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Aha! Globalised, at last…

Dr Navniit Gandhi
Monday, March 30, 2020

No! No! No!

This is not another write-up to give you the latest number of deaths due to Covid-19 or the number of confirmed patients or even a piece on how to stay safe and which exercises to follow and this one is not even about how to wash hands/utensils or how to take care of your hair and complexion while at home!

Am sure, we have our hands, plates and minds full on all of the above.

Yes, we have time on hand these days. Yes, we are anxious inside. Yes, we are not liking this uncertainty and the question: till when looms large in our hearts.

There is a lot to dwell upon these days, in addition to the routine chores to be done and videos and messages to send/read/laugh at/frown upon and delete. We seem to be thinking a lot these days. We seem to be reading a lot and watching a lot of news. There are conspiracy theories floating around as to which nation or nations deliberately planted the virus and saw to it that the virus spread so that its economies stayed afloat while those of others plunged deep down into recession; theories as to who stood to gain the utmost from all of this; and allegations against specific governments, business empires and universal health and security agencies. The sharp and incessant flow of praise and lashings continues unabated since the past two months and on the receiving end is almost everyone---the neighbours, the culprits who foolishly aided the spread, the hoarders, the police, the administrators, and the leaders.

In the next few days, we shall all be tired of all of the above. The criticisms and the statistics and the feel-good videos –shall all irritate us.

Once the anxiety over stocking our kitchens subsides and the initial hysteria over sitting at home dies down, there is a need to sit straight, take a deep breath, and dwell silently on the larger picture. Our generation is so very accustomed to being flooded by a plethora of choices in terms of products, comforts, places, and services that two very crucial truths are either accorded a back seat in some minds or are completely chucked out from some:

One, that generally life and all facets of it---seasons, fashions, struggles, and even businesses move in cycles. And since life does move in cycles, while not all of us are moving towards minimalist living, organic eating, going back to living in cottages in the countryside and enjoying solitude---all of us could be forced by nature or by a man-made virus to experience some of that in some proportions. Even in the race to acquire wealth and power, those nations which are deeply embroiled in devising cunning ways to win the race—may as well remember the two truths.

The stakes were being raised much too high, and now the wheel has turned, for the universe, (thank God!) has not lost its rhythm and has moved in a cyclical fashion. Our immediate concern now is that no one should sneeze around me and that will vegetables and milk be available on the 6th or 7th day of lockdown!

The other truth is: that every fact and phenomenon has two sides. When we embraced and bowed before globalization beginning from the 70s, we were thrilled beyond measure that we could now transcend boundaries; we were ecstatic that jobs, travels, money, materials, and technology could move freely and globally. By the 90s, the entire world almost had become an equivocal slave of the phenomenon and one must admit that the idea of making billions by selling services and products was the most alluring feature of the process. The hunger and greed inside all of us gleamed and grew beyond proportions at the very idea of the opportunities of making wealth that lay in store for all of us. And we, the consumers, were overjoyed that the comforts and products from all over the world could be at our doorstep while our families too could relocate to the greenest of the pastures or at least a few in the family could hop and jump for better and better jobs.

Aha! And yet it is now that we seem to be truly globalized. Even the impact of the two ‘world’ wars was not truly ‘worldly’ or ‘global’ as this virus has globalised the threats, experiences and consequences. Be the nation an exploiter or the exploited; be the person a prince or PM or a servant; be the region cold or warm or on the left or the right of the Pacific; be the health system advanced or crumbling; and be the polity liberal or socialist—we are all in it and together.

And over the years, although terror, weapons, recessionary trends and other threats to our sanity also moved freely and globally transcending borders as they did, we did not sit up and take serious notice. However, this virus has now succeeded in shaking us beyond measure. Suddenly, the free movement of one neighbor to another’s house has also been abruptly halted. Be it business or politics or sports or tourism or power struggles—everything and everyone was ‘integrating’ into one another in such complex combinations and permutations that the streaks of ‘individuality’ were almost crushed and lost. We were buried under heaps of products, entertainment and stakes that a peep inside or a little slowing down was a cruel joke.

Globalization too, is of course, here to stay. Just because this virus has spread from Wuhan to Lombardy and on to New York now and has killed thousands worldwide, the world shall not stop trading or travelling. The money, materials and machines shall flow once the lockdowns are lifted. There is no reversal. Trade barriers and ideological walls cannot be raised again. However, it would do us good to be prepared for the next thing that might also flow freely. One cannot just get used to the good things roaming freely across borders or those that bring us ease and comfort. As is to be expected soon now, economies of almost all nations shall reel under recession. And then, the hardships shall be global too.

A lot of learning has ensued ever since this virus has struck us immobile! A lot of lessons, indeed! But the most critical takeaway, for me, has been the reiteration of the age-old maxim that: Every coin has two sides. Yes, and globalization too had two sides. And the coin has flipped and here we are, staring at the other side.

Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academic, a feature writer and an author. Her publications include several academic papers presented at National and International conferences/seminars, nearly 250 feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and on web portals, two e-booklets and nine Books. Presently, she teaches at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and counsels and conducts training workshops at Gurukul, Kuwait.
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Priya Dsouza
Sunday, April 5, 2020
Read your article, Dr. Navniit. And it is so very very true all that you have written. Your article speaks the views of millions of hearts. I feel we humans were tired and bored.. nothing has come from outside; its just that we humans have vomited out what was inside us.
The Coin has flipped or we humans turned the coin...?? We need to think...

Heena Shukla
Thursday, April 2, 2020
Hello Navniit,
The illustration is lovely and attracted me to the article.
Your analysis is thoughtful and true: that every phenomenon, natural or otherwise, has a rhythm and moves in cycles, and that the old cliche, ''every coin has two sides'' is proved right each time.
Perhaps, we can derive hope from the first statement and hope that mankind will soon find a cure/vaccine for the COVID-19, and people across the globe will be able to return to a more ''balanced'' life. By that I mean, a life and a routine that is sensitive to Nature and respects all life forms.
Yes, the coin has flipped and we are staring at the ''wrong'' side. This side has lessons, however hard they may be, for man to learn. And if he does, then this pandemic will truly have been Nature''s gift to herself and to us.

Sudha Sonawane
Thursday, April 2, 2020
Nice article.
Attention grabbing title and also thought-provoking !
Globalization can be understood in different ways, and yours is a unique way of looking at it.

The deadly virus has spread havoc and threat in the entire world, and it''s scary ! It is roaming & floating freely across the globe without the restrictions of borders & boundaries of the countries & regions; touching/visiting all, without making any distinctions among humans (of all races, religions, classes, ages). It''s on a global tour and trying to establish its supremacy, testing the survival capacity of each one of us !

However, teaching a great lesson to us , to embrace all, with love & sense of universal brotherhood, and to establish supremacy of humanism.
Hoping against hope that humans do learn from this micro-organism.

Truly, life /nature is cyclic. Hopefully, after the diaster, it will bounce back ; because of the standstill of the human activities it will try to learn to breath again, ; will come out of the choking & stifling atmosphere and will flourish once again.

Let us all pray together that this miracle will take place !

In the words of Pope Francis, who said recently :
"We were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick".

Selwyn
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
The virus has certainly put the world on a back foot and made us realise how vulnerable we are. Though, for a short period of time but it has made us aware what actually should be our priorities and value the things which we took for granted.
History has been a proof that we humans are resilient and we will bounce back once this epidemic is over but as rightly mentioned in the article we will get back to our routine and forget that we should be investing and preparing for the next coin flip.

Baljit Singh
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
A great article the cover design itself takes us deeply into the subject in a very simple way.
Globalisation has two sides and yes we r today seeing the other side of it
Whether we are ultimately going back to the organic life in a cocoon or ageing going to get back to the witch hunt for gains remains to be seen
Kudos to the author for making us realize beyond the daily kitchen and home needs during the lockdown

Shilpa
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Human being is a social animal and lockdown is suffocating, outside it is death and in between is the red signal on the internet.
We do not feel to play or hym a single song not even playing any of the musical instrument because someone is dying somewhere.
The article is optimistic but the reality is very cruel.

Bobby
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
This virus has certainly given all of us a lot to think , judge and learn. Hopefully the lessons learned will for the better.

Rashmi Gupte
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Very nice article, especially when we are reading all the time stereotyped news and articles. This is a nice change.

Shrisha Uchil
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Economy , Technology , Society all play a role in Globalization but now we realise how big a role can be played by a Pandemic ! The world can be shrunk into a nutshell by something as catastrophic as what''s happening Maybe the real lesson here is that borders now exist only in Maps . There is no distinction between Washington and Warsaw or Mombasa and Moscow in a tragedy that has a global footprint .

Mohammed Sirajuddin
Monday, March 30, 2020
Indeed a great oversight of the new global pandemic

Deshbandhu
Monday, March 30, 2020
Typical Indian educator trying to make light a global catastrophe of potentially epic proportions unmatched since the Spanish flu of 1918. With newfound time and an amusement park of an imagination she decides to distill world events into the petri dish of her qualifications.
I''d like to hear her comments when the virus touches her shores and scores a few of her immediate family members like countless fellow human beings in Asia, Europe and the Americas have experienced first hand. Would she accept her loss as yet another statistic like so many others? Or will she will indeed rediscover that ''every coin has two sides'' and that both sides are conjoined by a common thread called fate.

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