Of all the misinformation and myths making the rounds about the cure for COVID-19, drinking cow urine and having a bath in cow dung seem to be most pertinent. This theory has undeniably gained more power after members of the government made such claims themselves. According to a report on the The Quint, Pragya Thakur, a Member Of Parliament from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), during her party gathering in her constituency Bhopal, proudly said that the lung infection caused during COVID-19 can be cured by consuming the urine of indigenous cows.
It is extremely difficult to understand how such claims can be rational even after health experts have rebutted it and repeatedly pointed out that it is neither true, nor scientifically proven. Such myths and superstitious beliefs are so deeply rooted in the veins of people that the line between what is logical and what is scientific becomes blurry. A recent incident showcasing people in a cow shelter in Gujarat taking a bath with cow dung by smearing it all over their bodies had gone viral on digital media. We must realise the medical implications of following such practices. Apart from them being unscientific, they also invite health hazards such as mucormycosis and other severe infections which are now increasingly becoming a part of our health crisis.
Dissenting voices met with governmental suppression
Quite many journalists, doctors, activists and other individuals have been trying to raise awareness about the problematic after effects of spreading misinformation. Not only has the government not been receptive to their concerns, but it has also actively stifled their voices. Recently, a journalist from Manipur, Kishorechandra Wangkhem along with activist Erendro Leichombam were arrested for putting up a post on Facebook against projecting cow urine and cow dung as cure for Covid-19. This post was put up soon after the demise of Manipur BJP Chief, S Tikendra Singh, to express condolence and also highlight the need for scientific approaches to battle the virus. Even though they were granted bail, later on, they were booked under The National Security Act (NSA).
According to a report by The Print, Wangkhem has been targeted in the past for raising his voice and expressing his dissent against political affairs and matters of social relevance. In 2018 also, he was booked under the draconian NSA for speaking against the problematic practices of the ruling government. It is insightful to note here that even Twitter keeps flooding time and again with tweets criticising the government and its efficacy in providing healthcare services to its own people.
While people found Twitter to be the only platform left for them where they can express their concerns and grievances, the ruling government attempts to tamper with Twitter to block tweets that criticise the way it has failed to save its own citizens from the pandemic.
No freedom to exercise fundamental rights
Another concerning tangent of this issue is how our democracy is becoming a space that is highly intolerant of fair criticism, which is a fundamental right. The scenario seems to be such that if an individual expresses any critical form of opinion, the government vehemently tries to take their voice away from them. Discussions, debates and collective means to find a solution have been vanishing in the realm of this increasingly authoritative regime. According to a report by The Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG), almost 55 journalists have been arrested for reporting on the negligence of the government during the pandemic.
There have been reports of torture, assault and pressing of sedition charges on journalists and activists for critically highlighting uncomfortable truths. The government’s privilege always plays out well in its favour when it comes to arresting people who aren’t backed up by any political camps. There were FIR’s filed against 22 journalists because they brought up legitimate concerns related to the distribution of ration to migrant labourers.
The government gave themselves a clean chit citing that they don’t have the records of the said labourers. In more recent news, four junior doctors were arrested while they were on their way to meet the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath to talk about their grievances related to the supply of medical equipment in the hospitals. They were released later; but the misbehaviour of the police speaks volumes about the mishandling of medical professionals who demand solutions from the government.
Shouldn’t the government be held accountable for the deaths and displacement of migrant workers who lost their livelihood and were among the worst hit during this deadly pandemic?
There is no dignity in death anymore. Bodies are thrown into rivers, claims are made by ministers that there is no shortage of healthcare equipment and that the system is well equipped with oxygen cylinders, beds, PPE kits and vaccines for all people. International media has consistently highlighted the COVID-19 crisis in India, amplifying our gross mismanagement of it. However, our elected representatives are still in denial.
Navigating false claims and trusting professional opinion
The analysis of the usage of cow urine and dung as cure will be incomplete without mentioning Baba Ramdev who claimed that his medicine Coronil was WHO approved. Not only did it turn out to be false, he is also often seen commenting on the inefficiency of allopathy with misleading statements like “Allopathy is stupid science“. Statements like these play with the minds of people and popular figures like Baba Ramdev should be held accountable.
A crisis like this needs us to think rationally, avoid continuation of religious gatherings, political celebrations and give utmost priority to vaccination drives. Public immunity can be effectively boosted by following recommended guidelines prescribed by qualified, experienced doctors. We must be careful to refer only to verified sources and help those who don’t have access to such vital information by creating awareness.
Following verified health guidelines should be our priority along with holding the government accountable for the collapse of the healthcare system, loss of employment and violations of basic human rights. It is the fake news mongers who must be penalised, and not the genuine voices of critique, concern and dissent.
Featured Image Source: Reuters