For every Indian the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) is arguably the most testing phase of their lives. To be living in fear of next-door neighbors and friends—potential carriers of the deadly virus—defeats the very concept of love and compassion for fellow human beings. No one has coped with a pandemic of this magnitude and menace before. As Margaret Chan, former director general of the WHO, says, “it really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.” Anthony Fauci who as head of US’ NIAID conducts regular White House media briefings adds: “A pandemic influenza means widespread infection essentially throughout every region of the world.” Coming from such veterans, the words are chilling and unnerving. The danger is clear and present.
“This too shall pass,” philosophized Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet. How soon, is the question? The psychological impact on humanity has been humongous. The economic impact of the three-week lockdown across India is simply beyond assessment. After all, jobs have disappeared en masse, shops have shut down indefinitely. Trains, airlines, taxis, buses, metros have stopped plying. Markets, restaurants, hotels are closed. When will the country limp, or even crawl, back to normalcy? Not even the most optimistic can hazard a guess right now. The virus has declared war, and we are fighting an invisible enemy.