Health is one of the basic human rights of a human being. But this has always been undermined by the governments everywhere in the world, even though the UN has proclaimed–Health is a right. Some of the States have incorporated it in their constitution but it stands as a customary one. Majority of the countries don’t guarantee that none of their citizens would die out of negligence. A common man’s death is meaningless to them.

Any infectious disease generally turns into pandemic. Pandemic comes in and goes out. It costs heavy   loss of life. But no ruler/government takes it seriously to build a robust health system, rather try to distract people in the line of divide and rule. The entire projection is whatever happened at time of pandemic as if that had happened never before. In this back-drop , let us look back the history of pandemics.

  1. Why so many pandemics in the last century:   

The recorded history of pandemic takes us back to the Plague of B.C. 430 in which more than a lakh people died. The Wikipedia is taking us back to BC 1200 and the influenza pandemic was seen in various parts of the world, though some other reports deny it. However, since BC 430 there has been a breakout of pandemic somewhere in the world in every 300 to 400 years. It may be a kind of plague (three types of plague seen), yellow fever, aids, tuberculosis, influenza or any type of corona. Some of these have repeated breakouts.

In the last century (by the end of second decade of 21st century), altogether six types of pandemic breakouts have been observed. These could be Swine flu (1917-19), Asian flu (1957-58), AIDS (1981 – present), Ebola (2014 – ), Zika (2015 – ), H1N1 virus (SARS, MERS and COVID 19). Previously, the movement of soldiers from one place to another was the root cause of spreading virus but in the age of globalisation, the role of spreading virus has shifted to air-travellers. The casualty of these six pandemics is far more than that of last 2400 years. What is seen here that the environmental pollution, the change of life style, mass production of live stocks and profit motive behind health business etc. are the reasons for it.

  1. Debate on the origin of the pandemic breakout:

Whenever a pandemic break anywhere in the world, it cites much debate. The same has been seen in case of Corona:

  1. In 1851, the Europe faced a severe breakout of cholera pandemic (Great Stink). Subsequently, the entire Europe blamed the British India in the Paris conference on “Garbage Clearance” without any conclusive proof to this regard.
  2. The Spanish Flu of the 1st World War that claimed about 6.5 crore lives in the world, was also debated of its origin whether it came from Kansas of US.
  3. Similarly, the yellow fever took a severe turn in America (the US) and continued nearly for two hundred years. Once again, the blame was attributed to the Asians.

It has been observed that every pandemic comes with various rumours about its origin. It is also observed that in order to cover up inefficiency of the ruling authorities to tackle the situation, these rumours are built up and spread across.

3. Pandemic in the eye of Europeans:

The Europeans generally think that a pandemic virus is basically originated from a poor nation due to their uncleanliness and nasty social life. They do not recognize that some of the tribal societies have totally been extinguished due to infection spread by those Europeans. They blame others especially the people from the East for certain spread of virus. Hence, on the eve of the COVID 19 pandemic, the accusation to the Asians by the Western media is nothing new one. But the most disturbing fact is that the Indian media is also rallying with the western in a same chorus and accusing China for COVID 19. The COVID19 has already playing havoc in the society and now it has far and widely percolated to the poorest section of the society. Without seeing how it came to India, the media is blaming the working-class people for spreading the virus. They find migrant workers are responsible of it!

4. Understanding of people about pandemic in India:

The most important aspect is that a normal and healthy one is infected by the person who is already infected. Hence, a contagious disease doesn’t have any selection while spreading from man to man. We, the Indians are usually trying to accuse the infected person only but not the diseases. There are various misconceptions and traditional beliefs. The people from the West Bengal and Odisha have a general belief that the outbreak of pox is the result of some sort of anger of the local goddess (Thakurani).

There are a number of literature and films that have depicted the life and death of our poor people in tuberculosis. These also show how it is caused due to poverty and absence of any treatment measure. But the root cause of tuberculosis is obviously poverty as well as severely congiousness. Similarly, it is also another misconception that the leprosy is a cause of anger of certain God. Prior to the Christian Missionaries, no one believed that the cause is something else and it could be cured. Again, the unfortunate misconception about AIDS can be seen. The taboo of morality is unnecessarily tagged to it and the homosexuals and the transgender are generally accused. Similarly, we observed that the poverty and illiteracy have been projected as the root cause of cholera in some of the Odia literature. It is a seer lack of knowledge and proper scientific understanding.

The newly independent India accepted the concept of public health and accordingly, a roadmap was drawn and developed. Subsequently, it was ultimately sacrificed at the time of reform and globalization. It is now in a dilapidated condition.

5. Pandemic and Religion:

The pandemic breaks out and spreads in its own course unless it is checked. But the ruling authority doesn’t usually take it seriously. They assure people of their safety and ask them not to be panicked. But when they fail to control, the vulnerable section of the society becomes the easy target. This results in the violent attack against them.

A) The Bubonic Plague of 1337 broke out in Europe and grabbed almost entire Europe. It took 31000 lives within a span of six months in Italy but the people of Europe accused the Jews of Italy as spreader and originator of the virus. As a result, it is recorded that no less than 1000 Jews were burnt in 26 countries of Europe. Actually, the people of Italy specifically of the part of the river Tigris were throwing infected dead bodies to the river which was the root cause of spreading the disease throughout Europe.

B) The Yellow Fever had a havoc in the US especially among white people which led to believe that the black people had better immunity. Hence, the black people were asked to perform the hospital duties forcibly. This had led to a short of violence.

C). The COVID 19 pandemic is now in severe condition in India. It has already been far and wide. The majority section of both the electronic and print media are now accusing the   Tablighies of Nizamuddin as “super spreaders” at the behest of the Union Govt. Not only that, they are vitiating the religious atmosphere of the country. Some of the ruling BJP parliamentarians are also talking of “Corona Jihadies”. The media reported that one public hospital of Ahmedabad had separated COVID wards according to the faith, Hindu ward and Muslim ward. One MLA from BJP was threatening a Muslim vendor not to enter into the colony with the vegetables. In all these cases the Union government is quite silent to this effect. These have already vitiated the social fabrics of the country.  The number of physical assaults were gradually increasing specifically on religious minority groups when this ‘Nizamuddin link’ was in news.

6. Wrong decisions of the administration multiply the cases:

A) London plague: The London Plague broke out during 1665-66. Without going through any proper investigation, the Mayor of London declared that the said virus originated either from dogs or cats. As a result, it was about 40,000 dogs and 80,000 cats were killed mercilessly. Similarly, due to wrong conception about the disease, the infected person was ostracized along with the family members for which other family members of the infected person were also infected and gradually, it spread over the larger community. And more than a lakh of people in this plague died in London.

B) Swine Flu in the US: It is generally believed that the “swine flu” broke out in the military camp of Kansas in the USA and subsequently, it spiralled throughout the world during the First World War. It is known that a US warship consisting of 800 soldiers moving around the coasts of Asia , Africa , Europe and finally returned to the US coast which was the root cause of spreading the virus throughout the world. The death toll in the USA alone was nearly 65 In India, the said virus routed through Mumbai Port and it took near about 20 millions lives throughout the country. As per records, a number of 7000 patients out of 13000, in a hospital in Delhi, died due to this pandemic. It is also reported that the morbidity rate was quite high as 35 persons in every 1000 in Asia,10 in Latin America and 15 in Africa. It may also be further reminded that during the World War 1, the USA played actually no such vital role but the US ruling authority moved their warships and soldiers to exercise its military authority and prowess. That caused death of more people in Swine Flu than death due to the First World War.

C) Lockdown in India: The present COVID19 outbreak related lockdown in India was almost a bolt from the blue. The air passengers from abroad were freely allowed to enter into the country without any sort of scrutiny. When the virus erupted the Union government declared a nationwide lockdown all of a sudden and without any preparation. As a consequence, the millions of migrant workers were thrown on to the street and they were desperate to return to their homes, finding no other alternatives. It may be pointed out that the Mayor of London forced the infected persons to stay with their family members during the outbreak of the Plague. Like this, the Indian authority also began to keep these migrants in the same quarantine centres without knowing who are infected or not. ? As a result, a large number of people from these quarantine centres are being identified as COVID 19

7. Few positive contributions:

Aftermath of cholera epidemic outbreak in London (1830), it was investigated further and was revealed that the latrine water and waste of London actually contaminated the underground water level. Subsequently, the entire underground sewage system of London town was planned so nicely that it has eradicated the problem forever. The Americans suffered from the Yellow Fever for almost two hundred years. Subsequent research brought to light its career, the mosquitoes. The USA government then took an extensive measure; breeding place of mosquitoes were cleaned, roads were sanitised, people were directed to use mosquito net etc. This successful campaign of public health often is used as an example. Interestingly, on the eve of COVID 19 outbreak, the US government is purchasing Hydroxychloroquine from India. But every year India is losing 20,000 people due to Malaria fever and we are unable to check it.

Conclusion:

If we go through various discussions in the electronic and print media, it seems that the present pandemic is a new one to us and it ever happened. In the back drop of lackadaisical decision of the Union Government, almost all the Provincial Governments are projecting themselves as the saviours with the help of media houses and also their superiority in handling the situation which is totally false and unhealthy one. Further, a sort of unhealthy regionalism is also promoted and propagated. For example, the phrases like “Bengal Link”‘ ,”Tamil Nadu Link” , or ” Surat Link” may be cited. This type of rapid regionalism promotion is also silently accommodated by the Union Govt.

While tracking the history of any pandemic, it is generally observed that the poorest section of the society bears the burden. At the advent of any pandemic, the public health and prevention get the more importance in the society but the development of vaccine is generally motivated by its business aspects. Aftermath of any pandemic, the government forgets everything about the public health and financial empowerment of common people. All sorts of research take the back seat. On the other hand, in the name of security and national interest, the purchase and development of arms and ammunitions get the maximum priority. As a result, the epidemic comes out with its ugly face often and on. It is the “small pox” only that has been eradicated. Hence, the covid19 may not be end of all epidemic viruses and we may be waiting for another coronavirus outbreak in the world unless there is a rapid change in economy and its distribution system as well as the public health system in the country.

Prepared by : Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakha Sangathan, Odisha

For comments write to: The President, GASS and email to gassbhubaneswara@gmail.com


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