The President of India Ram Nath Kovind has written an article on coronavirus reminding us that we are merely biological organisms, dependent on other organisms for survival and that humankind’s craving to control nature and exploit all its resources for profit can be wiped out in a stroke by a miniscule organism. Further he reminds us that our ancestors used to consider nature as mother and asked us to respect it but we forgot the ancient wisdom. He suggests that it is time to pause and think where we lost the way and how may we make a comeback. Finally he reminds us how for nature we are all equal and how this little virus has erased all human created differences in the society.

The President is pointing out some basic philosophical facts which our government is not willing to consider. Professor G.D. Agrawal of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur fame who became a saint in 2011 and since then was known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand used to consider Ganga as his mother. He gave up his life fighting to save Ganga at the end of a 112 days fast in 2018 after having written four letters to the Prime Minister, none of which elicited any response. Professor Agrawal was highlighting the damage caused to Ganga by big dams, illegal mining, deforestation in its valley and flow of massive volumes of sewerage into it all along its length. He had discovered that a virus called bacteriophage present in Ganga was responsible for keeping its water clean by destroying harmful bacteria like Escherichia Coli. Bacteriophage travels with sediment which stops once water encounters the wall of a dam. But in the end government’s decision to protect the interests of dam builders and mining mafia, out to exploit natural resources for profit making, contractors building Sewage Treatment Plants, whereas Swami Sanand was of the opinion that sewage, unclean or clean, should not flow into the river, and other vested interests superseded the concern for Swami Sanand’s life and Ganga’s health.

As this article is being written two saints, Sadhvi Padmawati, presently admitted in Intensive Care Unit of All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and Swami Shivanand, at Matri Sadan, Haridwar are sitting on fast to fulfill the unfinished agenda of Swami Sanand. However, the insensitive government, busy pretending securing people’s lives from coronavirus, doesn’t care about the lives of saints willing to offer sacrifice for protecting the nature. So far four saints, including Swami Sanand have sacrificed their lives for Ganga.

This raises question over government’s intent. It is using the coronavirus crisis to serve its own purpose, the prime among which is to wind up the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register protests being carried out throughout the country especially by Muslim women. When Lucknow police issued a notice to women at Ghanta Ghar site to wind up the protest, the women advised them to worry about themselves as the women were already wearing veils which protected them. On 19 March, 2020 a heavy posse of police personnel tried to get the site vacated. They outnumbered the women present at that point and it fails to register how large numbers of police personnel gathering will keep them safe from coronavirus. After a scuffle, the police realized that women were not going to move and withdrew, leaving some of the women injured. Uttar Pradesh health minister, without applying his mind, has suggested that people who’ll not cooperate with government efforts to control the outbreak of coronavirus will be sent to jail, which will result in overcrowding of already crowded jails posing increased risk to inmates.

The central government is also guilty of allowing communal violence to go on in national capital for over three days in the last week of February, in which over 50 precious lives were lost, again with the intention of winding up the anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protests. In Delhi the government has been successful in reducing the number of protests to half. But it clearly shows that government is least interested in saving lives of people. Steps taken to check spread of coronavirus is a public relations exercise meant for international consumption. Otherwise how is the religious ritual of shifting of Ram idol in Ayodhya going on? Could it not wait for a future date?

The government is shamelessly using its official machinery as well as the cadres of Rastriya Swayamsewak Sangh to achieve its political objective. Now it is also going to use the excuse of coronavirus to lament the sorry state of economy which was already been badly hit because of its misdirected policies.

Swami Shivanand says that coronavirus pandemic is because we’ve destroyed nature’s self defense mechanisms like the bacteriophage in Ganga. We destroyed one virus beneficial for us in Ganga, now another sinister one threatens to destroy us! Swami Sanand, also, in his letters to Narendra Modi written before and during his fast, had warned that in case he died while fasting he’ll hold Modi responsible for his death and would appeal to Lord Ram to award punishment to Modi for having ignored the interest of river Ganga. How can we expect a government which did not save the life of Professor G.D. Agrawal to be serious about saving people’s lives from coronavirus?

If President Kovind sincerely believes in ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam,’ meaning whole world is a family, and that ‘nature is reminding us to acknowledge, with humility, our quintessential equality and inter-dependency,’ then he should recommend to the government to withdraw the CAA which discriminates among human being based on their religion and nationality.

Sandeep Pandey is a social activist


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