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I am sharing an exemplary reach-out by the Government of Meghalaya in its laudable efforts to alleviate the predicaments of many a Meghalayan/Shillongite staying away from their homes for studies, employment purposes or simply stranded in various places all over the country due to the imposition of lockdown for checking the spread of Covid’19.
In response to a notice of the GOM consequent upon the lockdown, published in your esteemed daily on March 24, 2020, asking all Meghalayans staying or stranded in various parts of the country to communicate their names, addresses and contact numbers to a dedicated WhatsApp number of the GOM, I had, in addition to conveying the desired information also informed that my wife and I are presently in Kolkata and are unable to return to Shillong due to the lockdown.
I was pleasantly surprised on receiving a phone call on the 31st night enquiring
whether I am Mohitosh Chakravarty, and when I answered in the affirmative, the young man at the other end asked me if I am in need of food. When I in turn enquired who was calling I was informed that he was calling from the SP’s Headquarters, Shillong. Though I didn’t need any help in procuring food at that point of time, this gesture of the GOM touched my heart and speaks volumes of the Government’s relentless efforts to reach out and help people caught in the world’s biggest lockdown.
I salute all those who are part of the machinery in fighting the Covid’19 menace in Meghalaya.
A miracle cure?
The CoVID19 pandemic that is causing a global standstill is slowly spreading to the north-eastern part of the country. In the midst of this, there is also a global endeavour transcending countries and nationalities trying to provide a solution to the current health crisis. In this context, I would like to bring to the notice of our readers the outcome of scientific research on the utility of the humble kitchen garden herb, the jamyrdoh in combating viral diseases. Jamyrdoh (scientifically called Houttuynia cordata) which is consumed extensively by traditional communities of N.E. India possesses promising antiviral properties especially against clinically relevant viruses. Scientific research has shown that boiled extracts of jamyrdoh can inactivate enveloped viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) which causes SARS. In case of SARS-CoV, extracts of jamyrdoh may activate the host immune system to prevent viral infection, while in case of infection it may hamper the ability of the virus to multiply inside the host. It does this by targeting a specific viral protein necessary for multiplication of the virus inside the host. This protein (called 3CL protease) is a proven drug discovery target in the case of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Interestingly, this SARS-CoV protein affected by the extracts of jamyrdoh is 99% similar to that found in the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 currently responsible for CoVID19. These reports therefore point to the potential of using the humble jamyrdoh for combating SARS-CoV2. While it is premature to advocate jamyrdoh as a preventive or curative agent against SARS-CoV2, I sincerely hope that our Indian scientists and researchers working in the relevant fields of research take the initiative to explore this lead for the benefit of the common person.
Interested readers can refer to Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2008, Vol 118; Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine 2016, Vol 1; Journal of Pharmaceutical Analysis 2020 (In press)
E Kharshiing, Ph.D.
Department of Botany
St. Edmund’s College,
When faith endangers lives
The sequence of events leading to exposure of large congregation of Tabligi members in Hazarat Nizamuddin area of Delhi by blatantly disregarding the orders and directions of various Government agencies has put the entire country in grave danger from COVID-19. It is astounding that in spite of a ban on gatherings in Delhi, this organization held a meeting involving thousands of people from various states as well as different nations. As per media reports, the Delhi administration had forewarned them and also issued advisories for dispersal but the organizers did not comply with the same. It has been reported that the members of Jamat agreed to vacate the mosque only after the personal intervention of Mr Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor (NSA).
Why did the NSA have to personally appeal to the Jamat when institutions of all other faiths across the country have closed down or cancelled all religious congregations by complying with the advisories of the Government? Does Jamat enjoy any special status under Indian Law? Moreover, many instances have come to light of the Jamat members spitting on doctors, roaming naked in front of nurses and other medical staff at Ghaziabad Hospital, and pelting stones on the medical staff in Indore (in MP), Darbhanga and Madubani (both in Bihar). All these incidents seem to indicate that a considerable number of followers of a particular religion are in the habit of indulging in all kinds of despicable behaviour and it can be safely inferred that they are directed to perform such vile, anti-social acts in the name of their religion and their scriptures. Why else has no such incident been committed by followers of other faiths? Furthermore, why must the citizens of our country be forced to tolerate such contemptible individuals in our society? I therefore urge upon the Government to enact separate laws for such perpetrators as the existing laws are clearly inadequate to tackle the mindset and actions of that particular sect.