Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Nipah Virus, HIV Virus and the Human Virus – Scam, Loot & Chicanery

Nipah Virus, HIV Virus and the Human Virus – Scam, Loot & Chicanery

If you have been reading the newspapers diligently and following the news on multiple media fronts- TV, social media etc. I am sure you would know and recognize the words- the deadly Nipah virus. If you still don’t remember or can’t recall it offhand, the news refers to the recent outbreak of Nipah viral attacks in the state of Kerala in south India. The vector for transmission of the virus from animals to humans was identified as bats and as there was/is no cure and no way of immunizing against the virus the outbreak was predicted to cause massive causalities as it spread like wildfire throughout the country. And then it didn’t. It burned itself out within a month and the mass casualties predicted? There were a total of sixteen deaths. Now sixteen is not a small number, no death is condonable for that matter, nut when it comes to predictive statistical analysis sixteen is not a patch on the thousands who were expected to be infected in the crowded state of Kerala merely by living and breathing in the same air as the nipah viral victims.

So how did we dodge this bullet? Reflect back a little to the Ebola virus scare a year ago, the SARS virus a few years ago, the Swine Flu some years ago- all of them were predicted to cause mass causalities as they were supposedly uncontainable. Bu they didn’t. They burnt out on their own after causing an initial few deaths. Epidemiological measures like lessening general population exposure and specific measures like better protection to doctors and nurses treating these patients certainly helped. But what really mattered was the viral outbreak burnt itself out. For that’s what viral outbreaks do. The zero patient- the index patient who first gets infected, goes onto infect a few more around themselves and gradually the circle seems to be widening before it suddenly collapses on itself. That’s how most if not all viral epidemics end. But within the short period of the start and end of the infection, there are billions of dollars to be made- by a variety of people- the United Nations, the world health organization, the central and state governments and the Pharma and vaccine makers. Hence all the hype about uncontrollable diseases with doomsday scenarios peddled in the pliant media.

The big daddy of all such scams was the aids epidemic scare of the 90’s. When the HIV infection was first diagnosed it was primarily limited to a small subgroup of populations- the homosexuals and the drug pushers using infected needles. And then when the virus crossed over into the heterosexual community there was widespread fear mongering about how the entire population of the earth will be decimated by HIV. There were billions of dollars poured into HIV research over the years- but even thirty years later there is still no cure in sight and we are all still alive. The united nation even formed a special group called UNAID which received in excess of ten billion dollars in aid every year for propaganda against HIV infection. The United States of America alone spent over six and a half billion years every year on aids.
And many other fortunes were made by NGO’s in India utilizing the aids scare and attracting foreign funds for telling people what they already knew- sex with strangers was risky. The condom manufacturers who sensed an opportunity to earn more than they were currently making zoomed in on the aids panic to make HIV infection the most attention grabbing in the planet through the use of paid media. Condom sales zoomed through the roof when people were assured that having risky sex with strangers was alright as long as you wore protection.

And the approach seemed to work initially before people started going back to their original selves and rejecting condoms whether risky or not. And you can’t blame them- when people have to choose between instant gratification and a miniscule chance of risk guess what they will opt for? Anyway the strategy of using condoms as the cure for aids slowly ran into real world difficulties as people in real life rarely correspond to advertisement led campaigns. Which led to the next big profit spin-off- anti-retroviral drugs.

Large pharmaceutical companies not amused by the profits NGO’s and condom manufacturers were making off the aids scare were just waiting for such an opportunity to jump in. they started spreading money around to convince people they “hey forget about HIV infections, just pop in a few drugs daily and you can live a normal healthy life”. And voila- the anti-HIV drug business zoomed to six billion dollars. And you know what the NGO’s who realized that they were being cheated of a part of their loot did? They cried foul. They lobbied with governments and regulatory agencies to make these drugs harder to get as long as they didn’t get their payoffs from the Pharma industry. As I keep saying the only difference between an NGO and the mafia is the mafia do their own killings while the NGO’s use lobbying to get governments do the killings on their check lists. And that’s the reason that even with the widespread ability to manufacture generic anti-HIV drugs they are still not being manufactured and supplied to those who are positive for the Virus. A few deaths here and there, despite the presence of very effective drugs to prevent them, keep the populace in perpetual fear of the disease and always in the new’s cycle.

And after all these underground wars the surprising news from results started coming in that the AIDS scare was dying down because new HIV infections were not progressing at the levels predicted and why? Because as any competent epidemiologist or statistician would tell you – infections have these tendencies to bloom and die on their own – self-limiting in other words. As most people who infect others realize the fact and start controlling their exposure voluntarily the infected circle gets smaller and smaller and even if it doesn’t die out completely is still in too small a circle to be called a universal threat or to spend scarce resources on but having made billions of dollars on the scare can we just let it go on its own without kicking and screaming? Hence the continued tom-toming of the AIDS threat to humanity despite clear-cut evidence to the contrary and its business as usual for the UN, WHO and other NGO’s down the feeder line who like remora’s feed on the big sharks which prey on a fearful and unsuspecting public and on public coffers.

So what does this tell us? For one, that all those who cry doomsday at the drop of a hat are all talking through their hats. And for another though there are genuine microbial threats to human health its not all one sided. We haven’t survived billions of years and share the same, or almost same set of genes with the microbe’s to go down so easily without a fight. What they do, we can do. And we can do one step better. We can hang in there till they self-destruct for we humans have staying power. We can change our genes – epigenetics its called, to resist even thee toughest of microbes and make them harmless to us. And finally, the purpose of the un, the who and all those NGO’s is just to make money out of our misery and it’s our fault if we believe otherwise. So next time you read in the papers about the next big threat to humanity, quietly tell yourself that someone has invented a new way to make more money.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Dignity of Labour

The Dignity of Labour

black and white working old human

Recently I was waiting for a few minutes at a traffic signal when I happened to notice an old woman selling bangles and assorted fancy items wheeling her hand cart away from the busy junction on the orders of the officious police force who didn’t want people to clog traffic right at the intersection. On a hot summer day, especially here in madras when the temperatures touch 40 degree centigrade even in the shade to see these old women push heavy hand carts laden with merchandise trying to sell them in the scorching noon sun somehow trying to make a living honestly instead of begging or stealing or praying to god for a handout made me reflect on life in general and the value we assign to dignity of labour.

And immediately, unbidden I recalled my colleagues, highly educated office workers seated in air-conditioned rooms who at the stroke of ten am or ten patients whichever is earlier close down their pens for the day saying “I have worked enough for the pittance they are paying me” regardless of the throngs waiting outside for a consultation.  And these people, the ones who work only for my salary amount kind are even lauded for their work because compared to others- the ones who sit reading the bible or divinity texts all day in the hospital and prefer to teach only bible gospels/classes to any student who approaches them with a doubt, at least the ten am workers see at least a few patients a day while the born again Christians spend all day communing with Jesus for which the government pays them a salary  and gives them an airconditioned office and a captive audience of eager young students- eager to pass somehow/anyhow.  And that this is all overlooked or justified by the higher authorities who are frankly afraid of being labelled anti-minority in the vein of excessive secularism and being politically correct towards religious minorities by allowing them to proselytize young college going kids in the classroom.

Anyway, leaving that aside, the very fact that eighty plus elder citizens are still working in the summer heat teaches us two lessons. The first is the most obvious, that there is no social security in India and you either work or you starve, even if you are a centenarian. Which means that either you work hard in your youth and middle age and save the money to tide over your old age or you try and get multiple children at least one of whom will take care of you in your old age, which explains the population problem.
The second lesson to be noted is that people in India, leave alone the officialdom, I am talking of even the common populace, look down on people who work with their hands/feet etc. There is no dignity in labour if you are not working in an airconditioned office sitting down in front of a computer. Even the most productive of manual workers, factory or industry workers or self-employed persons don’t command the respect of a say a 22-year-old software techie who just passed his arrears exams borderline or the bureaucrat who sits on his backside all day and only comes alive to demand baksheesh to scrawl his signature across a file. These are the kind of people who are most respected in India as seen by the ubiquitous engineering colleges and civil service training institutes.

I don’t have any solutions to offer, I don’t even know if I can achieve something with this rant of mine. But as a writer it behoves me to chronicle the times we live in for posterity and as a result I am recording this to the world wide web in the hope that someday someone in the far future will want to research why such an ancient civilization like India collapsed so suddenly and they might be interested to learn that it was because we valued shirking work more than honest labour and rewarded those who worked the least and punished those who didn’t.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Stop With The Lessons, OK?.

Stop With The Lessons, OK?.

You know what they say about life teaching you lessons and every experience is a blessing in disguise? Well I dunno who came up with such empty platitudes but take it from me it’s all such a load of bs (pardon my language). I mean who of us, given a chance wouldn’t prefer to skip over all the gory details of our lives and move straight on to the end part where we get what we deserve? On second thoughts, scratch that sentence and let me rephrase it again. Where we move on to the end part and get the victory we justly deserve?

 Oh yeah right, I hear you agreeing ladies and gentlemen and I nod back. All this character building through adversity and struggle for success is also overhyped in books and media. In real life there isn’t a single one of us who wouldn’t prefer to take the ladder over the snake despite the many benefits of the snake’s lessons. If life was a movie wouldn’t you like to fast forward it through all the tough parts, the boring parts, the violent parts and prefer just to watch the colorful duet songs in Switzerland alone?
Unfortunately my life as a movie has been more an 80’s violent blockbuster type than the 90’s romantic Euro-train missing/Switzerland duet singing screenplay till now. 

Much against my will I seem to have been cast in the role of the angry young man, yep the role patented by Mr.Bacchan the elder, where I keep defeating gangs of ruffians and rowdies trying to do me harm and a few reels later those same set of villains keep turning up again and again to get bashed again. I mean there should be an end to the number of villain’s sent against me by life right? Or at least some variety in the screenplay? That’s not asking much is it? If I were Batman in one of the innumerable sequel movies, I would be, by now looking at the camera of my life and whining “oh the joker? Again? And the riddler? Again? And two-face? Again and again?” For that’s the kind of scam life is trying to pull on me all the time. And you the audience watching my life with bated breath for what happens next are going to be sorely disappointed at the same old faces turning up like clockwork.

To tell the absolute truth (is there anything else I ever say?) I am frankly bored of the old villains turning up again and again to thrash me and put me in hospital and then when I get discharged and released out again the same set of villain’s are waiting outside the gates to send me back into the hospital ward which I just said a cheery farewell to. I wonder don’t they ever get bored of swearing revenge against a single individual and move on to others once they have had their fill of me. Even villains (/essess) should be given a chance to randomly select fresh targets instead of wasting all their hate and time on an old and well dusted antagonist like me. 

And as for me, well, if I haven’t learnt my lessons by now, doesn’t it mean I am not the learning type. So stop with the lessons and bring on the end credits already, fate or destiny or whatever you are. Be warned.