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Dada Vaswani slams swine flu panic

August 13, 2009 04:36 IST

Dada JP Vaswani, spiritual head of Sadhu Vaswani Mission, has decried the climate of panic created by the outbreak of the H1N1 virus in India. "It is high time we put a stop to this fear psychosis," the nonagenarian leader, based in Pune, said in a message.

"I am deeply saddened to hear of the spread of the H1N1 virus in our country. I offer my condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one in this outbreak. But what saddens me even more deeply is the climate of panic and paranoia around us."

"I am sure you can check the statistics out|–but we all know that every day, thousands of people including women and small children die in this country due to various causes ranging from road accidents to malnutrition and hunger. Hundreds more die due to cancer, cardiac diseases and other ailments. Of course, these deaths are tragic, and if they are avoidable, we should have saved at least some of them. But most of us take these deaths as mere statistics! They are now calling our city Pune, the 'epicenter' of swine flu, the 'swine flu capital' of India now. Not long ago, I heard people say that India was sitting on an HIV/AIDS bomb that was about to explode! Most of us can recall the plague that hit Surat some years ago, and all the panic that was caused then. This country has survived famines, floods, droughts, earthquakes, tsunami and several epidemics like cholera, malaria and small pox. We will surely survive this crisis too!," said the spiritual leader.

Vaswani shared the fable of a man who met, the personification of cholera while he was going to Mecca on the sacred occasion of the Haj. The man asked cholera: "How many people will you kill this time?" Cholera answered: "Not more than 500." Actually the number of people killed was 3000. The man met Cholera while he was returning from Mecca and reprimanded him, saying," I never knew, you are such a big liar. You said you would kill only 500 but over 3000 have died." Cholera quietly answered:" I killed only 300. The remaining people were killed by fear!  I have recalled this story only to tell you that fear and panic are our worst enemies at a time like this!." 

Vaswani pleaded with the people to take all the precautions suggested by the authorities and not give in to fear and pessimism!  He also urged them to spare sometime every day for pranayama or deep breathing exercises, and stick to a nutritious diet.

A correspondent in New York