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God wants us to do more to keep the world going than pay obeisance in large numbers

By Salman Khurshid*
The COVID-19 lock down has come as a boon for reflection. I saw three films again: ‘Man for All Seasons’, ‘Jinnah’, and ‘Gandhi.’ The first for how Thomas More, a brilliant man sacrificed his life for a moral principle; the second for the touching scene in which the founder of Pakistan played by Christopher Lee seeks forgiveness of a little migrant girl for causing the Partition; and finally the last for a dose of Gandhian determination to overcome the shadow that obscures the beauty of our democracy.
All three underscore the truth that ultimately Man’s law cannot override God’s law.
The composite lesson that I have imbibed from my experience tells me to do course correction on discourse. It is absurd to believe that any person in India would consciously resist joining the national effort to combat COVID-19 or that any short coming caused by insensitivity or lack of understanding cannot be corrected with firmness but without rancour and hate. 
In the nature of things there will be mistakes, and in the circumstances they can be expensive and fatal.
What we need to do is to correct them, even anticipate them. But anyone who uses then to cause a cleavage between people, particularly communities is no less an enemy of the people than the virus that has challenged humanity on an unprecedented scale.
By engaging in a debate with the foul mouthed fringe amplified by myopic media anchors is giving them the unfair and toxic importance they seek for their inhuman enterprise. Passive resistance and non-violence in word and deed is the apt panacea for mental corrosion as we fortify efforts to keep our respective respiratory system secure.
Instead of debating with the deaf and blind we should do what is most reasonable and professional to keep humanity safe. Simultaneously we must prepare for the post pandemic world that promises to be dramatically different and difficult. Many of the changes that were on the anvil and inevitable will be accelerated.
We will get accustomed to heath scrutiny even as we took security checks in our stride post 9/11. Privacy will be under stress for the right as well as wrong reasons. The state will seek to accumulate more power and block transparency. 
Even as religious institutions self-consciously concede space to people who claim it in the name of science we may suffer a lapse of spirituality in our social life reducing the quality of our lives. Finding the right balance will be a great challenge and that too in severely undermined financial and economic conditions.
We thought we could put our concerns and countries first and reverse the trend towards One World, but God thought otherwise
In the past few decades political parties have claimed dominant role in our national life and political ideologies, some very warped, have sought to overwhelm higher moral landscapes integral for the health of any civilisation. We will need to reclaim that space.
But most important for a moral view point is self-esteem and dignity of the person. Although the janata curfew and the subsequent lock down have exhibited a commendable consensual compliance in the interest of society it needs to be underscored that not all decisions merit approval even if defiance is ill advised.
Furthermore, the gratitude we must and have shown to the brave and devoted service providers and managers should not obfuscate disapproval of some, particularly the police in many cases showing impatience with demands of dignity. Similarly the helplessness of migrant labour and their families cannot be explained in any way other than base incompetence and heartlessness.
Salman Khurshid
The politics of tomorrow must not only take on the binary that makes all dissent and disagreement a matter of national honour but commit the nation to a welfare state. 
Where would we be today if UPA’s National Rural Health Mission, Health Insurance for Small Scale Sector, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Right to Education (RTE), housing, right to food security et al. had received the honest cooperation of the then Opposition and by now found root in our political economy? 
Much of the migrant labour we see on the roads today are also citizens who get struck off the voter lists.
That explains why the government is so callous about their welfare. The electoral system must be corrected to ensure legitimate voters are not disenfranchised. Finally, the water downing of Right to Information (RTI) must be reversed. There is a lot more that the country deserves and the citizen has a claim on but the future government will have to be prepared to face questions and answer them honestly and sympathetically.
COVID-19 had shown that God wants us to do more to keep the world going than to turn up in large numbers to pay obeisance. If we believe in God then we must accept that he must be very unhappy with humankind to put us through this trial. 
We thought we could put our respective concerns and countries first and reverse the trend towards One World, but God thought otherwise. Furthermore it is clear that priests and intermediaries have little clout with God and we can deal directly. Besides are we being told that God’s law must be followed by Man’s law?
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*Former Union foreign minister, Supreme Court advocate, senior Congress leader. Source: Author’s Facebook timeline

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