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Fighting it with common sense

Fighting it with common sense
March 18
11:04 2020


Perhaps the most meaningful observation about coronavirus that a medical professional made in an interview, was that ‘the virus has understood us better than we have understood it’ thereby suggesting that we are up against an invisible enemy that required what in security parlance was called a ‘counter-intelligence’ effort, in this case a competent and comprehensive analysis of the known facts in order to predict where will the virus attack next.

This is essentially a fight of ‘individuals’ who are the targets, more than a combat that it was for the large ‘collective’ represented by the government. This is a challenge for every citizen to handle and, as is known, the victory in any ‘war’ depends more than anything else on the extent of information one had on the character and ways of the ‘enemy’ to start with.

Three things are now established pretty well. First, it has to be accepted, without getting perturbed, that the incidence of this virus might spread in the coming days considering the global exposure that a large country like India had already had and the ‘area of contact’ that our citizenry as a whole would have created by now.

Secondly, corona is a mutated flu virus and therefore every symptom of cold and cough would not be a presumption for the bigger threat unless the pattern of its natural fading away without medication, did not show up, calling for quick testing.

And thirdly, it is known that the virus hibernates on ‘surface’ of lifts, counters and playgrounds or catches on through droplets from an infected individual. This awareness crucially helps to pre-empt an ‘attack’. These basic pieces of information, in fact, provide the ‘armour’ that everyone needs to acquire to deal with this adversary.

. As a democratic country, the Modi government has shown remarkable alacrity in planning for the immediate and long range measures. Hundreds of affected Indians have been evacuated from Italy and Iran through special Air India flights and put in quarantine facility at short notice. Prime Minister Modi has emerged as a global leader in the fight against the pandemic, this is a matter of pride for India.

Since the threat emanates from ‘surfaces’ discipline about ‘touch’ and hand sanitisation are on top of the preventive steps. Talking from a friendly distance, avoiding a handshake or a hug and cleaning up hands before lifting a baby or settling down to a meal are things that suggest themselves for a quiet adoption. If the threat of corona virus becomes instrumental in the upgrading of medical and health infrastructure it will prove to be a blessing in disguise.

The medical fraternity as also the government must sponsor a campaign of education to make the people aware of the right kind of cooking and eating — the world must remember how the suspected origin of the virus is traceable to the animalistic consumption and sale of meat in certain parts of China including Wuhan. A major segment of prevention pertains to dietary discipline and attention to one’s immune system.

India has a well developed Ayurvedic tradition and the campaign should aim at providing the benefit of the same to the people at large through authentic messaging and broadcasting.

A lasting impact of this pandemic globally and on a large populous country like India is something that can be clearly foreseen. Online businesses, including education through the Internet, will expand and the trend of employees being allowed to work from home will gather momentum. There will be material changes in the personal lifestyles as also in the world of business — some if not most definitely for the better. India will be tested for its competitiveness in a world left bruised by the corona pandemic -with the help of people made wise by the experience, it will hopefully remain on top. IANS

(The writer is a former Director Intelligence Bureau)



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