Only West-born diseases are given the due importance!
There is this peculiar trend that can be observed in India especially when it comes to the acceptability factor. Indians proactively accept anything that brings a foreign tag with itself, be it educational qualifications, books, bridegroom, technologies and even diseases. Almost anything that has a western touch gets more importance than its due share over here. Indians have always been more concerned about issues that either circum-circle the upper strata of the society or create waves in the developed countries – bluntly ignoring similar domestic undercurrents. This hypothesis gets further exemplified by the recent hysteria over West-born ‘swine-flu’. No doubt, swine flu is quite dangerous and should be dealt with utter caution. But given the fact that its impact over India’s subcontinent is next to nothing, the whole hype and panic seems to be very inane.
For all the hype around swine flu and its elder brother, i.e. bird flu, India remains unabashedly indifferent towards the mayhem created by killer epidemics present and prevalent in India. Each year such endemics kill millions. It though doesn't make much news as destitute and their death never make too good a front page cover story. Take for instance tuberculosis; every minute somewhere in India someone dies of tuberculosis thus resulting in death of nearly 4,50,000 people per annum. Moreover, every untreated person carries a probability of infecting at least 10 more people. Next in the line is maternal death. According to UNICEF, in every five minutes an Indian woman dies (290 per day) during childbirth. Nearly 136,000 maternal deaths occur annually, most of which can be prevented easily, if given medical assistance in the right time. The same goes for diarrhoea that kills almost 600,000 children under the age of five in India every year. This translates to death of forty children every hour. Even pneumonia features in this killing list. Over 1,095 children under the age of five years die every day fighting pneumonia. Thus, pneumonia, on an average takes a toll of 400,000 lives in India every year. And finally, it's malaria. As per ‘save the children’ charity-firm, 2 million children die in India every year due to malaria. That translates into 550 children per day!! The most noteworthy point is that most of these diseases are curable, preventable and has medial solutions unlike the likes of swine flu and bird flu.
Contrast all of the above with the recent swine flu pandemic that killed jaw dropping and mind-boggling 49 people (confirms the WHO’s laboratory-confirmed human cases of swine flu as on May 10, 2009). Well it is of serious concern because people in the West are affected by it and when the westerners die, the world has to sit and take note of it!! The same can be reiterated for past incidents like SARS (death rate 800 globally) or bird flu (less 780 deaths).
The reason why West is paranoid about swine flu is because it kills everyone, irrespective of any socio-economic class, including those from wealthy strata of society. Thus, unlike water-borne diseases which primarily affect Third World countries and their poor populace. Thus, millions would continue to die in rural India and it would never make any difference to India's political and business class. It would perhaps take the death of some from the rich and the elite strata of the Indian society or a few from West before India wakes up to the reality of rural India and its agony of destitution borne diseases. Till then let a million poor Indians die, it would still be the mild fever of a European that would become news in India.