Isn’t the purpose of healthcare to help people?
Indian governments have been controlling and mico-managing the lives of residents since independence. The so-called “pandemic” has given governments another excuse to carry on in this time honoured tradition of interference in the personal affairs of citizens. None of the quarantines, border closures, mandatory mask orders or stay-at-home orders are supported by science. Mass lockdowns are a novel experiment that have never been tried before. In fact, the World Health Organization in a 2019 report recommended against contact-tracing, quarantine of exposed individuals, border closures and entry and exit screening of travellers.
Due to the reallocation of resources, the single-minded obsession on the novel coronavirus has come at the expense of upholding the rule of law and providing high-quality services to the population for other healthcare concerns like cancer screening, diabetes treatment and mental health.
My father, a former Indian Administrative Service officer who served in Shillong but resigned in 2000, has written a book called “The Great Hysteria and the Broken State.” explaining these facts. His analysis of Swedish deaths data suggests that there is barely a blip in terms of excess deaths. In short, there is no pandemic discernable from Sweden which was perhaps the only country to treat its citizens with respect rather than imposing coercive lockdowns.
Isn’t the purpose of healthcare to help people in a holistic fashion? If so, then why is pandemic policy purely political and not grounded in medical science? I would challenge anyone who disagrees to cite a peer-reviewed article published 2019 or earlier advocating mass scale lockdowns of the kind that we have seen.
Queanbeyan, New South Wales,
On Khasi identity and culture
Deepa Majumdar’s article “Real clouds of Meghalaya” (ST Dec 25) is soul stirring. She has conveyed a deep message to us on the state of our tribal community (read Khasi). In her inimitable style and erudition, she has brought home an unpalatable message. My kudos to her for giving us some new ammo for preserving our pristine culture and faith system. Despite the conversion of nearly 75% of our population over the past 150 years, that the Seng Khasi and Sein Raj have been able to hold on to a small but committed section of tribes to their fold is creditable. When I was a student, I used to read and hear about the great Khasi revivalist O. Mawrie who after practising Christianity for many years and converting a good section of Khasis to Christianity, realised his folly. He not only denounced Christ but also declared a virtual war. His fiery articulation was to a large extent responsible for rest of us remaining rooted to our own indigenous religious beliefs. Mawrie, who had occupied the position of a Pastor, ought to be saluted for his courage of conviction. Mawrie’s single-handed crusade for halting the conversion by the church should be regarded as the biggest single contribution by any Khasi towards retaining our Khasi identity.
I really wonder how my fellow Khasis feel about the adoption of western values through religious conversions that have deeply corroded our culture and identity. It should be hurting some of them especially those who are crying their voice hoarse for preservation of our tribal entity. As a member of Seng Khasi, I personally don’t consider the Khasi Christians eligible to portray themselves as pure Khasis. They are essentially Khasi Christians who are completely sold to the influence of the West as represented by the church. Indeed, religion is a matter of pure personal choice. Any Khasi is free to embrace any religion. However, once a tribal gets converted to another religion, he ceases to be a pure tribal. For, he has forsaken his indigenous tribal belief system and opted for an alien religion and the concomitant western influence. I can’t foresee a large section of the Khasi Christians returning to their original moorings. But that’s their own choice and the consequences of losing tribal identity too is theirs. History will judge them. For now, all we can say is that the revival spirit is sweeping across the tribes, especially those who are in the rural areas who take great pride in being the true inheritors of the Khasi identity and cultures. May their tribe grow from strength to strength.
Sain Manik Lyngdoh,
Indigenous faith and culture
I am happy to note that like the trend in Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills where the indigenous religious groups have begun to organise themselves, we find that our brethren in Garo Hills have also woken up. The Garo Songsarek, the near extinct religious belief system of the Garos, recently organised “Krittan” (the local name for Kirtan of the plains people). Hundreds of Songsarek followers came out proudly to renew their faith in their ancient custom and tradition. They played the drum (mridanga), cymbal and other traditional instruments, sang chorus devotional tunes which echoed in hills of Achikland. This is truly remarkable resurrection of a dying religious practice. I am sure, it is only the beginning.
Why we should be vaccinated
Apropos the editorial, “Vaccine regime and transparency” (ST Jan 5, 2021), as a medical doctor I agree that evidence based medical practice is of utmost importance since it involves the lives and health of people. But reports from countries like Finland that have started administering the vaccine since December 27, 2020 say that most side effects of vaccines are mild and temporary, such as redness or swelling at the point of injection. Sometimes a vaccination can also be followed by a short-term fever as well as limb pain and headaches that can be treated with antipyretics and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug). Hence there is no need to give in to the fear psychosis that has been spreading mainly due to hearsay and the grandstanding by the Opposition. However, I would also agree that the final phase of the process needs to be made public before launching the vaccination programme. And the impact on the 1600 volunteers also needs to be publicized. Transparency is the best way to kill fear and superstition. And vaccination is the only way to tackle Covid including the latest strain.