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Hunger in the times of COVID-19

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The COVID 19 pandemic has made entire communities bankrupt. As Government aid struggles to reach everybody, millions around India are surviving on a prayer and the kindness of strangers. In a glaring example of the kind of crisis we’re living through, in Delhi hungry people joined a 2 Km food queue last week under the scorching midday sun. 

“Bhalswa is home to Delhi’s largest open garbage dump – and working-class families who can’t afford to live in a less toxic place. Around noon on Saturday, a queue snaked around a bend in the road leading into the neighbourhood. Food was being distributed inside a community hall by the Shri Shiv Sevak Delhi Mahashakti Group, an organisation that runs kitchens during the annual Amarnath pilgrimage in Kashmir.

Many said they were embarrassed about queuing up for food. A common refrain was: “Hum kamaa ke khaane waale log hain.” We are workers who earn and feed ourselves. But the lockdown has deprived them of work and wages.”


The COVID 19 pandemic has given rise to a plethora of rumours around the world. The most persistent one in India till date has been the apparent connection of poultry and meat with the virus. The latest such rumour includes “a newspaper clipping that’s being circulated on WhatsApp that claims that Bihar’s Health Department has confirmed that poultry chicken is the source of coronavirus.

“However, there is no truth to the newspaper clipping. Firstly, the clipping itself is fake and has possibly been created using an online tool. Secondly, the Bihar Health Department has confirmed that no such observation has been made.”


In a disturbing development, a UP hospital has barred Muslim patients who don’t come with negative test for COVID 19

“A cancer hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut has published an advertisement in the Dainik Jagran newspaper that it will no longer accept new Muslim patients unless the patient and a caretaker come with negative test results for COVID-19. The hospital is a dedicated cancer hospital with 50 beds and caters to the population around Meerut including Mawana, Sardhana and Muzaffarnagar. 

District Chief Medical Officer, Raj Kumar, had this to say however: “The policy advertised by the Valentis Cancer Hospital, Meerut, is discriminatory and the hospital must apologise or else we will cancel its license.”


Epidemics have always “changed the course of nations and transformed societies…the past is no recipe for the future — but it can suggest what to expect.”

“First, epidemics inflame nativism and racial bigotry. Donald Trump’s allusion to the “Chinese virus” has faint echoes in the 19th century, when cholera – dubbed “Asiatic cholera” in the press – ravaged the world in several waves. 

The 19th-century cholera outbreaks point to a second consequence of epidemics: social upheaval. Samuel Cohn, a professor at the University of Glasgow, notes that popular revolts blossomed in the wake of worldwide cholera outbreaks from the 1830s through the 1910s.

With “cholera riots” in mind, we come to a third historical lesson: epidemics tend to catalyse political movements, especially radical ones. Consider the plague epidemic that swept through Western India in the mid-1890s. British colonial authorities reacted with such draconian measures that they managed to alienate a vast cross-section of Indian political opinion. 

The plague of the 1890s probably first reached India via a ship from Hong Kong, demonstrating how disease thrived as the world became more connected. And that brings us to a final lesson from history: epidemics, which are a sure sign of globalisation, can also accelerate globalisation.”


As countries around the world are struggling to lift lockdowns due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, policymakers are deliberating how to deal with future outbreaks as and when they emerge.

Among the ideas being considered is an “immunity certificate” or “immunity passport”, whose holders would be able to get back to work.

However, Many have criticised the scheme as both scientifically and ethically controversial. Experts have cautioned governments against acting in haste, since much still remains to be understood about the spread of the virus, as well as immunity to it.
Lack of necessary information would make categorising between immune and non-immune persons a challenging as well as potentially dangerous task, they insist.”


In an unexpected fallout of the COVID 19 pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is now concerned that grounding most aeroplanes for a prolonged period of time will impact the quantity and quality of weather observations and forecasts

“Large parts of the observing system, for instance its satellite components and many ground-based observing networks, are either partly or fully automated. They are therefore expected to continue functioning without significant degradation for several weeks, in some cases even longer. But if the pandemic lasts more than a few weeks, then missing repair, maintenance and supply work, and missing redeployments will become of increasing concern.
Some parts of the observing system are already affected. Most notably the significant decrease in air traffic has had a clear impact. In-flight measurements of ambient temperature and wind speed and direction are a very important source of information for both weather prediction and climate monitoring.”

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