Categories
Musings

The Bookshelf And The Lockdown

By K. R. Guruprasad

I have always wondered, when I am not at home, do the inhabitants of my bookshelf come alive like those children’s playthings in Toy Story? Apart from what their titles bind them to narrate, do my books have other stories to tell? Is my bookshelf some sort of a universe in itself with each compartment and the contents – an entity of its own? Are there dimensions to a bookshelf that we, humans, are not aware of – something that is beyond our realm?

For a while now (for me, a year since my last job as a journalist), Monday mornings do not come with blues attached. Moreover, since the lockdown, it hardly registers. However, this time I woke up to a message from a friend. She sent me a picture of her bookshelf. Pristine. Clean. I kept looking at the picture and zoomed in to see if I could read the titles of the books. The low-resolution nature of the photograph offered me a little chance to do so. Some I could read, some covers I was familiar with, and a lot many I could not figure out. 

However, the shelf stood proud. The big brown square with sixteen shelves held its own against a lighter coloured background. The books despite not being arranged in perfect rows -‑ some standing, some lying flat — presented a scenic contrast and appeared orderly on the whole. 

I shifted my gaze to my bookshelf and a quote, I had read a long time ago, came to my mind — “If you do not keep on sorting your books, your books unsort themselves”.

My bookshelf is chaotic. It’s like the city I live in — Mumbai. Each book jostling for space and complaining and, yet, wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

But I like it the way it is. I have heard that people who keep pets end up looking like each other after a while,  and behave similarly too. Many dog owners have told me this. I don’t know much about it but I have seen it happen with one of my friends. But that is not the point. Drawing an analogy, there is a thought germinating and it asks, after a while, does a bookshelf reflect the mind of its owner? I look at my bookshelf and I seem to know the answer. I am just not sure if I should put it out here.

Going back to that quote — do the books really want to “… unsort themselves?”  I’m thinking of a counter narrative here.

What if my books want to be sorted. Will they secretly, when I am not home, rearrange themselves in an order that would make a librarian proud? Or, will they rise in rebellion against me to drive home the point? 

Will a book ‘accidentally’ fall on my head and ensure that it drills some sense into me and goad me to impart some sanity to my bookshelf as well. I am relieved that I have kept all the heavy hard cover books on the lowest shelves. Of course, back then I had no inkling of any rebellion by the books. I had done that just to add solidity to the shelf. It is supposed to be a strong foundation.

If the books were to sort themselves, then they must be interacting. I hope they are. For all the disorder that my shelf displays, it aptly houses James Gleick’s Chaos. Does this book try to make sense and explain to others the lack of planning and logic in the way I have maintained the bookshelf? 

Does Michio Kaku’s Hyperspace talk to others about why I am oblivious of their realm? Does Milan Kundera’s Joker still sit sulking in a corner because I have only read about seventy to eighty pages and have kept it back with a bookmark sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb? And does Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations complain, “Why on earth have I been placed next to Charles Bukowski’s The Pleasures Of The Damned and what on earth am I supposed to do here?”

I’m quite sure my PG Wodehouse’s Carry On Jeeves treats its neighbour Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence like its own butler and comments on its sartorial sense or rather the lack of it. Despite the crowding, there is, however, one hollow space that makes me well up. The emptiness of the space where I had kept my copy of One Hundred Years Of Solitude. I gave away Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece to a friend —  a young writer and a book lover himself. I hope to buy another copy soon. I will.

There is no thought behind the way the books are arranged on my bookshelf. Bill Bryson’s The Road To Little Dribbling is shoulder-to shoulder with Peter Carey’s True History of The Kelly Gang. My Kannada books are strewn all over with a couple of them holding their own against Howard Jacobson and John Steinbeck on either side. 

There is Rushdie with Hemmingway, Coetzee and Murakami are neighbours filled with warmth. There is my collection of National Geographic Magazine somewhere deep down there and on top of this stack is a potpourri of books including my sketch book.

That’s not all. There are layers I cannot reach. And I don’t know when I will unravel them. Behind the proud frontline are rows of books I bought but never read. It makes me shudder to even guess what they must be thinking. Would they consult J Krishnamurthy’s The Awakening Of Intelligence to understand and counsel themselves as to why they are the neglected children?

And then there is a book Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy. It knows it doesn’t belong here but has somehow been at home among my books for more than a decade. I had borrowed it from a colleague in 2008 and have not returned it so far. I promised him that I would, and I intend to keep that promise. So, this copy knows it is not permanent here. Must be a miserable feeling to be somewhere for that long and yet not belong. 

I have often felt like that in between shifting residences in Mumbai. Most of my contracts have ended in eleven months and sometimes maybe twenty two months. But the current place has been my residence for six years now. Do I feel like this copy of Douglas Adams’s work here? Sometimes, I do. 

It is a studio apartment. And it doesn’t offer me space for another bookshelf. In fact the top left square of my bookshelf is where I have kept all the photos of Gods and holy books, including Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. In the lower squares I have made space for my watches and bottles of cologne. And now in the lockdown, there are bottles of hand sanitisers too. The shelves are so stacked that there is no place for The Shadow Of The Wind, which interestingly (ironically?) is the part one of The Cemetery Of Forgotten Books series, and it finds itself on top of the bookshelf gupshupping with a straw hat. 

It appears that my jostling for space in the apartment is a concurrent and a similar theme to the way my books are stacked. Whenever I am vexed with all this struggle, a walk by the sea rejuvenates me. But what about my books?

It maybe fantastical to think that whenever I step outside, they crib about me. But being privy to the way I live, it wouldn’t take too much imagination to believe that they do. There is an unread copy of Hilary Mantel’s A Place Of Greater Safety and a partially read The Second World War by Antony BeevorAnd I wonder if these books would put the idea of a revolution and war in the minds of the other books. Maybe I should keep these books in good humour. A transparent polythene cover and proper dusting should do the trick. 

I do not want to return to my flat one day and find my books in regimental rows and columns with their guns trained on me. It would break my heart to see my favourite A Farewell To Arms pick up a gun again. 

Perhaps before the lockdown ends, I will dust all the books, the bookshelf and rearrange them in a way they might prefer. Perhaps Hemingway wants to be with Alistair McLean. Maybe all my Kannada books want to be together and even share some space with a few Hindi books. I should also make it a point to read all those books sulking behind the front rows. 

All this was in my top five things-to-do-in-the-lockdown list and I haven’t come around to doing any of them so far. Despite my counter narrative to the quote, I believe in what Georges Perec wrote in his Thoughts Of Sorts.

Deep down at a subconscious level, I’m happy with the way my bookshelf is. I’m beginning to understand as I write this piece that the state of the bookshelf does indeed reflect my state of mind.

My bookshelf, along with its inhabitants, is a thriving ecosystem. A being of its own with its blood lines and nerve centres. Despite its constant state of ‘unsort’, I gravitate to it whenever I’m in need of a friend or solace. Sometimes I wonder if it owns me instead of the other way round. Perhaps in some dimension, of which I’m unaware, my bookshelf and I are a single entity. I sure do hope so.

.

K.R. Guruprasad has been associated with the sports pages of several newspapers over the last 16 years, as Sports Editor of DNA and previously the Indian Express and Hindustan Times. Guru has developed a finesse at zooming out of the myopic view of any sport, instead looking at sports as a coming together of the players’ lives and struggles, skills and technique and much more. His book ‘Going Places. India’s Small-Town Cricket Heroes’ by Penguin is a great testament to this approach. While his professional career has been focused on writing about sports, he is an avid reader and writer of varied subjects.  An alumnus of Asian College of Journalism, was born in Bellary, Karnataka and later pursued his education in Mumbai.

Categories
Essay

Global Pandemic And Global Warming

By Binu Mathew

The COVID-19 has taught us that we are in an emergency. In 2019 a teenager named Greta Thumberg was crying hoarse that we are in an emergency and no one was listening. It’s time for us to take stock of the matter. Which is the greater emergency, this COVID-19 emergency or the climate emergency that Greta Thumberg was warning about?

UN report by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published in May 6 2019 reported:

Up to 1 million: species threatened with extinction, many within decades

>500,000 (+/-9%): share of the world’s estimated 5.9 million terrestrial species with insufficient habitat for long term survival without habitat restoration

>40%: amphibian species threatened with extinction

Almost 33%: reef forming corals, sharks and shark relatives, and >33% marine mammals threatened with extinction

25%: average proportion of species threatened with extinction across terrestrial, freshwater and marine vertebrate, invertebrate and plant groups that have been studied in sufficient detail

At least 680: vertebrate species driven to extinction by human actions since the 16th century

+/-10%: tentative estimate of proportion of insect species threatened with extinction

>20%: decline in average abundance of native species in most major terrestrial biomes, mostly since 1900

>6: species of ungulate (hoofed mammals) would likely be extinct or surviving only in captivity today without conservation measures
Food and Agriculture

Yes this is an EMERGENCY that very few are talking about.

Why are all these species going extinct? Just because of the actions of this invasive dominant species called homosapiens!

The same UN report points out that:

1 degree Celsius: average global temperature difference in 2017 compared to pre-industrial levels, rising +/-0.2 (+/-0.1) degrees Celsius per decade

>3 mm: annual average global sea level rise over the past two decades

16-21 cm: rise in global average sea level since 1900

100% increase since 1980 in greenhouse gas emissions, raising average global temperature by at least 0.7 degree

40%: rise in carbon footprint of tourism (to 4.5Gt of carbon dioxide) from 2009 to 2013

8%: of total greenhouse gas emissions are from transport and food consumption related to tourism

5%: estimated fraction of species at risk of extinction from 2°C warming alone, rising to 16% at 4.3°C warming

Even for global warming of 1.5 to 2 degrees, the majority of terrestrial species ranges are projected to shrink profoundly.

When Countercurrents.org started in 2002, the CO2 level in atmosphere was 370 ppm. Now it stands at 412 ppm. Dr. Andrew Glikson, a climate scientist has pointed out in several articles in Countercurrents that total green house gases in the atmosphere in the atmosphere including CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Ozone etc has topped 500ppm.

The Paris Agreement’s goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C.

Coordinated by the World Meteorological Organisation which is also backed by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United in Science report released in September 2019 estimates global emissions are not likely to peak before 2030 on the current trajectory. It says policies to reduce emissions must triple to meet the 2°C target and increase fivefold to keep heating to within 1.5°C.

With the forced COVID-19 lockdown we are well on track to reach the Paris temperature goals. The COVID lockdown taught us what is essential for our sustenance. Most of the carbon emitting vehicles and airplanes are grounded. Our consumption has come down to our basic essentials. Continents jumping tourism has come to a standstill, so has the neoliberal globalisation. It is good time for globalisation to fail and save our planet. Pollution has come down. Cities have become serene. Rivers have become clean. We’ll have to wait for authentic studies to confirm how much carbon footprint did we reduce.

We were living a reckless life like there is no tomorrow, consuming as much as we can and travelling as far as we can. COVID lockdown has put a break to this reckless lifestyle. In fact  it is so much better for the  environment. The COVID lockdown has taught us how much wastage we were making. It also taught us we can live better life with much less than we usually consume.

The COVID lockdown has also taught us we have to do a lot more work to do make our economy resilient. We have to make our local economies resilient. We have to grow our food in our neighbourhood. It will create more local jobs and stop the long haul migration to the cities. The cities too have to become resilient by producing its own food. May be cities itself may not be a good idea and wither away.

The COVID lockdown has given us a sneak preview into the future if we are to meet the global temperature goals. We have no other choice if we are to believe our science experts. Scientists like James Hansen predicts that even the human species may go extinct if we can not control global warming.

Human civilization has seen many pandemics and have won over all of them. We’ll overcome this pandemic too. But I’m not so sure about the battle against global warming. The COVID-19 lockdown has taught us that we can win the battle against global warming too. With a little bit more planning we can do even better.

Binu Mathew is the editor of Countercurrents.org

This article was first published in Countercurrents.org

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are solely that of the author and not of Borderless Journal.

Categories
Musings

Kolkata Diaries: Lockdown

                         

By Ketaki Datta

Lockdown! Stay at home!

I know not how long this period of incarceration will continue! More than a couple of weeks have already sped by!

But believe me, days are not appearing long, neither the nights.

The self, I was groping for in the closet of my being, peeped out and hollered to me, “So finally we meet!”

I cheer up, eyeing a happy prospect of getting a friend, though supernatural, ‘otherworldly’ , or non-existent to the ordinary mortals like me! But I get a friend here, in this apartment, where stay I and the Self!

 Last evening, just after I slurped the last drop of soup from my tureen, I saw her sitting in front of me, asking me, “So are you happy?”

 She is my lookalike. I feel uneasy, sometimes, to talk to myself. But, when I see her crooning old, long-forgotten numbers to me, when I find her analyzing my past deeds with a serious face, I simply sit back, relaxed, thinking that I am in good hands.

Last evening, my next-door neighbour, rang me up to inquire about my whereabouts and said, “I find you in good mood these days. Yesterday, in the afternoon, while I was having my siesta, I heard you talking loudly to someone. But in these lockdown days, who has dropped in at your residence? Please ask him/her to leave at the earliest. You may fall ill. It may even turn fatal.”

I told her, “I was taking classes, online.”

“I see, then it’s fine.”

I am not just working from home, but I also love to indulge in exploration of the self and the world around me. I did not know that the afternoon sky has so many shades, apart from azure. I was not aware of the morning breeze that has a fragrance latent in its being. I had no idea that the cuckoo that coos beneath my balcony has a companion who answers its call from the coconut tree, standing tall in my neighbour’s courtyard. I was blissfully ignorant of so many things, how could it be so? Why was it so?

A few weeks of the lockdown are over by now. I keep wondering how a virus goes raging across the length and breadth of the world, claiming lives, taking pride in a large toll, escalating with each passing day. Just a microbial being and all experiments in all world-class laboratories are failing to discover a vaccine, let alone an antidote! All sorts of primitive measures are being followed: Wash hands again and again, as though an indelible mark of wrong-doing gets stuck in between palms of each inhabitant of this planet, which “ all the perfumes of Arabia” cannot sweeten, not to speak of washing it off!

Why are we being fooled by a virus, which if contracted, or smitten with, will land us straight before the gate of Paradise, nay Hades? Or if spared, may leave us crippled with a pair of weak lungs? I cannot think any further.

At one point of time, I kept toying with the idea of going out. Yes, I am running out of provisions. I have curtailed many a thing, putting embargo (self-imposed) on luxuries; for example, I am not casting a glance even at the chocolate bar, the last of its kind, lying at one corner of my fridge, trying to lure me with its tantalising taste whenever I fling open the refrigerator-door! I am now going to curb all of my cravings, it seems.

My mom used to say, “You can attain nirvana by saying ‘no’ to all sorts of temptations but winning the allurement of chocolates would be the Achilles heel, for which your nirvana might have to wait or be deferred to an unknown date in future. You may even cease to exist without tasting the nectar of nirvana!”  Nirvana or no nirvana, I was happy with my irresistible love for chocolates! But these days, I am trying to say ‘no’ even to chocolates! If by any chance, I nibbled at the last bar, what would happen if I felt a craving at midnight with no chocolates around? So, I have to save it for some unforeseen desire for it!

  When through my balcony I cast a glance overhead at the purplish-black sky, I can see a few stars, a few dim celestial bodies but I cannot tell one apart from the other. I try to trace the Milky Way, but a zigzag row of stars pop-up, which might or might not be the one. Standing there, for quite some time, I was trying to empathise with the people from all walks of life, who are terribly affected by this lockdown, a 21-day-period of total collapse of social life, gregarious existence of the populace, beyond home, even normal buying-and-selling in the shops.

The picture at a medicine shop may be different, chock-a-block with people, who are queuing up mostly to buy Vitamin B or C strips or even expectorants or common medicines for cough and cold or diarrhea. I went out only one day after a gap of about fifteen days to buy essentials, mainly eggs and biscuits. That too, at about seven in the morning. I was astounded to see the busy thoroughfare, which generally teems with life at cockcrow was desolate. Absolutely secluded. The old man who used to sit and beg outside the metro station was not there anymore. I was worried as I used to buy him medicines for his heart condition.

I found the dog, who is generally sprightly and feisty, sitting dejected, in front of the closed shutters of a shop. I was happy to see the birds chirping on the trees. They trilled, crooned, twittered, whistled as they pleased. They were probably so delighted to find a sky — clear, above their head, with not a speck of smog in it. The greenery outside got a shade extra, it seemed.

The air outside also seemed fresh. The roads were just devoid of the shouts and screams of the jostling crowd, there was no sign of any sick hurry of the regular commuters to distant places. It appeared as though, life needed a respite, the thoroughfares needed a break from daily schedule, a nagging routine. The small lane that leads up to the main road usually stay crammed with vehicles since 6.30 a.m., but the serene road seemed to enjoy a breather with no vehicles honking or waiting in a long queue. The traffic light changed colours as usual, but there was no hurry, no avid wait of people for the ‘red’ changing to ‘green’.

  The sweet shop was about to open its doors. As I looked at it like a sleuth with my surgical mask on, the man drew a cloth mask from the counter and kept tying it round his nose and mouth. All of us, who came out risking our safety, were behind masks, as though to conceal our identities. A terrible something was about to transpire, it seemed. Only Nature and its feathered creatures seemed to have a field day. I could not sing within, I caught myself unawares, praying for the corona-affected patients who fought for life on the hospital bed, “Oh Lord, give them life! Let all the people come out unscathed and come around soon. Let others who are yet not affected by the viral attack enjoy health and secured existence. Amen.”

I was coming back that day with a vow to stay indoors from then on, and not to come out at all, howsoever necessity it would be. I haven’t reneged on my resolution as yet.

Ketaki Datta is an Associate Professor of English at Bidhannagar Government College, Kolkata, India. She did her Ph.D. on Tennessee Williams’s late plays and later it was published, titled, “ Black and Non-Black Shades of Tennessee Williams”. She has quite a few academic publications along with two novels, two books of poems and quite a few translations. She had been interviewed by Prof. Elisabetta Marino, University of Rome, archived by Flinders University, Australia. She won grants for working at American Studies Research Centre[1993,1995], Hyderabad, India. She presented academic papers at IFTR Conference[Lisbon], University of Oxford and University of California, Santa Barbara. Her debut collection of poems, Across the Blue Horizon, had been published from U.K. with the aid of Arts Council, England. Her latest poetry-book, Urban Reflections: A Dialogue Between Photography and Poetry has been published by KIPU, University of Bielefeld, Germany, with Professor/Photographer Wilfried Raussert [photographs of Street Art of Americas]. She has interviewed American novelist, Prof. Sybil Baker, recently for Compulsive Reader. She is a regular reviewer of poetry volumes with Compulsive Reader, USA. She interviewed poet Lucha Corpi of San Francisco, in 2018. She is the Regional Editor, India, of thetheatertimes.com, headed by Prof. Magda Romanska, Emerson College, Boston, U.S.A.

Categories
Essay

COVID-19: Governance And Scientific Temper In India

By K.P. Fabian

The media, the Indian as well as the international, have  covered the continuing plight of the inter-state migrants resulting from the nation-wide lock-down announced with a calculated abruptness, not uncharacteristic of the Government of India (GOI) judging from the disastrous demonetization and the hurried and thoughtless implementation of GST.

Yet, none in the media has given a proper explanation for the failure of the GOI to anticipate the plight of the millions of inter-state migrants. It has been pointed out that these poor citizens come to the attention of the government only when there is an election. However, there is another explanation which the mainstream media, more or less intimidated by the establishment, do not dare to say: Any such major decision should have been taken based on a cabinet paper as the Rules of Business of GOI mandate. Such a cabinet paper  would have been prepared by the relevant Department/Ministry and submitted by its Secretary to the Cabinet Secretary who would have circulated it to the departments concerned, and even consulted with the states, as they have to implement the decision. That paper would have argued the pros and cons, listed out the actions to be taken before the announcement, and thereafter. It would have listed the anticipable problems such as the plight of inter-state migrants, the supply chain management and more. It certainly would not have recommended an announcement at 8P.M. to be effective at midnight.

Therefore, we conclude that the lock-down decision is not an instance of good governance. The lock-down was necessary. But in government even a good and necessary decision has to be taken and implemented  in the right way. Government procedures are there for a reason. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the procedure should be respected.

The Finance Minister said that she barely got 36 hours to come out with a financial package. Looking at the half-baked package, her complaint is legitimate.

Let us now look at the strategy of GOI to address the Covid-19 pandemic. The sad truth is that there was no strategy because no attention was paid to the looming disaster though we have a National Disaster Management Act enacted in 2005. On 30th January 2020 the first case in India was detected in the State of Kerala. The patient had returned from Wuhan where she was a student. By 3rd February, two more students who had returned from Wuhan tested positive.

Let us look at the response of the Government of Kerala (GOK) and GOI.  Five days before the first case, the State Health Minister K.K. Shailaja, set up a high-level committee. On 4th February, GOK declared a ‘state disaster’.

The GOI did not take note of what was happening in Kerala. Is there a system of a state government sending an urgent report on such matters to the GOI? Whether it is there or not, the media covered the cases in Kerala, and nothing should have prevented the GOI from asking for an urgent report. Whether such a report was asked for or not, sent or not, the Union Ministry of Health issued an advisory on travel to China only on 17th January. It said that Indians going to China should take care in view of the contagion. On 25th January, a second advisory said that travel to China should be for ‘essential’ purposes only. There was no advisory in February. The third advisory was on 5th March, advising against travel to China.

Question: Why was there such delay? Our Embassy in China would have reported about the raging contagion. Taiwan took prompt action by medically screening arriving passengers from Wuhan, initially informally, and formally after China informed the W.H.O. of the contagion on 31st December.  What is even more important is that Taiwan started making testing kits as a precaution. Surely, our trade office in Taiwan would have reported all this.  By 20th January, the W.H.O.  published the action under way in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea. Our missions in the three countries would have reported on all this.  Our Permanent Mission in Geneva would have reported on all this though the web site of the organization was giving the information.

We conclude that the GOI was not alert.  President Trump and P.M. had a five-hour long session on 25th February. Trump had disallowed flights from China in early February. Did they discuss this contagion?

A related question: Why did Trump come at all, if he had made up his mind to indefinitely postpone a trade deal? Was the sole purpose to get an over-choreographed reception in Ahmedabad to a large gathering who might not have understood what he said as there was no interpretation? What was the raison d’etre of this Wagneraian opera at some cost to the people of India? To show GOI’s support for the candidate Trump? If so, is it wise to pick a side in the election in another country? Good diplomacy advises against such action.

Another instance of the deficit of good governance is that the resourceful military has not been mobilized to assist with the supply chain and the manufacturing of testing kits, PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and much more.

There is a basic confusion in the mind of the GOI. Lock-down is required only to the extent it produces the conditions necessary for social distancing. Lock-down per se is not desirable.  The imaginary cabinet paper would have had three lists of economic activities:

1) Activities compatible with social distancing with minor modifications.

2) Activities that need more modification to be made compatible with social distancing.

3) Activities not compatible with social distancing.

Talks with the sectors of the economy and its representative bodies would have started on day one of the lock-down if not prior to it.  We see that the corporate sector is finding it difficult to accommodate the workers inside the plant or even to arrange for their transport. Democracy implies dialogue between the government and the rest of the society the initiative for which should be taken by the former. India has an excellent, or potentially excellent bureaucracy and sadly it has not contributed as much as it can into decision-making and implementation. Why is it so?

Above all, we need a scientific temper to successfully deal with such crises. Such temper seems to be absent among a section of the Delhi elite as seen from a WhatsApp message that went around:

The candle flames have temperatures in the range of 400° to 500° Celsius. When so so so many candles will light for 9 minutes, imagine the impact on the environment and the heat so generated will decimate the virus. Why 9 mins, 9 P M and 5th Apr (5+4)?9 in the numerology is an adamant digit, which cannot be destroyed.

It was Jawaharlal Nehru who coined the phrase ‘ the scientific temper’ that he defined in 1946 in The Discovery of India as follows:

“What is needed] is the scientific approach, the adventurous and yet critical temper of science, the search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on pre-conceived theory, the hard discipline of the mind—all this is necessary, not merely for the application of science but for life itself and the solution of its many problems.”

It will be most useful if the P.M. in one of his addresses to the nation draws attention to article 51 of the Constitution which requires the citizens to cultivate such a temper.

This is not the time to find fault for the sake of finding fault. But unity of action in a democracy comes only when the government is self-confident enough to listen to criticism and benefit therefrom.

Let us work unitedly under the leadership of the P.M and C.M.s. India is too large a country to be micro-governed from the capital.

K.P Fabian is a former Ambassador

This article was first published in Countercurrents.org

Categories
Poetry

Living in the times of Lockdown

By Moinak Dutta

Living in The Times of Lockdown

Living in the times of Lockdown

Is curiously surreal,

For spaces we, the humans leave, are claimed by others,

Like pigeons come in flocks to dance on the chowrasta,

Where before lockdown, cars stood bumper to bumper,

Blaring horns, letting out sooty smoke;

A friend from Gurugram sent me a picture of serious traffic signal violation on a thoroughfare —

A grand peacock slowly, almost leisurely walking across the road, oblivious of the traffic lights turning green;

Dolphins, showed on TV, danced their ways near the Marine Drive at Mumbai,

They looked surprisingly happy —

No fishing boats to chase them;

The sky of my city never looked so clear and blue

Like it does now,

The trees looked greener too,

And the roads, so clutter free.

What Covid19 taught us

Covid 19 outbreak has brought into fore

How in the time of distress and panic

Religion  closes its doors; and even family members become distant;

How even the dead bodies are left behind;

How Fear controls every bit of us;

And how the old ways of enjoying life in rest and repose

Had been the most perfect ways to lead our lives;

And above all, how it is that home is all that matters at the end of the day.

Quarantined

This life is good.

You and I —

Looking at each other

And heaving a sigh.

Moiank Dutta is a teacher by profession and published fiction writer and poet with two literary & romance fictions to his credit. His third fiction is going to be published soon. Many of his poems and short stories have been published in dailies, magazines, journals, ezines.