I decided to interview Dr. Srinivas Dorasala MS(ENT) Honorary Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Belgaum, and Director, Product Innovation, Cyclops Medtech, Bengaluru.
The interview was rather an open and lucid discussion on corona and its effects and was somewhat uncanny in its approach.
The discussion has been presented in question and answer style with personal interjections represented in brackets for the benefit of the readers.
Q- How do you see India controlling the virus and if no vaccine is found, what are the alternative measures to limit it?
A- I personally am hopeful that India as a country will come out of it. We can later prepare a thesis on it and analyze it but I believe that we are, in the least, a day or two early in its prevention. It is based on ground-level evidence. Preparation of this crisis would include the recognition of the fact that we are in a crisis and for the common people to understand its due gravity. Moreover, the day to day efficiency of government officials is well noted. The police are tracking down people with travel history. We need to build capacity as part of preparedness if the situation goes out of hand. “BUILDING CAPACITY” means increasing beds, hospitals, and allotted medical staff.
Q- Doctor, so how long can the quarantine last? What are the chances of COVID 19 reappearing once the period elapses?
A- The 22nd day(the day after it ends) should not be a day of celebration or jubilation since suddenly one or two people hold the potential to infect thousands. Our decision not to prolong should be based when not even a single case would be detected in the last ten days or so. In the meantime, like in the deworming day, we can reach a consensus and implement prophylactic hydroxychloroquine, say, in a talukdar and see the response. A mass profile assessment must be done. At any cost, the quarantine should continue. Covid 19 reveals a lot about our society.
Q- What exactly does it reveal about society, if you can explain
A- It has revealed that the drawback is with the privileged- those who have come running back to India from foreign lands and then went on to contaminate several of our citizens due to lack of awareness. I am really proud of the work the health sector is doing and even what the ward counselors are doing. People think they don’t work but in this situation, every politician has stepped up.
Q- So the possibility of infection after quarantine is unlikely but still remains.
A- Stepwise, things should open up as a measure for prevention. Just like a bundle of currency notes is subdivided into groups for facilitating counting and reducing chances of mistakes, similarly, even district to district movement must be monitored. Things must not be allowed to let go at once.
My Opinion [ Just like Indian or the Chinese economy was liberated stepwise, it led to a better outcome than Russia which liberalized it all together and faced a big crisis]
Q- While most people have enough until lockdown lapses, we still see masses of people gathered in crowds in marketplaces, to be precise, today morning. Any views on it.
A- Not eating vegetables is not hunger. In fact for treatment to begin each one needs to be nourished. But some luxuries must be curtailed. Vegetables we ate in three days must now last a week. Avoid going outside, let alone a market. The police are doing a tremendous job. The success of the police will be elemental. They must be brutal to those who lack consciousness and are irresponsible towards society. As a doctor, I suggest people eat. But now, we may eat a little less, there is no harm. Most people have already secured enough food before the lockdown. And as for the poor, the government has to provide them with the essentials.
My View– [ Certainly the immediate risk of being affected with Corona is much graver than intaking higher quantities of food]
Q- In the impending future, at the national and international levels, will our lives ever be the same again? Will we be 100 percent Corona-free?
A- We may be corona free but it will make us immune. 21 days will train us to fight with disaster. Even if it stays, it will be on a low scale which health care officials can fight. The world won’t be the same. There may be another virus coming. But we will be better off. By “better off” I mean we were emphasizing only on money and growth and GDP. In this crisis, we learned so much can be done without traveling. Even this interview is in a conference call over the phone. It has made us look inwards and understand who we are and spend much needed time with our own selves. There is an order in chaos in India, we must see it.
Q- So you think this will provide us with a pathway for leading our lives in the future. Can this crisis lead to something substantial and healthy?
A- Don’t allow a crisis to grow waste. Use this to build health care when India’s infrastructure on health care is considered below average. The world is interconnected. But even now there is too much dependency on external and technological machines. We grew up during the Cold War. In many countries, the challenge was to live inside homes to avoid being bombarded and survive. Humanity has fought and won the battles before. We can do it now.
My Note – [So in a way, it has reunited all of us and made us look inwards to know each other more and be connected with nature which has no association with GDP or income. His mythological elucidations here were brilliant.
He talked of Narayan-Astra(weapon) which could defeat any. Krishna advised the warriors to drop the weapons and even the thought of fighting. The analogy is simple. Fight against Covid 19 can be won when we sit back home, give up on pleasures, worry less, enjoy our time and reflect back. The virus is not man-made but we cannot discredit responsibility in its creation].
Q- Should there be more funds allotted to health care?
A- Yes certainly. Mr. Modi has already allotted funds and there should be more.
Beauty is this that if you look at the Covid map, least affected areas are that of North East. Why are high GDP states hit more? The concept of development is different for different states. North East’s concept is of honesty, responsible lifestyle, connectedness to nature and simplicity with little or no travel. Big buildings are of no help now.
Q- Concluding, so in a utopian society, would you want India to follow the roadmap of North East India and take lives slowly, be responsible towards nature and have “just enough”?
A- When humanity is on the verge of being wiped out, survival lessons come from the North East, so…(I smiled at this).
This time he questioned me, “Any more questions sir?” “Thank you, sir, but that’s all for now,” I replied.
“You have been a good host,” he said at last.
I came out of this interview with this great man self-satisfied and enlightened. A miraculous one hour finally came to an end.
What started as a scientific and pathological interview slowly took its turn into being a social, philosophical and spiritual one. “STAY HOME AND REFLECT” were his last words. Do we strive for more money and more luxurious cars and houses just because we lack introspection? It is never too late to start again. Is there enough consciousness and mindfulness in us to reflect on how we went way beyond “just enough”?
During this time if we can resume our once left hobbies, read more and build better relationships and understandings not being glued to our phone while the Earth turns greener and possibly safer, the balance sheet of destruction and recovery may be fulfilled.
Corona Virus has proved that education is not determined by a university mark sheet or love for communities just cannot be displayed by a mere portrayal of it.
Life has much more to it than money or power if ONLY we are conscious and reflective enough to learn to enjoy it.