Understanding Coronavirus pandemic in India

Mohammed Abdul Rahman Khan

India went past Spain to become the fifth nation worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Coronavirus has hit the world in all aspects, exposing the vulnerability of the health sector in developing countries, and it also presents the government and public to work together in these times. But, are government and public in line to work on COVID? Every country worked its way to stop the virus from coming to its country. Looking at the US, the cases are surging and the death toll reaches 112,924. New Zealand declared COVID free nation this gives hope that we can overcome the pandemic.

The WHO declared the virus a pandemic on March 11 and said it was “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity” of the outbreak.

India with 1.33 billion populations came under lockdown on March 25 with 536 cases, after 77 days and phase-wise unlocking India is in the top 10 worst COVID hit nations in the world.

Economic took a huge hit; the World Bank projected India’s economy to contract 3.2% in FY21. This means India could lose the tag of the fastest-growing large economy to China for two years. China is projected to grow at 1 percent in CY2020, and 6.9 percent for CY2021.

According to monthly data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the unemployment rate in India shot up significantly from 7.87% in June 2019 to 23.48% in May 2020.

According to CMIE data, the urban unemployment rate is the lowest in 11 weeks. The previous low of 8.66% was recorded in the week to 22 March, three days before the stringent lockdown. Between then and the week ended 31 May, the urban unemployment rate has hovered between 30.93% and 21.45%.

In rural India, where unemployment is still nearly 18%, demand for the rural job guarantee scheme will go up. Here, the government needs to come up with new schemes and jobs to help rural employment growth to revive the rural economy.

Many migrants who returned to states need the opportunity to start in their villages before they leave again for the search of bread in cities. Laborers play a significant role in building a nation, schemes like in the line with MGNREGA which give them legal right to demand work and guaranteed 100 days of work with minimum wages. They must be organized and offer them a life of dignity and self-respect. Understanding these well-established facts will be crucial to empowering India in today’s crisis.

But in these, all crises and not the normal situation of India which is trying to stand again aiming towards the growth but TV channels play a different role here.

Amid these trying times aiming one particular community for any reason and debating hours shouting on TV screens help no country growth it only shows the person trying to change and malign topic.

Journalism took a turn where it is most needed. Today people need ground reports on the COVID, job opportunity, economy, education, health sector situations which help them understand better about the Pandemic.

Today man with specs sitting behind a desk, leaving 5-6 people on screening to debate. Debate (a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting,  in which opposing arguments are put forward) states formal discussion, but what we see on TV is no near to formal. These 5-6 people speak in a manner that also didn’t look like an argument and the speaker tries to judge the situation.

In April, News viewers grew 298% according to data released by television monitoring agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council).

Now the first time viewers who switch news see the blame game of COVID or any other topic rather than understanding the actual topic. The Viewer learns words like anti-national and also only shouting is called debate whether anchor debating if a person is right or wrong that doesn’t matter anymore if the debate recipient doesn’t agree with the opinion and Anchor directly shout him anti-national. Who is he to decide the nationality and giving throwaway words and destroying the image of the recipient on the live show?. Maybe he forgets but he is just an Anchor.

TV channels trying to debate on imaginary situations like recently Editor-in-chief of a channel called on the topic of jihad, its 14 types including movies and song jihad. The flow chart which he ran for an hour-long show was plagiarized from the 2005 post from Facebook page (unreliable source), he changed the language and showcased the chart in the Hindi language. And Anchor is a Pulitzer award winner, how come?.  

Does this blame game helpful here? Does religion targeting help to fight the pandemic? To achieve require GDP, Jobs, Education, health sector needs?

News nowadays reaching people within minutes, Forward messages are to blame here. The Actual news gets sidelined and the fake news gets forwarding.

Without research and findings with a click forward fake message is more dangerous than the current scenario. People with no knowledge believes the forward message such as Drinking alcohol cures the virus,  Indians have better immune systems to fight Coronavirus,  list of ‘COVID-19 safety guidelines’ circulates that claim it was issued by ICMR, like postponed travel for 2 years, Don’t bring shoe in the house – 21 points list, but ICMR said it did not issue the purported advisory. In May, guidelines, which detail a five-phase reopening plan, were published on Facebook on May 14, 2020. But the Indian government’s official Press Information Bureau dubbed the purported guidelines as “fake news” in a tweet.

Like these there so much fake news forwarding today not even respecting religion. The fast forward trend needs to stop before it makes a huge loss of dignity to actual news.

Recently Supreme court of  India said that media (print, electronic or social) to maintain a strong sense of responsibility and ensure that unverified news capable of causing panic is not disseminated.

Journalism needs to get right without bias, it is ‘voice of a voiceless’. There is a difference between expressing an opinion and in the name of opinion instilling religious hatred.

(The writer is the Managing Editor of The Freedom Press English Daily)

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