Syndic No.33 ~ October 2020 “Cover”
Syndic Literary Journal

Syndic No. 33 ~ October 2020 “Covid-Virus Churned The World”

 

Corona Virus Has Churned the World

By  Aju Mukhopadhyay

 Of Health and Disease

 Epidemic and Pandemic are not new to the world. Living things, mainly men and women have passed through many such crisis; some succumbed to them some recovered. Health and Disease go side by side like Life and Death. While some such situations like Natural Calamities were spontaneous some epidemic and pandemic were created by human action; directly or indirectly.

 The Origin of the Corona Pandemic

 On 31 December, 2019 China’s Wuhan district recorded the first novel Corona virus disease (COVID-19) case. The virus in question, known as SARS-CoV-2, was linked to a wet market where wild animals are traded. It has not so far been proved that the virus in any animal is the source of its human version. It was not announced immediately to the world. Gradually the newly produced virus and its ambassadors, carrying the  the disease; Corona or Covid19 have spread like fire from country to country, from sky and water to land and then everywhere. The Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, which includes this high-containment laboratory designed to work with the deadliest pathogens, is at the center of so far uncorroborated allegations that a lab accident released the coronavirus that caused COVID-19 to spread. It was reported that the virus did not evolve naturally but was artificially created there which has been denied by China. Rejecting all pressures from the world bodies China has been trying to put the blame on animals like bats, Pangolins and snakes. They continue the search in markets and as late as on 16 July, 2020 they have found corona virus in frozen shrimp imported from Ecuador in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. But no proof so far has been established against any animal to pass the buck.

 Producing viruses and bacteria, germs and bacillus in laboratories are in vogue in the civilised world; enemies of humanity used them during the second World War, called biological warfare; bio-terror. Men infect other innocent men with deadly viruses of diseases and kill them in large numbers to serve their selfish purpose. It has been construed as a very potent weapon. Besides some world leaders, countries like USA, Sweden and Australia challenged China’s stand.  It has been reported that all scientists working there in the laboratory have disappeared behind the black and dark curtains. No official voice has been heard to deny or affirm. Now dancing youth from Yuhan are displayed to show that corona has disappeared from there. 

Progress of the Disease 

The infection has been spreading rapidly; where fading becoming prominent again, no accurate statistics can cover the whole in any human affair; they are always relative. On and around the date 16 July 2020 Corona Virus cases were 13,697, 662. Deaths due to it were 586, 896 and recovered were 8,155,874. The rate of recovery is sometimes higher than affected, far above death. “India, with 1.1 million confirmed cases, now falls behind only the U.S. with 3.7 million, and Brazil, with two million. India’s caseload is on track to surpass Brazil’s”.  

Remedial Measures Adopted 

Constant efforts are being made to find the remedies and some remedies like preventive vaccine, Ayurvedic medicines and homoeopathic medicines besides others in India and other countries are being used. This being akin to cold and cough plus breathing trouble there are traditional ways of cure and many are getting cured even without being covered by the statistics. As preventive measures, doctors and scientists have prescribed observance of certain rules and practices which percolated from the World Health Organization, through countries to different organs of the body politic and to individuals. The general preventive procedures are universally followed like often washing hands with liquid alcoholic cleaner, wearing masks, not mixing with others or what they call keeping social distance. Often people are locked down at their home and when sometimes unlocked they may go out under restrictions.

Victims of Corona Virus

 Victims of Corona Virus do not include only those who were or are affected with the virus to suffer or die but many others too in different fields of human activity in life.

 As soon as the lockdown was suddenly announced on 22 March 2020 in India, it was a bolt from the blue mostly to the millions of migrant workers who work at places engaging them and send money to their families mostly in distant villages. They suddenly lost their jobs. There was no use to stay a day more at their work places. They bundled their temporary belongings which, nonetheless, were bulky as many were living with some family members for long. With bulked up bundles over their heads they started walking days and nights covering miles and miles through the roads, fields, bogs, jungles, cities and villages, with or without food. To their dismay they did not get trains or other cheap transports; all were under the spell of lockdown.

 Thousands of migrant workers, desperately trying to return home in their own country; battling hunger and fatigue, were bound by a collective will to somehow get back to where they belonged. Home in the village ensures food and family comfort. Walking hundreds of kilo metres some were wounded, some humiliated, some died on the way and some reached their home half-dead, at last. It became a horrific experience for them, more than many nightmares; ever to be remembered. It really was a humanitarian crisis.

 However much help to the marked poor were given later with big announcement and publicity show; the reality faced by them was real. They suddenly and unexpectedly became poor by circumstances; not to become show pieces for others’ publicity buzz. It affected millions who still suffer though not died by the disease.

 Increased stringencies of border controls made crossing national lines a harrowing and prohibitive experience elsewhere to the skilled workers upon whom so many harvests depended. In Europe French farms put out calls for unemployed urban workers to help in the fields only to find that those answered who quickly left the UK’s ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign which tried to recruit 70,000 Britons for harvests and farm work  but the response was meager. Special planes were to be chartered to fly in Romanian farm workers.

When suddenly the locked homes were unlocked and office goers were asked to rejoin offices in cities like Kolkata, their plight to board public buses and shared cabs became a scene to weep over. At a later stage Kolkata has shown more people affected by the virus. The intruder is still ravaging places throughout the world.

 The wealthy in Mumbai city appear determined to stay away from residents of the poor neighborhoods. Some housing associations have even barred maids, watchmen and casual laborers from coming to work. The same patterns are being followed in other big cities of India. This way, like migrant workers domestic helping hands lose their jobs. It is not known if and how many of them get their remunerations while at home.

 Police are in general the supervisors for the adherence of all the rules and regulations announced during the lockdown period. Somewhere they are friendly somewhere severe. In countries like Philippines police searches victims of corona going inside the family rooms and bring out the suspects.

 There has been quite an uproar between US President and the Director, WHO. US, the largest donor to its fund has accused it for being ‘China Centric’ and has threatened to leave the world body. The Director-General, WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, defended WHO’s work and called for an end to the politicization of Covid-19.

The ‘lockdowns’ have exposed deficiencies in food systems that were already barely coping, even in some of the richest countries on earth.

Economic Situation: Disparity has become one of the traits of the present Corona Phase

Around 41 lakh of India’s youths have lost jobs because of the pandemic while employment prospects have gotten severely challenged in Asia and the Pacific, according to a joint report by the International Labour Organization and the Asian Development Bank. Nearly 50 lakh (five million) salaried jobs were lost in July 2020, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). This took the total job losses to around 1.89 crore (18.90 million) despite a marginal recovery in the rate of employment driven by the informal sector. “While salaried jobs are not lost easily, once lost they are also far more difficult to retrieve. Therefore, their ballooning numbers are a source of worry,” CMIE cautioned. Getty Images Two-thirds of firm-level apprenticeships and three quarters of internships were completely interrupted during the pandemic, the ILO-ADB report shows.  

 White collared employees and government employees are paid their salaries as it was before and some business tycoons have shown their extraordinary zeal to make further money during this time. One of India’s business tycoons has acquired the position of one of the first couple of richest men in the world whereas the common people have hardly any surplus to prosper. Wealth and economic disparity between people have become highly pronounced during this troubled period in most of the countries. The Institute of Policy Studies, USA has recorded that  

“The current pandemic is exposing our central economic and social reality: Extreme wealth inequality has become America’s “pre-existing condition.” 

“Between January 1, 2020 and April 10, 2020, 34 of the nation’s wealthiest 170 billionaires saw their wealth increase by tens of millions of dollars. Eight have seen their net worth surge by over $1 billion.” 

About Man-Animal Relationship, about Food and Disease

 Ms. Inger Andersen’s (UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme) recent Statement on Ecosystems and Biodiversity given on 6 July 2020 is an eye opener.

“COVID-19 is one of the worst zoonotic diseases, but it is not the first. Ebola, SARS, MERS, HIV, Lyme disease, Rift Valley fever and Lassa fever preceded it. In the last century we have seen at least six major outbreaks of novel coronaviruses. Sixty per cent of known infectious diseases and 75 per cent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. Over the last two decades and before COVID-19, zoonotic diseases caused economic damage of USD 100 billion.

 Tragically, two million people in low-and middle-income countries die each year from neglected endemic zoonotic diseases – such as anthrax, bovine tuberculosis and rabies. These are often communities with complex development problems, high dependence on livestock and proximity to wildlife.

 “Meat production has increased by 260 per cent in 50 years. We have intensified agriculture, expanded infrastructure and extracted resources at the expense of our wild spaces. Dams, irrigation and factory farms are linked to 25 per cent of infectious diseases in humans. Travel, transport and food supply chains have erased borders and distances. Climate change has contributed to the spread of pathogens.” 

Recovery of Nature during the Lockdown 

With humans confined to the houses animals seem to be getting further space for roaming unperturbed by them. While animals have been enjoying free time from human intervention, people from parts of northern India expressed their joy and excitement at having been able to spot the Himalayas from their homes. The snow capped Himalayan ranges became visible to the naked eye in the first week of April after a noticeable drop in the air pollution level. The Yamuna River that had left everyone in utter distress in 2019 with white, toxic foam appearing on its surface appeared clear to the disbelief of the people viewing it. The sight of a clear Yamuna River after years blew the minds of the people and the social media went abuzz with the “natural healing” of the river water. Ganga water flowing through Varanasi and Haridwar has been the site of a significant improvement in water quality during the lockdown. It is even fit for drinking!

 Recently, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) released a report on the effect of ‘Janata Curfew’ on the air quality in which it found that the reduction in the number of on-road vehicles resulted in up to 51 per cent reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels and 32 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels during March 22-23, 2020 as compared to March 21 last year.  

Conclusion

Like many other viruses the Corona virus too may remain hiding somewhere to reemerge some day; like most other diseases it too may remain as one of the partners of man. What is required is a change in man’s attitude. Some years ago people in undeveloped countries died of epidemic like cholera and it was often said that it was because the people were dirty and ignorant; washing patients’ clothes, taking bath and drinking water from the same tank. True but it has now been rectified. Instead, the developed people are more dying now of newer diseases. Salmonella are found in beef, the beasts are almost killed by torture with antibiotic medicines and other pressures. Let them die for they are born to die but it is the human urge to ensure that their flesh remains pure and free from diseases for man to consume. Alas! men are dying more by eating them. The Western World cannot live without hugely consuming animal flesh and the rest of the world are following them more and more as they too are developing!                                                                                                       

 Remembering the recent statement on Ecosystem and Biodiversity by Ms. Inger Andersen we may learn that wildlife, biodiversity, environment and ecology are as important as man’s life for the preservation of his life. Animals may react to make man more animal than the animals; indeed, eating too much of animal is unworthy of even a predator animal. Sympathy for animals cannot be limited to those animals we do not eat. Let man not give up eating animals immediately but they can easily consume one fourth or less of animal flesh they are consuming now, they may reduce their scale of comfort to save Nature and Environment; restore Ecology and Biodiversity.

 

Notes and References

 

  1. New York Times, 21.7.2020
  2. Economic Times, 29.8.2020 (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/jobs/indias-young-white-collar-workers-are-front-row-in-the-firing-line/articleshow/77782509.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst)
  3. The Institute of Policy Studies, USA- https://ips-dc.org/billionaire-bonanza-2020/
  4. Statement by Ms. Inger Andersen on Ecosystems and Biodiversity: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/statement/preventing-next-pandemic-zoonotic-diseases-and-how-break-chain
  5. Report: https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/how-coronavirus-lockdown-helped-nature-to-heal-even-if-temporarily-from-human-damages-2652815.html

 

© Aju Mukhopadhyay, 2020

 

 

 

 

Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
Write Letter / Contact Publisher
© all photos/text
Return to leroychatfield.us

Current issue:
Syndic No. 33
October 2020
Previous issues: No. 32 | No. 31 | No. 30 | No. 29 | No. 28 | No. 27 | No. 26 | No. 25 | No. 24 | No. 23 | No. 22 | No. 21 No. 22 | No. 21 | No. 20 | No. 19 | No. 18 | No. 17 | No. 16 | No. 15 | No. 14 | No. 13 | No. 12 | No. 11 | No. 10 | No. 9 | No. 8 | No. 7 | No. 6 | No. 5 | No. 4 | No. 3 | No. 2 | No. 1