Shaktichakra, the wheel of energies

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Posts Tagged ‘lockdown

Chargesheet against a junta

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Since March 2020, beginning with the imposition of the “national lock down” in India, a host of measures have been ordered by the state – central government, state and union territory governments, and municipal corporations – which have been presented as means to control the coronavirus “epidemic”.

These measures are non-pharmacological and non-medical measures, that is, they are presented as controlling the transmission and spread of any disease outbreak or epidemic by halting, restricting, controlling or limiting the routine movement of citizens through the course of their day and week for social, commercial, leisure and faith-related activities.

I have opposed and continue to oppose and reject “lock down” and its host of associated restrictions as a means to address and control a disease outbreak/epidemic. Completely opposite to what their alleged aims are, all these measures cause harm to society and individuals. Moreover, these measures have no place – nor did they ever have any place, at any time during the modern medical history of India as has been recorded from the late 19th century – in elementary epidemiology.

The “national lock down” that was imposed from March to June 2020, and the many state “lock downs” that followed, including those imposed during the alleged “second wave” of March 2021 onwards, together constitute the most serious assault on citizens’ freedoms, civil liberties, inalienable rights, religious and faith-related customs, and livelihoods that post-Independence India has experienced. Not even during the notorious Emergency period (1975-77) were there such draconian measures.

These draconian measures, with no basis in public health whatsoever, gave rise to associated measures such as night curfews, quarantine centres, isolation centres, containment zones, quarantine periods and the like which all were alleged to control the transmission and spread of coronavirus. None of these measures, not a single one, was supported by the epidemiological evidence in India, of which there is a very extensive record.

Worse, not once was any such measure, whether introduced and enforced nationally, in a state or in a city/town/district, subject to review and assessment by any members of the large pool of experienced medical practitioners in India who have worked on public health. Instead, central and state governments, municipal corporations and district administrations either created as bodies to endorse these measure “expert groups” and “expert committees” whose members were chosen and selected opaquely, or issued administrative “orders’ to impose such measures which bore no reference whatsoever to any objective assessments of the situation on the ground.

The cumulative impact of such measures has been devastating to the public at large and the ordinary citizen. This impact is far greater, and has much more long-lasting consequences, than would have been the case had any disease outbreak/epidemic in India run its natural course. I say this unreservedly because never in the Indian public health record have healthy citizens been confined – under risk of penalty – and then subjected to continued and acute psychological pressures.

These pressures took the form, early during the “national lock down”, as compliance demanded by the state at the point of penalties and fines, and also through physical assault by the police, for not wearing face masks and coverings, or for missing curfew deadlines.

During 2021, these pressures have taken the form, especially since early February 2021, of submitting to the illegal and unconstitutional “vaccination drive” (or “tika utsav“, which translates as ‘vaccination festival’, a hideous travesty of public health) that was commenced by the central government, and which quickly thereafter was attempted to be enforced by making vaccination against coronavirus the condition against which employment as a government or public sector employee could continue, against which essential services such as food rations from fair price shops could be disbursed, and against which transport services such as metropolitan commuter trains and buses could be boarded. As I state towards the close of this chargesheet, these wholly authoritarian measures have ignored all democratic scrutiny and oversight.

The wage labour and informal sectors of the Indian economy, which have depended on and continue to depend on daily or weekly wages, were especially from late March until July 2020 reduced to penury and starvation by these draconian measures that had nothing whatsoever to do with public health.

From July 2020 when these measures began to be relaxed in different regions and states, earning daily and weekly wages and monthly salaries once again became possible as commercial and business activity resumed. But by then, three to four months of living off debt for a large number of households proved to be a crushing burden. It has been estimated that between 20% and 25% of all households in India were made poorer, and pushed below the true poverty line, directly because of the “lock down” and associated restrictions.

Whether during the “national lock down” or during the many state-level lock downs and movement restrictions during the 2020-21 period, daily and casual wage labour lost income. Surveys have shown that 6 out of 10 domestic workers did not get paid at all during lock downs, that 9 out of 10 casual labourers (such as those who labour at construction sites) did not get paid. Their capacities to save, already small, were ruined for 20 months and counting, and the great majority of such households have been pushed into debt.

The floor minimum wage in India – which was set at some 18,000 rupees a month about three years ago – has proven during 2020-21 to be wholly inadequate to provide for a family given the steep rise in food and fuel prices (about half the cost of the LPG cooking gas cylinder has been added during only the last 12 months). Even until the start of 2020, the average Indian household paid some 60 out of every 100 rupees of its medical expenses out of pocket. The “epidemic”-related costs of tests and access to basic medical care have only pushed up this already very high out-of-pocket expenditure. I have no doubt that all these factors have contributed to a rate of household indebtedness that has not been seen for two generations.

Other than during war time, which after 1945 are periods that Indians have experienced for short spells (such as in 1971), there has never been such a long period of concentrated deprivation. The cumulative effect of the “national lock down”, the state lock downs that followed, the restrictions placed by municipal corporations and district administrations have caused directly the sharp reversal of all the average standard-of-living and public health gains that have slowly and painstakingly been secured over the previous 70 years.

Not once since March 2020 until now, December 2021, has the central government or state government or municipal corporations or district administrations when imposing “lock down” and associated restrictions, acknowledged the specific needs of large sections of the population: those up to 18 years old (about 240 million male and 220 million female, total about 460 million), the population above 60 years old (about 143 million), the labour force (about 470 million).

The restrictions of all kinds taken together have affected India’s large population of children, adolescents and teenagers severely. Their schools and colleges were shuttered for over a year (and continue to be in some places, while where normal classes resumed, they are limited in frequency and attendance). Children, adolescents and teenagers being snatched away by the tens of millions from socialising settings, where they meet and play and speak to those of their own age group, and also from social and family settings, has caused both psychological and physiological harm to a degree that is still, 20 months after the onset of the alleged “epidemic”, neither recognised by the government authorities nor remedied in any way.

This impact comes on top of the already very alarming situation that was recorded by the central government in 2017 which showed that more than 840,000 children die before completing the first year of their lives. This number is more than that recorded by any other country in the world. India’s infant mortality rate was still 34 per 1,000 live births in 2016, but several states (such as Assam and Odisha with 44 per 1,000, Chhattisgarh with 39 per 1,000, Madhya Pradesh with 47 per 1,000) are very much above the national infant mortality rate.

I stand appalled that for 20 months, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the health departments of all states and union territories have refused to acknowledge or consider the effects of their “lock down” and associated restrictions on so fundamental an indicator as the infant mortality rate.

Moreover, the shuttering of schools all over the country also stopped the provision of the mid-day meals. For pre-primary, primary and upper primary school students from 2001 – and for all children in government and government-aided schools until the age of 14 as per the 2013 National Food Security Act – the mid-day meal programme provides fresh cooked food to 120 million children in over 1.26 million schools (and centres under the Education Guarantee Scheme).

With the schools shuttered the meals to children stopped – directly contravening the provisions of the 2013 Act – depriving them of one of their fresh cooked meals a day. No central or state government authorities have recognised or remedied this effect of the “lock down” and associated restrictions in a country that has over a third of the world’s stunted (chronically malnourished) children.

Ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, diarrhoeal diseases, neo-natal disorders, lower respiratory tract infections, tuberculosis, diabetes and cirrhosis were the leading cause of deaths in India in 2019. Yet throughout the period March 2020 until the present (December 2021) health authorities in central and state governments, and in municipal corporations, refused to ascertain, prior to considering any restrictive public health measure such as ‘lock down’, what the effects of such restriction, the curbing of personal mobility (in all situations including medical consultations and routine treatments), and the health effects of reduced income or no income at all were likely to be.

This omission to be one of the gravest committed by central, state and city administrations, an omission whose scale and true impact will not be known as the authorities have refused to monitor it. In India in 2015, as per an assessment by the WHO, nearly 5.8 million people died because of non-communicable diseases such as these. Their causes include physical inactivity, unhealthy food (diets low in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, but high in salt and fats), daily exposure to air pollution (the 2016 Global Burden of Disease report showed that 920,000 premature deaths occurred because of household air pollution and 590,000 premature deaths because of ambient air pollution), tobacco use (smoking, smokeless tobacco), and the harmful use of alcohol. The lock down and associated restrictions, for months on end, strengthened these risk factors. It is inconceivable that the administrative and health authorities were unaware of the increased risks their orders directly caused.

During the period March 2020 until the present (December 2021), central and state governments, municipal corporations and district administrations alike have grossly and continuously abused emergency powers. Their applications of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 together with the Disaster Management Act 2005 and the imposition of sections of the Indian Penal Code (such as Section 144) has in every single instance been abuse of power under the guise of addressing an epidemic.

The necessary democratic safeguards that accompany all emergency powers – they must be invoked only through legislative process, their use must be proportionate, their application must be specific, they must be shown to be necessary, their application must be non-discriminatory, their implementation must not infringe rights and freedoms recognised by the Constitution, they must observe time limits, they must be subject to judicial correction – have in every instance been done away with.

The attempts being made by the state and its partners to accelerate the rate of vaccination rests entirely on the stripping away of judicial and legislative checks and balances, and the blocking of citizens’ oversight. What is alarming is the readiness of the state and its agencies to ignore entirely the directions given in Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, and likewise the obligations upon the Republic of India as a signatory to international conventions such as the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights 2005 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966.

What the state refuses to abide by however is what the citizens of India will defend.

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Written by makanaka

December 8, 2021 at 11:51

Culture’s silenced exiles

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Detail from a photograph of Toda men, from ‘An account of the primitive tribes and monuments of the Nilagiris’, James Wilkinson Breeks, 1873

FIVE WEEKS after Italy imposed a lock down on its citizens, the United Nations on 15 April 2020, which is ‘World Art Day’, explained that “with billions of people either in lockdown or on the front lines battling the covid19 pandemic”, the day picked to celebrate world art (the birth anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci) “is a timely reminder that art has the power to unite and connect in times of crisis”.

The agencies of the United Nations system have for over seven decades busied themselves, when not pondering or influencing the fates of humanity, with inventing days, years and even decades for all sorts of projects and concepts: environment, education, the girl child, oceans, AIDS, indigenous peoples, Africa, science and so on. Since these demand sometimes lengthy preparations for worldwide events for a particular day, or even better, for a specially designated year, they are popular with UN agencies for their ability to swell budgets.

Like many other messages from the UN and its agencies about its celebratory days and periods, the message that accompanied World Art Day 2020 was maternally saccharine. “Throughout self-isolation, art has nonetheless been flourishing. Pointing to performers tapping into their creativity to relay health guidelines and share messages of hope – as well as neighbours singing to each other on balconies, and concerts online,” gushed UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The Mona Lisa was “revisited in a variety of ways, including images of her self-isolating in the Louvre Museum, or covering her enigmatic smile with a surgical mask” which according to UNESCO “is how, despite the crisis” showed “art is demonstrating its resilience”.

But culture and resilience have other dimensions, many of them very different to what is envisioned by the world’s cultural authorities. By early May 2020, it had become clear to all those in the throbbing tourist hotspots of South-East Asia that the squadrons of flights bringing tourists were not going to resume soon. When they would resume, no-one could say. The popular markets of the region, to which tourists thronged and from which local families derived their regular incomes, fell silent – Chatuchak in Bangkok, Kuta in Bali, Phsar Chas in Siem Reap, Ben Thanh in Saigon, Divisoria in Manila, Glodok in Jakarta.

Calabashes of the Thonga tribe, eastern coast, southern Africa. The smallest are used for keeping medicinal powders. Those with long handles are used as bottles or for drinking. From ‘The life of a South Africa tribe’, Henri A Junod, 1912

These are the famous ones, the ones that get written about in glossy travel magazines and are the subjects of tens of thousands of pithy ‘reviews’ by travellers. For each of these, there are hundreds of local markets that cater to local needs. In these humbler but no less important smaller and provincial markets, the wares on offer and mix of stalls is decidedly different, the accent being on what rural and small town households need and can afford. Curio kiosks and pop art counters, fingernail salons and smoothie bars are not part of these marketscapes.

Regardless of the difference in these two kinds of markets, the “resilience” that UNESCO mentioned is very much more a characteristic they can claim than can the Louvre, the Uffizi Gallery, the Tate Modern, the Rijksmuseum or any of Europe’s most visited cultural and art centres. But while state-funded museums (whose capacious treasuries are well attended to also by private art foundations) can survive closures that are months long, local markets cannot, because their resilience must be renewed every day. This is what the wave upon wave of lock downs all around the world have damaged, in some places likely permanently. The lock downs are, for those familiar with the marketscapes and the creative ambiances they include, culture killers of a kind never before seen.

The lock downs that began in February 2020 did not pause to discriminate between the commonly recognised grades of culture: high culture, contemporary (or even pop) culture and folk culture. In Europe especially, ‘high culture’ is surrounded by government, arts foundations, arts councils, academic institutions. Where it manifests or is nurtured, in cities, are awe-inspiring structures designed to project pomp and power. Orchestra houses, national galleries and museums are typical of such structures. A great deal of money is mobilised every year to maintain them. In France and Germany, spending by government under the head of culture approaches some 2.3% of the annual budget. In the USA, the comparative figure is under 1%, but American arts foundations tend to be better endowed.

IN CONTRAST IT IS THE OTHER TWO GRADES – contemporary and folk culture – which receive very little of the culture budgets that remain, and compete or struggle for the small grants and project funds that city councils and private foundations give out. Between these two, it is folk culture, in all its diversity, that is the worse off, not least because it straddles so many subjects at the same time, such as indigenous peoples’ rights, environment and ecology, traditional knowledge systems, living heritage. It is also folk culture that is the fountainhead of the world’s handicrafts, hand weaves and household arts traditions and products. These include basketry, rugs and carpets, woodwork and wood carving, canecraft, the spinning and dyeing of yarn, the weaving of fabric on shuttle looms or waist-looms, incense sticks and aromatic oils, decorative metalware, lacquer, tapestries, traditional toys and games, jewellery as the most common.

The lock downs choked not only the world’s tourist flows (which spur the making of handicrafts) but also, in every metropolis, city, town and district centre, choked the normal commerce that provides the baseline sustenance that local artisans and creative collectives depend upon. What has been seen often in the last 15 or so years, with the establishing of ‘creative cities’ networks (notably in Europe), is the blending of the three typical grades of culture in festivals, extending the benefits of state sponsorship which flows disproportionately to the top cultural tier, to the other two as well. When museums shut their gates, galleries downed their shutters and theatres switched off their lights, the locales for such festivals disappeared from urban landscapes.

A Chuktia Bhunjia home in Odisha, India. Mud walls and thatched roof.

A Chuktia Bhunjia home in Odisha, India. Mud walls and thatched roof.

‘High’ culture moved online, fitfully and awkwardly. Museums essayed everything from virtual tours to guided meditation and home children’s workshops. Symphonic orchestras began to run livestreamed performances. Avant garde design studios experimented with commissioning works that were supposed to represent responses to the pandemic. Literary societies hosted weekly online reading groups. Indie film-makers mixed and spliced footage from a smorgasbord of ‘on location’ cast members filming at home. Musicians did the same, collaborating by being patched in to sound studios.

These attempts to maintain a facade of activity were at best cosmetic, a falling in line by the centres and institutions that embody ‘high’ culture not only with lock down restrictions but also to have their regular visitors receive the same bland yet menacing message – stay safe, stay home – but from a source that is not government, not medical authority and not administration, a source which until January 2020 represented the very core of what is meant by ‘civilisation’ in ways that are fundamentally and necessarily different from what is meant by ‘economy’ and ‘technology’. The lock downs and their restrictions did not remove from households and families either economy or technology, but they did remove culture.

This removal finally, in late December 2020, when the “cancelling” of Christmas became one more administrative cudgel, was recognised by the UN and UNESCO. “It is not only the sector itself that has been hit hard, people have also lost access to cultural events. Since covid19 hit, many concerts, art events and festivals have been taking place online. However almost one in two people globally cannot access them due to issues such as lack of internet connectivity,” said UNESCO. Its choice of words was mendacious, for what had removed culture was not a respiratory disease but lock downs.

Its grudging admission of the elemental connexion between culture and social life was quickly given an economic cast. “The culture sector, which employs more than 30 million people globally, has been hit much harder than expected by the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout. The film industry alone could lose about 10 million jobs this year, while a third of world’s art galleries could cut their staffing by half or more. What has been in effect a six-month closure of concerts and performance, could end up costing the music industry more than $10 billion in lost sponsorships, while the global publishing market could shrink by 7.5 per cent,” UNESCO said.

The UN system agencies that have anything at all to do with creative community energies and the knowledge systems of communities – chief among them being the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Health Organization (WHO, especially where traditional medicinal systems are concerned) and UNESCO – trot out the term ‘resilience’ very often. They use this term usually in conjunction with the Sustainable Development Goals and with Agenda 2030. It is designed to sound caring and humanistic.

A woman of the Badjao (the sea gypsies of South-East Asia) cooks in the kitchen of a stilt house in Borneo. Photo: David Kaszlikowski

A woman of the Badjao (the sea gypsies of South-East Asia) cooks in the kitchen of a stilt house in Borneo. Photo: David Kaszlikowski

In so saying, UNESCO sounded much more like an economics thinktank than an organisation that has worked on cultural matters for 74 years, works through seven international conventions on culture, and also through dozens of regional programmes. Perhaps it took its cue from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which with a squarely macro-economic bent had said plainly in September 2020 that culture has to do with economics: “Cultural and creative sectors are important in their own right in terms of their economic footprint and employment. They are among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with large cities often containing the greatest share of jobs at risk. The dynamics vary across sub-sectors, with venue-based activities and the related supply chains most affected.”

WHAT CONNECTS THE WORLDVIEW of the OECD, the institutions and centres of ‘high’ culture, UNESCO, and the gigantic ‘development’ industry that the UN Sustainable Development Goals have become is that peoples’ cultures and ways of life, their everyday artefacts, their folk arts and expressions, all in fact that they derive meaning and identity from, fall outside what is called ‘cultural industry’. This is nothing but the full formalisation of community creativity and its translation into economic units. There is no place in a cultural industry view for the traditional knowledge systems that give a non-monetary value to a basket, that give a ritual value to a silken shawl, that give children delight in the form of puppet theatre, that fulfil a cosmological tradition when unleavened bread is baked for a feast day.

The Inuit of the Arctic, the White Mountain Apache of Arizona, the Yanomami and the Tupi People of the Amazon, the Gujjar and Bakerwal nomadic herders of the Indian Himalaya, the Bontoc of Philippines Cordillera are not cultural industrialists and have no use whatsoever for the distinction between formal and informal economy. In the same way, living heritage such as the collective fishing rite of the Sanké in Mali, the Enawene Nawe people’s ritual for the maintenance of social and cosmic order in Brazil, the making of the Noken woven bag by the people of Papua in Indonesia, the making of the Ala-kiyiz and Shyrdak traditional felt carpets in Kyrgyzstan, all these are unreachable by the economic formulae that would assign them a minimum wage, turn them into ‘resilience’ courseware, patent their medicinal herbs.

But the lock downs have gravely assaulted their patterns of life, and these were already tenuous. Their systems of knowledge, and the products and objects that emerge from these systems, could not and cannot be virtualised and livestreamed. The meanings and symbolism of everyday and ritual objects – which assume the avatar of handicrafts in a market – must be transmitted and the receipt of those transmissions must be tested.

The generation that receives the world’s great stores of traditional knowledge does so through what is so carelessly called ‘informal education’, but which is a teaching channel that has stood the test of time. The lock downs separated hand-made goods from markets, and when they did, they brought down a new wall between peoples who still fashion a hand-made world and those who have the sensitivity to sample some of it. The lock downs masked and imprisoned a youth that was ready to receive wisdom and learning from their elders, and chained them to laptop screens, and when that happened, the elders retreated into an exile of silence.

Written by makanaka

June 8, 2021 at 14:18

The hollowing out of India

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This is not about an ‘epidemic’. And it is not about a virus.

The awful series of events that have taken place since I wrote ‘India and the illiteracy of fear’ has occupied many people in India at least part time if not full time, especially if they are in one or the other of our major metros and especially Delhi-NCR and Mumbai (and more recently Bangalore).

For those new to this subject, here are the reasons that I have since early May 2020 called it a stage-managed ‘epidemic’, with its main props being face masks and the PCR ‘test’. (1) Before December 2019 never for any disease outbreak or epidemic or pandemic were the healthy immobilised and quarantined. (2) ‘Lock down’ was never and is not a public health measure, nor are any of the associated restrictions. (3) The face mask/covering is never to be used by anyone other than patients or hospital workers in a hospital/institutional care setting. (4) The PCR is a laboratory process and was never to be used as a diagnostic. PCR can neither find a virus nor can it measure infectiousness. Its ‘positive’ has no clinical meaning. (5) ‘Social distancing’ because of ‘asymptomatic transmission’ was and is false as a public health measure. (6) No medical research centre anywhere in the world has been able to prove that any virus, let alone Sars-CoV-2, survives our outdoors climatic conditions of +35C, +65% humidity, direct sunlight and moving air laden with organic and other particulate matter.

Some points to consider:

What happened in January and February 2020? There were less than 500 so-called “confirmed cases” worldwide outside China and most of these were said to be in South Korea and Italy. On 30 January 2020 the WHO declared a worldwide public health emergency. Yet the campaign to develop vaccines was initiated prior to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of worldwide public health emergency and it was first announced at the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos (21-24 January).

The WHO has been corrupt throughout the tenure of the predecessor of Tedros – Margaret Chan (who served two terms). The WHO brought in through various channels the interests of the global pharma MNCs, of the biggest philanthropic foundations and international financial institutions. Under Tedros (backed by PR China), this control increased. One of these foundations is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which at the 21-24 January 2020 Davos meeting announced with the World Economic Forum the vaccines campaign. On 24 February 2020 a new company called Moderna announced that its experimental mRNA vaccine was ready for human testing. On 28 February 2020 the WHO vaccination campaign was announced by Tedros who said that more than 20 vaccines were being developed globally.

The Government of India did not demand to know from WHO on what basis a worldwide public health emergency had been declared, and did not demand to know how experimental vaccines had already been prepared for a virus that wsa still called “novel”. Instead, three weeks later India’s national ‘lock down’ was imposed.

Concerning the two main props of the ‘epidemic’:

A massive expert review was published on 20 April 2021 assessing reports on 65 studies showing the medical harms of face masks. The key findings: the concentration of oxygen in the air under the masks was significantly lower (minus 12.4 in volume %) compared to oxygen in a room. At the same time, the health-critical value of carbon dioxide concentration in the air under the masks increased by a factor of 30 (!!) compared to normal room air was measure. The study said that this caused “a statistically significant increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) blood content in mask wearers”. In addition to the increase in the wearer’s blood carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, another consequence of masks that has been proven is a significant drop in blood oxygen saturation. This has the effect of an accompanying increase in heart rate as well as an increase in respiratory rate have been proven.

On the PCR test, the Public Health Agency of Sweden in April 2021 said: The PCR technology used in tests to detect viruses cannot distinguish between viruses capable of infecting cells and viruses that have been rendered harmless by the immune system, and therefore these tests cannot be used to determine whether someone is infectious or not. RNA from viruses can often be detected for weeks (sometimes months) after infection but does not mean that a person is still infectious. The recommended criteria for assessing freedom from infection are therefore based on stable clinical improvement with freedom from fever for at least two days and at least seven days since the onset of symptoms. For those with more pronounced symptoms, at least 14 days since onset of illness and for the sickest, individual assessment by the treating physician.

Neither the Indian central government nor state governments have reviewed or reconsidered any of their ‘epidemic’ measures for what they have done, since March 2020, and what they continue to do to the largest section of the population, that is children and teenagers.

How large is this section? The estimates (UN Population division) for 2020 are: age 0-4 years, 116 million; age 5-9 years, 117 million; age 10-14 years, 126 million, age 15-18 years, 126 million. The 18 and under population is about 485 million. They have been kept out of school and college for 13 months, in cities they have been kept largely away from their friends and peers for 13 months, in cities they have been kept away from extended family for 13 months, they have not pursued sports nor outdoor play, no hobbies and no cultural activities, they have been “taught” and “given lessons” through computer screens, and for those in cities and towns, have been confined in apartments often together with parents who are “working from home”. Their psychological condition is unknown. The effects of the non-stop, around the clock barrage of fear-mongering by the television channels on their young psyches is unknown and unremarked. This is a section nearly equivalent to the entire population of the European Union. They have been seriously mentally scarred for 13 months, with cognitive and learning abilities impaired in way that are neither inquired into nor understood.

Teachers and education authorities have been caught up in the hysteria of fear promoted around covid19 and many have lost all sense of proportion. Where schools were opened, the wearing of face masks by children and teenagers was made mandatory. This is completelty false and is an abomination. Children, teenagers and the youth have a susceptibility to Sars-CoV-2 that is so negligible as to be nearly statistically zero. No school or college can adopt such flawed government or local authority “guidance” on face coverings without failing properly to consider the impact on the children and staff (which they are obliged to do).

Where did the so-called “second wave” come from, especially when until January 2021 the central government was advertising that India’s recovery rate was >96%?

India’s urban population is generally more unhealthy thaan its rural population. Those who live in the major metros are generally more unhealthy than thosw who live in smaller towns. In regions like Delhi-NCR and a large part of the urbanised middle Gangetic belt, the quality of air is very poor. The Delhi-NCR region has had the worst air quality in the world (!) for the last three years running (!). The lungs and respiratory tracts of these urban residents is anyway weak because of cumulative exposure to airborne pollutants, year after year. Then they have been ‘locked down’ and denied what small exercise they could normally have. They have been ordered to cover their nose and mouth when outside, in temperatures of more than 40C or humidity of more than 80% (in Mumbai and Chennai). They have been ordered to cover their nose and mouth when it rains and wear wet cloth right next to their nasal passage. Damp cloth breeds bacteria which travel directly into the upper respiratory tract. A number of the 18 symptoms of covid19 are common to India’s existing respiratory diseases. Not a single agency of the central government and no state government has till date studied the effects of mask wearing on the health condition of an average urban resident.

These are the people who have been injected with vaccines under the “vaccination drive” or the macabrely named “tika utsav“. They have not been told what effect these injected substances will have on their existing ailments, they have signed no free, prior and well informed consent document to say they have been properly explained the risks and consequences, general and specific, of the injections and agree to be injected. They have not been informed about a process of lodging complaints about possible post-injection side effects nor about a process of compensation should they suffer a lasting debilitating effect, and they have not been informed about either a change in the status of their health insured lives nor compensation for serious vaccine-related injury or death.

These vaccination injections have immediately – because that is the intention of the western medical rationale for vaccine – lowered their natural immunity. Those who are healthier and fitter have had few or no effects. Others have taken ill, some seriously ill. The effect of a rapidly lowered natural immunity on those who are already unhealthy in cities, and whose respiratory tracts are already weakened, becomes clear. When they seek institutional medical help, the allopathic doctors, to allay fever, chills, cough, tiredness and shortness of breath are prescribed an armada of antiviral and antibiotic drugs. Some of these substances that can have fatal side effects even when taken alone. I know of several people who become even more ill with 500mg a day of such drugs but have been prescribed more than 4,000mg a day! Those who do not survive are counted statistically as “covid19 death” attributed to Sars-CoV-2 but not attributed to overwhelming reactions to toxic drugs, that is, iatrogenic deaths (whcih for years has been one of the largest causes fo death in USA).

Whereas in 2020 it was said by government propaganda and the media that “covid19 deaths” are “any death within 28 days of a ‘positive’ PCR test result”, in 2021 deaths one or more days after vaccine injections are counted as “with pre-existing conditions”.

The central and state governments, the PMO, the Ministry of Health, the Home Ministry, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ministry of Science and Technology, have all repeated over and over again that vaccination is the only exit from the ‘epidemic’. India’s traditional medicinal systems – ayurveda, yoga, unani tibb, siddha, homoeopathy, sowa-rigpa, naturopathy and tribal and indigenous medicinal practices – have been all but outlawed. The wholly illegal “vaccination drive” of the government and supported by the BJP and all political parties (whether opposition or allies) is said to be “protective”.

This justification is false and deceiving. It is very well known in international medicinal science circles that on 1 December 2016, a verdict was given by the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court in Germany and upheld by the German Federal Court of Justice. This is called the measles virus trial verdict. It said that the first publication about the measles virus, the publication of the Nobel Prize winner, John Franklin Enders and his colleagues in 1954, does not constitute proof of the alleged existence of the suspected “measles virus”.

What makes this so important is that this publication is the sole and exclusive basis of all other approximately 30,000 “scientific” publications on the subject of “measles virus”, “infection” of measles and “protective vaccination” against measles. All statements thereafter on the “measles virus”, the transmissibility of measles and measles vaccination are based exclusively and only on this publication. Since the 2016 verdict it is now case law that this 1954 publication does not contain any evidence for the alleged existence of the assumed measles virus, hence it is clear that all 30,000 specialist publications on these topics are without foundation.

This is exactly the situation with the so-called simulated ‘modelling’ of the likely spread and toll of the ‘pandemic’ that was done by Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College, London, and Christian Drosten of Berlin Charité – the WHO backed both, and the government of India slavishly adopted the fake projections of these ‘models’.

Before December 2019, “lock down” did not exist in the world’s recorded practice and history of public health for respiratory and other disease outbreaks and epidemics. “Lock down” was invented by the Chinese Communist Party and propagated around the world by the WHO and its partners and sponsors, including its primary funders the Gates Foundation and GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, which is made up of the pharma and medical technology MNCs). All associated measures – mass testing, social distancing, contact tracing, health surveillance, and vaccination – for the ‘epidemic’ have come from the same source, the CCP.

India’s so-called ‘right wing’ media and groups – all supporters of the BJP – were very active in 2020 to call Sars-CoV-2 the “Wuhan virus” or the “China virus”. None called ‘lock down’ the CCP ‘lock down’ and none has till date. India’s record of public health has no instance of such a measure, ever, for any disease outbreak. The BJP government implemented, from 25 March 2020, a Chinese communist measure of social control. There has been not a single ruling party or opposition party Member of Parliament who asked why, neither during the September 2020 Lok Sabha session nor the February 2021 session. MPs asked about the availability of vaccines and medicines, but not about a communist measure that has been used at least once following the national ‘lock down’, and in several places more than once, by state governments.

It is the CPIM that is demanding “vaccination for all”. It is the same with the Democrat Party of the USA and its enormous left-liberal network of foundations, media and celebrities. It is the INC that is doing the same. It is the TV channels and newspapers that belong to the major media houses that are doing the same. And it is the BJP that is using all the muscle of the state to show that its implementation of a totalitarian agenda is better than what even China has done.

See for example: “India is the fastest country in the world to administer 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. India achieved the feat in 85 days whereas USA took 89 days and China reached the milestone in 102 days. The Prime Minister Office tweeted: ‘Strengthening the efforts to ensure a healthy and COVID-19 free India’.”
And: ” ‘Tika Utsav’ is beginning of second major war against Corona: PM
Make targets at personal, social and administration level for ‘Tika Utsav’ and make effort to achieve them: PM”

Why the forcing through punitive measures of not breathing naturally (masks) and denying the sun (stay indoors)?
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2, 3) says: “As long as the vayu (prana) remains in the body there is life, Death occurs when the vayu leaves the body, therefore retain the vayu
The face mask/covering will not let you retain the vayu.

‘Prana and Pranayama’, by the Bihar School of Yoga, 2009, says:
“Inside a closed room in a modern city there may be less than 50 negative ions per square foot and in the mountains there are about 5,000. It is now an established scientific fact that depletion of negative ions leads to discomfort, enervation, lassitude and some degree of mental and physical inefficiency. Negative ions are therapeutic partly because they kill germs. In human beings, they act on the capacity to absorb oxygen, accelerating the blood’s delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues. Negative ions are not prana, but when one inhales them the level of prana in the body increases. In this context it is interesting that negative ions work only so long as they are being inhaled. It has also been observed that the ability to assimilate negative ions goes up during yogic practices such as pranayama.”

Recall the 12 mantras that accompany the 12 positions taken during suryanamaskar:
Om mitraya namaha, Om ravaye namaha, Om suryaya namaha, Om bhanave namaha, Om khagaya namaha, Om pushne namaha, Om hiranya garbhaya namaha, Om marichaye namaha, Om adityaya namaha, Om savitre namaha, Om arkaya namaha, Om bhaskaraya namaha
These are the life-giving and life-affirming bhutas. We cannot be separate from them. India and Indians cannot be ruled by a monstrous totalitarian-communist system such as we have seen being formed in India since 24 March 2020.

Written by makanaka

May 11, 2021 at 20:04

Italy’s PM under investigation for enforcing ‘lock down’

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Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte is now officially under investigation for enforcing a nationwide ‘lock down’ in Italy against the advice of Italy’s scientific committee. The news from Italy, the first democratic country to impose a national lockdown, followed by others, is that the scientific committee recommended against it, but Conte over-ruled the scientific committee and had a ‘lock down’ imposed.

It was 9 March 2020 that the Conte government severely restricted the movement of the population except for necessity, work, and health circumstances. The scientific committee in Italy only recommended masks for those who feel ill. Among the questions to be raised by the investigation are: Who pushed for mandatory masks in public interior spaces? And, who was Conte listening to?

Here is the gist of the startling new developments in Italy, taken from two reports of the newspaper ‘La Repubblica’. The text of the two relevant news reports follows, in Italian, with an output from an automatic translator in English.

The first Repubblica news report, on 13 August, is headlined ‘Notices filed against PM and six ministers’. The main paragraphs are (Italian):

Avviso di garanzia da parte dei pm di Roma nei confronti del presidente del Consiglio Giuseppe Conte e dei ministri Alfonso Bonafede, Luigi Di Maio, Roberto Gualtieri, Lorenzo Guerini, Luciana Lamorgese e Roberto Speranza. Stando a quanto si legge in una nota della presidenza del Consiglio, con questo avviso si comunica la trasmissione al Tribunale dei ministri degli atti di un procedimento nato da varie denunce provenienti da soggetti di varie parti d’Italia per i reati di epidemia, delitti colposi contro la salute, omicidio colposo, abuso d’ufficio, attentato contro la Costituzione, attentato contro i diritti politici del cittadino (artt. 110, 438, 452 e 589, 323, 283, 294 del Codice penale).

Sempre la nota di Palazzo Chigi aggiunge che la Procura di Roma chiederà l’archiviazione: “La trasmissione da parte della Procura al Collegio in base alle previsioni di legge, è un atto dovuto. Nel caso specifico tale trasmissione è stata accompagnata da una relazione nella quale l’Ufficio della Procura ‘ritiene le notizie di testo infondate e dunque da archiviare'”.

(English): Warranty notice from the pm of Rome against the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Ministers Alfonso Bonafede, Luigi Di Maio, Roberto Gualtieri, Lorenzo Guerini, Luciana Lamorgese and Roberto Speranza. According to what is read in a note of the Council Presidency, this notice communicates the transmission to the Court of Ministers of the acts of a procedure born from various complaints from subjects in various parts of Italy for the crimes of epidemic, manslaughter against health, manslaughter, abuse of office, attack against the Constitution, attack against the political rights of the citizen (Articles 110, 438, 452 and 589, 323, 283, 294 of the Penal Code).

The note from Palazzo Chigi also adds that the Rome Public Prosecutor’s Office will ask for the case to be dismissed: “The transmission by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to the College according to the provisions of the law, is a due act. In the specific case this transmission was accompanied by a report in which the Public Prosecutor’s Office ‘considers the news of the text unfounded and therefore to be archived'”.

(IT): Conte e i ministri, inoltre, “si dichiarano sin d’ora disponibili a fornire ai magistrati ogni elemento utile a completare l’iter procedimentale, in uno spirito di massima collaborazione”. Successivamente il premier scrive su Facebook: “Ci siamo sempre assunti la responsabilità, in primis ‘politica’, delle decisioni adottate. Decisioni molto impegnative, a volte sofferte, assunte senza disporre di un manuale, di linee guida, di protocolli di azione. Abbiamo sempre agito in scienza e coscienza, senza la pretesa di essere infallibili ma nella consapevolezza di dover sbagliare il meno possibile per preservare al meglio gli interessi della intera comunità nazionale”.

Come accennato, sono oltre duecento gli esposti e le denunce presentate da cittadini sull’operato del governo nel periodo del lockdowon e dell’emergenza Coronavirus. Gli esposti, passati ai pm Eugenio Albamonte e Giorgio Orano, riguardano due ambiti della gestione da parte del governo: da un lato si accusa l’esecutivo di non aver saputo affrontare l’emergenza. Nel secondo filone sono stati inseriti gli esposti in cui si ipotizzano reati di abuso d’ufficio e attentato contro i diritti politici del cittadino per l’imposizione delle norme legate al lockdown.

(EN): Furthermore, Conte and the ministers “declare themselves willing to provide the magistrates with all the elements necessary to complete the procedure, in a spirit of maximum cooperation”. Subsequently, the Prime Minister writes on Facebook: “We have always taken responsibility, first and foremost ‘politics’, for the decisions taken. Very demanding decisions, sometimes painful, taken without having a manual, guidelines, protocols of action. We have always acted in science and conscience, without the pretension of being infallible, but in the awareness of having to make as little mistake as possible to preserve the interests of the entire national community as best we can”.

As mentioned, there are more than two hundred complaints and complaints from citizens about the government’s actions during the lockdowon and the Coronavirus emergency. The complaints, passed to the pm Eugenio Albamonte and Giorgio Orano, concern two areas of management by the government: on the one hand, the executive is accused of not having been able to deal with the emergency. In the second strand, the complaints have been inserted in which crimes of abuse of office and attack against the political rights of the citizen for the imposition of the rules related to the lockdown.

The earlier Repubblica news report, printed 6 August, is headlined ‘Coronavirus, the scientific committee wanted differentiated measures but Conte decided the lockdown for the whole Italy’. The main paragraphs are:

(IT): Il 7 marzo scorso con un documento riservato inviato al ministro della Salute Roberto Speranza, sull’analisi della situazione epidemiologica, il Comitato tecnico scientificio propone al governo di “adottare due livelli di misure di contenimento: uno nei territori in cui si è osservata maggiore diffusione del virus, l’altro sul territorio nazionale”. Nello specifico: misure più rigorose in Lombardia e nelle province di Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini e Modena, Pesaro Urbino, Venezia, Padova, Treviso, Alessandria e Asti”. Due giorni dopo, però, il presidente del Consiglio Conte con il Dpcm del 9 marzo dà il via al lockdown estendendo le stesse misure a tutto il territorio nazionale senza distinzioni e senza citare a giustificazione del provvedimento alcun atto del Comitato tecnico scientifico.

È la novità di maggiore rilievo che emerge dalla lettura dei cinque verbali, per oltre 200 pagine, che sono stati pubblicati sul sito della fondazione Luigi Einaudi, dopo essere stati desecretati dalla Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri. Sono alcuni dei verbali quelli prodotti dal Comitato tecnico scientifico per l’emergenza del Coronavirus e sono alla base delle decisioni prese dall’Esecutivo con i Dpcm. Documenti che che da giorni le opposizioni, e anche il Copasir, chiedevano di rendere pubblici. Pagine pagine firmate dal Comitato istituito con un’ordinanza del capo del dipartimento della Protezione Civile il 3 febbraio scorso. I cinque verbali sono datati 28 febbraio, 1 marzo, 7 marzo, 30 marzo e 9 aprile 2020. Ma non sono tutte. Mancano, ad esempio, le riunioni dai primi giorni di marzo, quelle della mancata zona rossa ad Alzano e Nembro, in Val Seriana.

(EN): On March 7 with a confidential document sent to the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, on the analysis of the epidemiological situation, the Scientific Technical Committee proposes to the government to “adopt two levels of containment measures: one in the territories where the virus has been observed more widespread, the other on the national territory”. Specifically: more stringent measures in Lombardy and in the provinces of Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini and Modena, Pesaro Urbino, Venice, Padua, Treviso, Alessandria and Asti”. Two days later, however, the President of the Count’s Council with the Dpcm of March 9 kicks off the lockdown by extending the same measures to the entire national territory without distinction and without citing any act of the Scientific Technical Committee to justify the measure.

This is the most important news that emerges from the reading of the five minutes, for over 200 pages, which were published on the website of the Luigi Einaudi Foundation, after having been declassified by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Some of the minutes are those produced by the Scientific Technical Committee for the emergency of the Coronavirus and are the basis of the decisions taken by the Executive with the Dpcm. Documents that for days the oppositions, and also the Copasir, were asking to make public. Pages pages signed by the Committee established by an order of the head of the Department of Civil Protection on February 3. The five minutes are dated 28 February, 1 March, 7 March, 30 March and 9 April 2020. But they are not all. There are, for example, the meetings since the first days of March, those of the missing red zone in Alzano and Nembro, in Val Seriana.

(IT): In un passaggio di questi verbali contenenti “informazioni non classificate controllate”, quello del primo marzo in una delle riunioni dopo l’esplosione del coronavirus in Italia, si legge che “il Cts esprime la raccomandazione generale che la popolazione, per tutta la durata dell’emergenza, debba evitare, nei rapporti interpersonali, strette di mano e abbracci”. Il 9 marzo, poi, il premier Giuseppe Conte avrebbe annunciato il lockdown.

Ieri sera alle 21.15 erano stati trasmessi tramite PEC dal Capo della Protezione Civile Angelo Borrelli agli avvocati Enzo Palumbo, Andrea Pruiti Ciarello e Rocco Mauro Todero. Il Governo – si legge sul sito della Fondazione – ha pertanto deciso di rivedere la propria posizione, anticipando il prevedibile esito dell’udienza collegiale fissata per il 10 settembre 2020, innanzi alla Terza Sezione del Consiglio di Stato e aderire alle richieste degli avvocati, fortemente rilanciate dalla Fondazione Luigi Einaudi e sostenute da molti parlamentari e da gran parte dell’opinione pubblica. La Fondazione Luigi Einaudi auspica che il Governo compia l’ulteriore passo sulla strada della trasparenza e pubblichi autonomamente tutti gli altri verbali del Comitato Tecnico Scientifico, utilizzati a supporto dei vari DPCM adottati dal Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri Giuseppe Conte, nel corso della pandemia da Covid-19.

Da parte sua, il ministro della Salute Roberto Speranza all’informativa al Senato, ha detto che “la Presidenza del Consiglio ha già provveduto a consegnare i verbali del Cts a chi ne ha fatto richiesta e la regola della trasparenza è quella cui non intendiamo rinunciare”.

(EN): In a passage of these minutes containing “controlled unclassified information”, that of March 1st in one of the meetings after the coronavirus explosion in Italy, we read that “the Cts expresses the general recommendation that the population, for the whole duration of the emergency, should avoid, in interpersonal relations, handshakes and hugs”. On March 9, then, Premier Giuseppe Conte announced the lockdown.

Yesterday evening at 9.15 p.m. were transmitted through PEC by the Head of Civil Protection Angelo Borrelli to lawyers Enzo Palumbo, Andrea Pruiti Ciarello and Rocco Mauro Todero. The Government – it can be read on the Foundation’s website – has therefore decided to review its position, anticipating the expected outcome of the collegial hearing scheduled for September 10, 2020, before the Third Section of the Council of State and adhere to the requests of the lawyers, strongly relaunched by the Luigi Einaudi Foundation and supported by many parliamentarians and a large part of public opinion. The Luigi Einaudi Foundation hopes that the Government will take a further step towards transparency and will independently publish all the other minutes of the Technical Scientific Committee, used to support the various Prime Ministerial Decree adopted by the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For his part, the Health Minister Roberto Speranza, at the information to the Senate, said that “the Presidency of the Council has already provided to deliver the minutes of the Cts to those who requested them and the rule of transparency is the one we do not intend to give up”.

Written by makanaka

August 16, 2020 at 19:47

Posted in health

Tagged with , , , ,

The year of the mask

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'Safe Dream' by Alex Falcó Chang

Illustration by Alex Falcó Chang, courtesy Cartoon Movement https://www.cartoonmovement.com/p/7130

Psychologically, the face mask is a powerful prop. Flimsy and cheap, when it is worn, it tells the wearer that he or she is separated from all others whoever they are, family or strangers or colleagues. The mask wearer is reminded, every day and as many times a day as the television is switched on, that the mask is one’s protection against the deadly virus.

The face mask does more than this. It covers completely the mouth and chin and most of the wearer’s cheeks. These are what we use to signal to each other, through a great variety of smiles and grimaces, how we feel and how we empathise and how we laugh. The face mask has blocked these, just as surely as it is claimed to block a virus.

The masked society, fearful, with visible emotions trussed up, shuffling around to maintain, in obedience to unseen and unknown experts, the invisible boundaries called social distancing, has in the short space of 60 days, replaced the society that came before it.

This is called ‘new normal’. It is new, yes, but it cannot be anything except extremely abnormal. Not for a moment, 60 days ago, did I think India’s unruly and complex myriad of societies would obey and comply. But they did and they have.

How did this happen?

Around the end of January, a case of coronavirus infection was reported by the press. Between then and the middle of March, India barrelled along happily, perhaps in search of the tryst with the five trillion dollar economy. Elsewhere, the condition we would come to know as ‘lock down’ was being enforced.

On the evening of 24 March, ‘lock down’ came to India. The corona had landed.

By the second week of April, the face mask had become the equivalent of the identity pass. Policemen at road corners wore them, black ones. So did the Central Reserve Police Force who had been brought in to enforce the lock down. The few pharmacies that were open had no more to sell. I used a large handkerchief for severals days, like many others.

In our housing block, I spotted other residents, at times in their balconies, sometimes at a window, with masks. Why had they tied masks inside their homes, I wondered, where did they think the coronavirus was going to attack them from? Most of Goa, where I live, is a rural landscape. Rice fields, coconut and arecanut orchards, low coastal hills with light mixed forest, village settlements whose residential density is very low. With road borders between states shut, where do these people think the virus is going to travel from?

Televisions in most homes were switched on (are still switched on) all day. We don’t have one at home, haven’t had one for many years. From what I saw and heard, glimpses and short audio snatches of news bulletins caught from loud TVs on lower floors, there was nothing but coronavirus on every channel, every language. The children who would every evening gather in the building compound to play, were absent. The elderly folk, who took their morning and evening walks along the narrow green strips by the boundary walls, were absent. There was silence and stillness. You could sense the fear.

But outside, everything that normally ran, trotted, flew and crawled and wasn’t human was busy. Even more so, with every single open space traversed by humans now entirely free of them. The coastal skies that are usually clear and lucent, so unlike the soupy brown miasma of the cities, were now even more so. The winds blew in fresh from the sea. It was the perfect tonic for health. Yet it was the opposite that had been ordained, through two central acts. Remain indoors, shun the life-giving sunlight. Remain masked, repel the vital force that is clean air.

We had survived the first eight days of lockdown on the meagre stores at home. I say survived because the worry for those first eight days was not a virus, however malignant, but the shortage of food all over the state of Goa. Why was there no food to be had? Because the state government had issued orders that all shops, large or small, which sold any food staples must not open. Looking back at those anxiety-ridden days, I see that as having been the first sign of the hallucinations that had gripped administrations, whether in a state or in the central government. Nothing was allowed to open, not even the humblest kirana shop selling biscuits and wafers. We ate two spare meals a day.

The mask is worn by some as if it is a badge, to mean that you are fully conversant and up-to-date with the latest guidelines broadcast by your state government on saving yourself, that you are responsible about your family’s health, that you are a participant in how ‘India fights corona’. By others, it is tied perfunctorily, yet another demand by the authorities for which a minimal fulfilment threshold is calculated so that one may carry on – as far as it is possible to carry on – with a business, a trade, a profession, a wage earning activity, a family duty.

Policemen applied choke-holds to road junctions. They swung their lathis indiscriminately at youth who still thought they could contract theselves out for a day of labour and earn a wage, they swung their lathis at ragpickers. They swung their lathis at sons taking a parent to a clinic or a hospital, not knowing whether it was open or whether there would be a doctor in attendance, for every kind of complaint other than those said to be caused by the corona virus.

Illustration by Marco de Angelis, courtesy Cartoon movement

Illustration by Marco de Angelis, courtesy Cartoon movement https://www.cartoonmovement.com/cartoon/64747

They swung once at me, and I avoided the blow by accelerating my scooter out of reach. That is when I learnt that what the state had enforced was not a ‘lock down’, it was the mandatory incarceration of the healthy, it was the criminalisation of all movement by the citizen, with full and final interpretation of the extraordinary powers given left to the masked visage and twitching lathi-hand of the sub-inspector you were unlucky enough to have run into.

Pharmacies had no more masks. If you could get to one, and if it was open, they told you there were no masks, while wearing one themselves. Perhaps they needed to wear such masks, I had reasoned to myself, since if they come face to face with people who come looking for medication, they they should protect themselves from someone who just may be carrying the virus.

Looking back at that first week of April, I find that was the only time – two days when I set off on scooter-borne reconnaisance for pharmacies with shutters open, my face below my spectacles wrapped in a handkerchief tied behind my head – that I was sympathetic to the notion that an epidemic was sweeping through India.

It was the new atmosphere, one never before experienced by us, that made us believe the very currents of air could be hijacked by a malevolent virus. And this was north Goa, whose villages are sparsely populated, whose landscapes are those of fallow fields awaiting the rain so that rice can be grown in them, of coconut orchards, of hillsides covered with jambul, mango, silk cotton, moringa, tamarind and jackfruit trees.

Until then, we would rise at dawn and would set off looking for vegetables, milk, bread and whatever else we could purchase from villagers – from our own and in neighbouring villages – who had something to sell. I worried constantly about petrol for the scooter, for the little more than half a tank of fuel would not run the engine for more than a week. When raw foodstuffs became less scarce, I was able to consider again the messages about the epidemic, our environment, and what more than half a lifetime of experience seemed to point to.

Even until mid-March, mornings were cool till about 9 am, and evenings were pleasant as soon as the sun dipped behind the low coastal hills directly to the west. But seven or eight days into April, the mid-day sun had pushed the temperature above 30 celsius, humidity was rising and the winds from the sea began to blow with the gentle insistence that, by early June, would become the tile-rattling, whistling-through-window-cracks force that was the harbinger of monsoon.

One of those mornings, a peacock (for there are many which roost in the nearby hill) alit at the end of its long shallow flight from a perch on a tree and into the grass of the fallow rice field. The heavy bird touched down in the somewhat ungainly run and as it did so, a few puffs of dust rose up in its trail.

That is the sight which led directly to form the question which had shimmered, like a wraith, above the daily roll-call of news about the ‘global pandemic’ and ‘India’s epidemic’. How could any virus that they say can be airborne, and can be infectious after travelling along air currents, survive in our conditions? Doesn’t sunlight, direct and now unfiltered by smog and industrial emissions, end its career? Doesn’t its exposure to the open sky and breezes, which carry a myriad organisms, become a risk to its own survival? Does not the daily rise in the average temperature, fraction by fraction of a degree celsius, shorten its infectious life?

The home page of the Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, has created several special sections only on covid19. India’s existing disease burden has not been treated in anything like the same way ever since the PIB went online.

The emails I sent with these and other questions to the Indian Council of Medical Research have remained unanswered since the middle of April. A month later, I could see why. The ICMR was doing nothing other than covid19. It had replaced its website home page with a covid-only page that was crammed full of test data, cases data, testing protocols and instructions to testing laboratories.

It looked very convincingly like a specialised health agency’s war room against the great menacing power of the global pandemic. That is exactly what it is meant to look like, for the central government’s own information and public broadcasting units were blaring out, with social media-ready hash tags ‘India fights corona’.

I could see what was occupying the ICMR scientists and administrators full time. They were producing guidelines and protocols at the rate of two and three a week: ‘Specimen Referral Form (SRF) ID information for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2), in RT-PCR app’, ‘Standard guidelines for Medico-legal autopsy in COVID-19 deaths in India 2020’, ‘Revised Strategy for COVID19 testing in India (Version 5)’, ‘Advisory for use of Cartridge Based Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (CBNAAT) using Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV2’, ‘Performance evaluation of commercial kits for real time PCR for COVID-19 by ICMR identified validation centres’, ‘List of IgG ELISA kits for COVID-19 validated by ICMR identified validation centres’, ‘ICMR Specimen Referral Form for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2)’, ‘ICMR-DCGI Guidelines for Validation and Batch Testing of COVID-19 Diagnostic Kits’, ‘Establishing of a network of Biorepositories in India’.

All very impressive, all unquestionably showing the country’s premier medical research agency in the best light possible for being technically on the ball, all showing that India’s handling of the virological and epidemiological aspects of the dreaded pandemic is at par internationally with the best.

By the first week of May the effects of the around-the-clock barrage of fear-mongering by the media, television and print, with both making heavy use of their social media channels, started becoming noticeable. In my home state of Goa, I began seeing residents of our village attaching masks to their ears or tied behind their heads even while walking on interior roads or, more commonly, while on scooters and motorcycles. Our village roads aren’t city throughfares. If one isn’t driving past a house and garden every now and then, or a small apartment block, one is usually skirting a hill slope thick with vegetation or a cocnut orchard or a rice field. It was peak summer, the afternoon winds were strong, the swiftly moving air was full of all manner of microscopic objects swept up from the fields and blasted out from the orchards.

Every single time I was out, either on my scooter looking for provisions or taking an evening walk, I looked at fellow village residents (with a few honourable exceptions) their faces masked and harassed. Did they really think the coronavirus was lying in wait above them on the mango tree waiting to strike? Did they really think it was riding a fragment of dried leaf and would launch itself at them as soon as it flew past?

A few of the conversations I pursued told me that their fear had invented a life of its own. “Better to be safe no? Who can say?” “Don’t go out of the house mama, my daughter in the Gulf told me, you can catch it anywhere.” “Yesterday on TV they showed so many new cases in Mumbai. Better nobody comes from Mumbai here to Goa, then we’ll be safe.” This was new to me. Village folk are amongst the most practical of people, stubborn about what they hold to be true and stubborn about what they’re sure is untrue. They’ll give you an ear but not their agreement. They make up their own minds in their own time, preferring to be guided by the signs and symbols they find in the natural world around them.

The Mumbai municipal corporation got into the act, two acts, one the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 and Disaster Management Act 2005, to threaten doctors with the cancellation of their license to practice. Ergo, medical martial law

But this too had changed. Had I underestimated greatly the power of 24-hour television, and the social media rumour mill that reaches everyone with a smartphone? Yes I had. Nor were the Goans of my village exceptional. For by that first week of May, the national news media had begun to run news reports about what I recognised as a new behaviour, a phenomenon given the name ‘covid vigilantism’ in the west and in USA.

It wasn’t long before I saw it wielded here too. “Kindly place your mask properly” I was told curtly by a supermarket orderly one day. “No mask no service” I was told while waiting in a queue of scooter to fill petrol in mine. But it’s hot and we’re outdoors and there’s a breeze blowing, I argued. It was no use. “Put on mask or no petrol”. And one morning while waiting outside a groceries store one morning to buy milk, with no more than two other people nearby, a priggish young man smug in his fashionable mask barked “Please practice social distancing”. Practice social distancing? Whatever did that mean and what sort of language is that anyway?

The two organisations that are assumed to be advising the central government’s cabinet ministers and the prime minister’s office on coronavirus are the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Indian Council of Medical Research.

The Ministry has a union minister (Harsh Vardhan, with five staff), a minister of state (Ashwini Kumar Choubey, with four staff), a secretary of health and family welfare (Preeti Sudan, with three staff), a special secretary (Arun Singhal), three additional secretaries (Dharmendra Singh Gangwar, Arti Ahuja, Vandana Gurnani), thirteen joint secretaries (Vandana Jain, Preeti Pant, Sudhir Kumar, Rekha Shukla, Vikash Sheel, Nipun Vinayak, Sunil Sharma, Lav Agarwal, Alok Saxena, Manohar Agnani, Mandeep Kumar Bhandari, Gayatri Mishra, Padmaja Singh), an officer on special duty (Sudhansh Pant), two economic advisers (Preeti Nath, Nilambuj Sharan), and five senior official posts (chief controller of accounts, director, two deputy directors general, chief director).

The ICMR has 28 institutes all over India with a headquarters in Delhi. It has on its rolls a total of 153 Council scientists (separately, each institute and the centre has its own complement of scientific staff). Their domains of work include allergies, immunology, antimicrobial diseases, bio-statistics, biochemistry and molecular biology, bioinformatics, malaria and dengue, cardiovascular diseases, epidemiology, clinical medicine, communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, vector borne diseases, zoonotic diseases, epigenetics and endocrinology, genomics and molecular medicine, cellular and molecular biology, kala-azar, leprosy and tuberculosis, maternal and child health, oncology, pharmacology, parasitology, vector biology and control, virology.

What did they understand about this thing called covid19, what advice were they giving the central and state governments, what were they communicating to the 1.3 billion Indians whose lives had been turned utterly upside down?

Written by makanaka

May 23, 2020 at 23:35