Thursday, September 2 2021

Dive In

Jab gaaye ka kalyaan hoga, tabhi desh ka kalyaan hoga (when the cows will prosper, only then the country will prosper).

So said the Allahabad High Court while denying bail to a person charged under the Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act in Uttar Pradesh. In an extended rant against cow-haters, Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav also demanded that cows be included within the ambit of fundamental rights (whatever that means)—and be declared a national animal. He also oddly added: “whenever we forgot our culture, foreigners attacked us and enslaved us and if we are not warned, we should not forget the unbridled attack on and capture of Afghanistan by Taliban.”


Meet us over at Clubhouse!

Most news discussions are the usual suspects talking about the usual 3-4 stories. It’s one reason why mainstream shows are so boring. So we are very excited about experimenting with a new kind of CH event called ‘Did You Miss That?’—where the focus will be on stories that got lost in the din of the daily cycle, and didn’t get the attention they deserve. All of us will share headlines that we found important, interesting or entertaining—be it in politics, culture, science, business or tech. And we hang out and discuss them together. It’s a great way to discover new things—and maybe make new friends:) We will be hosting the first event on September 5, Sunday, 11 am (but we will likely move it to the evening for coming weeks). The Clubhouse invite is here. I will be personally hosting the event so you can also follow me at @lakshmichaudhry for notifications.

Reminder: Don’t forget to check out the latest episode of the splainer team’s podcast ‘Press Decode’—where the team discusses the artistic licenses taken with the Jallianwala Bagh memorial and a Nirvana album cover. Head over to the IVM website, Spotify or Apple Podcasts to hear a refreshingly different kind of news wrap show.

Big Story

A lethal mystery illness in Uttar Pradesh

The TLDR: A mysterious disease is claiming lives of little children who live in the poorest neighborhoods in the state. But the real mystery is why we don’t spend more resources tracking the cause of these highly preventable deaths—or address the callous indifference that breeds these mysterious illnesses each year during monsoon season. 


What’s happening here?

In one neighborhood in Firozabad—Sudama Nagar—six-year old Vir died within hours of contracting a fever. The report on his death noted “severe respiratory distress”, “gasping condition”, “high grade fever” and an oxygen saturation level of 40%. In nearby houses, other children died in similar circumstances: six years old Krishna and Lucky—also Tanu (4), Hema (12), Rakhi (7), and Nikhil (8). They all had similar symptoms of a high fever, joint pain, headaches, dehydration, nausea and low platelet count. In some cases they reported rashes on their arms and legs.


The Firozabad administration has recorded 40 such deaths—including at least 34 children. And 230 children are currently undergoing treatment in the pediatrics section of the local hospitals. A senior health official admits: “The patients, especially children, in hospitals are dying very quickly.” According to BBC News, the affected districts now include Agra, Mathura, Mainpuri, Etah, Kasganj and Firozabad.


Point to note: As always with such stories in India, the numbers vary from one news report to another. According to NDTV, 45 children and 8 adults have died of this mystery illness in Firozabad.


The fallout: Classes have been halted for children in grades 1-8 until September 6. CM Yogi Adityanath has ordered an investigation—and personally visited Firozabad. Krishna’s father recalls: “He spoke to me for two minutes about what happened to Krishna. Then he went away, without any assurance or help.” But his neighbourhood in Firozabad—drowning in filth and uncollected waste—finally received a once-in-a-generation clean up. One local resident said: “I’ve lived here for 20 years. And I’ve never seen a clean up drive like that. They properly cleaned the drains and even took away the garbage.”


Point to note: Despite conspiracy theories being touted by a former MLA, there is no evidence that these are hushed-up Covid deaths. None of the dead tested positive, and a 11-member Indian Council of Medical Research investigation also ruled out any link. 


Ugh, why are these children dying?


In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • A near-ban on abortion in Texas
  • A spreading oil spill in Syria
  • The boss loves a narcissist
  • A very booty-ful plane


Reading Habit

  • From 'Harlem Shuffle' to 'Regrets, None', here are some of our fave new releases!

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