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Muslim leadership in India has to step in the fight against Covid-19

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Lakshmisha K S
Founder - Namo Brigade, Management Consultant, Amateur Economist, Politically Conservative and believer in the supremacy of facts, NITK-Surathkal, XLRI alumnus
 

India is on a 21 day lockdown from 24th March, 2020. The idea behind the same is to beat and suppress the curve of infection. As Prime Minister eloquently put it, virus infections spread exponentially and hence it is very important for us to stop the same. As Tomas Pueyo states in this article – “Strong coronavirus measures today should only last a few weeks, there shouldn’t be a big peak of infections afterwards, and it can all be done for a reasonable cost to society, saving millions of lives along the way. If we don’t take these measures, tens of millions will be infected, many will die, along with anybody else that requires intensive care, because the healthcare system will have collapsed.

This is behind Prime Minister’s announcement of 21 day curfew across India. The aim is to go hard on suppression. Enforce strict social distancing. Get things under control and then slowly relax the measures as the case count stabilises or drops. Monitor and appropriately follow up on relaxation. India is ramping up its testing facility. As explained by DG, ICMR, India currently has testing capacity to test 70,000 samples every week. This is in comparison to France (10K), UK (16K), USA (26K), Germany (42K) and Italy (52K). The aim is to continue to expand diagnostics, keep them running until the new cases drop down, reducing fatality rates and reducing pressure on system. Meanwhile the time will also give government and health authorities to build critical hospital infrastructure, specifically ICUs and ventilators. Various state governments have already initiated the same. Large corporates are stepping in to assist.

Image result for coronavirus curve in india
Source: FinancialTimes

The whole aim of this exercise to limit the death toll to hundreds or maybe thousands rather than millions. Reduce the fatality rate to less than 1% like in South Korea rather than ~8% like in Italy. Reduce the load on healthcare workers, reduce healthcare worker’s fatality and ensure their betterment. To achieve this, it is vital we enforce the strictest of social distancing measures as possible. Remember both China and Europe (Italy, Spain) have enforced quarantines, however the strictness of the measures has defined the success. China went to the extreme where only one person was allowed to go out. Some apartments were grilled shut in China, while in individualistic western societies, it has been difficult to enforce lockdowns. Take for example 77 year old pensioner roaming around Spain hunting for “Pokemon”. Italian authorities have pressed charges against more than 40,000 people for violating the lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus. The results are here to see, China and South Korea have reduce the pace of new infections completely while Italian and Spanish infection rates continue to grow exponentially.

Hence it is very important the strictest of the possible measures are undertaken. This is the war of our life and we need to do whatever it takes to win this battle. However we are facing lack of seriousness or callousness from one particular group today who are using religious reasons to not follow these measures. The group I am talking about are small set of Influencers. And I would like to state it out explicitly that majority of Muslims do believe in the seriousness of the issues and are cooperating with public at large, there is a vocal minority who are not taking this seriously and jeopardising the effort. Let me illustrating with examples (I would like to state that most of the examples are courtesy of twitter user @BiharKaLal who compiled the same)

Example 1

interactions shouldn’t be stopped in the name of social distancing and fear of coronavirus. If today these are stopped then tomorrow you can stop being a Muslim also. Muslims don’t fear death

https://youtu.be/WqLEhyvRqN4
 

Example 2: If any Muslim does Namaz 5 times a day then no Coronavirus will infect him.

Example 3: By drinking and eating from the same plate/utensil, Muslims get “Sifa” not virus and hence there is no need to do social distancing

Example 4: Muslims don’t need to wear Masks and take actions to prevent social distancing

 

Example 5: Islam teaches them that by shaking hands, friendship grows not coronavirus. Hence there is no need to stop shaking hands.

Example 6: God will decide who will live and who will die and hence there is no need to take precautions against coronavirus. No need to follow curfew.

Lastly an Anti CAA rally was carried out in Moradabad when people have been asked to limit outside interactions.

There are dozens of more examples that I can illustrate which buttress the my point. And it is to be noted that these are not ordinary incidences but videos and messages shared by Tik Tok influencers on social Media. This is the message shared by the few of their community leaders. This is alarming and needs to be addressed. And the only people who can address this is the Muslim leadership. This is important that they come out and stamp this nonsense out. I don’t think the above influencers take our Prime Minister’s word seriously and hence it is necessary for people who they respect come out and state out clearly the seriousness of the situation, the requirement for lockdown and curfew.

Some of you might suggest why we should bother about it. If people want to be COVIDIOT, then let them be and suffer. But the thing to note is that the chain strength is defined by its weakest link. If the virus manages to pester in the community due to stupid actions of a few, it will impact all of us. Like stated above in the case of Spain or Italy, it is important the lockdown is enforced on 100% of population otherwise there is no difference between lockdown and business as usual.

Hence I implore “Secular” leadership to come and talk to their constituents directly. Rahul Gandhi and other community leaders need to reinforce the message of social distancing. Every Indian has to take this with utmost seriousness. Let me end this note with a message from young pakistani doctor Dr. Usama Riaz who lost the battle against corona but left message for all of us.

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Lakshmisha K S
Founder - Namo Brigade, Management Consultant, Amateur Economist, Politically Conservative and believer in the supremacy of facts, NITK-Surathkal, XLRI alumnus

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