(GIST OF YOJANA) The Pandemic through Gandhian Perspective

(GIST OF YOJANA) The Pandemic through Gandhian Perspective


The Pandemic through Gandhian Perspective


  • Covid-19 has pushed the world into a pervasive crisis encompassing every aspect of human life. With the passage of time the trade-off between saving lives and saving livelihoods has grown starker. 
  • This onslaught of circumstances calls for an alternative way of managing human affairs and revisiting Gandhi. 
  • Here we relate the present crisis to the Gandhian way of thinking to arrive at some concrete take-homes.

Changing Consumption Pattern:

  • The pattern of consumption has changed significantly especially during the lockdown periods. Studies have noted a substantial reduction in ‘discretionary’ (read as conspicuous) consumption. Consumers are less blinded by the ‘brand-value’ and are increasingly alert about distinguishing between essential and non-essential consumption, even while choosing a brand. This is a form of ‘containment of wants’, though forced by circumstances. 
  • Nudging households to choose healthy lifestyle to bolster immunity in the face of Covid-19 is another blessing in disguise.
  • Preferences are shifting to natural and herbal remedies and learning about their goodness and lasting effects. Ceremonies have become spartan since huge gatherings are dangerous.
  • More time at home is a ‘Razor’s Edge, kind of a situation. On the one hand there are studies of higher incidence of substance abuse, alcoholism anxiety and depression and on the other innovative and creative ways
  • are being devised to make home-stay more bearable. These include online learning programs from those aiming at honing untapped skills to the ones on self-healing, and discovering inner peace.
  • Indeed, the Subjective Well-Being (SWB) can swing in either direction, as brought out by an exhaustive study based on a cross sectional survey of over 1000 participants in China, and how we tweak the support systems towards choosing a healthier lifestyle now can have a critical impact for the times to come.

Changing Patterns of Production:

  • As the world grapples with the problem of fragmentation of the supply chain, the necessity to restart in whatever manner possible, producers may be forced to relocate
  • their sources of supply. 
  • An UNCTAD economist, observes a trend towards relocation of the GVC (Global Value Chain) in favour of a greater use of local skills and materials. Compelled by the pressures of circumstance we might redevelop production systems of the kind that Gandhiji advocated strongly to promote self-sufficiency.
  • Further, experts highlight compulsions to turn to green technology. The Confederation of British Industry, for instance, has urged the government to invest in green
  • technology and jobs.

Empathy towards the Deprived:

  • The migrants reaching their home States by foot, by legitimate or illegal means has been a heart wrenching story. But it has also led to individuals and NGOs rising to the occasion to support these unfortunate fellow beings through supply of food packets and other materials to ease their agony. 
  • The State Union governments did arrange Shramik trains to ensure safe return, but the role of individuals, NGOs and religious institutions that extended a helping hand so spontaneously cannot be overemphasised. If the reverse migrant movement is akin to partition, so is the extent of support and help from various quarters of the society. Gandhiji would have not only appreciated this spirit of empathy but would have perhaps succeeded in processing into institution building to sustain it longer.

Treatment to the Reverse Migrants

  • States which have had a pressure for accommodating reverse migrants now have an opportunity to deploy their expertise at home. Many such States have reportedly undertaken skill-mapping, which had never been thought of before. 
  • These States can use this experienced labour force to work on improving infrastructure, building industrial estates, for setting up new MSMEs, etc. to attract more business. In fact, the initial employment generation can take place through such investment, which can push up the economic growth through multiplier.

Urban Development:

  • Covid-19 has emphasised the need for cleanliness and hygiene like never before. It has compelled the urban local bodies to improve and expand their health services. It is also a wake-up call to transform slums and the living conditions therein. 
  • Ignoring hygiene or treating it as welfare or a charitable act is not going to help because these are necessary for everyone’s survival now. In a way, ensuring decent living conditions, which is implicit in dignity of labour is thrust upon us as a need for survival. One thing the pandemic has taught us is that an infection anywhere is a threat to health everywhere.

Decent Wages and the Covid Allowance:

  • States from where the migrant workers have moved out have had to raise wages due to severe shortage of labour. There are instances where workers have been given air tickets to return to work.
  • These may be anecdotal instances, but they do echo the need to treat workers with dignity though under duress. One only hopes that at least some such benefits last long enough to emerge as new practices. This should take us to Gandhiji’s intervention in Ahmedabad textile strike to negotiate in the issue of plague allowance.

Environmental Concerns:

  • Lockdown reportedly reduced the air and water pollution substantially. It would be up to us to maintain it with as much caution as possible. 
  • For instance, there might be greater possibilities of shifting to more eco-friendly urban transport system and manufacturing systems to enable reduction in the carbon emissions along with creation of more employment opportunities.


  • Any attempt to engage in greater sustainability is Gandhian in spirit, because it can be achieved only by rising above the baser instincts of greed, violence and petty self-importance.
  • In a truly Gandhian perspective, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals can be seen as an integrated vision stemming from a peaceful and harmonious coexistence of human beings with each other, with nature, and other beings supported by nature, which Gandhiji might have longed for.
  • The pandemic has opened up opportunities to tweak our ways of living on this planet in a wiser and more compassionate way. The choices we make now can have long-term effects on our well-being.



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Courtesy: Yojana