Why are the government and media spreading panic in India about swine-flu? There is almost none of it.
The population of India as of August 2009 is near 1,163,698,689.
Something between 19,782,878 and 115,206,170 people among this population may be suffering some kind of ailment or other at any given time (don’t forget headaches, runny noses, upset tummies, sore backs etc). The lesser figure comes by taking the minimum rate of morbidity across regions, 17/1000, the greater figure comes by taking a supposed national average morbidity rate of 99/1000. I shall be happy to yield to more accurate figures from any source.
Of these millions, some 1,200 (twelve hundred) are said to have been isolated due to and are being treated for swine-flu as of today. That is, statistically speaking, zero.
As for deaths, India experiences something between 20,405 and 26,398 deaths per day from all causes, depending on whether you use 6.40/1000 or 8.28/1000 as the mortality rate.
The number of deaths in India attributed to swine-flu since August 3 is twenty — or about 2 per day on average. That again is, statistically speaking, zero.
Of course governments at Union and State levels and the public health authorities and medical authorities need to follow their protocols and procedures – for swine-flu and every other disease that afflicts us. But, please, closing down cities and towns or holding so many ministerial meetings due to a purported swine-flu epidemic in the country is quite simply a nonsensical waste of resources. Time for a little rationality please.
One I got completely wrong… I have written about why too at Facebook in 2011:
‘A new study from the UCLA Geography Department reportedly claims that the location of the elusive Mr Osama Bin Laden may be able to be pinpointed, or at least suggests a theoretical methodology for doing so. I am afraid I think such an ambition is unlikely to succeed because it neglects Aristotle’s advice “for the trained mind not to seek more precision than the subject of his study is intrinsically capable of granting to him”. (The quote is from my 1982 Cambridge doctoral thesis, p. 200; the original at Nicomachean Ethics Book 1 Chapter 3 says “it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits”.)
What I said once while chatting with a German Government official in Goa in October 2006 was this: if I had been Mr Bin Laden, I would have long ago moved to “a nice oasis in the Sahara Desert” or some similarly comfortable place in North Africa. In May 2007, I decided to publish that remark here as follows:
“Where I would have gone if I was Osama Bin Laden:
Mr Osama Bin Laden has been highly sought after for several years, against his will, yet he has thus far succeeded in maintaining his privacy. In October 2006 in Goa, I was chatting with a German Government official about this, and told him that, incidentally, I thought that how Mr Bin Laden has successfully eluded the paparazzi is by the time-honoured method of creating a red herring. He would have said his goodbyes to Mullah Omar, as Osama did in the winter of 2001, and then proceeded westward…. through Somalia towards North Africa…. all the way to a nice oasis in the Sahara Desert.”
Commonsense suggests that Mr Bin Laden would not have remained where most people would have ended up looking for him. Those who have been looking for him all these years seem not to have heard the old one about the drunk who looks for his lost car-keys under the lamp-post because that is where the light is…
Subroto Roy, Kolkata’