Have We Counted Corona’s Collateral Blessings?

By John B Monteiro
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June 27, 2020

“Sweet are the uses of adversity.
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.”
– William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English dramatic poet in As You Like It.

There is a saying about kicking the fallen dog. That is what is happening about Corona pandemic with everyone making it a hate target for the thousands of deaths and sufferings caused by it across the world. Talking of Corona-virus deaths, history is full of instances where people had died due to mass-killing diseases lazily called plague. That takes us to an Indian instance of mass deaths by plague.

A sadhu was on his way walking to Banares. He halted at a wayside inn. The inn-keeper asked the sadhu where he was headed. The sadhu replied that he was going to Banares to kill 50 people by plague.

Fifteen days later the sadhu returned to the same inn and the inn-keeper asked if he succeeded in killing fifty people. He replied: “500 people died – fifty by plague and the rest by fear of plague.”

So, in the present Corona-virus pandemic, while people are dying in their thousands all over the world, it is also showering unrecognised, unacknowledged blessings which we should be happy to recognise. But, first the facts.

According to The Hindu (2/6/20), an article titled ‘Bail protocol, standardisation needed to ease under-trial burden in prisons’ argues for classification of offences as ‘serious’ and ‘non-serious’. Explaining the background the article says: “Constituting an estimated two-thirds of the country’s prison population, under-trial prisoners are a substantial burden on jails, many of which are known to be running at over 100% capacity. Concerns over hygiene and safety are now growing in the COVID-19 situation, which demands social distancing and cleanliness.”

The report cites a study, “Re-imagining bail decision making: An analysis of bail practice in Karnataka and recommendations for reform”, which was conducted by Centre for Law and Police Research. The study found that the nature and classification of offences, punishment prescribed, and availability of effective legal representation have a substantial impact on decisions to detain an accused.

Studies like these will have added weight because of the problem of quarantining people under Corona-virus pandemic. It has highlighted the lack of clean, exclusive and adequate toilet facilities where the people are being quarantined/detained. Some prisoners and under-trials have already enjoyed the blessings of Corona – having been prematurely released to make place for Corona-related interns.

So, clearly Corona is showing the way to improvements in jails and remand homes. There is also a move to provide more, better and cleaner toilet facilities in jails and remand homes. Hopefully, over time, they will cease to be over-crowded stink-holes.

In another field, Corona pandemic has jump-started online classes which otherwise would have taken years of educational committees and commissions to draft reports, discuss them endlessly and mothball them.

On yet another level, those who lost their jobs in the Gulf and in industries and offices in India and returned to their roots have reconciled themselves to do even manual work in rural areas. According to a report in The New Indian Express (11/6/20) datelined Gadag in Karnataka, “Over 300 graduates who have returned from various cities…are now dependent on MGNREGS to earn a living. Engineers, teachers, technicians… are now part of its workforce in the taluk”. Even Corona-driven-out high earning employees from Gulf countries are now seeking their future in agriculture in rural areas. All this is bound to boost the rural agricultural sector.

Corona has revolutionized the work culture in offices with the practice of working from home. The office architecture and layout is set to change to comply with the rules of social distancing. All this will have impact on travel for work and consequently on the transport system which will have lesser load.

Yet another sector is shopping. Email orders and home deliveries, including alcohol, will increasingly dominate the shopping scene.

These are few of the collateral blessings of Corona pandemic. Readers are sure to know more on the subject and are welcome to respond with their facts, views and speculations. Your response should be in the format provided at the end of this topic-essay. Welcome to Reason. Have your say. Over to you!


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Comment on this article

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Mon, Jun 29 2020

    Only Insurance vendors are Rejoicing ...

    Agree

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Mon, Jun 29 2020

    Precilla Madam: Your positive attitude towards Corona leads you to look for its blessings. Please don’t despair about imaginary rusting of your brain. Your comments are very sharp.
    Florine Roche: You have found, among other blessings like family bonding, “a lesson not to mess with nature and control our greed”. Your conclusion that we have to accept Corona and do course correction for our good is fresh and positive. Pl. be with this fortnightly column.
    Jairam: Very well-articulated, cutting-edge comment on a current hot subject. The last line is the satirical icing on the cake.
    I see in your response the copywriter and journalist before you climbed high on the corporate ladder. Your pithy vision ahead is very positive.
    PS. I read your very humourous article on “Experts” in The Hindu dated 28/6/20.
    Preeth: Thank you for finding time and inclination to respond to my topic-essay despite your busy schedule of hopping across continents. Your last line is relevant and worth thinking deeply over.
    Pl keep responding to this fortnightly column and draw your friends into its fold.

    Agree

  • Preeth, Bombay

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Uncle,
    It's a matter of glass half full or half empty. I look at it as you have, as something which perhaps needs have to look at the silver lining without taking away the pains of it. But, it is my opinion that in it's present form pre-covid, the planet was crazily spinning out of control with excess of everything. This pandemic will install in those who wish to learn from it that a rewind to habits and lifestyles of yore can be achieved which perhaps without it, would have been difficult to imagine with arguments on why it cannot be just due to inertia. The Covid period now forces one to realise that it's possible. It also has assisted, as you pointed out, how to rightly adopt modern technology to help moving into future in a sustainable manner i.e. online learning which could lead to wider spread and remote working which will reduce the burden of pollution on the planet. But there will be also be the flip arguments of glass half full, due respect to them. Finally we have to realise that any transition for the good will have it's collateral and we have to ready for them. Classic example is that of the Jew's flight from Egypt. They all wanted it but then complained about the journey and that it was better under the Egyptians than dying in the desert.

    Agree

  • JAIRAM MENON, MUMBAI

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    John - you have the gift of shining a light on aspects of life of which we are only vaguely conscious. I see your point, and now am better disposed towards this virus. Once humankind wins the war, we will certainly acknowledge, and hopefully adopt, the good practices we learnt while fighting the battle.

    Agree

  • Florine Roche, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Yes John. You have rightly pointed out only a few blessings of Corona. For a jaundiced eye everything looks yellow. Despite the widespread destruction it brought about - loss of lives and economic destruction Corona has given us a lesson of a lifetime - a lesson not to mess with nature and to control our greed. If we forget this lesson then we will do it at our own peril. Corona has taught us the importance of family bonding. It has made us realise the importance of agriculture because ultimately if we have everything but not food and other basic necessities it is of no use. Covid has also taught us how weak or fragile a human being is. We have to accept this and do necessary course correction for our own good

    Agree [1]

  • Prescilla Fernandes, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Very thought provoking article Monteiro Sir. In the present scenario it is good to be optimistic and see the positive side of situations arise because of corona. Atleast I learnt some lessons from this tiny virus and now I am really going on counting the blessings . Your articles are giving me some mental tasks to do some home work with interest otherwise my mind is on the process of rusting . Thank you sir.

    Agree

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Early birds catch the worms. I gratefully thank and welcome the early birds. They made my day.
    Dr. Ben Rebello: Thank you for your Boni response. Readers will join me in thanking and admiring the doctors and health care workers and thanking God in saving two of your close relatives from the jaws of death.
    R. Bhandarkar: Your points are well taken. The central point is “collateral”. We would rather have corona going away than count its side-blessings.
    Pinto: Rich or otherwise, I am not gloating over the miseries inflicted by corona and I agree that Corona is not a blessing – only talking about its collateral fall-out.
    Mangalurian: You are right in counting the blessings of internet which helps us in coping with the curse of Corona as in the educational field and also working from home. This is the way to look at the precious stone in the ugly and venomous toad.
    Rohan: I liked your optimistic comment about Corona’s collateral blessings specially it “helping to avoid unwanted guests” (pests?).
    Your poem about the Mountain Monk is apt and I hope readers will download it.
    I eagerly await more responses and hope to learn from them. This column is yours and mine and we have to take it forward.

    Agree [1]

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Sat, Jun 27 2020

    Dear Sir,

    When you wrote a fortnight back I mentioned about the risks of life and weighing them. Today I contradict myself. I say whatever has to happen will happen and has to happen. Then why worry. Let us count our many blessings. The covid19 scenario has been adverse for many but a few have been able to count the few blessings. Specially it has helped to avoid unwanted guests and helped socially averse to lead a serene life. I would end with this
    Poem I’m enjoying —and now you don't need a mountain the silence of your home is enough
    “A Chung-nan Mountain Monk”
    The voice of success and profit
    May stir the vault of heaven,
    But not this place.
    In the rounds of the day,
    You wear threadbare clothing
    And eat simple fare.
    When the mountain snow deepens,
    Your thoughts
    Are far from those of people.
    Occasionally,
    Immortals pass your door
    And knock.
    — Kuan-hsiu (832–912)

    Agree

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Sat, Jun 27 2020

    Food for thought, Mr Monteiro. Thank you.

    Is it not amazing that our world is so well connected through Internet, a miracle of just the last 25 years?

    What would have been the scenario if the Covid-19 had struck, and there was no Internet? Because of Internet, the whole world received the information, misinformation (like Ramdeo's cures), and many solutions like online education.

    It takes courage and an optimistic mindset to count the blessings - when we are not in control of the problem. You have used the term 'collateral' wisely.

    I particularly noted the mention about the terrible plight of the undertrials. Surely, the judiciary cannot ignore the millions of undertrials. But they have.

    Agree

  • Pinto, MANGALORE

    Sat, Jun 27 2020

    Seems like he's rich... Ask those who have lost their family members, friends, people who lost jobs, became bankrupt, n all corona warriors who are risking their lives for the community...

    Does not look like they r blessings ...

    Agree [2]

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru...

    Sat, Jun 27 2020

    We have finished rather feel exhausted on being bestowed with Coronas Counter Blessings or whatever Baab Monterio...
    Wish these blessings would ebb a bit now for the betterment of mankind... Our prayers are towards this direction now.... Seriously.

    Agree [1]

  • Dr. Ben Rebello, sunkasale

    Sat, Jun 27 2020

    Well written, a bit sarcastic or philosophical i should say.

    BUT

    From my point of view,

    Think about the doctors and health care workers who without any choice of their own were and are exposed to the deadly virus siting medical ethics, without due and necessary protective gear, to treat the virus affected patients, some of which contacted the disease due to their negligence and not having taken due precautions.

    I am writing this after having two of my close relatives working in very famous medical institutions in world metropoles having contacted the disease and went nearly to death bed, for them and their families but luckily got cured.

    They didnt have any choice to refuse to work with corona patients or deny treatment, having to take personal risk.

    Agree


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