Many events have occured in the past that have had major impact on human life and have brought about cataclysmic changes in the way we have lived. To site a few in the living memory, the invention of automobile and air travel in the beginning of the last century. This put paid to the horse dependent transport and revolutionised travel.What was considered as distant became closer, intra continental and inter continental travel, which took days and months became days and hours. The laid back life in small communities gave way to big towns and cities and industrialisation galloped. This period also saw the beginning of increasing consumption of natural resources which only accelerated and we now have entered the dangerous anthropocene era which may be signalling the end of humans.
Next arrived the spanish flu of 1911-12. With no native immunity and in the absence of vaccine technology this virus killed millions and made human race realise the importance and the power of micro organisms. This also led the way to major changes in the life style and personal hygiene and public health assumed major roles in matters of health. A whole sea of change occurred and led to major advances in the fields of vaccine technology and discovery of antibiotics
World wars 1 and 2 again were major disruptive influences. Rabid nationalism and racial discrimination led human race to the brink of disaster. These aslo revolutionalised human thought and brought in women into the mainstream of life. Needless to say these wars also saw increased consumption and destruction of nature.
Next to arrive is the era of Computers. These have greatly eased the way businesses are done and the way we live. Precise and fast calculations, storage of massive data became possible. In the bargain every aspect of our lives has been touched by these machines and the so called privacy appears gone for ever. These machines have led to artificial intelligence which is threatening human brain. There is justifiable fear that a day may come when this AI will subjugate humans.
Now we are in the midst of another crisis. The emergence of a novel virus which is making disruptive rounds around the world. This virus known as Covid though not as lethal as the Spanish flu virus has caused enough turmoil partly due to its rapid spread and the fear of death and disability. Though the death rate is 3% in the young and 6% in the elderly with impaired immunity, nonetheless, for a population which has believed for every illness there is a cure, this illness for which there is no known cure as yet has come as a virtual death sentence. The embargo on social interaction,advice on facial mask and hand washing has made hitherto taken for granted life, that much difficult. The universal exposure of the populence to the electronic and print media which have a tendency to give importance to gory news have only added to the fear. What will happen to me if I get infected seems to be on the mind of most persons
In addition, this disease has caused major disruption in the economic and social activities and we appear to have entered into an era of severe economic, socio psychological depression.The frenetic efforts at the making of vaccine, which may take another year appears to be the only answer in the long run. In the mean time human kind needs to change its behaviour [social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing] to keep the virus at bay and the constant need for the comforting thought that even if get infected, I am likely to belong to the 96% who recover from the illness.
Anything good that one sees in this pandemic? Yes, the realisation that one needs to live a symbiotic life with nature seems to have been realised. The relative stop to consumption may have slowed the process of racing into the Anthropocene era.