The 'Coronavirus' and the 'Media'! Informing or threatening?

News Bharati    13-Mar-2020   
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The entire world finds itself engulfed by the deadly Coronavirus or Covid-19. Over 100,000 people across 127 countries are affected with China alone accounting for over 80,000 cases. India too is not as safe as the figures of infected cases are pouring from various states. The government has taken preventive measures at various levels such as canceling the visa for a certain period; creating awareness among the people and facilitating speedy healthcare to the affected people.
 
The attack of this virus has become a talking point everywhere. It has brought about much-needed awareness and prompted people to take preventive measures on their own. This is a good omen. But this cautious approach seems to be slowly turning towards terrorizing the people about this viral attack thanks to the media coverage. The way media is presenting the news about the Covid-19 virus one tends to believe the above observation to be more realistic and doubt about the real intentions.

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Do we really need so much publicity for this? To create public awareness and to terrorize the population are two different things and media seems to have forgotten the demarcation line between the two. This has given rise to suspicion about its ulterior motive. Is this really intended to stop the spread of coronavirus in India or to serve some vested interests?
 
China, the home for this deadly virus, has 127,000 infected patients out of the total population of 142 crores. Till today 4,638 deaths were reported from that country. India has a population of 130 crores out of which only 60 plus persons are reported to be suffering from Covid-19. Only one death was reported from Karnataka where a 76-year-old man died. The various state governments such as Kerala, Delhi, Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra, etc. are taking preventive and curative measures to check the spread of this deadly virus.
 
Italy is the second most affected country after China. Here 12,462 cares were reported against the population of 6 crores and 827 people have lost their lives. Pakistan has a 20 crore population but reported only 10 patients of Covid-19 while Bangladesh reported only three patients against the population of 16 crores.

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India is the second densely populated country after China and both the countries have very good business and trade relations facilitating the travel of people between them. In spite of this, India has reported fewer cases against Italy and other European countries. The outbreak of Covid-19 has forced Italy to close all educational institutes, shops, and business establishments and industries and that is most natural. But does that mean India should also become panicky? Taking preventive measures and implement them is a different thing and to become panicky or to spread panic is altogether different. And looking at the media reporting in India one is inclined to blame it for spreading panic than creating a logical awareness and prompting people to take preventive care to check the spread of this virus. Unfortunately, this is not visible in media reporting.
 
The way the Centre handled this emergency for arresting the spread of this virus in a country of 130 crores deserves credit. This is because of the coordinated and synchronized working of the various departments of the central government which has contained this number of patients which otherwise could have crossed thousands. But the Indian media seems to be ignorant of this approach of the Modi government or else it would have congratulated it. But they are busy publishing columns on coronavirus and its impact. Result? Sanitizers, hand wash, have vanished from the markets; masks worth Rs 10-15 are being sold at exorbitant prices of Rs 100-125; tourism industry has suffered the most; religious and social programs have been cancelled and even the Maharashtra Government has decided to wind up its budget session due to the fear of coronavirus. Nothing ridiculous than this!

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For the Uddhav Thackeray-led ‘three-wheeler’ MVA government this coronavirus threat came as a blessing in crisis as it is not in a position to face the scathing criticism of the opposition BJP in the House on various issues. Educational institutions are being closed; examinations are sought to be postponed; public programs are almost ‘banned’. All these points at just the terror created by the media over this virus. Does the media want people to stop all their activities, businesses, etc.? Does the government also encourage this?
 
One can understand the restrictions on travelers coming to India from foreign countries as a preventive measure to stop the spread of this deadly virus. But instead of asking the people to follow simple, less expensive measures to save them from this virus attack efforts are made to paralyze the social life, cripple the business and target the economy. India is the fast growing global economy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed his determination to make India a five-trillion economy in the near future. This attitude of the media is certainly going to have an adverse effect on our economy. Do they want this? If so, at whose behest?

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Maintaining cleanliness is the most effective counter for Covid-19. We can check its spread most effectively in our daily life as we Indians give more importance to cleanliness in our day-to-day life. Some 60-100 years ago we had followed this very strictly in our houses. But in our quest to aping the West and going in for a modern lifestyle, we have almost given up all those good cleanliness habits of the yesteryears. This outbreak should be seen as a welcome opportunity to revive some of them to save us from this virus. What is needed is public awareness on this issue and not on terrorizing them.
 
We Indians have a better immunity. We have successfully digested many a virus deadlier than Covid-19 earlier. Unlike other countries, the climatic conditions in India are also unfavorable for such viruses. The summer at the doorsteps. This is a transition period and therefore, we need to be extra careful and take sufficient measures to redesign our lifestyle to keep this Coronavirus at a safe distance. India can show the world how to deal with such health emergencies and overcome them by the fusion of old and new lifestyles and habits. At the same time, the media too should engage itself in creating positive awareness and not panic on this otherwise serious health concern.