From manufacturing masks and sanitisers to making of disinfected chambers to combat COVID-19, The indomitable spirit of man has not, however, failed to surface. Inventing a cure to COVID-19 has been engaging man's mind ever since the deadly virus came, this pandemic has lead to many innovations to tackle the
A disinfected barrier-examination booth for examining
COVID-19 patients developed by SCTIMST scientists
At the height of a frontal assault by a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic, the world remained indoors, spending much time on washing and wringing hands alternately. News from the developed countries in the Western hemisphere regarding the extent of the damage already caused has not been encouraging. The alarming situation is far from over. Everything from workplaces to places of worship, movie halls, shopping malls, educational institutions and friendly neighbourhood shops has been under a lockdown. Work from home as well as social distancing has become the new norm. Gatherings of people, no matter how small in number, and physical contacts, are strictly avoided. Going out except for essential purchases is sternly prohibited. Social life, as was known in the pre-COVID-19 days, has given place to live at home. Moreover, interaction with the outside world has been restricted to access via social media.
There are many conspiracy theories about its origin, doing the rounds. Is its experimentation with a bio-chemical weapon gone wrong? Is it part of a trade war between the US and China raging for some time?
Besides floating the possible theories, world powers hardly have the time to prove or disprove any, every country's hands being full with having to address the question of saving their people and economy from the deadly viral attack. While a permanent cure is hopefully on the anvil, humankind has to make do for the present with innovative solutions to the underlying problem of survival.
India has been grappling hard with the challenge of saving lives, treating the afflicted people through isolation and quarantine, preventing the contracting of the virus by more people, and the elimination of the virus altogether. The multiple tasks constitute a formidable exercise in the face of the country's vast landmass, demography and unique religious and cultural constraints. For instance, the authorities had to do a lot of persuading to convince some sections of people against collecting on the roads or places of worship.
The lockdown has nothing to do with the fundamental right to practise a religion of one's choice as per the established traditions and customs. The Union government has been leaving no stone unturned to create awareness among the people to comply with the lockdown and maintain social distancing. Besides, it is counting on the cooperation of the citizens and has calibrated its measures and methods of fighting the virus accordingly.]
What makes the situation particularly vulnerable is the need to divert much of the available resources to address the various aspects of this emergency operation even when the economy has already been on a downslide. In the circumstances, much depends on the private sector and the public to come up with solutions for the humongous task on hand. We are long past the stage of leaving the issue to doctors, nurses and cleaning staff. Hence, the Prime Minister's call to the people of the nation from all walks of life to be united in humanity's war on the virus.
A Centre for Augmenting War with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH) has been constituted by the Department of Science and Technology for Rs 56 crore to scout, evaluate and support innovations and start-ups that address COVID-19 challenges. The National Innovation Foundation (NIF), under the Department of Science & Technology, has welcomed innovative solutions and is committed to funding citizens who find COVID-19 related solutions and scaling up the innovations.
Ground Level Innovations
In real terms on the ground level, instead of lamenting over the non-availability or the cost factor of facial masks or hand sanitiser, people have been coming up with ingenious ideas of fashioning home-made masks and sanitisers from material and resources readily available. Neem leaves, turmeric and the wide variety of spices that find a pride of place in a standard Indian kitchen shelf have been put to good use to prepare sanitisers and concoctions, as well as food preparations fit enough to build up one's immunity.
Cow dung, known for its anti-septic value, and cow urine do not lag far behind. However, their external or internal use is taken with a generous pinch of cynicism and skepticism except by hardcore votaries of the ancient Sanatana Dharmic traditions and customs. Meanwhile, there are cities and towns in India, although few, like Bengaluru, where well-informed people living in multi-storied buildings, use a straightforward and innovative means to avoidtouching buttons in elevators – toothpicks exclusively kept for the purpose.