More than 1,000 people have died in India over the last six months due to the Swine flu while 15,000 have suffered the devastating illness. India says the strain is the same as the one that killed an estimated 284,000 people in the global pandemic of 2009-10.
On the other hand, in the US, while the annual flu season has resulted in about 100 deaths, it is the Ebola virus that has many Americans in panic mode. Yet, even with more deaths due to the Swine flu, India has seen no such panic situations. There is not much of scare or media frenzy except an article or two. Nor are there lines hoarding up for Tamiflu. Instead, Indians are responding by simply covering their faces and staying indoors, or avoiding public crowds.
Almost the opposite is the case in the US with regards to Ebola. Owing to media hype in the US, Americans have worried themselves to death over Ebola cases (not to mention the news highlights every day) making the situation worse! Following preventive measures and creating public awareness with the help of media is what is needed to calm down a jittery American public.
So why more of a frenzy in the US and less so in India? In India, people are culturally inclined to accept life with all its vices and virtues, and take it “head on” rather than worry over “What will be!” It is Indian fatalism vs. just worrying and quarantining nurses who come back from doing charity in Ebola-infected regions.
In the US, the media just went to the town over two Ebola deaths. The Indian media is dealing with the Swine flu by taking things in the stride, and focusing on other things like the World Cup Cricket; Indians had Delhi Elections (with a good turnout of voters) and life simply goes on even with 1,000 deaths. It does not mean that the government is not dealing or working towards preventive measures to curb the swine flu cases. In recent weeks, India has placed orders to increase the stock of diagnostic kits and procured additional doses of the anti-viral drug Oseltamivir (the generic version of Tamiflu) to control instances of the Swine flu. The Indian media is helping in dealing with the flu by not creating a hype, but by imparting information and creating awareness on treatment etc. amongst Indian masses.
Comparing Indian reaction on Swine flu with American paranoia over Ebola, it also reflects upon the attitude of the society (i.e. Indians believe that what will be will be). President Obama speaking out about Ebola and walking with the cured Ebola victim with a daily update from the head of the CDC vs. not a word from any political leader about it in India. What do you think?
Some food for thought? Write to me.