In the COVID-19 Regime, What Role Does Intellectual Society Play?

– Prof. Medani P. Bhandari, PhD
The contemporary world has abruptly shifted in its trajectory, and humanity is experiencing
a crisis. Within the past year, our social equilibriums have been challenged due to uncertainty
created by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19’s impact is everywhere—over global and
national economies, employment, finances, relationships, and personal physical and mental
health. This crisis and uncertainty have carried into the scholarly world as well.
When there is a direct hit on the human brain due to uncertainty and fear, it raises direct pain in
our deep-thinking patterns. When there is danger around us, we begin to think about everything
differently. During a crisis, it is normal to lose patience, perseverance, and mental strength. We
struggle to maintain hope, but hope gives us the motivation to move ahead. Motivation creates
inner power to the human heart as well as the human brain.
Since the spread of COVID, our regular thinking patterns have been deeply disturbed and our
regular living styles have been altered. We are facing abnormality—within ourselves, in
societies, and in social, educational, institutional, political, economic, and religious patterns.
Some of us are experiencing a crisis of hope, as well as a crisis of motivation.
As a human experiencing this crisis and specifically as a student of social science, I believe that
togetherness, unity, and humanly feelings of connectedness within us and beyond, empower us to
be strong and provide the power of tolerance. When we feel that “I am” and “we are” not alone,
we gain an unseen power to look ahead, and prepare for the extreme events, crisis, etc. we may
have to face again and again. COVID is an example of extreme crisis. I believe this is just the
beginning of the coronavirus’s impact. As we already know, it has created an untrusting
environment, especially with respect to the political system (administration). We are noticing
various tensions between governments and between governments and their citizens and the
victimized general public. Innocent poor people are at higher risk for infection and death, with
little support to control the spread of the virus in poor communities.
Furthermore, it is hard to forecast what kind of devastating impacts are on the way. Some
countries’ economic conditions are already beginning to collapse. There is a strong chance of
another global economic recession, and it may take several years to overcome this foreseeable
economic recession. We have already seen how much the airlines industries, tourism, hotel, and
recreational industries are suffering. The industrial sectors are also in trouble, and unemployment
is rising in almost every country of the world. The health care sector is struggling to cope with
the pandemic spread.
These situations have had a direct impact on our educational systems at all levels. Our collegial
circles have been confused, unsure of how to handle the current conditions within and beyond
today. At present, our creativeness has been disturbed and our scholarly motivations to pursue
research, development, innovation, and contributions to society have been less certain. This
disturbance has directly hit our knowledge production pattern.
Research agendas are shifting and there is financial scarcity for supporting research and
development across fields. In this situation, writing research papers—producing knowledge—is
not easy. However, now, we as researchers and educators have more responsibilities. We know
the meaning of knowledge, wisdom, innovation, discovery, and invention. Therefore, it is our
responsibility to produce and distribute more knowledge to show that the intellectual world is
still active. This activeness of the scholarly world can help to maintain hope and motivation
within and beyond academic institutions. To some extent, we can state that knowledge creates
Through this note, I would like to urge all educators, scholars, scientists, and all other
knowledge-related stakeholders of the globe, to not stop our research and our contribution to
society. This is not the first crisis the world has faced, nor is it the first pandemic crisis. National
and global crises of many types—apolitical, political, economic, social, psychological, ethnic,
gender, race, color, (human-created) or natural disasters—have repeatedly changed the face of
human civilizations. However, the saviors have been always the producers of knowledge and
change who never stopped working fearlessly. As such, we should acknowledge that we are the
knowledge creators and the wisdom generators of the society; therefore, one way or another, we
are also the hope creators, beauty admirers, and love and respect maintainers. We should take our
responsibility in a way that other stakeholders also realize that this is not the end of the world. If
we are able to continue to produce scholarly papers (knowledge), that means we are still very
strong—we have hope and power over uncertainty. Together we can bear the risk, tolerate the
uncertainty, and maintain the hope of the world.
Here, I would like to state that, as knowledge creators, educators, and responsible citizens of this
planet, we need to think about our future and how this world can be a better place for all of us,
including all living species of the various ecosystems.
There is the term or an idea of Bashudhaiva Kutumbakam (meaning we are all
humans—wherever we live, whatever color, race, gender, ethnicity or religion we are, or
whatever political alignments we have—we are all human and we are related and interconnected.
Similarly, all biodiverse living beings are our relatives and the physical structure—including all
ecosystems of the planet—is a house for all of us combined). This notion advocates that each of
the living species has the same rights to their survival as we humans have in this earth and its
ecosystems. As we have already witnessed, anthropogenic disturbances of the planet’s
ecosystems (such as climate change, biodiversity loss, higher sea levels, weather variations,
floods, land erosions, pollutions, etc.) have direct negative impacts on humans as well on all
living beings on the planet. Therefore, it is our responsibility to spread the philosophy of
Bashudhaiva Kutumbakam and use our all expertise to protect or maintain the ecosystems where
each of the species can enjoy their existence.
As knowledge practitioners, it is our responsibility to advocate and to bring awareness to all
stakeholders that this planet does not belong to only humans; it also equally belongs to the all
living beings who are directly or indirectly related to us. Therefore, as scholars, our topmost
priority should be to protect the planet and its biodiversity in its ecosystems. In other words,
we should first accept and realize that, humans have no more rights of survival than any other
species. All living being have the rights to enjoy their lives, since we share the same systems of
the planet.
In my opinion, as educators, knowledge producers, and practitioners, we should not exert
influence through greed, ego, anger, or prejudice, and should not limit ourselves to only “I am
right.” We should not be trapped within our individualistic bubbles; instead, need to realize that,
we all are directly or indirectly connected with humans and other living beings of the planet. We
need to explore the ways of “how societies can remain in the harmonious relationships” as well
as how we can maintain harmonious relationships with nature and other living beings, who
share the same house for survival. We should and can begin this kind of relationship through
service to humanity, and extending that service to the other living beings by using our knowledge
and wisdom.
Knowledge is the key to unlock the reality of the problem, and knowledge helps us realize and
understand the proper utilization of acquired understandings. As knowledge practitioners, we are
aware that we are by nature social beings and enjoy ourselves in society. Society can only be
harmonious when all members of the society maintain the societal norms and values. Society can
only remain healthy when we respect each other, encourage each other, love each other, and
most importantly, if we have balanced resources to maintain the life support system of our world.
This notion applies to the large house as well “Bashudhaiva Kutumbakam.”
Finally, I request to all scholars to utilize the acquired, learned, experienced and practiced
knowledge which can help to create and maintain the harmonious relationships, within and
beyond of human and non-human living beings.
I thank you all who have been contributing by research, service, publications, or other means to
the world since we have been trapped under the COVID-19 regime. Especially thank you to the
scholarly contributors of every journal in this serious time, and thank to all who have shown that
uncertainty does not stop the knowledge producers. Thank you to all other scholars who will be
contributing in coming issues of scholarly journals, newspapers, books, TV shows etc. Once
again, thank you to the editorial team for publishing my thoughts in your journal. I would also
like to thank to my wife Prajita Bhandari, for encouraging to contribute for the society especially
some thoughts of hope. Thank you.
Prof. Medani P. Bhandari, PhD, is a STAR Fellow. His profile can be accessed at