How India Is Coping With COVID-19

An interview with Dr. Kaiser Ahmad Dar on the pandemic situation in India.

Posted Aug 14, 2020

Kaiser Ahmad Dar, used with permission
Source: Kaiser Ahmad Dar, used with permission

COVID-19 is impacting countries worldwide in manifold ways. In India, the coronavirus situation has grown worse with the country becoming one of the top five highest affected. However, culture and tradition—among other things—have shaped how both the government and the general public in India have become more resilient.

Kaiser Ahmad Dar is an Assistant Professor at the Postgraduate Department of Psychology, Government Degree College, Baramulla, Jammu & Kashmir-193301 (India). He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (India), in 2015. His research interests lie in pathology-personality nexus, exposure to traumatic events and mental health, transdiagnostic approach to psychopathology/treatment, statistical approaches to assessing mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis, and Islamic perspective on psychology.

This is Part 1 of a two-part interview with Dr. Kaiser Ahmad Dar; you can find Part 2 of this series, along with all other Hope + Resilience posts, here.

Jamie Aten: How would you personally describe the COVID-19 situation in India?

Kaiser Ahmad Dar: India is the world’s second-most populous country with a variety of cultural, religious, linguistic, geographic, and socio-political distinctions. The situation triggered by the spread of the coronavirus disease in India was not as alarming as it has become now. The number of new cases and reported deaths are increasing exponentially at a galloping rate. The transmission escalated during June-July with several new confirmed cases and deaths. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has confirmed 579,357 active cases, 1,186,203 cured/discharged cases (including 1 migration), and 38,135 deaths, as of August 3, 2020. The count of confirmed cases of COVID-19 may climb further as the number of people tested increases.

Initially, people did not realize the gravity of the situation. However, over time, as the number of infections and deaths increased, it became apparent that this was a serious and long-term concern. To keep the spread of COVID-19 in check, both protracted and intermittent nationwide lockdowns have been tried. However, both the spread and death curves continue to show mounting trends, with no mark of flattening, at least, in the immediate future. People are worried about anything and everything, such as health, finances, education, jobs, and a shortage of essential commodities and services. They even anticipate that pre-COVID-19 times may never return, and therefore, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness is very much conspicuous and indicative of a more catastrophic situation vis-a-vis the psychological health during and post-COVID-19.

JA: What are some ways understanding India's COVID-19 situation can help us live more resiliently?

KAD: COVID-19 has entered all pockets across the globe and India is no exception. Initially, when the spread was largely attributed to travel history and local transmission was not the main cause of concern, some wise voices started cropping up and cautioned that the virus could change its epicentre from China to Europe and India. These predictions have significantly come true because India is now the third most corona-affected country following the U.S. and Brazil.

India’s healthcare system is not as sophisticated as those of many European and Western countries. Yet, how people, healthcare workers, and state apparatus have been conducting themselves is encouraging. People try to maintain connectedness and extend whatever support they can at a time when even jogging with a friend is discouraged. This brings in the cultural legacy/practices of thinking and caring beyond oneself—a prominent feature of collectivist cultures like India. This spirit of thinking-beyond-self serves two purposes: It makes people more prosocial, simultaneously making them feel secure. In turn, it generates an attitude of thankfulness that may be very helpful in building people’s resilience, and therefore, their subjective and psychological well-being.

Another important thing that catches my attention is the sharing culture of India wherein people manage and share resources, time, services, knowledge, information, and support based on solidarity rather than economic gains. In addition, people here also turn to indigenous practices, such as yoga and meditation to attend to their mental and emotional concerns triggered by the pandemic. I believe practicing the aforementioned attitudes, behaviours, and practices are meaningful ways of living a resilient life.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of this series, along with all other Hope + Resilience posts, here.

References

Iqbal, N., & Dar, K. A. (2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic: Furnishing experiences from India. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(S1), S33-S34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000770