China’s Zero COVID fiasco – Bhagavad Gita Perspective

Since last month, there was major unrest in China, the second largest economy and the global factory. There have been 23 demonstrations in 17 major cities without thousands of university students taking to streets. This was in response to the zero COVID strategy of the Chinese authoritarian government that led to lockdown of millions of people for last three years causing great financial and emotional stress. There were strict quarantine rules for those affected with covid with the quarantine facilities often overcrowded and in run down condition. There was also a strict mandate for regular covid test for access to shops and public facilities. On top of everything, this oppression is a means to show strength and political security for the Chinese dictator Xi Jinping.

The ruler should definitely be powerful and determined. Coupled with these two qualities, the ruler should be generous (BG 18.43). If the determination is not directed for people’s welfare, the determination will naturally get directed for selfish ends (BG 18.34). King Prithu is ideal example of king – he was merciful and caring for his citizens and simultaneously unbearable to his enemies (SB 4.16.9-12). The citizens should not be minimized to just producers of economic value. The ruler is supposed to treat his subjects as he treats his own children. The citizens needs and concerns need to be considered while making key decisions. The urge to act is an essential part of human existence. No one should be prematurely forced to renounce worldly activities and responsibilities (BG 3.26). Such forceful repression for prolonged time causes problem for oneself and others.

Spirituality goes a long way in addressing these issues that are typical of modern politicians and heads of state. God consciousness helps the rulers to see their subjects as children of God (BG 6.30). It helps the rulers to see themselves as custodian of divine wealth, resources and divine beings. It helps them access the divine and the time-tested wisdom meant for leaders given through various spiritual texts from Bhagavad Gita to Bible. It enables the rulers to see their leadership as a divine offering to God and thus empowers them with spiritual knowledge and determination and divine grace.