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For the first time in your life, don’t you wish you were a snail? That you could curl up into a ball and crawl inside your shell – and stay there, safe, until the pandemic was over?

Don’t you feel like doing a headstand or two? And a hundred other contortions of the body the cocky-cocksure Ramdev tells India TV viewers to practice for immunity against Covid, heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, liver maladies and any other illness ever suffered? All this with a spoonful of Patanjali’s natural honey, naturally.

And, for the first time, don’t you, perhaps, appreciate, even sympathise with the villagers of Kerala’s Palghat—and many, many other places — who don’t want to be tested, vaccinated or be taken to hospital because they don’t know if they will survive the experience (ABP)?

Incredulous as it may seem, your reply to all three questions could well be a ‘yes’. Because we live in the strangest of times when every medical certainty is now being challenged, contradicted or changed — we witness it daily on television news and it leaves us totally bewildered.

Much safer to hide inside our shells, our homes — escape reality. Or to believe Ramdev’s boasts, even when they go against the grain of reason.

Also read: Congress ‘toolkit’ to TMC arrests, news channels doing politicians’ jobs — playing politics

TV advice: Anulom vilom after heart attack

In a debate on Aaj Tak Monday, after his preposterous claims on the number of doctors who have died due to the pandemic or vaccinations as well as an attack on the science of allopathy, Ramdev, loftily, advised the practice of ‘anulom vilom’ immediately after a heart attack. An incensed Dr Rajan Sharma, formerly with the Indian Medical Association (IMA), shouted back, “A patient who’s had a heart attack can’t breathe—how will he do anulom vilom?”

Yet, thousands of viewers may actually listen to Ramdev and not to Dr Sharma. Just as they might try the many ‘cures’ out there being advertised on TV: ‘Zandu Balm’ inhalation “steam lo, breath lo”;  ‘Nicotex’ to stop smoking and ‘prevent corona’; ‘Ensure’ with all the necessary nutrients, including zinc to ‘save’ you from the virus; ‘Endura Mass’ because ‘gain weight, stay fit’, as well as any number of Ramdev-Patanjali products, like their chyawanprash.

What’s a viewer to do when she/he sees ‘Epidemic & Pandemic’ (News X) and ‘Beware of Black Fungus’ (India Today) — to say nothing of the white fungus and yellow fungus after a patient in Ghaziabad was diagnosed with all three? Since then, headlines tell us there have been over 11,000 mucormycosis cases as of Wednesday. Another ‘surge’ is upon us (CNN News18).

They are told, by at least one doctor on India Today, that overuse of steroids, zinc, steam, oxygen — the very things they were advised could save them from the coronavirus — could give them the black fungus.

They learn of “massive” shortages of anti-fungal medicines, just as there were shortages of Covid drugs, oxygen, hospital beds and vaccines. And when they read the headline, ‘Mushrooming mucul mould’, won’t they go ‘yuck’ and want to lock themselves inside their homes —practice a little yoga? Or whatever cure Ramdev prescribed on his Wednesday’s ‘Corona se jung Baba Ramdev ke sang’ – his daily show during the week on India TV?

They will be told that there are no vaccines for 18 to 44 year olds (NDTV 24×7) in the same breath as they are informed that the government has allowed walk-in vaccination for that age group (CNN News 18).

They will learn that the global tenders put out by state governments are invalid because the Centre alone can clear and obtain vaccines from abroad – only to be told that vaccine companies like Moderna and Pfizer are fully booked and can’t supply India with any vaccines for… well, nobody quite knows for how long (Times Now).

Viewers will hear India TV anchor Rajat Sharma explain that as the demand for vaccines increases, the supplies have decreased. “Aage kya hoga?” asked News 24.

Also read: Republic TV has become a channel of calm and India Today asking ‘where’s my vaccine?’

No solution, just confusion

In such a maddening, chaotic situation, they may well think, why not try a ‘Coronil kit’ from Ramdev, which the Haryana government is dispensing for free to Covid patients (Times Now) and which he claims works wonders against the virus?

Meanwhile, anchors demand of doctors, “How to save ourselves from the third wave?” (Aaj Tak) when we are still in the lockdown of a second wave. And doctors say vaccinate the people – but where are the vaccines?

Channel after channel will discuss the threat to children being graver in the impending third wave, whenever it washes over us (Zee News)— and Ramdev claims that the 5,000 children under his care have never even caught a cold, let alone corona…(India TV).

Channels will also debate whether Class XII exams are to be or not be held — ‘Exams and the Pandemic’ (NDTV 24×7) — with the Centre favouring exams and the state governments like Delhi’s AAP against holding them, in person (News X).

Maybe a few asanas are needed now?

Viewers see a village in Karnataka, where the villagers don’t allow an ambulance carrying a deceased coronavirus patient into the village for cremation due to ‘fear’ of catching the virus (Times Now). They see vaccinators in Barabanki helplessly looking for people who are willing to be inoculated (News18 India)….

They see ‘corona proof’ farmers (News 24) in their hundreds ignore social distancing and masking at Delhi’s border, a wedding in an airplane, another on the ground with no corona norms followed.

And, they will see stories about how the original coronavirus escaped or was let loose upon the world from a clinical laboratory in Wuhan China (Zee Hindustan). 

When the whole world appears to be upside down, might as well do a headstand, right?

Or refuse to come out of our shells?

“Desperate people will do anything” in “desperate” times, said the character Denny Crane in the popular American TV series Boston Legal (Hotstar). And these are desperate times.

Views are personal.

(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)

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