RSS mouthpiece turns to Swami Vivekananda’s Calcutta ‘Plague Manifesto’ to fight COVID-19 – ThePrint

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New Delhi: The RSS has suggested that Swami Vivekananda’s ‘Plague Manifesto’ released in 1898, after the epidemic broke out in Calcutta (now Kolkata), can help contain the current coronavirus outbreak.

In an editorial published in its mouthpiece Organiser on 16 March, the RSS quoted from the manifesto, saying: “Come, let us give up this false fear and, having faith in the infinite compassion of God, gird our loins and enter the field of action. Let us live pure and clean lives. Disease, fear of an epidemic, etc., will vanish into thin air by His grace.”

In another editorial published on 12 March, the RSS put out the full text of the manifesto.

The editorial stated when the plague first emerged in Calcutta in May 1898, “Swamiji, along with other sannyasis including Swami Sadananda and Bhagini Nivedita wanted to start relief operations immediately to help the afflicted”.

“The first thing Swamiji did was draft a plague manifesto in Bengali and Hindi,” it said.

In his manifesto, Swami Vivekananda asked people to always keep the houses, rooms, clothes, bed, drain clean.

“Do not eat stale, spoiled food; take fresh and nutritious food instead. A weak body is more susceptible to disease…Do not pay any heed to rumours,” the manifesto stated.

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Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ‘coming handy’ now

The 16 March editorial said considering India’s population density and healthcare infrastructure, people need to be extra careful.

“…keeping the infection rate as low as possible is the best way to address the problem,” it said.

The editorial lauded the effort of the central government in dealing with the virus and said initiatives like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan “are coming handy in averting the further spread”.

“The union government came into action right on December 31, the day China officially conceded about the health emergency. There has been continuous monitoring of the situation, and screening and testing mechanism is in place,” it added.

Talking to ThePrint, editor of Organiser Prafulla Ketkar reiterated what is in the editorial.

“Our rural healthcare structure is not strong and we are a country of 130 crore people, we are densely populated, we can’t afford a large outbreak. The best solution is to contain it but panic is not the solution,” he said.

Ketkar further said the media’s narrative of a lockdown would scare people more. 

China blamed

The 16 March editorial stated that China initially hid the spread of the virus.

“The first alarm bell for the suspicious new virus was rung in early December itself, but the ‘state secrecy’ practised by China suppressed those voices. After detection of unusual pneumonia cases…, Huanan seafood market was closed on January 1. By the time the WHO came into the picture and declared the health emergency on January 30, we lost the critical time,” it said.

“By the time China started using its high-handed approach to quarantine the cities, it was too late. The virus got spread all over the world and finally, it was declared as pandemic on March 11,” it added.

The editorial also said China cannot shirk its responsibility of  “putting the entire world in this precarious situation”.

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