The world is witnessing the best and worst of human nature in the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Those waging war against the pandemic – the Covid Warriors – have been relentlessly performing their duty without a break for more than a year now. Their resolve has not broken despite the disappointment of experiencing a surge just when it seemed the worst was over. People continue to be treated in the hospitals, even as the vaccination drive is churning out inoculated individuals in the lakhs, every day. Police personnel are having to deal with an entire set of challenges along with their usual responsibilities – with a considerable number of citizens refusing to cooperate. All of this is by no means easy and is taking a heavy psychological toll, the price for which will have to be paid later by these warriors and their families.
At the same time, there are people following their narrow self-interests regardless of what it would do to society and the future of humanity. While the pack is being led by power-hungry politicians, they are closely followed by the profiteers seeking to make a quick buck out of people’s suffering. There are the rumour mongers, with their power greatly enhanced by social media, who are aggravating every situation by forwarding every bit of unverified news as long as it serves their purpose. This is distorting the picture, in which the considerable efforts of the doers are being overshadowed in people’s perceptions by undermining their confidence in the system at the critical time when morale has to remain high.
Interestingly, the societies that deign to lecture the world on human rights and democracy are not averse in the present to exhibiting the meanest spirit and self-serving selfishness. There may be some seeming logic to ‘vaccine nationalism’, under which the effort is to immunise one’s nation’s population before helping others, but it fails to appreciate that, in the meanwhile, the virus will spread and mutate in other lands. It may develop to the point where it enters these ‘protected’ nations and causes havoc again. So, the solution has to be for all if it has to be effective. US President Joe Biden, who came to power claiming to be the embodiment of liberal principles, is refusing even to allow export of essential raw materials to Indian vaccine makers. It makes no sense because US industry is best placed to ratchet up production if needed. The reason is more likely the bias that exists in his political eco-system. The damage it will cause to future Indo-US relations is being overlooked, indicating the shallowness of their avowed humanism and liberalism. (In a coming ‘Climate Summit’, he will ask poor countries to make sacrifices for the ‘common’ good. Why should anyone listen to such hypocrisy?) This is the time, therefore, to recognise our heroes and villains, so that the future can be charted accordingly.