Gunbir Singh | May 01, 2020 05:35 PM

All those fiction movies which talked about contagion, or the one that was about the single ship that takes on a virus with a primordial strain from the Arctic, felt over the top and pretty much made up. And yet today billions of people across the world are under lockdown and the possibility of hundreds and thousands dying before a cure is found seems real. That a vaccine is created sooner than later is a distant thought.

Is this the apocalypse or is it a man-made disaster, is a question left for later, as the world too busy to speculate or investigate, fights unfathomable odds to protect humanity at large. Nations are working 24 x 7 to find ways and device novel protocols to save their own population, and yet find favour in cooperating with each other, foes and friends, culprits and the innocent, to comprehend and perhaps remedy a situation spiralling out of control.

Calamity is indeed a great equaliser, it hits the developed and the underdeveloped, the rich and the poor, with equal measure. Europe, Great Britain, China as well as America are chastised by this reality, and now the rest are bracing themselves.

The flora and fauna are enjoying spring 2020, completely at ease with the disastrous misfortune that is affecting only the human race. The avian are taking up urban spaces that we usually disturb; animals are reclaiming lands herein fore conflict zones between them and humanity. It is the Homo sapiens who are encaged, much to the relief of the other inheritors of mother earth.

It’s bizarre to be told to remain indoors for weeks on end, perhaps even months. Man has a heavy tread on the planet. His footprint is now shrunk, his ego and his ability to run the world, its economy, its systems snapped by an errant virus growing in its significance in geometrical progression. A virus, whose ability to wipe out hundreds in hours now recognised, yet uncontrolled and unabated.

And what if it mutates, keeping alive the chase of science, and stays ahead of thinking minds? What if this contagion has more lurking in the natural shadows, or in the notorious labs devised by state actors who believe that what they invent, they shall be able to control. Lets not forget the Other Caronas, the SARS of 2002 and the MERS of 2013.

Are we thus at a juncture where mankind shall be tamed, its experiments towards biological adventurism curbed? Is humanity likely to unite in its endeavours to save its kind and be more tolerant among themselves and the rest? Or do we face an apocalypse now, and made to realise that in the existence of the universe and His creation we are no more than an iota, even smaller than the virus strain that threatens us with extinction unless we behave, or learn to adapt to a new norm, a norm that slows down life, disengages her from unreal ambition, reforms familial bonds, and makes a species responsible enough to be allowed to continue to exist.

Pinch yourself today just to realise that this is not a nightmare which will vanish. As we see heart-rending scenes of tragedy, the world as we have known it, is changing swiftly. Most of us may survive to live another day and learn to scale down to coexist with the new normal. And perhaps be reminded yet again, by another contagion, of our insignificance. Time will tell us or to those who survive to the morrow. All said and done the Earth is breathing easy. The environment, air waters soil and sky, is healing as never before. Mankind stays encaged for now.

{ The writer is a leading entrepreneur and Chairman of Amritsar-based Dilbir Foundation}

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