Jaggi Vasudev (Sadhguru)
Founder, Isha Foundation (INDIA)
“The virus is not trying to kill us; it is just trying to live, but it lives so virulently that we are dying from it. Our system is not strong enough to withstand the virus, but there are so many wild animals in which these kinds of microorganisms are surviving.”
Corona virus has shaken our very existence
It has changed the very dynamics of our existence as we know it. On one level, the situation has brought mortality right up in everyone’s face – human life is so fragile! It is time to use this as a realisation to see how we should live our lives! What should we do differently within ourselves? If people remain conscious that they are on a limited lease of time here, they would not have time to fight with each other, or do anything that does not really matter to them.
Way of functioning would change
On another level, our way of functioning in the world could go through a major rejig. While sectors concerned with food, electronics, software, or health care will bounce back quickly, entertainment, textile, fashion, hospitality and tourism, will suffer. So we should see how to minimise the unemployment that will happen, in terms of curtailing our lifestyles and living with lowered salaries so that no one is left without a job. And our delivery of education may undergo a dramatic shift as parents may not be willing to send their children to school if fatalities continue. We must be prepared to innovate on many levels.
Labour segment to be hit hard
Small and large businesses and industries, institutions, individuals, families, nations – all of us – will take a large economic hit. Particularly, the segment we call labour – whose sweat lubricates the wheels of modern industry – will be hit very hard. Those who are daily wagers who are in unorganised sectors like construction or agriculture will have no livelihood.
Post pandemic unemployment would be very high
The Great Depression of the 1930s rendered around 24 percent of people unemployed; it was considered the worst thing that could have happened in the world in terms of poverty and starvation. But the unemployment rates post-pandemic today could be much higher. Our prime priority should be that those at the very bottom end of the economy do not go into starvation mode.
Let’s not reverse the progress made
One of the biggest challenges in India right now is ensuring that we do not reverse the progress we have made in the last 20 years in raising around 250 million people out of poverty. In the next year, if we do not bounce back economically, we may be pushing them again below the poverty line.
Concentrated population hotbed for future pandemic
Before the pandemic, it was estimated that in the next 10 years, about 1.6 billion people will migrate in the world. Most of the world’s wealth is centered in just a few cities; so of course, people will want to move to these places. Imagine the horrors of billion-plus people picking up their stuff, leaving places where they have lived for generations, and going to a city, pulling their families with them. The atrocities that they usually go through are unbelievable. And when they all pile up in one city, no one can live well. This idea of concentrated population is a hotbed for a future pandemic. The Manchester-style of building industry, a mass production system where everyone comes to one place to work, has to go.
Must employ ways to stop migration
We must explore ways of spreading economic possibilities across the geography to stop migration. Agroforestry, or tree-based agriculture, is a significant step in this direction. Right now, waves of migration to cities happen usually when there are droughts in the farm lands every few years. But if farmers had long-term crops like trees on the land, they would not leave because money is standing there in the form of timber and other produce.
Human beings should stop behaving like viruses
The virus is not trying to kill us; it is just trying to live, but it lives so virulently that we are dying from it. Our system is not strong enough to withstand the virus, but there are so many wild animals in which these kinds of microorganisms are surviving. But now maybe there are not enough tigers, pangolins, or bats in the world – the virus’ habitat has shrunk. So naturally it will have a tendency to jump to wherever there is a possibility to thrive. Human population being so huge, we are definitely a target.
Actually, if you look at our relationship with nature, human beings are like a virus on the planet causing serious damage. For the kind of lifestyles, consumption and aspirations that all of us have, we must strive to reduce the population consciously. Otherwise, nature will inevitably do it to us in a cruel way – that is what is happening now. Our idea of good life should evolve from endless possession to clean air, pure water, rich soil, peace, joy, and profoundness of experience.