In a rather twisted state of affairs, the novel coronavirus pandemic is every scientific mind’s dream come true. Don’t believe me? Look around you and you’ll see that finally, no one is interested whether we are having lavish Ganga aartis or not; if a religious ceremony requires the human presence or not; or how much chanda has been generated in which temple/mosque. 

No one gives a damn in what is happening inside religious hubs, except when they are being careless, like in the Nizamuddin Markaz or Majnu Ka Tila Gurudwara.

All of our collective attention is drawn towards the safety and well-being of our doctors. I don’t have to go very far (not that I can) to look for one such example. 

My own mother who has been a fairly religious lady, was ferocious the other day when she saw on T.V. a crowd of eager devotees cramped together in the small hallway inside the Harmandir Sahib, aka the Golden Temple. For someone who has always seen her look up to the sanctity of that place, it was a fresh surprise.

In the times of an unknown pandemic, not a lot of people are seeking God’s help. Rather than a few Gau-mutra parties, and a few examples of community namaaz, more and more people tune in on news every day to hear what the doctors have to say. Like, I said, in some twisted ways it gives almost a sadistic pleasure to see these “god-fearing” people turn to science in case of a calamity.

The fear of the unpredictability of this virus has developed a certain empathy for those who are working on the front line for us, and has also in very limited capacity has developed an aptitude for science. Because, before this, could you have imagined you and your friends talking about the amino strain in a cell of any virus. No, right? Well, I had this conversation with my group of friends a day before.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I read stories about people misbehaving with medical staff too. From pelting stones to spitting on them, there have been horrible ways in which some of us have behaved with them. But all these instances arouse anger in me, not surprise. I don’t know about you but when I listen to any such incident, I automatically think yeah, we Indians are capable of doing such a thing.

With this surprisingly pleasant attitude of people that is honouring the work of our medical staff, comes in a different kind of anger. Anger at our series of generations for not thinking about our front line heroes before. Yes, this is a global level pandemic that even they are dealing for the first time, but this is not the first time they are dealing with an emergency such as this.  

Imagine what the present situation would have been like if we had fought for a global hospital in every district as passionately as we had fought for either the Mandir or the Masjid. Imagine what our facilities would have been like if every night we could have tuned in to a debate that is along the lines of health or education. Imagine instead of spending money on religious funds we would have invested in our health sector.

Instead, we have been busy. We have been busy fighting over whose religion is superior, whose religious texts are more sacred, who will take who in an imaginary battle. Now, when the enemy, although microscopic is in front of us, all things that we had backed upon is crumbling. What is left are those things that we never cared about in the first place.  

When this pandemic ends (for I faith in our medical staff that it will), I hope people remember this time for the sheer bravery of our front line warriors, and that no temple, or mosque, or Gurudwara, did or could do anything.