“Lockdown or Not to Lockdown – That Is The Question”

(Further Harangues of a Layman [COVID]- 3)

(photo credit- webmd.com)

May 30, 2020

(This is a long article)

Since my last “diatribe” on this topic (https://dinshawavari.com/2020/04/19/imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery-further-ramblings-of-a-layman-covid-2/), we have opened a lot of our lockdown sectors, retail outlets, business, etc. 

Now comes the question- has lockdown helped or not.

Personally I believe that lockdown was an important strategy at the outset of this pandemic- however, it should have been all encompassing and stricter.  Our businesses have been closed for last two months instead of 2-3 weeks – and that is due to a “hybrid” system instead of “total” lockdown.

However, dynamics have changed.  Two months without income cannot sustain any economic band of society- it’s just not possible.  Giving credit where it’s due – to the State Bank and the Federal Government for supporting companies and businesses – is important but it isn’t enough for someone to feed 4-5 mouths on a daily basis in a population of 250 Million!

(1) Part of the problem lies in partisan politics. 

Australia, with its diverse political structure and strong provincial autonomy, banded together like no other in this crisis.  Partisan politics were set aside for a country-specific policy.  Consensus-based decision making was the norm.  The PM and the coordination committee with representatives of all provinces made JOINT decisions.  This is not so in Pakistan!

(2) As long as citizens of a country do not cooperate with the government, no amount of the “stick” or “carrot” will work.  The administration can beat their head against the wall creating SOPs but if in our own heart we don’t follow them, then it’s as good as a failed policy.

Sweden’s “partial lockdown” system worked due to the Swedish people’s sense of responsibility in social distancing.  They took it upon themselves to ensure they followed the government’s policies in return for a more open society.  This is not so in Pakistan!

(3) Successful countries have followed the advice of scientists and doctors.  Government policies, politics, [maybe] some personal freedoms have been set aside to listen to, and implement, actions recommended by “virus experts”.

Here again, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, etc followed what experts in this field advised them.  It may have run contrary to their own thinking or policy but they listened to people who knew what they were talking about.  This is not so in Pakistan! 

(4) I do not support pollution or lack of hygiene & sanitation!  However, can a fair case be made that in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, while there is a high Corona Virus count, the death rate [to overall COVID cases] ratio is not as high as in the developed world?  Why?

Let’s look it like this- the pollution, smog, vehicular emissions, sewerage, slums, lack of sanitation, etc in the general populace is the “norm” unfortunately; food is prepared over open sewages; generations are born and die in slums in the center of our cities; 50% of the population drink polluted tap water directly; flies are our regular lunch & dinner dates; mosquitos thrive on our blood … whose immunity will NOT be built?  These are the living standards in Pakistan!  However, this should not be the case in Pakistan!

All these factors and more – cash economy, daily wagers, population density, public transport, education levels, etc – play their share on a macro basis in determining whether to lockdown a country or not.  We lack in so many of these areas that I do not believe Pakistan can afford to lockdown the country further. 

Smarter policing is required – political partisanship has to be shunned – geographical and economic aspects should be accounted for – and based on these aspects an all-inclusive, sustained policy be devised.

Can Pakistan please band together!?

(photo credit- sciencemag.com)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 5

May 26, 2020

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987 –

(5 of 12)

Mahatma Gandhi who made the British leave the Country, by his policy of non-violence, non-cooperation, asked all the Indians to stop insuring any foreign Life Insurance Companies. The result was that my business dwindled to such an extent that I had to make heavy inroads in my capital.  By 1945, I wanted to change the line of work.

Mr Wyseman was a friend of mine, and he was the Proprietor of the Bristol Hotel. My darling wife Khorshed used to like to eat English Food and so off and on, we went and had our meals there.

(photo credit- http://blogs.tribune.com.pk)

He told me that the British had decided to leave India and he would like to sell his hotel. He wanted Rs. 1 Lac for all the stock, name and fame, furniture, crockery, cutlery, glassware, linen, etc. but not the building which was a hired property from a Bori and a Hindu jointly.

In those days, the Home Secretary, which today is the equivalent to the Chief Secretary, was Sir Sidney Ridley, who was very friendly with me and who had appointed me on many Government Committees.   He was also a Rotarian with me, which Club had only 12 members in those days of 1933. The other members were Sir Montago Webb, (The First President of this Club) who was also the Editor and owner of Daily Gazette, Mr. Voegli, Manager of Volkart Brothers, who was the Honorary Secretary and the only Indian Members were Mr. Jamshed Mehta, Mr. Hatim Tayyabji, Advocate-General and Mr. Hatim Alvi along with myself.  I was also the Organizer of Tobacco Fund for soldiers fighting in the Front and hence I was very popular with the British Community. The reason for my explaining you this is to give you an idea of my status because this has an interesting reference later on.

(to be contd)

(previous (4th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/04/26/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-4/)

A Case for … Not Working from Home!

May 20, 2020

Yawn … Yawwn … YAWWNNNN

It’s almost two months for our lockdown in Pakistan and working from home.

The first month went well, working from home I mean.

Started waking up at 7am, instead of 6

You find the time to exercise more

                              Lounge in your shorts and socks

                                             No shirt, just your vest (in my case, Sadrah)

                                                            Come 5pm, put on your shirt and shoes (stay in your socks) and sit in the garden

                      It’s fine as long as you keep working, keep at it, stay busy!

But now, now, now …. YAWNNNNNN ….

(Photo Credit- thelabradorsite.com)

               (forgot what I was thinking!)

Oh yes, I’VE TURNED LAZY!

Today, as I write these words, I realize that working from home is NOT AN OPTION.  There is no such successful concept as “an office at home”.  The novelty wears away.  So does one’s creativity.  Office interaction.  Office dynamics.

Actually, now to think of it, it felt good going to office – sometimes even being first to open the doors – sticking to a ROUTINE.  You then actually enjoy your weekends at home more. 

Go figure

FORGOTTEN HEROES!

May 11, 2020

(photo credit- http://www.adventuretravelpakistan.com/

A friend from France wrote to me about the story of late Shiraz Nasir, a young entrepreneur in Pakistan, who set up one of the first tourism companies here- “Adventure Travel Pakistan”.

He proved that no matter where you live, you must follow your dreams. He made so many foreigners fall in love with Pakistan and he was proof that his message went through.  Shiraz was even invited in May 2019 to Paris by UNESCO and the Pakistan embassy in Paris to give conferences on the tourism potential in Pakistan.

Tragically, in August 2019, while paragliding in Chitral, turbulence caused Shiraz’s fatal accident!

https://acenews.pk/ceo-of-adventure-travel-pakistan-falls-to-death-in-chitral/

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/22/paraglider-passes-away-in-chitral-accident/

However, how many people actually know his story? It must be passed on to generations to inspire them.  

Hence, my friend’s request that Shiraz deserves to be honored, to make known Shiraz’s heroic journey.  It would bring so much pride to his family…and to Pakistan!

Shiraz deserves a civil national honor for what he has done to develop the tourist potential of Pakistan and to build bridges between people and cultures.  This is something which would give such a positive light to Pakistan and honor the memory of this person. 

Is there no one here to recognize Shiraz’s achievements and accolades towards Pakistan?

No Two States are “Cut From The Same Cloth”- (Yet More Ramblings of a Layman [COVID]-3)

May 2, 2020

To arbitrarily attack the World Health Organization that it “flip flops” is unfair. 

As WHO puts it- “What it has done differently is it has very much relied on its relationship with its citizenry and the ability and willingness of its citizens to implement self-distancing and self-regulate” (https://nypost.com/2020/04/29/who-lauds-sweden-as-model-for-resisting-coronavirus-lockdown/).   Besides this, Sweden has issued rules for social distancing and encouraging working from home- they haven’t arbitrarily opened up their society.

While that strategy seems to work for Sweden, Australia & New Zealand’s strategy of lockdown has worked for them (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/24/world/australia/new-zealand-coronavirus.html).

So, WHO’s statement on Sweden’s strategy should not be taken out of context.

Practically speaking, none of us alive today have EVER faced a pandemic like this in our lifetime.  Nations, leaders, scientists are all feeling the waters, testing strategies, changing guidelines…there’s nothing wrong with that.  None of us will get it right.  We will falter and that’s where our leaders & scientists have to learn, amend strategies and move on.

Philosophically speaking, I believe we are being tested so that we are ready for the real disease yet to come!

Even the most educated of us do not follow guidelines and rules laid out by our governments, so how can we be trusted (unlike the Swedes) to follow protocols a government would lay down similar to Sweden’s? 

The concept of “Herd Immunity” (first time I ever heard of it!) is a practical one- and I truly believe that countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh are ahead of the game as far as this immunity is concerned due to the environment our people live in.  However, like all strategies, in my mind, it would be incorrect to practice herd immunity willy-nilly.  WHO is also learning through this pandemic and it’s a thankless task with 7 Billion eyes on them, so let’s not be too hasty in passing judgement.  A combination of face mask, social distancing, contact tracing & “smart”, geographic lockdown is the correct way to go.

Who are we not to give WHO a chance!?