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Finally in the Endgame ?

We live in a world where industrialization, economy, political vendettas and even war is given utmost significance. That is why today, we fall upon a great global health crisis.

Time to panic?

While the world is battling against a severe Covid-19 outbreak, the sole question that comes to our mind is, “When will it end?”

We know that we have been exploiting animals, nature and it’s resources and we’re doing so to an extent that the damage is affecting us severely in turn.

And when the equilibrium of the ecosystem is disturbed, terrible things could happen.

How do new epidemics and pandemics occur?

People are coming in contact with creatures, bacteria,viruses and microorganisms they’ve never been exposed to while cutting down forests for resources and venturing into places they’ve never been to.Thus, being susceptible to new kinds of diseases.

Here’s a scientific explanation as to how new viruses come into being. Let’s take the novel Corona virus (SARS Cov 19) as an example.

Corona virus are an entire family of virus species that infect specific animals.

Protein spikes of the corona virus tend to stick specifically to a particular host cell which it’s meant for and are engulfed by the cell. Generally, bird or other animal infecting corona viruses cannot affect human cells, because their spikes cannot stick to our long enough. Phew!What a relief.

But when virus genes are copied during reproduction, mutations can occur. This might cause it’s spikes to change in shape. Generally, this newly formed mutant virus is useless and can’t attach to any living thing. But on rare occasions, a mutation might allow a virus to attach to a new host species. If the new modified virus encounters that new host species, infection occurs. Then a spillover is said to occur

Slowly evolving spillovers are the cause of every major outbreak.

Global Virome Project of the World Health Organization seeks to identify the majority of unknown viral diversity and collect data that can be used to analyse the risk of viral spillover into humans.

Environmental exploitation and global health is interconnected

“With epidemics people have been standing on the shore,waiting for the gusher to hit the ocean.But to prevent epidemics,you have to look at the various little sources that feed into the river”

~Nathan Wolfe

 SARS(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003),MERS(Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2012), Ebola(2014), Nipah (2018) all are said to be spilled over or contracted from animals like bats and civets, camels, fruit bats respectively.

Close association with animals and animal meat consumption hugely affects public health since these are the major sources of diseases. Huge amount of antibiotics are provided to animals to fatten them up and make them survive factory farm conditions before being sold for consumption which indirectly affects humans and induces diseases in long term.

Within a decade, didn’t we witness more panic than ever? A series of deadly diseases affecting us within this span of time, calls for a change.

The Ebola outbreak in Africa was an alarming caution to mankind that something bigger is coming and we are not prepared.

What the world is facing today is the cumulative result of being ignorant and indifferent to our environment,our food processing systems and health care systems. Hence, today we are left questioning whether or not we will survive.

Is this the end?

Even if we get past this phase, there’s more in store for us in the future if we don’t act responsibly. Remember every time you threw that plastic bottle, every time you used the air conditioner when you didn’t need it, every time you wasted resources? Yes, all of these little things add up too. Waste generation and pollution is directly related to temperature rise and global warming.

If the Covid-19 isn’t enough, let me tell you that if climate change causes the polar icecaps to melt away, they would unleash quite a lot of new species of viruses capable of genetic mutation. Who knows if it could possibly lead to a mass extinction in future?

See how our actions are leading us to our doom?

But, your tiny actions can save the world too! Yes, we believe you can. It’s time to take active participation in reducing waste generation, eliminating the non-reusable plastic stuff, planting trees, switching off the lights, not wasting the resources we have.

And, staying home during the current quarantine to be the most important point. 🙂

What is meant by “flattening the curve”?

Here is some simple math:

One person can infect approximately 2 to 3 people. If we assume that there are n affected people, then they spread the disease to 3n people. Now, there are n+3n=4n infected people who further infect 4n * 3= 12n people, which adds up to 12n+4n=16n people. How many people do they infect now?I’ll leave the rest for you to find out. Devastating, isn’t it?

In this way, the number of infected people increase in a geometric progression.

If the number of people being affected increases way high within a short period of time then the current health-care system would not be able to provide medical facility to all the patients. This is why despite having an excellent medical system, the situation in Italy got out of hands. The medical experts are thus trying to flatten the curve or decrease community spread so that less number of people are affected in a short period of time.

So, by acting responsibly today you could save yourself and a lot of people around you.

This pandemic has seeded xenophobia, racism and hostility among some people across the globe.

All I have to say is, we don’t know what the future holds for us so I hope you spread more love than hate in this hour.

We have enough going on around us guys, there’s enough stigma,taboos to overcome, there’s enough love and harmony yet to be spread, enough misogyny to be ended, human and animal rights to be achieved. And a sick, stressed environment would be hardly conducive to a better world for us and our future generations to live in.

 We will need time to recover from this. And after this, we need to promise ourselves for the sake of humanity that we’ll give back to nature more than we’ve taken.

This blog is contributed by Ayushi Das.

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$5 Trillion economy: Dream or Reality?

Introduction

Living in an unpredictable world where the US and China are leading the world markets. Addressing the nation from the ramparts of Red fort on 73rd Independence day, Prime Minister Modi dreams of $5 Trillion economy. Prime Minister’s ambitious target was reflected in the recently released Economic Survey & Union Budget. Analyzing India’s current situation & coronavirus outbreak this target set by PM is hard to achieve but not impossible. To attain this target our GDP needs to grow over the next few years. The required rate of growth to achieve that level is in excess of 9% per annul.

Present Status

India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world with one of the highest youth population .GDP growth is pegged at 6-6.5 % in 2020-21 up from 5 % in 2019-20(Economic survey 2019-20). Creation of new firms has increased drastically since 2014. More than 50 % of the workforce is in the agriculture sector. As per govt. plans, farmers to become exporters from bare producers. Govt has planned to invest vast on agricultural infrastructure. A 10 % increase in registration of new firms. The Economic Survey pointed out high drop out rates at various levels of schooling and lack of affordability in higher education as areas of concern. Barely 2 % of the Indian population pays Income tax. The present fiscal deficit remains at 3.5% of GDP. Currently, rupees stand at 76.54 to a dollar. Despite this mixed data it very tough declaration to intend to become $5 trillion economy.

Road breakers

India stands at 63 among 190 countries in ease of doing business released by world bank. It takes as many as 36 approvals are needed to open an eatery in Bengaluru which shows why we are so behind in the ranking. This also reminds us of license Raj during Nehru time. Unemployment is in degrading trend with an all-time low. Infrastructure is another major concern, Our weak infrastructure needs major upgrade especially in places like Northeast which has high potential to affect our GDP. India has a huge population to provide education, health & food security which is a very difficult task & needs a good plan with proper management. The degrading environment all over India puts pressure on existing resources. Proper Implementation is still a big problem we are facing. Every year Govt. announce new plans & strategy but we don’t know how many people are benefited from the schemes. Corruption of ministers, bureaucrats in major schemes is the root cause that many people are still out of reach of schemes that are announced every year. Women’s participation is low in our country compared to the world average. There were many other parameters like fake news, rumors that have an indirect effect on the Indian economy.

Govt steps

Nirmala Sitaraman presented the Economic survey 19- 20 on 31st January & union budget on 1st February where she highlighted several plans of the government to be taken. The budget is woven around 3 prominent themes- Inspirational India, Economic development & Caring society. Govt had decided many Fibre to the Home(FTTH) connections through Bharatnet that will link gram panchayats this year policy to enable the private sector to build Data center parks throughout the country will be brought soon.100 more airports would be developed under the Udaan scheme. More than 2.83 Lakh crore will be spent on agriculture development. On education & skill front 99,300 crores have been allocated. India’s government has tried to stem the slowdown with a host of measures, including tax cuts and cash injections for the banking and automobile sectors.

Effect of coronavirus on Economy

On 31st December while we were welcoming New year, a deadly virus COVID-19 emerged in the city of Wuhan, China. No country ever wondered this could have such a harsh effect all over the world. More than 3,50,000 cases with 15,415(till now) deaths are being reported.500+ cases have registered in India till now. Most of the Indian states have gone in complete lockdown with trains, metros and inter-state buses have been shut. Many states have sealed their borders. Sensex plunges the biggest single-day fall. On the BSE, 2,037 companies declined, while 232 advanced. Investors in India suffered a huge loss due to this disease & fear that it can destroy the economy. The travel industry has been badly damaged. Currently, all trains, flights service remains suspended. There is a pay cut to the employees of these sectors. The next hard-hit sector is Tourism, no International flights are being allowed to land on Indian soil. With tourism restaurants, chains are being closed. Many heritage sites including the Taj Mahal is currently closed. These are further slowing the Indian economy. Indian govt. Has ordered work from home so the demand for high-speed internet has increased & many telecom operators launching new plans. Automobile manufacturing has been stopped by many companies. However, a company like Reckitt Benckiser(manufacture dettol) saw a huge increase in sales of sanitizers & soaps. To some relief Govt. has put sanitizers & mask in essential commodities & capped its prize. Coronavirus soon needs to tackle if we want to make $5 Trillion economies possible.

Conclusion

Every year the Union budget is out & money is allocated to different sectors but still, we are behind the projected rate. This may be due to corruption or improper implementation or any other reason the Indian economy gets affected.Huge money is allocated to education & health. Still, the condition of these sectors is not improving. While some states performance is not up to mark some states like Kerala, Karnataka is performing well. We can see these states working model & implement it in other states but we are busy discussing in a useless political issue. Recently Yes Bank crises had put the huge burden in banking sectors and the major question arises ,Are money in banks safe? What was RBI doing? As India feels the pain of coronavirus outbreak, India’s economy further downshifts. With lockdown all over the country, India has to bear a huge financial burden due to this disease. Globally, the coronavirus shock is severe even compared to the Great Financial Crisis in 2007–08. Indian policymakers have to plan accordingly in this time of shutdown & make effective plans further if we still want $5Trillion economy.

This post is contributed by Asthanu Madhav

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The Novel Corona Virus

Claiming more than 7,530 deaths all around the world and infecting more than 190,873 patients, the deadliest threat to mankind’s very existence is the Novel Coronavirus or the more popularly known Wuhan Coronavirus. The conquest of this virus started in the city of Wuhan on 31st December and within a month, on 30th January the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. As the virus claims more than 130 cases in India, let’s look deeper into the inception and spread of the virus.

A medical staff member takes the temperature of a man at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in China on Jan. 25. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

Origin of COVID-19

In late December, multiple cases were reported in different hospitals of Wuhan (a city of China) with symptoms of respiratory problems and acute pneumonia. The cases became alarming when there were no medicines that would work as a cure. Soon the disease was identified as the Novel Corona Virus. The world has already seen the lethality of viruses of this family. In 2003 the SARS epidemic took 774 lives whereas the 2012 MERS killed more than 300 people around the world. However, little did the people of China understood what this outbreak could turn out to be.The 52 cases initially reported grew to more than cases in Wuhan itself and all of the patients were transferred to the Houshenshan Hospital. But that wasn’t enough to isolate the disease, very soon the disease spread all throughout China like wildfire. With the Chinese new year, people from China travelled all around the world hence, positive cases of Corona increased in foreign countries like Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Italy and also the USA. Very soon the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the WHO. The virus stands unbeatable as WHO predicts lack of medical equipment required to fight it and the world panic over it being a Pandemic.

Foreign conquests of Corona

Outside China, Corona has affected more than 1000 countries around the world with highest number of cases in Italy( 27.890),Iran(10,143), South Korea(8,320), Spain(11,409), France(6,633), Germany(7,974), USA(5,200), Japan(1,020). As, Italy records highest single troll from the virus, as of Monday the government placed its 60million population under complete lockdown. Iran has been severely affected by the virus. The country has gone into a complete shutdown as the virus infects even the high-ups in their political structure including their health minister. As Iran’s stock market faces doom, the U.S. stock market indicates significant figures. Airlines industries have been bruised by the epidemic. United Airlines began offering flight waivers, and Delta, American, and JetBlue have waived fees. Airlines have reduced routes or cut flights entirely to cities affected by the outbreak, and all in, the spread of the virus could cost the airline industry $113 billion, according to the International Air Transport Association. As of 11th March, the tech giants like Google, Amazon urges it’s employees to work from home while many Universities in the US including Columbia, Princeton, Harvard are asking students to take online classes from home. In short, Corona has affected not only the death of thousands but has disrupted economies and governments and created worldwide havoc.

Why is corona unbeatable ?

Now many will argue that with such advancements in medical science why don’t we have a cure or at least a vaccine available by now? Well to answer that we have got to understand a little bit more about viruses. The viruses are very interesting because when they are out in the open environment they act as non-living organisms but as soon as they enter the living body, Boom!! the devil has awakened. Now inside the body, the virus attacks the cells and hijacks the cell production machinery. Hence, instead of producing more normal cells it produces more viruses. The body’s immune system responses in vain as the speed of virus production is far more than T cell(cells that form the immunity). Just think about diseases caused by viruses– Pox, Influenza, AIDS. None of these has a definitive cure. There are medicines for these which mostly works on enhancing the immune system but cannot act on the virus. Again, we shouldn’t expect the cure of corona in 3 months whereas we are yet to find the same for HIV.

Conspiracy theories on Corona

History shows, that man creates such conspiracy theories as a coping mechanism against situations of crisis. This virus outbreak is nothing different. Since the inception of the corona, several conspiracy theories have been cooked around its origin. One conspiracy theory proposes that the coronavirus is actually a bio-weapon engineered by the CIA as a way to wage war on China. Others are convinced that the UK and US governments introduced the coronavirus as a way to make money from a potential vaccine. The people didn’t even spare making jokes about the cure and prevention of the disease. In such an incident, 16 Iranians died from methanol poisoning in Khuzestan province after false rumors spread that drinking alcohol would help prevent people from getting the Covid-19 virus, the official Irna news agency reported.

Even in India, fake messages have created a whirlwind of panic amongst masses. Some of them claimed that Corona is incurable ( whereas 64k+ people completely recovered from the disease) while others informed that the virus can spread even through touch. The country’s stock exchange plunged to its lowest level since 2010 amid fears of the disease. Finally, on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was forced to appeal to citizens, asking them to not heed to rumors surrounding COVID-19.

Coronavirus in India

Right now India has declared to have 130 cases with 3 deaths. Coronavirus has shaken up the IT Hubs of Bengaluru and Hyderabad as government advises the companies to avoid sending their officials abroad unless there is an absolute necessity of the same.This week schools and collleges in Orissa, Bihar and other states goes into lockdown to prevent further spreading of the virus. As doctors predict that it would take a minimum of 10 to 12 months before they find some definitive cure, prevention still remains the only viable option. Frequent hand washing, avoiding public gatherings, use of masks are the most effective hygiene practices to avoid infection.

My Words on Coronavirus

In the morning of 23rd January, Wuhan went into lockdown. There were more than 600 citizens trapped in Wuhan who was constantly contacting the officials at New Delhi for rescuing them. While other countries refused to rescue their citizens living in Wuhan, India planned their “ no one gets left behind “ mission. In the next few days, embassy officials worked round-the-clock to list the Indians in Hubei.“We had to attach a name to the face, and then attached a passport number. We either emailed or called each individual. We assured them,” Ambassador Vikram Misri. Soon the engineers prepared the flight and with four pilots and 15 cabin crew took off on an Air India Boeing 747 for Wuhan on the afternoon of January 31. On 1st Feb the Indian officials started the evacuation. Finally, by 2nd Feb 647 Indians have been evacuated through two special Air India flights. While 324 Indians were part of the first batch, 323 Indians and seven Maldivians were rescued. Air India officials hereby proved that they might not be the most profitable airlines company if the country but they are definitely the bravest.

Finally, on an ending note, Indian doctors have administered some medications used for HIV to the patients which have given positive results. So, we can handle the situation with a calm head without panicking and trust out medical officials on doing their job because they are the best.

This blog is contributed by Ria Biswas.

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