In a conversation last week on Twitter and Facebook, “Chronicles of a village boy in Delhi“, I shared my view of coping with beyond Covid 19 phenomena. I thought, I should reiterate that as what we are experiencing of Covid 19 is only a symptom that signals an early warning. Vaccination centric approach is not a way out. Change in lifestyles is only durable way to cope with impending pandemics of whatever origin as and when it comes. This approach neither costs money nor causes any agony or promotes dependency. I am suggesting this lifestyle approach not in lieu of vaccination but parallel and irrespective of which virus wave is sweeping.
Last week The Economist magazine of July 3, 2021, featured an article, “China urges its people to struggle”. This is based on an internet user in China advocating “simple stress free life” based on his philosophy of “good life” which he described as “tangling” which means lying flat. 60 percent in a Twitter equivalent Weibo platform in China endorsed such an approach which includes two vegetarian meals a day and “opting out of the rat race” in daily life. To this another Chinese expert advocated clean water, safe sanitation and protection of the nature as a sustainable approach to protect from the menace of viruses and the like.
Despite heritage and so many ways of such life changing practices in India, no one has been advocating such option as a durable course to take on. Of course, herbal and allopathy options are talked about and, even more, yoga has gained further. That is how so many now have come up with yoga postures and packages which improve oxygen, betters resistance and builds immunity. But no leader or authority advises people cutting across socioeconomic groups to take these well-known practices that India is known for centuries.
Five measures being hyped
We are so much preoccupied in India with vaccination solution and hospitalisation that our policy makers have no time to think and promote durable options as preventive measures even as supplementary ones. I looked into the contents of guidelines some well-known civic society organisations and health guidance bodies had issued to their members and public for coping with the covid19. Over all, their guidelines are limited to five suggestions. Wear mask, wash hands, maintain distance, stay home, and get vaccinated. Even together they do not offer options for much talked zero risk scenario. I am yet to see campaigns suggesting lifestyle change or adoption of lasting or sustainable options to cope with beyond Covid like pandemics of whichever type and days of uncertainties ahead.
Beyond a covid virus pandemic view
Certain minimum lifestyle measures, on the other hand, ensures durable or sustained protection and builds immunity in individuals to cope with. These are simple habits one could imbibe and make part of daily ritual. Neither of them costs anything. One could select from out of a range of options as it suits in each case. All are to do with daily rituals of individuals.
First, time discipline. Particularly in the case of going to bed and getting up, eating and exercise timings. Even drinking water.
Second, believe in and adapt simplicity in thinking and things explicit. Don’t get into a riddle of going by what others are doing.
Third, take to daily exercises early in the morning of 45-60 mts and repeat even in the evening for 10-15 mts. This should consist of three specific practices. One is yoga, whichever postures suit but for at least 25 minutes. Followed by another 25 mts of breathing exercises whichever one can. And, the third, brisk walking in one stretch for 30 mts. Cycle is better for some to take for nearby distances. Devoting 70 to 100 mts daily protects one as reliably as any prescribed vaccine or drug even assuming they are genuine.
Fourth, become intake sensitive. Not just about food but water, buttermilk, lemon water etc. Avoid consuming preserved and fritz based even after warming up.
Fifth, take to any hobby of choice and cultivate. Reading and writing of course are good, even better is nurturing plants or gardening (even of community) as often wherever possible.
Sixth, taking full bath daily at least once. And washing or cleaning feet (even those wearing full shoes) and hands before entering home coming from outside.
Seventh, sharing whatever, with whomever, often and in any form.
I’m suggesting all this based on my own experience. As I head for 82, I am much healthier now than say a decade ago and more productive in my work. Of course, I took both rounds of vaccination. I’m not against vaccination or drugs but sole dependence on them to cope with virus and pandemics of the kind that are expected in the wake of climate change also, particularly vector borne and water borne diseases. They require adaption of measures which all sections of people can take as easily without depending on outside considerations. Even if half of these measures suggested here become part of lifestyle we will be gearing up better to cope with virus and pandemics of which ever source.
(Dr N. Bhaskara Rao is Delhi based public policy analyst of over 50 years standing)