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There have been numerous calamities like wars, natural disasters, epidemics, throughout human history. We remember the nature of the tragedy, the impact, the suffering, the lessons learnt (sometimes). But we often forget that it is usually about people – our beliefs, values, and behaviour – not guns or bombs, viruses or bacteria, and rain or hail or even earthquakes.

We are talking about oppressors and the oppressed, tormentors and victims, decision makers and recipients, bystanders and participants. Every individual potentially has a role.

Today it is widely known that the biggest challenges to human well being, like climate change, is taking place because we have allowed greed to take over need. There are increasing voices of protest but the culture of consumption appears to be irreversible.

Then comes the Corona virus. It would be purely conjecture if we connect the emergence of this virus to human behaviour but the magnitude of the trends and impact is directly connected to human decisions, particularly decisions by those in power, by leaders responsible for governance.

Globally we see the scenario being played out in the media. Countries with discerning and decisive leaders are minimizing the suffering caused by Covid-19. Power grabbers with political and personal motives are making policies at the cost of human lives.

Dictators and tyrants cannot be condoned under any circumstances, but the lessons of the past months tell us that firmness and discipline is vital at such critical times. Unfortunately this often comes at the cost of luxuries and conveniences.

Not to gloat, not to keep patting ourselves on the back, not to claim any form of victory, Bhutan can so far be proud of our response to a frightening menace. It has taken perceptive planning, firm decisions, and untiring efforts by our leadership at the highest level as well as the cooperation and compliance of most citizens.

But there are signals that the situation will get worse before it gets better. So the threats and risks remain ominous for the small Bhutanese family in a populous region which is better known for chaos and disorder than for order and discipline.

We are grappling with people disconcerted by panic and the fear of the unknown. That’s why the need for intensive awareness campaigns and support. We also hear well as rumblings of resentment that it is a few influential citizens who are compromising public safety. So that’s why the need for everyone to respect informed decisions and to follow advice and rules.

There is one powerful mandate for all of us. Pay close attention to and follow the advice, directives, and examples set by the government – with none other than His Majesty The King at the helm.

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