When everything around you fails, people look to the divine for deliverance. This is precisely what seems to be happening in Covid-hit rural India. The states’ inability to deliver a credible antidote to fight the pandemic has meant that, in desperation, people are looking to the gods and god-men for ’treatment’.

The Caravan reports from UP’s Varanasi on how village after village is conducting rituals and ceremonies to propitiate the ‘goddess of epidemics’ and local deities to rid them of the dreaded Covid. Not only the virus, even the spread of myths and rumours is rampant. Lack of access to hospital care or a vaccine has only fuelled faith in divine intervention.

In Andhra’s Nellore district, people have resorted to herbal remedies pedalled by a ‘miracle-worker’. The News Minute documents how patients with falling oxygen levels began thronging Bonigi Anandaiah, after news of his alleged miracle potion, touted as an ‘instant cure’ for Covid, spread through social media creating a super-spreader event. The Lokayukta had to step in and the district administration was forced to put a stop to the ‘treatment’.

In the earthly heaven that is Goa, blatant ignoring of early warnings and less than responsible behaviour by the State’s leaders has resulted in a catastrophe. Goa’s fatality rate and test positivity rate (TPR) are now India’s highest. The State now stares at a potentially vicious third wave. Article 14 reports.

Mojo Story reports from the cremation ghats of Varanasi, where ‘body washers’ wash, perform rituals and cremate bodies, even as the family members of the deceased are hesitant in handling the bodies of their loved ones.

And, Swarajya argues that the state governments’ policy of tendering for the vaccine is erroneous. It asserts that when global demand for the vaccine far outstrips supply by multiples, it is a real stretch to expect the global pharma companies to make a beeline for Indian tenders, especially with the tough and onerous conditionalities imposed on the vaccine supplier.

For a selection of this week’s stories from the Foundation’s grantees, please read on.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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Villagers in Varanasi turn to Dih Baba, goddesses and rituals to ward off COVID-19

As the Covid toll rises and people are deprived of healthcare and vaccine - those affected are resorting to divine interventions. Rituals and ceremonies to propitiate the ‘goddess of epidemics’ and local deities have sprung up. The Caravan reports from Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi that myths and superstition have convinced people that the gods are the ‘only resort’.

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‘COVID cure’ in Andhra: Why scientific evidence is more important than people’s faith

Tens of thousands of Covid patients gathered in Krishanapatnam town of Andhra’s Nellore district, to be provided with a ‘miracle cure’ by Bonigi Anandaiah, whose herbal remedy was touted in social media as a miracle cure for Covid.The News Minute documents that the untested and unscientific ‘treatment’ proved to be such a big draw for patients gasping for oxygen that the Lokayukta flagged it as a potential super-spreader event and the district authorities had to step in.

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After Deadly Second Covid-19 Wave Fiasco, Third Wave Looms Over Goa

Goa is still not out of the woods yet after the havoc caused by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, yet the third wave is looming on the horizon, leaving the State administrators scrambling for solutions. Article 14 looks at the unpreparedness of the State and its ‘too late too little’ restrictions that led to the unfolding of a crisis of alarming proportions in the tourist haven and how it is trying to make amends.

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"Socially Boycotted As We Wash Covid Bodies" | Varanasi's Body Washers

At a time when many families are hesitant to touch and cremate their loved ones who have succumbed to Covid, there are ‘body washers’, crematorium staff and volunteers - who wash and cremate the dead when the deceased’s own family members are averse to handling the body. Mojo Story reports from Varanasi.

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How Not To Order Vaccines: Why ‘Tender’ Model Of Procurement Is A Lost Cause When Global Demand Far Outstrips Supply

In times of global vaccine shortage, the state governments’ strategy of going for tendering is an exercise in futility, Swarajya argues. The global demand and the tough conditionalities imposed by the governments for vaccine supply is short-sighted and hardly made to enthuse global vaccine producers.

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More from the grantees
How to legally adopt children during the covid-19 pandemic?
Suno India turns its eye on the issue of adoption of children in times of the pandemic and discusses why it is important to be aware of, and follow, the prescribed legal process for adoption.
India’s ‘last town’ Anini in Arunachal still cut off, but not for these COVID warriors
EastMojo reports on the efforts being made by the workers supplying medicines and other essential commodities to Anini - the ‘last town’ of India along the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh‘s Dibang Valley district.
Building resilience amid COVID-19: Odisha’s tribal youth show the way
As the second wave of the pandemic inundates rural India, Down To Earth reports on how 100 young tribal volunteers are building resilience among tribal communities in five districts of Odisha by promoting public health and debunking myths.
Ground Report : गंगा में लाशें मिलने के बाद भुखमरी की हालत में पहुंचे मछुआरे, कोई नहीं खरीद रहा मछली
Janjwar reports on the plight of fishermen in various parts of Uttar Pradesh who are now finding it difficult to sell their catch, as people hesitate from buying fish following reports of bodies of Covid victims found floating in the Ganga.
கத்தி சாண பிடி தொழில் செய்யும் ஆசிம் அண்ணாவின் வாழ்க்கை |
Asiaville travels with Aasem, a knife sharpener in Chennai, and finds that unlike in the past there are no takers for his services anymore.
पहले जंगल में आग फिर लॉकडाउन ने छीना कई परिवारों का रोज़गार |
Khabar Lahariya reports on the state of women from Manikpur village in Chitrakoot district of MP who earn a living by fetching herbs from the forest and selling them in the market. But a recent fire and the Covid lockdown have ensured that their livelihood has been gravely affected.
रस्त्यावरील आयुष्यचा 'रस गाडा'...
Max Maharashtra records the predicament of sugarcane-juice sellers in Aurangabad who are struggling to earn a living amidst the lockdown. As they push their carts down the deserted streets, there are no customers in sight.
Covid-19 and Oxygen Shortage in India
EPW points out the urgent need to augment and strengthen the production and supply of oxygen so that the country is prepared and ready to ensure that a healthcare tragedy like the present does not ever reoccur.

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