Dr A S Bhatia
It was a very fine evening of 1970,s, when I received a good tight slap on my face. I was taken aback. My mother, Surinder Kour, was standing in front of me, a Punjabi lady with good physique and a teacher by profession, I being lean and thin and about ten years of age was lying on the floor, with my left hand on my right cheek and tears rolling down my cheeks looking innocently at her. She shouted “how dare you enter my kitchen without washing your hands?” My elder brother Inderjeet Prince who wrote for Daily Excelsior for more than twelve years was standing passing by. “Why did you slap Prince?” my nick name. I could see love for me in his eyes. He came running and stood in front of me. , He didn’t wash his hands before entering the kitchen.” was the simple answer she gave in a very polite voice and staring eyes. Neither me nor my elder brother could realize the importance of washing hands back then in 1970s. He looked at me, smiled at me with love and asked me to apologies and to wash my hands. I did, but still against my wish as I failed to understand the value of washing my hands before entering the kitchen. I did hand washing against my will. I still remember the angry face of my mother with protruding eyes looking at me, “What was my fault” I pondered. Not washing your hands was not a big deal ,I thought and attributed to the orthodox thinking of my mother as I was being taught modern education in good schools who never bothered to devote some good time in class rooms to these things. I was taught Akbar was a great king, Qutab Minar was built by Qutab Din Aibek and when Taimur thronged India. But was never taught that washing your hands is must before you enter your house.
Now as world has being wracked by corona pandemic, the whole world under lockdown, thousand and thousands of people being infected and many dying painful deaths, all super powers of the world , withal their best health care systems coming down like castles of cards. Did we miss the bus in our rat race to build a super economy? Did we ignore the basic principles of life? That may hold true for the western world as they don’t have the rich heritage to teach them the true ways of living a better and fruitfull life. But I am astonished about Indians, what went wrong with us ? With a rich tradition of so many holy Granths teaching us the ways a life should be lived , Ironically we ignored each and everything and adopted blindly what the western world was doing.
In my personal opinion my education in those times was at fault. I was never taught about Indian Culture all during my childhood right from class second to twelve, I was taught about Robin hood, I was taught about Lilliput, I was taught about Cyndrella But was never taught about Tulsidass, Ayurveda , Yogas and was never taught abut cultural values in day today Life.
Now I regret not to understand the importance of Namaste. I regret not to understand the importance of hand washing before entering my house. I regret not to understand the importance of leaving my shoes outside the house, I regret not to understand the importance of going into self quarantine for thirteen days on the death of a near one in the family, I regret not to understand the importance of a being a Vegetarian, I regret not to understand the importance of Tulsi, Haldi, Ginger, Shilajeet, Amla, Lemon in my diet as preached by our ancestors. I regret to forget the culture of having Shiqavanji (Lemon Water) during evening hours of every summer. I regret not to understand my Indian culture.
Now back home I analyzed the behavior of my wife Dr Harleen Kaur , Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology Government medical College Jammu , whom I have seen scolding our kids for not washing their hands before entering home since 1995. I as such used to have fights with her for being so obsessive about the cleanliness. I used to shout at her for being so rude to kids but, now I realized I was wrong with her, I was also wrong with my mother in 1970s. The whole world is now advocating what these two women of my house tried all their life to make us understand.
Now the question is, the time has come to adopt the Indian way of life. I am sure some pseudo secular people will come on the forefront to oppose it. But after going through the history the Sanatam way of life has to be adopted by the inhabitants of this planet. As I am penning down these lines I am not promoting any religion over another but at last we have to accept the truth. I am reproducing the lines published in a leading medical journal which has forecasted that we are sitting on a time bomb because of exotic eating habits of people of South China. These lines form a scientific article published in Clinical Microbiological Reviews in October 2007 under heading, “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona virus as an Emerging and Remerging Infection.” By Vincent CC Cheng and his colleagues where by the scientists have categorically declared in 2007 that the presence of a large reservoir of SARS-C0V – like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a Time Bomb.
As of now the world is under complete lockdown, one would wonder, what to do next. Should we continue to keep doing things as were being done in the past or is there any need to go for a dramatic change in our life style? I saw many world leaders welcoming their guests by doing Namaste, the Indian way of welcoming the guests, Now let it be Namaste, Satsriakal , Assallam wale kum or whatever it may be, the time has come for the world community to adopt Indian way of life style including eating habits. Our policy makers should go through the syllabus of various boards including CBSE and to revise it according to Indian culture to educate our younger generation to adapt to wonderful ways of enriched Indian system of leading productive and fruitful healthy life, till then Stay at homes and keep social distancing.
(The author is Vice President Indian Academy of Biomedical Sciences, India and Professor and Head Department of Biochemistry, Government Medical College Jammu.)