By Jacob Peenikaparambil: The most significant learning for humanity from the traumatizing experience of Covid 19 is expressed in the adage, “No one is safe till everyone is safe”. No country can boast that it has defeated the Coronavirus until it is wiped out from the whole world. The virus is so treacherous that it can spread to any country even if it exists in a tiny part of the world.
Even though some developed countries rushed to amass vaccines even more than what they needed, a realization has dawned on them that they would not be safe, if they do not support other countries in their fight against the pandemic. That is why the USA has agreed to consider temporarily waiving patents (Intellectual Property Rights) for Covid vaccines for ramping up vaccine production. India, South Africa and many other countries have been demanding it for the last six months. While announcing the new policy, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that "extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures". Hope the US will get it approved by the World Trade Organization (WOTO).
If more than 40 countries and many multinational companies have rushed aid and relief materials to India, the main reason is the belief that Coronavirus is a common enemy of humanity and countries in the world have to support each other in their fight against the deadly virus. The relief materials consist of oxygen cylinders, oxygen generators, cryogenic tankers, ventilators, medicines, BiPAP machines, pulse oximeters, PPE coveralls and N-95 masks etc. Even the small countries in our neighborhood have pitched in their share too. As per the media reports, Bangladesh has sent 10,000 Remdesivir vials, while Bhutan has sent medical oxygen. Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have also offered help to India.
Another important learning is that humanity is the greatest religion. Thousands of ordinary Indians have shown their readiness to transcend the boundaries of religion, caste, language and culture and to help the needy by arranging oxygen cylinders and ambulances, providing food and medicines, and supporting in the burial or cremation of the Covid dead. They have proved to be Good Samaritans. The Sikh community, which is known for its courage and compassion, started oxygen langar through its gurudwaras in many places. The Archdiocese of Goa has decided to convert one of its retreat centres into a Covid centre with the needed medical staff and provision for medical oxygen. Media has reported that several Muslim groups came forward to perform the last rites of Hindus and provide the dead a dignified cremation or burial. As reported in Indian Currents, in Hyderabad, group Muslim youths so far performed the last rites of more than 1600 Covid dead. These bodies were of either orphans or those whose families were too scared to touch and carry them for their last journey.
The second wave of Covid 19 in a way forced India to accept foreign aid after a gap of 17 years. In a globalized and interrelated world, no country can be self-sufficient, however powerful it may be. Although self-reliance in many aspects is a desired goal, nations of the world have to be interdependent. As individuals are to be humble, nations also have to be humble by accepting their weaknesses, failures and limitations while being proud of their achievements and strengths. Hubris can lead to disasters. Covid 19 has taught individuals, communities and nations to be humble and accept the fact that humanity cannot be saved from Covid 19 unless and until everyone is safe.