Be the Enabler!!

March 28, 2020

By – Arnaz Dalal
(Equitable Healthcare Access Consortium)

In the “Corona world” there is information galore: from news channels carrying news, to different sites claiming to provide updates on the virus to the non-stop WhatsApp forwards… There is an overload of information! There is excessive sensationalism and multitudes of opinions, many scathingly criticising whatever is being done by the powers that be, but offering no worthwhile solution or alternative. We truly live in an ‘information abundance, attention deficit’ era. The deluge of perspectives on the Corona virus from anyone and everyone is testimony to this cliché. How then are we supposed to consume overdose of information? What is the authenticity of this information and so-called news? How much is too much, how much is too little, how much is just right and just how much should we take with a pinch of salt? Do the information generators and distributors have hidden agendas? In short, how do we draw valid insights from this barrage that confronts us during our every waking minute, in these trying times?

A couple of days back there was this open letter written by Bill Gates, the Microsoft Founder on “What is the Corona/Covid-19 Really Teaching us?” which was widely circulated in all groups on WhatsApp & other social media. I personally forwarded it to many of my friends and other groups because it resonated somewhere deep within. I know many people felt the same.

The article appealed to peoples sensibilities as it spoke about “a spiritual purpose behind everything that happens” and how this virus teaches us lessons about how we have taken “Life for granted” and how we as a human race have let ourselves be overpowered by ego, selfishness, ungratefulness, pettiness and have actually drowned out the little voice of consciousness within us, which is telling us to pause, reflect, stop, include, share. Every disaster comes with its set of opportunities and ultimately, we need to learn what it is that life is trying to teach us and move ahead. There indeed is a silver lining to this dark “CORONA” cloud, and our choices & actions now will determine if we as human beings emerge winners.

As it so happened, like most news floating around, this article was “Fake News”. Bill Gates never did write something like this. It is still unclear as to who started floating this false information on-line. But then that is the case with much of what we consume as ‘news!’ How do we determine the authenticity and veracity of all the information we receive? How do we discriminate between the grain and the chaff? The problem has been exacerbated over the last two months, with practically every one in the world from the mightiest ruler to the homeless person obsessing over what is in store for us.

One can imagine if a positive and reflective message had such impact on our minds, just how much will information that is false and negative in nature, constantly criticising, with ulterior motives, the efforts of not just our Government but people on the front lines – our Doctors, Nurses other health workers, the police force, essential service providers, etc., have on the minds of a billion plus people?

Hence the RESPONSIBILITY starts with US ….. U and ME. Let us take that extra minute to only send out information that is relevant. We must ruthlessly sift out the trash from the truth. We do not need to relentlessly keep ‘Forwarding’ whatever we receive.

In these tough times it is our moral duty as citizens of India to be Enablers….and that starts with small actions.

The author is the CEO of Equitable Healthcare Access Consortium, a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to enhance equitable access to healthcare, education and livelihood to the people of India. The opinions expressed are her personal views.

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