There is a slight hint of optimism because in the last five days, average growth in the rate of coronavirus cases in India has shown a declining trend. The compounded daily growth rate (CDGR) in the last five days has fallen to a single digit. If dealing with the virus wasn't tough enough, we now have to deal with terms like CDGR. Well, CDGR is a way of counting Covid-19 cases that takes into account daily fluctuations. Cases don't rise at the same rate every day. They may rise one day, fall the next and then rise again the third day. Life is unpredictable, coronavirus more so. Trust CDGR to give a clearer picture. Whoever is doing the CDGR calculations, we bow to thee!
The average rate at which coronavirus positives have been rising has shown a fall in the last five days. (Photo: Reuters)
Yesterday, five lakh testing kits arrived from China in India. We are told some 6.5 lakh are on the way. Irony is dying a coronavirus death with every kit consignment from China reaching needy countries. Do we smell a bat, err, rat? Yes, we do. Someday we will know the whole truth; until then, we need to keep the masks on.
But talking of rats, we want to tell you about the mice that could be coming in the way of India's race to find a vaccine for the virus. See, humans are powerful. Not as powerful as this coronavirus, but certainly more powerful than a lot of animals, birds and reptiles. So, humans set a rule that before conducting tests on their own species, they conduct tests on animals – most frequently mice. But Indian labs don’t have the mice to conduct the trials. Before you roll your sleeves to catch that mouse in your house and rush to the lab, know this: your regular mouse is no good.
Scientists use mice that have been genetically modified with a human gene, ACE2. They are called transgenic mice. Vendors, who sell these mice, say they have run out of 'supplies'. Ever thought we would have a shortage of mice? No, because you never really thought of transgenic mice. If you spot a mouse joining you inside your house during the lockdown, tell it, "You are no good." The mice may not care, but you may find someone to talk to.
India doesn't have the mice to test for vaccines. (Photo: Reuters)
In the absence of 'good' mice, scientists can't test drugs and vaccines even if they make them.
For now, the only way we can control the spread is by staying locked in, in accordance with the lockdown guidelines. You may complain we keep repeating it every day, in addition to everyone else repeating it every day. You got it, we know. But many others haven’t.
One such person is India's 11th Prime Minister Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda. The other such person is his son and former Chief Minister of Karnataka Hardanahalli Devegowda Kumaraswamy. With the blessings of Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy, the latter’s son, Nikhil tied the knot with Revathi. Now, Revathi is the niece of former Congress minister M Krishnappa. These people, believing they were immune to coronavirus, decided to invite several others to risk their lives and attend the wedding.
Guess what? The ‘others’ joined in. Who wants to spoil their wedding attire with masks? Not the Gowdas. The country understands they are powerful. So the country would stop when their vehicles pass by. The coronavirus? No, it won’t. Coronavirus is not scared of even health ministers and incumbent PMs. Why would it care about former PMs and CMs?
This wedding party in toto constitutes our Covidiots Of The Day.
If there is no action against them, we won't be surprised because the BJP government in Karnataka allowed the wedding to take place. They too are Covidiots. Idiots didn't even get to enjoy the wedding food and booze, but if the virus spreads, they won't be spared either.
Now, we keep talking about spreads and we all miss our sandwich spread, apart from those who stocked enough, but what is spread? The word's origin can be traced to Old English 'sprædan', which means 'to spread, stretch forth, extend'. But why are we tracing the origin of spread? That's because spread is our Word Of The Day. What's the spread of the virus in India? India, as you know has 730 districts. The virus has spread to 405 of them. This means the virus is not in 325 districts as yet. Glass half full, or half empty?
The glass is neither half full, nor half empty. The glass is dry because liquor sales are banned and will remain so till at least May 3.
The party maybe off for now, but what stops you from listening to a party song?
Thinking of breaking into party mode when the glass is full again? Hold your horses. A lifting of lockdown wouldn't mean a return to life as we knew it. Talking of parties, we want to tell you something about Carnival – the Carnival Cruise Line. Grand Princess, a cruise ship owned and run by Carnival, was partying amid the outbreak, despite the news of the coronavirus having reached its executives.
On March 4, it emerged that the virus could have infected people on the ship, but people went on with life as usual. How many people? Over 2,200. And what is the usual life on Grand Princess? Access to 20 restaurants and lounges, about a dozen shops, and four freshwater swimming pools. There are also dance classes and ukulele concerts.
Carnival’s cruise ship executives knew earlier than most just how bad the coronavirus problem was. They kept the party going as long as possible https://t.co/gYZHGjjdUc via @BW— Bloomberg (@business) April 17, 2020
If the world is coming to an end tomorrow, why not live life today? Because the world is not coming to an end tomorrow. But some, actually many, lives will come to an end if they do not act responsibly.
Since we are talking about the possibility of death, we need to tell you about the death of Hollywood Golden Globe Award winner actor Brian Dennehy. In Hindu philosophy, they say, talking ill about a departed soul is not appropriate because the person’s bad deeds are gone with the person. So, let the soul rest in peace. Good thought. We won’t talk anything ill about the departed person. We just want to tell you – if you already know, then just remind you – about the lie Brian told about Vietnam War.
Brian Dennehy with Sylvester Stallone in First Blood Costar.
The actor claimed for years he served a five-year term as a marine in Vietnam. He also said that he was wounded in action. The truth is Brian’s only role in Vietnam War was one that he played in his reel life in A Rumor of War, a mini TV series, in which he played a sergeant.
Brian’s lie was exposed in the 1998 book Stolen Valor by BG Burkett.
As we said, the man is dead and so we would let him rest in peace.
The one place where there is no peace, only war, is Twitter. Yesterday, Twitter blocked the account of Rangoli Chandel over a hateful tweet. We thought, good riddance, now there will be peace. But we did not tell you that there are many others on the platform who like to spread hate. So after Chandel said she wouldn’t want to empower Twitter any longer, people began commenting about why she deserved 'another acid attack' on her for spreading hate. Such acidic love, we wonder where to hide.
Then the Shakespeares jumped in. They started misspelling Chandel as Chandal. Whether this was a Freudian slip or a pun (intended) we cannot say, but we can tell you why it is just as high on the hate quotient as Rangoli’s tweet that gave her the opportunity to deny Twitter some empowerment.
Chandala is a Sanskrit word for someone who deals with disposal of corpses, and is a Hindu lower caste, traditionally considered to be untouchable. Some even use it to describe ghosts. But it stems for caste-based discrimination.
You know in 1873 the Chandals of Faridpur district, now in Bangladesh, brought life to a standstill in undivided Bengal. Why? Let us tell you the story.
So, a rare rich Chandal, Choron Sapah, invited over 10,000 people to feast as part of his father’s shraddh ceremony. He invited people across caste lines, Brahmins and Kayasthas included. Kayasthas refused the invitation. They even instigated others to not visit. Convinced of their superiority, they even started passing casteist slurs and taunted Chandal women for working in the market.
This prompted the Chandal community to strike work and refuse services to all, including Hindus and Muslims.
Some may not have known the caste context while calling Rangoli 'Chandal', but they sure knew it meant a ghost. Now, if you are trying to preach world peace to the world on Twitter, you sure can’t expose yourself by name-calling people. Also, caste agnosticism is not excusable. You can’t go to court saying you flouted a law because you didn’t know a law existed. You are supposed to know your duties as you know about your rights.
Know your duties. Stay at home. Stay safe.
We will see you on Monday.