Covid 19 and the foresights of Lederberg and Tagore:

Nobel laureate Joshua Lederberg, an American molecular Biologist once wrote “the single biggest threat to man’s continued dominance on the planet is virus”. The Nobel Laureate of Physiology in Medicine in the year 1958, predicted it right as can be seen with the dominance of Covid 19 throughout the world. No bomb, no poison, no missile could do this harm to human kind. We have state-of-the-art laboratories, many scholarly scientists around the world working tirelessly round the clock, but we are yet to discover a specific drug to treat the covid infection completely. The virus is mutating and experimenting on human body as it’s wishes, insulting the supremacy of human minds! Human race is helpless, feeling disempowered. The only way out to keep the covid transmission and infection at bay is by preventing social contacts, staying indoors, using sanitiser and using masks. Human race is forbidden to breath fresh air out in the parks, all kinds of free movements to work places, shopping malls or local shops are restricted. Travelling is banned.

A similar situation is depicted in Rabindranath Tagore’s Daakghar (play) which was written by the Nobel Laureate of literature in 1912 – eleven decades ago! This play is translated in English by W. B. Yeats named as “The Post Office” (available online). The main protagonist of the play is a small child named Amal, who is an orphan adopted by one of his uncle and aunty. Soon after adoption, Amal is diagnosed with complicated illness and he was prohibited to go out of the house by the doctor. The poor little child is now confined to a bed by the side of an window from where he can talk to the people passing by-like a curd seller, a guard, a flower selling girl and the small boys of the neighbourhood who play games near Amal’s house. The play, Daakghar is able to portray the pain of a confined human being who wants to discover the world, who wants to acquire knowledge about everything possible. The small boy wants to go for searching a job with his uncle, he wants to cross the river, wants to see the springs. The boy wants to discover the village life on the foothills where the village woman prepares curd from milk. He wants to go far and far away to see the greens of the forest, wants to cross the hills. So much of dreams are on his eyes, who wants to be a free spirit. Amal talks to the guard, tries to understand the sound of the gong struck by the guard from time to time of a day. Amal wants to meet the postman, wants to receive letters from the king. But Alas! He can’t do anything of he dreams about- he is not allowed to go out. He only hopes to get well soon and lead a normal life. In my childhood, I read this play as it was a part of academics and later I could watch the movie made out of this play without having a hint of my future Covid stricken days where I and we will be locked down at home! With the life at stand still, I have again got the opportunity to go through the works of great poets and writers- Rabindranath is being the most respected among all. Usually, the people who reads his creation, realise that Tagore has the perfect insight of life as he could depict every situation or circumstance through which a human life can pass through. Be it happiness, sorrow, love or worship. He wrote about everything in his stories or poems, the essence of which are experienced by human race residing anywhere in the world. As he depicted Amal’s character, Amal’s wishes a long time ago- exactly those wishes of Amal are catching up with many of our wishes when we too are not allowed to go out of our homes. The present pandemic situation has confined us to our homes and we are longing for the normal days of freedom and happiness.

The desires of human hearts are many and can be realised in isolation. When we are hustling through the daily routine work to manifest our skills to the world, we often forget that life is more beautiful than the accumulated wealth. There are plenty of mountains and oceans to explore, huge forest lands and wildliife, the spring and the waterfalls, different foods of different countries, the greens of the nature and the blues of the sky, the beautiful birds and the squirrels, the rain and the rainbow, the colourful flowers and the chocolates- human life can explore anything according to the passions. We can create beautiful paintings or can create amazing musical beats , can dance to any tunes or go for beach football provided our mind is free and fearless. How much of the world we have seen? Afterall , life is only for once! Nobody knows what happens after death. Then why not we have the desires like Amal? Amal’s thoughts are actually the Philosophy of life. We must move far and far to explore the beauty of life.

Also, we need the Lederbergs and Tagores and the plentiful scholarly people who with their vast knowledge can give us the right direction for the path to be taken to make the planet safe and secure. Tagore conveyed the idea of open schools within the calmness of nature, today known as Shantiniketan. This splendid idea undoubetly promoted the consevation of nature and beauty of the planet. Joshua Lederberg on the other hand, through the scientific studies could establish the Department of Medical Genetics in the University of Wisconsin-Madison,USA. Medical Genetics, may be , the most happening subject and a requirement now. It is indeed required to give due respect to the born geniuses, listen to their ideas and implementing them to save the mankind and the planet. We, indeed lack the scientists in the field of Genetics, otherwise, a solution to this virus would have come out. Let us hope we return to the good old days soon to enjoy the life we have got for once!

Feature image: Collected from Unsplash.



3 responses to “Covid 19 and the foresights of Lederberg and Tagore:”

  1. Jas krish Avatar

    Very well expressed Swastika.
    Yes we need more Tagores to make the community realise the cause of their pain..they themselves…
    It is not just the new normal we have to get used to but we also got to understand the reason behind this ‘new normal’….We got to rewire our minds… understand the need to change if we want the normal to come back..
    Stay blessed 🙏😇


    1. Swastika Das Avatar

      Very well said. Thanks for the read.


      1. Jas krish Avatar

        My pleasure.. Swastika 🙏🌹


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