Who Disrupted the 5th Test at the Old Trafford – Covid-19 fear or IPL?

The recent bilateral series between India and England has been stalled over a fear of the Covid-19 outbreak in the Indian camp after several members of the team caught the Covid-19 disease before the test was played. The declaration came just two hours before play as the deputy physio was reported to be Covid-19 positive the night before the match was played.

Earlier, the head coach Ravi Shastri, the bowling coach Bharat Arun and the fielding coach R Shridhar had contracted the virus. Many blame attending Ravi Shastri’s book launch in London before the 4th test as the main culprit behind breaching the bio-bubble. It was still bearable to the playing XI until both their physio turned out Covid-19 positive. The Indian players refused to take the field, although the players still tested negative, resulting in the match being rescheduled.

The England Cricket Board (ECB) refused to reschedule the match. The Indian cricket team has a tight schedule ahead, with the IPL starting 2 days after the conclusion of the scheduled 5th test. Hence postponing the match by 1-2 days was not possible. After the conclusion of the IPL, the T20 world cup is scheduled, making it impossible to be rescheduled anytime soon. ECB has made it clear that in no way can the rescheduling take place, and if the match does happen in the future, it will be a standalone test. ECB also concluded that India had forfeited the match, and hence England was declared winner of the match.

The IPL could have been played without a few Indian players at the start, but it is alleged that the absence of star players in the IPL would result in a sharp drop in popularity. Hence, BCCI is taking no chance to delay the IPL further or do away with a few star players. The second leg of IPL 2021 is scheduled to begin on 19th September in the UAE. As for how the India-England bilateral test series would conclude, the officials are yet to have an answer.

Written by – Himadri Paul

RT-PCR Test of Covid-19

Of all the Covid-19 tests that came to light in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic situation globally, the RT-PCR Test stood out as the ultimate Covid-19 test. Its full-form is reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. RT-PCR Test, when invented, used to cost as much as Rs. 5000 and was unaffordable by common people. However, as production grew, following advancement in technology, the price of RT-PCR Test has come down to as low as Rs. 300. In this article, let us see how this test works.

The sample is collected using a nose swab from your throat and nose. A swab is a thin, flexible stick that is inserted in your nostrils and throat to collect the virus. Covid-19 virus, if present, will get accumulated in the stick. The sample then reaches the laboratory, where the virus is extracted. The extraction process isolated genetic material from the sample, including genetic material of any viruses that may be present. The third step is the PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, in which millions of copies of the virus are produced for detection. Without the PCR, the number of viruses in the sample is too small to be detected. If Covid-19 is present, then the chemicals used in the process produce fluorescent light. It is the signal to suggest that the sample contains the Covid-19 virus.

A positive test result means that it is very likely you have Covid-19. If you test positive, don’t panic. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider, and follow the quarantine and self-isolation rules. Most people will recover following mild or no symptoms. A negative test result means you are unlikely to be affected by Covid-19 at the time of the test. However, you still have to follow all precautions given by the Government in your state, as you are still vulnerable to Covid-19 at the time of test or afterwards. Due to high sensitivity, you may test Covid-19 positive if you had been infected by Covid-19 a few weeks back and have recovered from it since then.

RT-PCR Test has numerous advantages:

  1. It delivers a report within 24 hours.
  2. It is the most reliable and accurate Covid-19 test, which can detect even residual virus, such as remnants of a virus from a near-past infection.
  3. Collection of sample is also hassle-free, and it could be processed in railway stations, entry and exit checkpoints, office buildings, that is it does not consume a large space and do not require extremely skilled labour.

Advantages of the RT-PCR Test made us possible to test for Covid-19 at tourist destinations at a minimal cost and also tour hassle-free in most tourist destinations in the country.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Review on Proposed Changes in Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep is the smallest union territory of India, which comprises many tiny coral islands on the country’s south-west coast. Lakshadweep is one of the most peaceful areas of India, with untouched beauty, and unique local culture. The sandy coral islands, that form like a necklace of the Arabian Sea, are rich in corals and biodiversity. For centuries and even for 74 years after independence, Lakshadweep coexisted peacefully as a Union Territory of India, where the locals happily earned their livelihood doing their own business. For the past 3 months, we are seeing an increased agitation in Lakshadweep against some newly introduced policies of the Indian Government.

Some point out the communalism played by the Indian Government against a minority religion. Over 97% of Lakshadweep people are Muslims. Their economic livelihood was supported by agriculture, deep-sea fishing, small home industries and of course tourism. The governance of all these was left with the local panchayats and the locals themselves had got benefited from them. However, Lakshadweep Administrator, who is a representative of the Union Territory and appointed by the Union Government, has now taken full control over all of them. The reason given was unsatisfactory to the locals as well as many Indian political thinkers. The Lakshadweep Administrator introduced a debatable Anti-Goonda Act, that allows anyone to be arrested for 1 year without trial. On an island, where the crime rate is almost zero and the lowest in India, the introduction of such an Act is viewed with suspicion by local leaders, who perceive it as a method of suppressing the rebellion. A new rule on panchayat elections has been imposed, where any local leader having more than 2 children were barred from participating in elections or other Government schemes.

Beef, which forms a very important part of Lakshadweep cuisine, was banned. Schools were forbidden to include any non-vegetarian items in mid-day meals, where fish and meat were the predominant food items of the locals. Alcohol was banned in Lakshadweep since antiquity. The ban is now being lifted mostly to help tourists get access to alcohol. Even the lands of the locals, who belong to the Scheduled Tribes category, are in jeopardy. Lakshadweep Development Authority (LDA) was established for developing the islands of Lakshadweep in the pattern of Maldives. According to the Government, LDA is supposed to boost tourism in the region with world-class resorts, urban facilities and employment of the locals. However, the locals fear that they will be forced to give up their land, will be evicted and sent to mainland India, and will provide land for business to non-natives.

Not only the Lakshadweep people but also many mainlanders oppose such kind of development in the eco-sensitive region. Environmentalists are concerned that large scale construction will destroy the corals. The politicians accused of snatching away the rights of the Lakshadweep people. Many religious groups see it as a disturbance between the peaceful coexistence of Hindu and Muslim culture that prevailed for centuries in the region. Left and Congress are banned from entering Lakshadweep, while tourists with a negative RT-PCR test, can enter Lakshadweep without any quarantine. This mandatory quarantine rule for all tourists was lifted in May 2021 following which Lakshadweep recorded its first-ever Covid-19 case. Now the situation has worsened among the small population as Covid cases increase, reaching 100 a day by June 2021. Though many of the changes were not implemented yet, the Administrator is thinking about withdrawing some of the proposed changes that have drawn the people to protest. While making changes are good for a society to develop, it is equally important to preserve the rights of the locals, their customs and traditions, and also protect the environment at the same time for sustainable development.

Written by – Himadri Paul