Amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) gloom, Her Majesty The Queen's speech appeared as the bright spot.
Queen Elizabeth II offered the much-needed hope and confidence to the nation and the Commonwealth locked down to fight a once in a century humanitarian crisis.
93-year old monarch's beautiful message that "we will succeed, and success will belong to every one of us" touched millions of hearts. It instilled a new energy and confidence.
Like me, millions here and abroad must have been relieved to a certain extent by her inspiring address.
I, as publisher and editor, carry a weighty responsibility ( much too much on my shoulders ) of inspiring and energising my readers, besides delivering true and accurate information. Dear friends, I would like to share with you some of my pains and agony of the last few days.
The socio-economic tsunami created by the Covid-19 has sent huge panic waves crashing many shores across the globe. It affected everybody, and some beings more than others. Those from the lower strata of society, especially with physical or mental illness, get hit the hardest.
Governments in the UK, India, and elsewhere are leaving no stone unturned to flatten the pandemic curve. In the UK, Boris Johnson government has come under criticism for an assumed delayed response to the outbreak.
Inadequate testing facilities combined with a shortage of Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) for those in the frontline in fighting the virus - health workers and doctors - have been disappointing on the part of the government.
In India, a country with limited resources, the situation of the government and the people are more challenging. Some of the complaints and criticisms are valid to a certain extent. But, personally, it is difficult for me not to find a degree of exaggeration, stemming from one's prejudgment, even prejudice.
India is a robust democracy and a rising economy, with its limitations. Nevertheless, 1.3 billion people are voluntarily participating in a 3-week-long lockdown. The instruction has come from an elected government. But its successful execution reflects the people's support of the centre.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiatives - lighting diyas, candle or torch and applauding for health workers from within the boundary of houses - has helped keep people's morale high and maintain unity in adversity. I also believe, most humbly, that India, with all its limitations and contradiction, has avoided the calamity, at least so far.
The Covid-19 pandemic has refreshed my memories of World War II when the Imperial government ruling India had diverted food grains to feed allied forces, leaving 4 million in Bengal to die in a famine.
Equally painful is to see these days migrant industry and agriculture workers, carrying children on shoulders and belongings in small bundles, walking miles to reach home with their destination nowhere in sight. Men, women, children, young and old, out of panic, apparently preferring Covid-19 death than living in the lockdown lurch. No words can express their hardships.
More than ever, at this time, I am finding myself going back to lessons from our scriptures. I felt some words resonating. I spoke to Dr. Nandkumar, Resident Director of Bhartiya Vidhya Bhavan, UK Centre. He promptly sent me:
मस्ते दुःसहवेदनाकवलिते मग्ने स्वरेन्तर्गलं
तप्तायां ज्वरपावकेन च तनौ म्लाने हृषीकव्रजे /
दूने बन्धुजने कृतप्रलपने धैर्यं विधातुः पुनः
कःशक्तः कलितामयप्रशमनो वैद्यात परः विद्यते.// Subhaashitam.
When there is unbearable headache, when one's voice has gone weak with pain in one's throat, when there is severe fever, when the body has become weak due to sense organs not working properly, when one's relatives are all distressed, when one's inner courage and strength has completely gone then who else other than a DOCTOR who could reduce the worry of a patient.
सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः/
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चित् दुःखभाग् भवेत्// Sanatan prayer.
May all be happy, may all be FREE FROM ILLNESSES,
May all experience that which is auspicious and let no one suffer.
उदये सविता रक्तः रक्तस्चास्तमने तथा/
सम्पत्तौ च विपत्तौ च महताम् एकरूपता// Subhaashitam.
The sun is red when it rises and sets. Looking at this we come the conclusion that noble people, courageous people, remain unchanged whether its prosperity or calamity.
Let’s all pray (whatever be our faith or value) for the swift recovery of BoJo, our hardworking Prime Minister.
Before I conclude, I want to share the optimism that I feel. Dear friends, do not be disheartened. Hold on to the courage. This too shall pass. Let's quit being a victim, take stock of the situation, focus on the positives, be thankful, and reach out to others. Most importantly, be happy. Be as cheerful as you can be. The laughing clubs are more relevant now than ever. Back in 1995, Madan Kataria from a village in Punjab started what has now become a global phenomenon. Let's laugh about ourselves, let's remember the good old days, and be confident about better ones in the future.