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‘Be COVID Wise’ – Efforts of ISRC

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

The Indian Scientists’ Response to COVID-19 aims to debunk myths and fake news during this ‘infodemic’

Mehr Sohal

India’s general lack of scientific temper and scientific reporting is more than explicit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and equally concerning ‘infodemic’. I repeat this quote far too much, but "Epidemics are a category of disease that seem to hold up the mirror to human beings as to who we really are"; and what our flaws really are. Although reporters are sharing articles that directly address the scientific aspect of the virus, these pieces are still not receiving the deserved traction as large media platforms fail to see the importance of featuring such work.

Through WhatsApp forwards, tweets, Instagram posts and the rising trend of fake news, theories and hoaxes regarding the virus seem to grow exponentially. Ranging from the fact that trees must be cut down so that bats don’t have a habitat; to the belief that clapping during Janata curfew would create strong vibrations that can displace the virus. An interesting article by N V Subramanian highlighted that such irrational beliefs are not just detrimental for the present India, but also to the post-COVID-19 India.

However, as this is afterall a ‘happy’ news platform, let’s focus on the positivity– the fact that for the first time in forever, scientists all across India are cooperating to debunk these insane myths about the virus. The ISRC (Indian Scientists’ Response to COVID-19) has started a ‘Be COVID wise initiative’ to raise awareness amongst the citizens of India about the reality of this pandemic. Hence, helping in improving our scientific temper and reducing stress and anxiety within the masses.

The organization is holding several Q&A sessions to directly answer the queries of the public; plan webinars in a number of Indian languages; analyse and model data for health professionals. Expertise from scientists is something of utmost essence in such a time; when the media and government is failing to be responsible. An extraordinary example of their response to topics of hot discussion over the internet is their coverage on the Tablighi Jamaat event, and how we can’t solely blame this incident for the spread of the epidemic. I would strongly advise everyone, as a citizen of India, to go through their official website and explore the many features of it for more clarity on the virus we are at war with.

Hopefully, this novel initiative and efforts of the ISRC will spark a new temperament throughout the nation. One of the Fundamental duties of an Indian citizen, as mentioned in the Constitution (and a belief of Jawarhalal Nehru), is “To develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.”

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