Saturday, August 1, 2020

fighting Covid ~ States response and media !


Tucked away in the Himalayan mountains is a small and beautiful State called – Sikkim – a landlocked place.  The state borders Nepal; China's Tibet Autonomous Region; Bhutan and West Bengal. It has an area of 7,096 sq. km.  Its capital is Gangtok.  The principal languages are : Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepali. Sikkim's hot springs are renowned for their medicinal and therapeutic values. Do you know who is the Chief Minister of Sikkim ?


Nayakan  the Kamal starrer directed by Mani Ratnam, released in 1987 was a grand hit.   The film inspired by The Godfather started a new trend of glorifying underworld activities.  In the movie, the hero  "Velu"  Naicker, runs to Bombay, gets raised in the slums of Dharavi, gets into smuggling.   As his popularity and clout increases, he starts eliminating rival gangs and kills a Police Officer too [shown as corrupt to justify the killing].  Once when nobody is able to bring a contraband parcel out of a ship, Velu brings it ashore with Selva's help by hoodwinking the Custom officials. ‘nila athu vaanathu mela’ song and Kuyilee dance !!  years later, Velu becomes the biggest mafia leader of the city with a large number of followers.  No post on the movie but on  the area – ‘Dharavi’.

Today, only two more persons tested positive for coronavirus in the slum-clusters of Dharavi in the city, taking the figures to 2,531 on Sunday. Dharavi has so far reported 113 active cases and 2,168 COVID-19 patients have been discharged post recovery. Meanwhile, 29 more COVID-19 positive cases were reported from Dadar area.  Why the focus on ‘dharavi’ – because it is touted as the largest slum  where One million people live in a one-square-mile area, with eight to ten people sharing a room often no bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet. Eighty percent of people there use communal toilets.  There were fears that it was turning into a big Covid cluster .. ..

~ by concerted efforts of Govt and many others, it has since been contained.  A month or so back, Burkha Dutt never a sympathizer [a hard core critic] posted a video titled ‘ In one of Mumbai's Red Zones, the dense, congested Nehru Nagar Basti I meet with RSS’  -  Volunteers- some are chartered accountants, others are professors- working to help Mumbai's BMC in testing & screening patients.

Politics and Governance are inseparable.  In a hard-hitting interview to CNN-News18, Maharashtra Cabinet minister Aaditya Thackeray on Wednesday slammed the BJP for seeking credit for the RSS's voluntary work in Dharavi. He also clarified that the agency at the forefront of Mission Dharavi was the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and that all other NGOs were working peripherally.  When asked if the RSS really worked in Dharavi and what is his take on the war for credit, Thackeray said, “I don’t think the RSS works for credit. It is the BJP trolls who are doing this. But they first need to decide if they want to seek credit for the success of Dharavi model, or whether they want to slam the government over its failure.” 

Responding to Thackeray's statement, Maharashtra BJP president Chandarkant Patil told CNN-News18, “This government should be large-hearted enough to give credit where it is due. The Sangha will complete 100 years this year. They have never sought credit for anything. They haven’t even spoken of the work they do. But as swayamsevaks, we feel the Sangha (RSS) should get its share of credit. We are not saying we are the only ones who worked in Dharavi, or in other areas. There were many other spiritual organisations, there was Tata Trust.

North Korean authorities have imposed a lockdown on the border city of Kaesong after discovering what they called the country's first suspected case of the novel coronavirus, state media reported Sunday. Leader Kim Jong Un convened an emergency politburo meeting on Saturday to implement a "maximum emergency system and issue a top-class alert" to contain the virus, official news agency KCNA said. If confirmed, it would be the first officially recognised COVID-19 case in the North where medical infrastructure is seen as woefully inadequate for dealing with any epidemic.

Back in India, Sikkim reported its first death from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Sunday, when a 74-year-old man succumbed to the virus at a state-run hospital in Gangtok. Shortly after this, the Sikkim government extended the statewide lockdown till August 1 to check the spread of the coronavirus. A notification by the Sikkim government stated, "After careful consideration of the situation, it has been decided to extend the period of lockdown in the entire state of Sikkim till 6 am of August 1, 2020."   The man had been admitted to Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial (STNM) Hospital on Saturday night after he tested positive for the disease. The patient was later shifted to the intensive care unit (ICU) where he breathed his last, news agencies reported, citing sources.

Chief Minister of Sikkim, Prem Singh Tamang has said that he was "deeply saddened" by the death of the COVID-19 patient. The administration has urged the people of Sikkim to stay calm and continue following the guidelines mandated by the government, in order to cut the spread of the coronavirus. Sikkim's current count of total cases stands at 499, which includes 356 active infections and 142 patients who have been cured or recovered from the disease.  The efficient CM - Prem Singh Tamang  was born in  1968 and hails from  Singling Busty, West Sikkim. He graduated with a degree in Bachelors of Arts from Darjeeling Government College in 1988. After graduation, he worked as a teacher in a state-run school.  The tainted media which had hailed the CMs of Delhi & Kerala would not utter a word of praise in respect of other States, even when they do good work !.

With 48,661 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, India's Covid-19 tally climbed to 13,85,522 today, while the recoveries rose  to 8,85,576, according to the Union Health Ministry data. The country's death toll rose to 32,063 with 705 fatalities being recorded in a day, the data updated at 8 am showed.


Going by the nos. affected – the top 5 are : Maharashtra (366368); Tamil Nadu (206737); Delhi (129531); Karnataka (90942); Andhra Pradesh (88671).  By the no. of deaths – it is : Maharashtra (13389); Delhi (3806); Tamil Nadu (3409), Gujarat (2300) and Karnataka (1796) .. .. these are pure statistics and would reveal the way you look at them – in terms of nos affected !; nos recovered; deaths – and there are varying parameters – the % of population as to the National population :  Uttar Pradesh 16.51%; Maharashtra 9.28%; Tamil Nadu 5.96%; Kerala 2.76% and Delhi 1.39%   ~ that way Uttar Pradesh cases of 63742 from population of 199,812,341 is 0.0319% - whereas Delhi’s 129531 of 16,787,941 is 0.772%

Yet the media had portrayed certain States to be bad, while a couple of States most notably Kerala and Delhi were appreciated by one and all, especially foreign media – led by BBC.   As soon as the Centre raised an alert against coronavirus in January, Kerala Health Department initiated a series of proactive measures like quarantining all persons who recently traveled to affected regions like China as well as those who came in close contact with them. Such measures were hailed in the Press.

Kerala state on Wednesday reported 1,038 Covid-19 cases, its first-ever single-day tally above 1,000, taking the total cases reported to 15,032 as chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government was seriously considering the option of going for another lockdown. With 12 wards in the capital city being declared as containment zones, police have closed many of the roads. Thampanoor, Poundkadavu, Chalai, Karamana, Thycaud, Kunnukuzhi, Kowdiar, Muttada, Pattom, Ulloor, Cheruvaikal and Kazhakootam are the new containment zones. The police have barricaded all roads leading to these wards.

Another perspective, till now there was a combined state, which is no split into Andhra Pradesh & Telengana and if you add their numbers, it is worrying.  In the last one week, Andhra Pradesh has contributed more number of novel Coronavirus cases than any other state in India, except Maharashtra. The state has added more than 40,000 new patients during this time, which is half of its entire caseload of about 81,000. The explosion of infections in Andhra Pradesh is rather curious. The state was always one of the front-runners in testing, and that means it would have been possible to identify and isolate the infected patients quite early on. In fact, till the end of last month, the state seemed to have a reasonable control over the epidemic.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26.7.2020.

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