Are We Deceiving Corona and Hurting Ourselves?

Aug 8, 2020

O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!” - Walter Scott (1771-1832), Scottish historical novelist and poet.

The relentless march of Corona-19 is aided by our unthinking, selfish fellow-citizens who aid and abet the destructive advance of the pandemic. Since they seem to be mindless imbeciles, let me start with a story narrated to me by an illiterate farm-hand working on my ancestral property when I was an impressionable 10+ years old.

There was a large pastoral island cut off from the mainland except that it was linked to the mainland and a nearby city by a causeway. The islanders lived by fishing in a large lake and by milking their cows and selling the milk and fish in the city using the causeway. The cattle, after grazing on the vegetation-filled island were taken to the lake to slake their thirst and also to have their cleansing bath. The islanders also drew their drinking and domestic cleaning water from the same lake.

Tempted by a salesman

Life was easy for the islanders. But, once a year, on a given day, each household had to pour into the lake two litres of milk – which they did annually for generations with great devotion.

Then, one year, few days before the annual milk-pouring day, an itinerant salesman from the mainland visited the islanders with bottles of white liquid which, he said, was a cleansing and disinfecting agent and warded off pesky mosquitoes, cockroaches and mice. He explained that one table-spoon of the liquid can be used to make a full bottle of the liquid which would still be good as exterminator. The islanders bought a stock of the white liquid at highly discounted prices.

The annual milk-pouring ritual day was approaching. One of the islanders, Mr X, reasoned: “Why pour expensive milk and instead pour the diluted bottled liquid? Nobody will notice as it was as white as milk”. So thought, and acted on, everybody else on the island.

The milk-pouring day came. Everybody poured the new white liquid and went home thinking themselves cleverer than all other islanders.

Deadly potion

Next day the cattle, after their grazing, went to the lake to bathe and quench their thirst. When the islanders went to check why the cattle had not returned, they found them all dead and floating motionless in the lake. Also, dead and floating were the fish.

So, the islanders lost their livelihood – milk and fish – and they all migrated from the island looking for fresh means of livelihood.

A similar charade is going on in India ever since Corona-19 pandemic hit India since March 2020. Now we focus on some current realities on the basis of media coverage.

DC receives miss-call

According to New Indian Express, the Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru got a call on July 24, 2020, regarding a missing quarantined Corona+ diagnosed person. Surprised, he told the caller that he was the DC. The caller, however, refused to believe that it was the DC himself speaking and told him not to pull a fast one. It took the DC some time to convince the caller of his real identity.

Once convinced, the caller, a personnel of the quarantine watch team, told him that a person under home quarantine was missing and his database had the DC’s number. It was later discovered that a man, the primary contact of a patient, had given the DC’s number instead of his own to the authorities, before disappearing. So the quarantine watch team ended up tracking the DC’s number, leading to a goof-up.

According to sources, the man had given the officials false information multiple times. The quarantine watch team said that on an average, every day two to three individuals give false identity and contact numbers making it tough to trace the contacts.

Not a stray case

This is not a stray case. According to a report in Deccan Herald (24/7/20) headlined “Search on for 180 ‘missing’ positive cases in Tirupati’, “People undergoing Covid-19 tests in Tirupati but providing incorrect contact information are posing a challenge for the authorities in tracing those who tested positive among them”. Elsewhere there have been reports of close to 20,000 similarly “missing” and untraceable.

All this is about citizens at large. What about our netas? The High Court of Karnataka on July 17, 2020, as reported in The Hindu, directed the State government to immediately act firmly against the political leaders and others who grossly violated the COVID-19 health safety norms during three recent events attended by former and current Ministers, including the Chief Minister.

Netas crowd at three events

The three events were the wedding ceremony of the son of former Minister Parameshwar at Ballari on June 15, the foundation stone laying ceremony for a statue of Kempe Gowda near the international airport in Bengaluru on June 27, and a protest rally against fuel price hike held by Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee in Bengaluru on June 29.

While Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa (now hospitalized with Corona+), former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and several pontiffs attended the foundation stone-laying ceremony, Health Minister B Sriramulu attended the wedding, and several former Ministers and MLAs of the Congress took part in the protest rally.

“It is necessary for the State government to immediately look into the alleged violations, and if [they are] found true, the violators have to be dealt with very firmly,” said a Division Bench in its order on a PIL petition. The Bench said the government should handle such instances of violation with a firm hand, no matter how influential the violators are.

In the latest instance, as reported in Daijiworld (6/8/20), in spite of the fact that his driver and gunmen have tested positive for corona-virus infection, minister Nagesh, instead of opting to get quarantined, took part in the COVID-19 meeting. It may be recalled that three weeks earlier he had participated in a grand feast, on the day when Sunday lockdown was in force, that too, neglecting the need to follow social distancing norms.

A corona-virus infection control meeting had been organized under the leadership of Nagesh at the office of Kolar Deputy Commissioner on August 5. However, social distancing was forgotten at this meeting. People sat close together without maintaining distance. Nagesh, by participating in this meeting, overlooking corona positive status of his personal staff, totally neglected the government rules.

Netas trot out excuses

But netas have their own excuses to trot out. Ironically, perhaps as a defensive move, ministers and netas seek change in public behaviour. According to a report in New Indian Express, Karnataka MLA Sumalatha told the paper (8/7/20): “Though social distancing norms are in place, the public doesn’t adhere to them. People take selfies, offer shawls and garlands, and it is difficult to explain the need for social distancing and hand hygiene to everyone. On any given day, a politician has dozens of visitors, usually armed with garlands, Mysore Peta, flowers, fruits and prasadam, theertha and other gifts. Marriages, house-warming and naming ceremonies are an everyday affair.”

Preaching for janata

The preaching for the janata continues. According to Daijiworld (5/8/20), the newly transferred Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner, Dr K V Rajendra, in a press release has urged people visiting the malls, shops and markets to mandatorily wear masks and maintain social distance. He has directed the corporation commissioner to assign officials across 60 wards of Mangaluru city to hold corona-virus related awareness campaigns urging and educating the people on the benefit of wearing masks and maintaining social distance amid the growing pandemic.

It is best to conclude with the reaction by a Daiji reader, ‘Deshbhakt’, to the press release of the DC: “We have put behind us 5 Covind-19-infested months. Do people still require to be educated on protection from the virus??”

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? You are invited to respond to the above topic-essay in the format given below.


Also read:




By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Wed, Aug 12 2020

    Mohandas: Thank you for coming on board. Your add-on quote makes better sense today. Your last line is loaded with truth that is generally missed by people at large. Pl. keep company.


    Tue, Aug 11 2020

    Well expressed JM. Perhaps it may be in the fitness of things to add a word at the end of your opening quote. , "oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive (ourselves)!” - Walter Scott.
    The act of deception is not confined to Karnataka or India, but (take comfort) it is practised in several other countries as well. 'Concern for yourself' cannot be imposed. When you suggest strict action must be taken against protocol breakers, you are suggesting law makers should be punished for being law breakers, in the instances provided. Will it work? A friend of mine travelled from Delhi to Chicago at the peak of Covid in mid June. After the lengthy procedure at Delhi airport prior to departure it was just anti-climax on arrival. He was handed a one page flyer with the Do's and Dont's. Airport officials simply said, "From now on, you are responsible for your safety. Observe the protocols. You are free to go." Spoon feeding and mollycuddling a truant section of population is a thankless task.
    Hope better sense prevails. The tragedy is that the deadly virus cannot distinguish between a responsible protocol adherent (frontline health workers ) and indifferent protocol breakers.

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Mon, Aug 10 2020

    Ashok: I admire the way you have been monitoring developments in India and the time and pain you have taken to share your views with readers of this column. I invite you to be the part of this column with your views on the topics focused on fortnightly. Thank you.

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Mon, Aug 10 2020

    Rohan: Thank you for reinforcing my submissions with convincing support.
    John: Your Biblical back-up is a good diversion.
    Mangalorian: Thank you for your encouragement and consistent support to the column.
    Prescilla Madam: Thank you for your earthy wisdom.
    Jairam: Very valid points wrapped in humour – as always.
    Thank you all for your early-bird response.

  • Ashok, Mangalore/Australia

    Mon, Aug 10 2020

    The rule breakers are everywhere but in Western society, rules are for everyone unlike in India where it is only applicable for common men. Politicians and influential people are exempted from almost all rules. When it comes to common men, then the influence and the money power determines, how much rule is applied to an individual which is very sad.
    India should not have gone this far, in first place but now the situation is completely beyond control despite silver linings that some experts/politicians talking about. Situation could have better, if people and government, thought about others too instead of self-interest from the beginning.

  • Ashok, Mangalore/Australia

    Mon, Aug 10 2020


    Very well written. Like the story to start with. As Rohan pointed out rightly, this still continues in the modern day.

    Education is not the yardstick for common sense. If so, the big metros around the world, which supposed to be accommodating majority of the most educated, would be better place to live with less crime rate, respect to each other and so on. On contrary it is the rural areas, which accommodates majority of the less educated, are a peaceful place with less crime and human respect.

    Education can only do so much even in this pandemic. Education has to comes from within. One should think about others and society, instead of self. Once you start thinking that you're endangering the life of others, then it sticks to your mind.

    In the recent US protests about the lock-down, one protest card read as " My body, my choice, let me live the way I want" is the prime example for this self centric thoughts. Yes!! it is your body, but when you get sick, don't you go to hospital?? Burden the healthcare sector and don't you endanger the others by spreading it"? The problem is, people take everything easy until it turns up at their door.

    Not following the guidelines laid by the administration is not exclusive to India. Recently an employee of Australian Embassy of Afghanistan landed in Brisbane. The norm is still to quarantine of 14 days when you land in Australia. He was exempted from quarantine because he have diplomatic immunity. He might have thought he had immunity from Virus too. It reminded me one of Former CM of Karnataka who at present the minister of Indian government. Unlike in India though, the Queensland premier is determined to close this loop hole in the law and make everyone accountable. When Queensland closed the border with NSW for routine travelling, with exemption of medical reason, a guy tried to cross the border with a medical referral, only to find out that the doctor who gave that referral died 5 years ago. (1/2)


    Sun, Aug 09 2020

    John - you make medicine palatable. If more and more people only did what they are supposed to do (foremost among that crowd being our netas), we would not have found ourselves in this sorry state. I found that story about the white liquid salesman whose avarice wrecked an entire community fascinating.
    Please continue with these fortnightly dose.

  • Prescilla Fernandes, Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 08 2020

    Sir, your story is turning into a reality in the modern world. When the greed is more than the need, the destruction happens. Even after ample examples which give a warning to the people, they just ignore and fall prey to the cunning ways. Regarding awareness campaigns urging and educating the people on the benefit of wearing masks and maintaining social distance amid the growing pandemic, I remember my neighbor telling me that her son is to be reminded every evening to have bath which continues even now. The son is married and staying in Bangalore and after mother reminds him, he goes for bath. Some habits continue until their life time.

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Sat, Aug 08 2020

    Yet another interesting article from you Mr Monteiro. Thank you.

    Subhas Chandra Bose, the Congress party President (1938-1939), wanted the independent India to be under dictatorship for some years. Most likely he saw himself as the one that would do the dictating.

    He was fully aware of the total lack of discipline in 90% Indians. At the time India's population was under 300 million. Literacy possibly no more than 20%.

    Despite greater literacy now, a large number of Indians still lack discipline. Of course, with very limited resources, when hunger strikes, discipline would be the last thought in anyone's mind.

    Will Covid-19 fix India's two real problems: the over-population and lack of jobs? Unfortunately not.

    When people have extremely limited resources, and no jobs, the only way to survive would be through some deceiving, if not outright stealing.

  • John, Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 08 2020

    Now Vaccine blues also ?
    Jesus's message to faithful on Vaccine, Rich people in the West and how to build immune system in a message to John Leary dated July 31st

    Jesus said: “My son, in the first reading (Jeremiah 26:1-9) Jeremiah told the people of an impending destruction of Israel because of their sins. The people and the priests did not want to hear such words, and these people even wanted to kill Jeremiah. He had to flee into hiding. You, My son, have also had many messages about how America will be taken over as well, to make the world ready for the reign of the Antichrist. Your people do not want to hear this message either. When you talk of storing food and setting up refuges, the people did not see the need. But now with these virus attacks, the people understand your messages more. Even when you told people not to take vaccines or the mark of the beast in a computer chip in the body, people at first thought this was not possible. Now you are seeing how the rich people want to use vaccines to kill people, and reduce the population. These same evil ones want to force people to have chips in the body, so they could control your mind and soul as robots for their evil work. Refuse even under pain of death to take any vaccines, and refuse to take any chip in the body for any reason. Even if people laugh at you, or criticize you, you need to keep giving My messages to warn the people of the evil ones who want to control people. Trust in My Word that My believers need to come to My refuges for protection from those evil ones who want to kill you, as they tried to kill the early prophets of Israel.”

    Jesus said: “My people, the time before the next virus attack is running out. I warned you this new virus attack would come in the fall. My people need to prepare their souls with monthly Confession. You will need masks and stay inside when you can see chemtrails being used. You can build up your immune system with Hawthorn pills, vitamin C, and elderberry extract.

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 08 2020

    Dear Sir,

    This story tempted by a salesman still continues in the modern day. People are lured by higher interest, high returns and loose their principal. They are offered attractive money for their agricultural land to convert and sell finally the land is unsuitable for cultivation. They have neither sold it nor can till it anymore. In the western ghat Malanad, Kodagu region what started as a side income tourist business was e exploited and nature was altered. Now the plantations were neglected now there is no income from either. People bought lands and houses in excess of what was wanted diverting income from their main business in greed and also by taking bank loans. Now they are in debt and nearing to be closing their businesses. The story continues.
    What is all this teaching us? Today the ones who proudly worked in big companies are losing their jobs. Who thought they had their lives set per se are having unpredictable times.
    Finally what I can infer is to live life one day at a time. To be satisfied with gods grace and live a god fearing life. To love and be loved. To be helpful and be helped. Not to be overridden by pride and be humble always. This is somewhere near to St. Francis prayer.
    Regarding playing our part, we ought to adhere to all the covid requirements as stipulated and directed by the government health officials etc from time to time. It is each ones responsibility. To the ones who are not relenting strict action should be taken. No one is above the law. After doing our duty then if anything untoward happens then it is Gods will and we have little to complain.
    Thank you for this thought provoking article.

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