energy results in the burning of 8000 million tonnes of coal every year. This figure was 4500 million in 1990.

All of this has come at a great cost to the planet's health. 13.7 million hectares of forests are lost every year. Of the 2 million species of animal life, about 2000 are driven to extinction every year, which is about 10000 times the natural extinction rate: it is estimated that by 2070 on third of all life forms will become extinct. Recent studies have revealed 33 new microbes/ pathogens that had been locked up/ frozen in the glaciers and permafrost in the poles but could now be released because of the melting of the ice. We have no resistance to them and scientists have no idea what effect they could have on us if they become active. Water wars are just around the corner.

The Corona virus has shown that we need to reinvent our exploitative and inter dependent models of trade and commerce, to REDUCE and DEGLOBALISE consumption, especially of non-essential goods and products.

If India had manufactured its own APIs, automobile components and smart phones, if the western world had produced its own computer chips and lithium batteries, if we ate local beef instead of importing Wagyu beef from Japan, got drunk on our own liquor instead of fixating on Scotch from Scotland or Champagne from France, vivisected our own fish instead of carting in caviar from the Caspian sea- in short, if countries had relied on local products instead of becoming over dependent on goods from China, Japan, South Korea and each other, this kind of global economic panic may not have assumed such alarming proportions.

Products should be manufactured where the raw materials, essential inputs and markets are available and not where taxes are lower: the planet is more important than corporate profits. Supply chains should be local. Travel locally for pleasure and tourism, not to far away exotic destinations just because you can afford it; this has already begun to happen- a recent BBC report has revealed that in the last one month domestic tourism in Europe has gone up by 20%, even as international tourism has all but collapsed.

Some of the beneficial effects of this Corona induced imperatives are already becoming evident: China( the world's biggest polluter) has never seen bluer skies this century, with a 25% drop in CO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions, fossil fuel consumption across the world has reduced significantly with oil demand expected to come DOWN this year, the first time in ten years: industry sources predict that the expected demand for 2020 will be reduced by as much as 365 kilo barrels per day, back to 2011 levels.

China has imposed a complete ban on all trade in wild life, and since it is the main driver of this trade, this will have a huge effect on saving many endangered species. Non-essential travel has been heavily truncated: one estimate states that between January and April this year global airline capacity fell by 40.8 million seats. As the virus continues to spread around the globe more quarantines will occur, more work outages, more flight cancellations, more production losses. Millions will face hardships, but these will have been caused as much by our unsustainable life styles and economic models as by the virus. The planet will, however, become a better place to live in, albeit temporarily.

The corona virus crisis is where the concerns about global warming and sustainable use of natural resources converge. To overcome this virus- and others that will inevitably follow- homo sapiens will have to make fundamental changes to the way we work, eat, recreate, travel, socialise. Advances in technology can help us to make these changes: work from home instead of commuting, use skype and tele conferencing instead of jetting around the world for meetings, avoid exotic foods from far away places, eat and travel locally, do not succumb to the retail therapy of non-essential spending promoted by mindless shopping frenzies such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday or End of Reason sales.

Governments should also do their bit by incentivising such behavioural changes and disincentivising practices to the contrary.

Nature is striking back and may kill many more than the bubonic plague and the Spanish flu, primarily because of our burgeoning population and changed life styles. It is not as yet cruel, however, compared to our standards: we kill 1300 of our fellow citizens every day. So let us not blame the virus but learn to live with Nature, as our ancestors did. If we were to consider the whole thing dispassionately and clinically the corona virus is the best piece of news for planet Earth in a long time. It is not a disaster, it's a wake-up call. We can either wake up now, or hit the snooze button and go back to the neolithic age.  


  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  • The 'American Way of War' Is Built On A Foundation of Racism
  • Covid -19 And The Crisis of Education-An Insight
  • Governments That Preach Non-Violence Must Lead By Example
  • New Status of Hagia Sophia Signals The Death Of Secularism
  • Covid 19 and Furthering of Sectarian Agenda in Education
  • Biden's "Conventional" Approach vs Trump's "Whimsical" Handling of Foreign Policy
  • Why Arguments Against Reservation are Flawed
  • Curfew Welcomes One Year of Abrogations in Kashmir
  • Ayodha: What is BJP's Motive For Holding Ram Temple Ceremony Amid Pandemic?
  • New Education Policies of India And Pakistan Will Further Divide, Within and Without
  • Does India's Handling of China Make Sense?
  • Return of the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka
  • An Independent Supreme Court Is a Must for Democracy
  • Does Rule of Law Trump Tide of Public Opinion?
  • UAE-Israel Deal Accelerating Fragmentation of West Asian Politics
  • Congress And Its "Unprecedented Political Challenge""
  • Does The 20th Amendment Threaten Pluralism in Sri Lanka?
  • Digital Hate, Now A Profitable Commodity
  • Rising Cases, Unemployment: Is India Ignoring Fears Stoked by the Pandemic?
  • Surging Pandemic, Slumping Economy - And the Crisis of Democracy