By Antony Cony D'Souza
Mangaluru, May 26: Legendary Chinese strategist Sun Tzu about the Art of War had said, “If we know the enemy and know ourselves, we need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If we know ourselves but not the enemy, for every victory gained, we will also suffer a defeat. But if we know neither the enemy nor ourselves, we will succumb in every battle. Now replace the word 'Enemy' in the opening paragraph with ‘Novel Coronavirus’ and read the three sentences again.
Understanding, vaccine or cure for coronavirus has brought world to its knees.
Certainly all nations are fighting against coronavirus in war footing including India. Although in the beginning, our frontline troops (corona warriors) found supply line growing little thin, limited protective gear (PPE), ammunition (beds) and heavy equipment (ventilators), our Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi took the fight to our over 25 crore households. Our PM Modi who provided perfect leadership and perfect lockdown, succeeded in isolating coronavirus by isolating us from corona at the outset covering 1.4 billion people. Moreover, addressing our nation a few times during the lockdown which even China’s Xi nor Trump did not, made India greater than the pandemic, the world felt. No other nations could dare to implement such early large scale total lockdown. This may have virtually prevented 37,000 to 78,000 deaths in India. We all Indians should be indebted to PM Modi for his bold and timely decisions.
On the implementation of complete lockdown, our PM had said, “Coronavirus is a strange virus and it did not go to anyone’s ‘house’ on its own but travelled when one did. Therefore, maintain distance, keep to your houses, and do use some of our traditional remedies to boost immunity as there is no medicine to cure COVID-19 and the body depends on its own immunity to do so.” This perfect war footing strategy proved world pandemic pundits wrong who had predicted that India’s infection rates could be as high as 2,50,000 by fortnight of May month but on the contrary, it was just around 90,000. Such impossible things were made possible only due to the proactive and firm measures taken by the Modi government. It saved India from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Entire world has also acknowledged this
PM Modi and his team have been virtually burning the midnight oil, in India's fight against Covid-19. The results have been exemplary too. India's recovery rate at 31.15% is the best amongst a galaxy of countries. China's recovery rate is 10.52% and USA’s is barely 1.39%. It took India 101 days to cross 60,000 cases, while it took UK just 40 days, Italy, Spain and USA took 52, 56 and 65 days respectively. In Vande Bharat mission, a successful operation, the government has evacuated over 23,000 Indians from several countries. Since the mission began 15 days ago, 23,475 Indians have returned home. It includes 4,883 workers, 4,196 students and 3,087 professionals. The Modi government will operate over 100 flights to complete the mission. In total, thanks to the Vande Bharat mission, the government of India will bring 67,833 people stranded around the world followed by quarantine and national care which is a huge mission.
Why are viruses so evil?
Novel coronavirus disease is posing an extraordinary challenge to the health and well-being of people across the globe. Along with grave threats to social stability, economic prosperity, and human health, caring for patients places great stress on health care workers.
According to world-renowned virologist Peter Kolchinsky, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is nothing short of an ‘evil genius’ because how the novel coronavirus developed mechanisms to become a silent killer, infecting so many so quickly all without a trace. ‘This, SARS-CoV-2 evolved to silently infect us in the upper respiratory area and spread before replicating in our lungs and their numbers’.
Novel coronavirus, mankind’s invisible enemy itself is not a new virus. Coronavirus are known since the 60s, when scientists were studying bronchitis in chickens as well as human viruses from nasal cavities.
Chicken coronavirus under microscope
COVID-19: A Sociological Approach
A pandemic like COVID-19 is especially interesting to sociologists because it forces conversations by radically rearranging the social structure and routines. COVID-19, pandemic of this magnitude usually reveals limitations in the social policy; exposed weak links in the unemployment policy, weakness in the rehabilitation of the migrants, efficient social welfare schemes, public health policy etc.
This situation is really bringing forward how important having a well-funded, well-organized public health system is in this country in the district, state and national levels and how important it is to have coordination between them that could be the silver lining in these times of COVID-19 pandemic.
World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraged
Disasters do not affect everyone equally but coronavirus did worldwide in a record time. Officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) had said in the beginning that it is hard to predict when the global COVID-19 pandemic will be over. However, on May 17, we heard an encouraging news from World Health Organization (WHO) that vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection has entered the clinical trial stage. According to their data, as many as eight vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are in the clinical trial while another 110 are in various stages of development across the world.
Qatar’s Covid-19 mortality rate among world’s lowest
Qatar stands at number two in the number of Covid-19 total cases in the GCC region. However, with cases nearing to 44,000, the death rate is very low, super low as only 20 people have died so far. It is only about 0.1%, one of the lowest in the world.
The low mortality rate in this case, points to the excellent care provided by the healthcare system in Qatar. Moreover, around 9,200 of the total positive cases have recovered, which is another outcome of the efficient treatment provided in the country.
Under the ages of Indian Embassy in Qatar, Indian Community Benevolent Forum and at the direction of Indian Ambassador to Qatar HE P Kumaran, Deepak Shetty, former Karnataka Sangha president, president of Bunts Qatar, Nagesh Rao, president KSQ and other members from the repatriation committee are assigned to arrange repatriation flight to India. P N Baburajan president and other executives of ICBF who distribute ration almost on day to day basis.
MCC (Mangaluru Cricket Club) and MCA (Mangaluru Cultural Association) both have contributed for the cause of ICBF towards the repatriation flights. We thank their founders who both are leaders, visionaries, entrepreneur and philanthropic in their service for the Mangalurean community in particular and to the Doha society in general for the past two decades.
Ravi Shetty, past VP KSQ, past president, Tulu Koota Qatar and Bunts Qatar along with Abdulla Monu, former president of SKMWA and KMCA and along with presidents of various Qatar based associations, organized Zoom video meeting with the union minister and former Karnataka chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda expressing concerns about various issues particularly about the Karnataka based expats repatriation due to the corona pandemic.
An Appreciation Bouquet
Corona warriors are those doctors, paramedics, nurses, policemen, health workers, sanitation workers or any such team engaged in different duties in the fight against COVID-19.
Led by PM Modi, we all Indians saluted ‘corona warriors’ by clapping and encouraging them that entire nation is proud of them and we are all indebted to them. The armed forces conducted aerial fly-pasts and showered flower petals on several hospitals across the country on May 3 to express gratitude to lacs of doctors, paramedics, sanitation staff, health workers and other frontline workers engaged in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
In Karnataka, fight against coronavirus started victoriously under the leadership of Karnataka government, chief minister B S Yediyurappa, opposition party leader D K Shivakumar, our MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, MLAs D Vedavyasa Kamath and U T Khader from Mangaluru. MP’s, MLA’s from Udupi district, MLC Ivan D’Souza, deputy commissioner Sindhu B Rupesh from Dakshina Kannada and G Jagadeesha from Udupi, Mithun Rai, Dr P S Harsha, police commissioner from Mangaluru and N Vishnuvardhan, superintendent of police from Udupi. They are actively supported by different institutes, organizations, religious leaders and media. Among them to name few, Mangalore diocese Bishop Dr Peter Paul Saldanaha, Udupi diocese Bishop Dr Jerald Isaac Lobo, Fr Muller’s Charitable Institutions’ director Fr Richard Coelho, Fr Victor Machado, parish priest, Holy Cross Church, Kulshekar, Fr Vincent D’Souza, St Antony Church, Kulur, Fr Ronad Coutinho, St Joseph Church, Bajpe, and almost all the church priests, laity and nuns from Mangaluru and Udupi diocese have been serving people by providing ration, food, medicine or medical assistance, counseling services, accommodation to migrants beyond any caste and creed barrier since the very beginning of the pandemic. Churches throughout India are also supporting the government being part of rebuilding communities and cities.
Media leader Daijiworld, its founder Walter Nandalike and his team consisting mainly Leslie Rego, Sheldon Crasta, Praveen Tauro etc., have distributed ration kits to around 5,000 families and also provided nutritious food to under-nourished children. Daijiworld has been providing regular live entertainment through local Tulu, Kannada, Konkani artistes with an aim to keep all Mangalureans physically and mentally fit during this pandemic time. Almost all Mangalurean communities have rejoiced the service of Daijiworld which showcases society values of ‘brotherhood’, ‘love your neighbour’ and also which succeeded in re-igniting the Mangalurean traditional community sentiments between different communities.
Educational institutions like St Joseph Engineering College (SJEC), Vamanjoor, Mangaluru, who under the leadership of their director and their team, realizing that there is still a lot of uncertainty about the scope of the pandemic’s impact, together with Roshni Nilaya, Jeppu, Mangaluru, distributed directly to the needy 10 kg of rice and gave away groceries to 140 registered street vendors. This highlights not only valuable contribution of street vendors but also upholds their dignity as human beings. Rosario educational institute, NGOs are also in the frontline. By this, India has achieved a unique form of social harmony. Every individual or any community by their individual capacity has contributed to lessen the menace of coronavirus by serving each other or each other’s’ communities. This is a typical example of unity in diversity. Jai Hind.
Catastrophes have always touched people’s lives. Throughout history, people have believed that disasters carry some messages from the almighty. During COVID-19, many religious leaders and political leaders have cited religious references.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal asked people to read 18 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita saying that he is doing the same with his family. "Read 18 chapters of Bhagavad Gita during the lockdown. We are doing that in our family," Further he said, "We need focus like Arjun in our fight against coronavirus.”
UP Assembly Speaker Hridaya Narayan Dixit has said that the 'Atharva Veda' describes the ways and means to fight against epidemics and pandemics. Explaining further, Dixit said, "Nearly 60 per cent of Atharva Veda is devoted to Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine in India. 'Charak Samhita' is based on chapters from the Atharva Veda, which deal with the causes of epidemics and possible ways to fight them."
The Christian response to plagues begins with some of Jesus’s most famous teachings, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’; ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’; and ‘Greater love has no man than this, that he should lay down his life for his friends’. Put plainly, the Christian ethic in a time of plague considers that our own life must always be regarded as less important than that of our neighbour.
People have fallen into contemplation, comparing their present lives prior to the onset of pandemic. Then, many were virtually very busy bodies who had little time or no time to read Holy Scriptures or say prayers. Now facing various hardships and uncertainty about future, people ask themselves ‘where my help can come from?’ By this time, most of our people have realized that ‘My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth who supplies my every needs’.
Usually, coffins are arranged after someone’s death. However, nowadays coffins are kept ready in thousands expecting daily deaths in huge numbers. People are much concerned about this when coronavirus may attack us like a thief where the day and time are least known. Therefore, let us look up to the cross of Jesus who died for us. He will plead with his Father to forgive us (Ps 103:3) and to restore our lives with compassion (Is. 41:10). When we have total faith in God, all our anxieties, miseries, worries will be ceased; our empty life will be filled with God’s mercy and all the ripples that we are facing now may turn into blessings. Moreover, Christian faith demands in us that we are in need of Jesus more than ever. We need a complete Jesus, not an incomplete one.