Why Turn Isolation into Solitude?

BMS Rathore

Solitude is where one discovers that one is not alone- Marty Rubin

Isolation, confinement, quarantine, social distancing! This is the new grammar and vocabulary to defeat COVID 19. Curfew and total lockdowns have been imposed worldwide to achieve this. “Thou shall not move out”, the line has been drawn at the door step. It is hoped that with this, stage 3 of COVID infection can be avoided, failing which the cost will be too high in terms of human lives, more so in the densely populated south Asian countries.

While abiding by the new dictum of isolation, many are facing stress, anxiety, depression and trauma. The confinement woes get worse when fed with plethora of information, being streamed day in day out, both on social media and on the electronic and print media. Notwithstanding the virtual connect through digital highways, the actual cut off from the family, friends and outside world can lead to serious physical and mental health issue, turning the very remedy into another malady?

Is there a way to deal with the isolation in the time of a unprecedented pandemic?

Isolation whether self-imposed or enforced one, has connotation of negativity. Not being able to meet the near and dear ones, family and friends could be very hard to cope with. On the contrary, the solitude is choosing to be alone, it is willingness to break away from the noise. The moments of solitude are the moments one cherishes and feel recharged. To many, it provides space for the inner journey, to understand the larger purpose of life. We are definitely asking different questions while being subjected to isolation vs seeking solitude. What is happening or will happen to me, my family, my job, business, my possession etc. are the key concerns when in isolation. The external world dominate the thought process, centered on me and mine. The questions defining solitude are rather existential in nature, looking inwards. Who am I? How do I connect with the life around me? How my behavior & actions help others?

Some of the often used tools to convert isolation and loneliness into solitude are: breath awareness, mindfulness, meditation, a reflective walk, contemplation of nature, and of course pondering over the existential questions.

Breath awareness has come to stay as one of the simplest tools to enhance awareness, calmness of mind, relaxation and bringing mind body connect. Setting aside 5-10 minutes in morning and evening is all that is needed to begin with. Reflective walks during COVID 19 time can be done in the home premises or even on roof terraces. Some of these tools can be accessed on line and put to practice without much of the hassle. Personally speaking, reflective walks, coupled with breathing awareness have been my constant companion for quite some time.

Solitude is about seeking freedom and expansion, soaring high in the sky like Jonathan Seagull before getting back to the daily noise of the world around us, refreshed and rejuvenated. Isolation and loneliness limits, imprisons and saps our energy and leaves us with negativity. Solitude is known to improve psychological well-being, boosts creativity and productivity, improve relationships and plan better. Solitude when cultivated over time becomes the most important relationship, the relationship one has with self.

Does it make a case to turn isolation into solitude? More so, when we all are facing varying degree of isolation and confinement in the time of COVID 19?


1 Brij MS Rathore @ICIMOD

2 https://youtu.be/FCq8-XvqU1Q; https://youtu.be/c2Jfbj7Th7M

3 Jonathan Livingstone Seagull; Richard Beck


The author, Brij Mohan Singh Rathore, is a professional forester from Indian Forest Service, has over 30 years of professional experience in the field of participatory forestry, regeneration of degraded lands, watershed management, and landscape approach to bio- diversity conservation, rural development, and environmental education. He has worked in Government (at field, state and national level), research & training Institutions and NGOs. As Joint Secretary in Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, he was country focal point for United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD), and represented country as Vice Chair on UNCCD CoP Bureau, as well as Chair of Asia & Pacific region. While working with UNDP, FAO and WWF, he was engaged with countries of South Asia and Asia /pacific in capacity building for biodiversity conservation and eco development.

Rathore is Member Madhya Pradesh State Wildlife Board. He is recipient of the national “Indira Priyadarshini Vraksha Mitra” Award for community based forest management, and State Government’s Gold Medal for professional excellence in forestry. A gold medallist in Masters of Science (Botany), he holds Masters diploma in Forestry from Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy Dehradun.

CIC meets online for the first time

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: Central Information Commission (CIC) convened it’s first digital conference on Tuesday, 31 March 2020 in the wake of the unprecedented lockdown due to COVID 19.

The conference was attended by the entire Commission online and lasted one hour.

Besides the Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, the conference was attended by all the Information Commissioners – D.P Sinha, Yashvardhan Sinha, Vanaja N Sarna, Neeraj Kumar Gupta, Suresh Chandra and Dr Amita Pandove.

The CIC has decided to implement digital technology for adjudication of cases without physical presence of the parties. Also, weekly review would be undertaken to iron out issues if and when they arise.

At its maiden online conference, it was decided by the Commission that the Deputy Registrars will fix dates in consultation with the Information Commissioners and issue the notices in all cases where the contact details of the parties are available. The contact details of nodal CPIOs will also be made available public authority-wise to the Deputy Registrars. Moreover, the Registrar will continue to train all the Deputy Registrars periodically to iron out administrative matters and technical support issues with NIC and ensure the scheduled hearings commence through audio/digital mode by 15 April 2020, if not earlier in the larger public interest

CIC went for a zoom conferencing to discuss various administrative and case work related matters.

Ahead of the digital conference, Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka took special interest and had asked all concerned to be available on time and clear all doubts to chalk out a way forward for the functioning of the Commission when the nation is going through the COVIC 19 crisis.

Secretary CIC Niten Chandra oversaw the preparations for the conference.

COVID 19: Telangana Govt orders deferment on payment of wages

Newsroom24x7 Network

Hyderabad: State Government of Telangana, keeping in view the economic impact caused due to lockdown and consequent lack of inflow of resources and in the view of additional expenditures being incurred to control COVID-19, has issued an order for deferment on payment of wages / salaries, including all allowances and perks / pensions.

(I) There shall be a deferment of 75% in the gross salary of the C.M, Ministers and M.L.As / M.L.Cs, Chairperson of all Corporations and Elected Representatives of all Local Bodies;
(ii) There shall be a deferment of 60% in gross salary in respect of All India Service Officers viz., IAS, IPS and IFS.
(iii) In respect of all other category of employees, there shall be deferment of 50% in gross salary, except Class-IV Employees;
(iv) In respect of Class-IV employees / out-sourcing / contract employees, there shall be a deferment of 10% in gross salary;

The Government of Telangana, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, read with all other enabling provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, has already notified lockdown in the entire
State of Telangana with till 31 March, 2020 and further extended it till 14 April 2020 prescribing certain regulations and measures during this period.

Wuhan is the epicentre of COVID 19; China should be taken to ICJ

By Maj Gen Rajiv Narayanan

Even as this paper is being written, the worldwide coronavirus cases have crossed 7,20,00 and the deaths crossing 33000. This pandemic is likely to have far reaching geo-economic impact that could have a major bearing on the evolving global order, unless the rest of the world comes together to make China pay for its role in creating this pandemic.

China would claim, with tacit support from the ‘compromised(?)’ WHO that it was more a victim and it was its actions that prevented larger impact. Whether its actions were indeed timely, as claimed by WHO or otherwise is open to question. However, China seems to have unleashed its ‘Three Warfares’[1] Strategy, part of its ‘Unrestricted Warfare (URW)’[2] very early to contain and deflect negative attention.

Three Warfares Strategy

This strategy, which is a part of URW, was formalized as part of CCP and PLA as far back as 2003[3] when it was incorporated in the Political Works Regulation. Information, Psychological and Legal Warfare forms the three-pronged thrust for ‘Influence Operations’ as part of this strategy. China has been honing its skills and seems to have now achieved some proficiency. It has also created an effective cyber and internet control to deflect the negative perceptions.

Consider a simple term now being (mis)used – epicentre. As per the Cambridge Dictionary an epicentre is the ground zero of a major catastrophe. It is implicit that for any such event – like Wuhan COVID 19 pandemic, there can only be one ground zero – WUHAN. Yet it is disheartening to hear CGTN, CNN, BBC, WHO et al talk of new ‘epicentre’ in Europe and that it is shifting to USA??? What is meant is new ‘Hot Spots’; yet by using this term so loosely it deflects attention from China – the main culprit.

By shifting goalposts on patient zero and deleting posts from internet that indicate otherwise China is covering up for its gross negligence (or was it a planned ‘negligence’?). In early January 2020, reports had emerged that it was in mid-November 2019 that doctors in Wuhan and detected that there was an epidemic emerging. Yet now China appears to create a narrative that patient Zero was detected in mid-November[4]. The spread of the pandemic to Iran, Italy and other countries belies this logic. The linkages with North Italy’s garment industry, Italy’s joining the BRI, with projects all being in North Italy, and the start of this pandemic in North Italy suggest that China has much to hide. Similarly, Iran had sent a high level delegation to China in October 2019, and had been having these exchanges since August 2019. It is no small wonder then that Qom, where many Chinese backed projects are functioning, was the origin of this epidemic in Iran[5].

Yet these narratives are being overcome by the new articles and opinion pieces that show China in a positive light. The WHO seems to be leading this crusade. If SARS in Middle East can be named MERS, if a bacterium detected in Sweden in an Indian origin patient be named NDM-1, why has China not been named in either SARS or H1N1 or COVID-19? What makes China so special?

China is playing a marathon, to paraphrase Michael Pillsbury[6], while the rest are unaware of it. Fifty years down the line, while the Middle East and New Delhi would be remembered for these epidemics, no one may remember that the SARS, H1N1 and COVID-19 occurred due to gross negligence by China. That is how China aims to clean its slate of all such activities.

Natural or Manmade

Many researchers are putting out their opinions that the mutation of normal coronavirus with SARS to create this virulent novel-coronavirus has occurred naturally. Be that as it may, they have not provided any counter evidence to the fact that this could also have been manmade. While this maybe difficult to prove, considering the acute censorship of information emanating from China, yet there are some ‘circumstantial evidence’ emanating that all was not well in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Maj Gen Chen Wei

In January Maj Gen Chen Wei, China’s top military bio-warfare expert, was appointed as the head of this Wuhan Lab, sparking conspiracy theories that the coronavirus outbreak was linked to this lab[7]. The jury is still out on this, the appointment of a PLA general to control the lab does raise suspicions. There had been rumours that an infected animal (or animals) was sold in this seafood market leading to this contagion.

On 26 January 2020 China unveiled its 8 member Leading Small Group to counter this epidemic, after obfuscating and denying the existence of this disease[8]. The composition raised eyebrows as many amongst the group had spent their life in furthering CCP’s propaganda. It seems that the aim, apart from limiting the already widespread damage that this epidemic had caused, was to contain the damage to China’s International image. And it seems to be succeeding to some extent.

To grasp the damage that this would have done to China itself, it is important to understand the key location of Wuhan. It is a major transportation and logistics hub and has served as China’s capital twice earlier – in 1927 under the left wing of Kuomintang, and for ten months as the wartime capital in 1937 during the second Sino-Japanese War. It is one of the nine political, financial, commercial, cultural and educational centres of Han Heartland. It is for this reason that when Xi Jinping created the Joint Logistics Support Force (JLSF), during the ongoing reorganization and restructuring of the PLA since December 2015, it was HQ in Wuhan.

It is unlikely that Xi Jinping would not have grasped the extent of damage that this contagion would do to China. However, unlike during the SARS outbreak in November 2002, when China preferred to hide the contagion till February 2003, it was not networked deeply in the globalized world. At that time, it may have wanted to cover up this epidemic fearing for the economic backlash that would have occurred if the foreign companies had moved their bases out to other emerging economies in the region. The CCP would not have survived such an economic disaster.

However, with its extensive economic network (including its vast BRI network) with the rest of the world, it appears that Xi Jinping took a calculated risk to keep the lid on this epidemic till as late as feasible. He seems to have calculated that when the rest of the world would be struggling to cope with this epidemic and face economic lock downs China would step in and capture new markets. Is he playing with fire? Has China recovered? There have been disturbing reports that even as the epidemic was uncontrolled, China had shifted over 80000 Uyghurs from the concentration camps in Xin Jiang to factories in Han Heartland to restart factories[9]. How many more have been sent since then?

These do indicate towards a manmade strategy for creating this pandemic, which has either created this epidemic, or utilized the epidemic to evolve into a pandemic through its land and sea corridors of BRI and the global supply chains, plus its vast tourist outreach.

Way Ahead

China has been a regular defaulter in such epidemics, SARS in 2002 and H1N1in 2009 being the previous cases. In the words of Ian Fleming (Gold Finger, 1959) ‘Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence but a third time Sir is enemy action’. This is where China is at, a third will full obfuscation leading to such a vast pandemic. It needs to be called out and be made to pay so heavily that future generations would think multiple times before such will full acts.            

China should be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on charges of will full genocide through this pandemic and CCP leadership be held guilty on all counts. If it fails to accept it, China should be considered an outcast and be removed from the UN and all International Institutions. Also, all countries and MNCs should disassociate from all China led ‘shadow organisations’[10]. Concurrently China should be forced to cover the economic losses that would be incurred by the rest of the World due to it.

*First Published by The United Service Institution of India – USI


Maj Gen. Rajiv Narayanan, is recognised globally as an expert on China. With 37 years of experience and established leadership qualities across the career span with the Indian Army, he has been responsible for policy formulation for strategic and operational preparedness, resource optimization based on periodic SWOT & PESTLE analysis and Force Structuring, modernization plans of Weapons and Equipment including prioritisation. He is an expert in terms of Strategic Financial Analysis over the entire breadth of operations; Planning & Forecasting, Human Resource & Resource Planning, Logistics and Equipment Management, Corporate Communications, Knowledge Management ,and Financial Analysis and Planning. He has been awarded Ati Vishishta Seva Medal (AVSM) for outstanding contribution.
In his capacity as Executive Director Military Operations Ministry of Defence, he has played a key role in Strategic Force structure, equipment upgrade and modernisation, and strategic financial planning.


REFERENCE

[1] The PLA’s Latest Strategic Thinking on the Three Warfares, Elsa Kania, 22 August 2016, China Brief Vol 16: Issue 13, Jamestown Foundation,  https://jamestown.org/program/the-plas-latest-strategic-thinking-on-the-three-warfares/

[2] Unrestricted Warfare (Literally – Warfare Beyond Rules), Senior Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, February 1999, Beijing: PLA Literature and Arts Publishing House

[3] China Brief, op cit

[4] https://www.businesstoday.in/latest/trends/china-first-coronavirus-case-can-be-traced-back-to-nov-17-report/story/398174.html

[5] Strategic Partnership with China Lies at the Root of Iracounter this epidemic, after obfuscating and down playingn’s Coronavirus Outbreak, Benoit Faucon, Sune Engel Rasmussen and Jeremy Page, 11 March 2020, Wall Street Journal

[6] The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to replace America as the Global Super Power, Michael Pillsbury, St. Martin’s Griffin; Reprint edition 15 March 2016

[7] China ‘appoints its top military bio-warfare expert to take over secretive virus lab in Wuhan’, sparking conspiracy theories that coronavirus outbreak is linked to Beijing’s army, Billie Thompson, 14 February 2020, The Daily Mail UK, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8003713/China-appoints-military-bio-weapon-expert-secretive-virus-lab-Wuhan.html

[8] The CCP’s New Leading Small Group for Countering the Coronavirus Epidemic—and the Mysterious Absence of Xi Jinping, John Dotson, 05 February 2020, China Brief Volume 20: Issue 3, Jamestown Foundation, https://jamestown.org/program/the-ccps-new-leading-small-group-for-countering-the-coronavirus-epidemic-and-the-mysterious-absence-of-xi-jinping/

[9] China transferred detained Uighurs to factories used by global brands – report, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/01/china-transferred-detained-uighurs-to-factories-used-by-global-brands-report

[10] China’s Shadow Foreign Policy: Parallel Structures Challenge the Established International Order

By Sebastian Heilmann, Moritz Rudolf, Mikko Huotari and Johannes Buckow, MERICS China Monitor, Number 18, 28 October 2014