When Adam Smith wrote the classic work ‘Wealth of Nations’, he never anticipated the health of nations to become an important factor at all. But the advent of something like HIV, which in itself is not a killer but an enabler, has changed everything. The sociological, economical and even psychological impact of AID syndrome on the collective will of individuals, communities and even nations is something unimaginable a few decades ago. Just like 11/9, which changed the whole concept of terrorism and security within USA, the lurking fear of a situation in which we are defenceless even against common cold has changed the common man. There is no guarantee for even the wealthiest nation to survive the twenty first century if they fail to take care of the health of its people and the nation as such. And there is no fool proof way to do that even if one has the abundance of wealth.
The AID syndrome has the unique feature of attacking the wealthiest and poorest with equal impunity. Though they are at the extreme ends of the wealth line, quite surprisingly their characteristics almost match when it comes to values and morals. If for the poor it is because they have nothing more to lose, for the filthy rich it is because they do not care about anything. In the process both end up with identical results from wine, women and wealth. The latest curse of God in the form of AIDS has specifically targeted these two sections of the society in almost all nations. While WHO succeeds in getting statistics from the poor sections in all countries, they are totally in dark about the richest in rich countries. If one can get the accurate overall data, it is sure to point to another syndrome of having maximum incidence of AIDS in filthy rich countries.
Health of Physique
Whenever we talk about physical health the first picture that comes to our mind is that of the outstanding ‘black’ achievers in the track and field events. Be it America or Europe, the colour of athletes at the very top are invariably black. But does it mean that Africans are the healthiest and most likely to survive the onslaught of AIDS? This is definitely not the case. The whole continent of Africa is under extinction if there is no sufficient help from the world community. True or not, AIDS originated in Africa and it questions the way of living that exist in that continent. It may the cradle of civilisation, but something has definitely gone wrong. Did the mixing of bloods create the problem? Or is it the mistake of missionaries who tricked the innocent natives to ape them in lifestyle? Only an impartial study by an African scientist can get us the answer.
Yet another factor that would test the physique in its war against AIDS is the inherent strength of immune systems of different races and communities. We often tend to make a mistake while judging the health of muscular Africans vis-à-vis skeletal Asians. Mahatma Gandhi could go without food for 21 long days whereas any of those muscular athletes will die or commit suicide in 15 days time. What is it that makes the difference? One of the key factors is definitely the fact that Vegetarianism is more natural than non-Vegetarianism. Nature is supreme and it supports natural processes much more than unnatural ones. The fate of communities and cultures that eulogise and encourage non-Vegetarianism will definitely be put to test by the natural forces that have unleashed AIDS on humanity. We should not be surprised if none of the meat eaters survive to witness the twenty second century.
Health of Mind
There is a famous saying that highlights the importance of character in comparison to wealth. If wealth is lost nothing is lost, if health is lost something is lost but if character is lost then everything is lost. The character we are referring to here is precisely the health of our minds. If soul, mind and body make up each living being, the hierarchy of relevance to our existence must be in the same order too. While our souls are something beyond our own control, the other two are definitely within our control to a large extent. Our mind can control our body but not vice versa. The way to control our mind is by way of training the mind itself. Many great personalities have demonstrated in our midst that it is possible to tame and control our minds. By sheer determination and perseverance, great minds have come to reside in not so great bodies. The case of Sree Ramakrishna and Mahatma Gandhi proves this point beyond any doubt.
When we look for ways to tone up our mind, we should first get clarity on what constitutes a healthy mind. We perceive our mind in the form of our thoughts, actions and words. Only a healthy mind can generate healthy thoughts that can lead to healthy actions. Man is yet to discover a scientific method of controlling the mind. But we always knew that our value system and culture have tremendous control on our own minds. The chances of a learned and cultured man committing a heinous crime are very remote (though not zero). So what we can do to improve the health of our nation is to target our children and youth for developing the right values. An open mind receptive to all ideas from world over with a firm footing on our proven family values and culture is what can take our nation forward. Health of mind can achieve far more than what we can achieve with the wealth we can accumulate.
Health of any nation is a collective characteristic of the people who make it up. Heritage India has always emphasised the importance and freedom of human mind for centuries. Our culture, religion and even the concept of God is centred around this uniqueness. It will be no boasting or arrogance if we ourselves come to a conclusion that one of the very few nations that will succeed in taking on the AIDS juggernaut will be India. It should also be borne in mind that it will be possible not because of our large number but because of culture and heritage. The inherent strength of our cultural values have withstood so many epidemics, invasions, holocausts and natural disasters that another Maurya or Gupta like empire after Kalinga war is a distinct possibility in twenty second century.