CONTINUED FROM - COVID-19 Diaries - Day 03 Of Lockdown
We live in times where nothing spreads faster than hatred. Thanks to Social Media, opinions promoting hatred and negativity, cheap memes and underdeveloped thoughts not only get easily published, but also gains quick viewership and circulation. However, the biggest problem lies in these posts turning into beliefs. It is appalling to see the so called ‘educated’ people confidently and shamelessly forwarding posts that are discriminating, racist and hateful in nature, towards one or more communities. Until recently, the focus has been on the Chinese.
According to some posts, the Chinese have intentionally spread this virus so that the world economy collapses. Some criticise them for their food habits and call this a Chinese virus and few others are asking people to boycott Chinese products all-together. It is sad that, today, most people in India rely on WhatsApp and Facebook posts to educate themselves on current affaires and form an opinion. Many do not seem to take a moment to analyse the forward or post they have received on their phones.
Can we not promote and buy India-made products to boost our economy, without hating other countries? Do we not acknowledge the interdependencies between countries and people in general? Can we not first research the food habits that exist in our own country before pointing fingers at others? Every country, every culture in this world is guilty of exploiting animals and nature in general. No one is walking away with a clean chit. Ironically, this propaganda has turned some Indians hostile towards our own people. In some places it was reported that North-east Indians were prohibited from entering stores. However, now, all the negativity and hate mongers have begun to shift their focus from the Chinese to another community.
On the 25th of March, 6 people in Andaman and Nicobar islands were tested positive for COVID-19. What was alarming is that all of them had attended a convention at headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, a conservative islamic organisation, in New Delhi. This raised an alarm and quick investigation revealed that the convention which was held between the 12th and 22nd of March, included around 2500 people. There were participants from all over the country and from some South-east asian countries. While approximately a 1000 of them had left the place, the rest were unable to move out due to the nation-wide lockdown announced on the 24th. Several of these attendees turned out to be COVID-19 positive cases. Soon the Markaz (Centre) became India’s largest COVID-19 cluster.
Since the event had participants from all over the country, who have now returned to their respective states, perhaps carrying the virus, it has become a mammoth task to trace down all participants and quarantine them. During this process, some people resisted quarantine and attacked healthcare workers, including doctors. This was clearly a foolish and unjustifiable act by those people. But instead of looking at this as independent cases, a super narrative promoting hatred against the Muslims in general began to spread like wildfire.
Several videos and posts were circulated calling this a Corona-Jihad. In their hatred towards a community, people forgot to focus on relevant questions like - Could the Government have avoided such mass gatherings during these times? Could we have stopped entry of international flights earlier? While these questions allow us to analyse the situation and prepare for such crisis in future, questions and discussions on preparedness to trace the infection, test as many people as possible, efforts and support required, awareness among people etc would be crucial steps to deal with the issue in hand. I fail to understand why people get hung up on one aspect of the situation and keep lingering around it? According to me, when it comes to superstition, false hope and stupidity, every religion is culpable of misguiding people.
The Government has announced strict action against those are promoting hatred against communities and has setup a special team that is identifying fake news on COVID-19. However, many Facebook and WhatsApp users remain ignorant of their crimes. In the recent times, specially in the last 6 months, our country seems to be heavily polarised than ever before. While some continue to blame the Muslims, the others do not want people to communalise this issue which will only make things more difficult in these times. With cellphones in the hands and not much work to do, how can one stop being exposed and influenced by such unnecessary information?
As for me, I had realised the effect of such memes and posts on our intellect around three years ago. Taking everything lightly and accepting other's opinions without any contemplation has made people more insensitive towards one another. So, three years ago, I chose to exit all my WhatsApp groups and limited my interactions on Facebook. I wrote about it in detail in a previous post.
This has helped me distance myself from such unverified stories, misinformation and vague thoughts. I have turned towards legitimate Newspapers (The Hindu), books on history and philosophy to educate myself. Because, only knowledge can defeat stupidity and ignorance.
So, here is what has been going on with me. I baked a cake for the first time. I made a Rava (Semolina) cake and it turned out pretty well. Oh yes! I also built a support system (Chappara) for my malabar spinach creepers.
Globally, 34,610 have died and 7,27,080 tested positive. It has taken 12 days for India to reach 1000 cases and 39 deaths have been recorded.
CONTINUED HERE - COVID-19 Diaries - Day 10 of Lockdown.
CONTINUED HERE - COVID-19 Diaries - Day 10 of Lockdown.