Dengue crisis worsens in Dhaka as Eid leave canceled

A child suffering from dengue fever rests at a hospital in Dhaka. (AFP)
Updated 14 August 2019
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Dengue crisis worsens in Dhaka as Eid leave canceled

  • Nearly 46,000 patients have been admitted to hospitals across Bangladesh with the virus

DHAKA: Doctors and nurses in Dhaka are working to treat dengue patients after authorities canceled Eid leave for all medical staff on Wednesday.

Nearly 46,000 patients have been admitted to hospitals across Bangladesh with the virus.

In the past 24 hours, 1,880 new cases were admitted to hospital, while more than 4,000 are being treated in Dhaka alone. Death toll estimates, meanwhile, range from 40 to 90 people.

Dengue spreads among humans through its carrier, the aedes mosquito.

From July to September, during the monsoon season, it spreads rapidly as the mosquitos breed. 

The first recorded case of the disease in Bangladesh was in 1965, with the worst previous outbreak affecting the country in 2000.

The current outbreak started in Dhaka last July.

Several government hospitals have already added new dengue wards to accommodate patients but this has still proved inadequate.

“On Eid day, I rushed to the hospital after the Eid prayer and had a very busy day treating patients,” Prof. Syed Shafi Ahmed, director of the Dhaka Children’s Hospital, told Arab News.

“I fear that within next couple of days, again we will have a huge number of dengue victims when people return to Dhaka (from Eid vacations),” he added.

Many employees have had their personal Eid leave cancelled to deal with the outbreak.

“Usually we don’t perform any duties during Eid vacations. For the first time, I have been serving at my hospital for the well-being of the patients,” said Saleha Khatun, a senior nurse at the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital.

“My four-year-old son Ayman got affected by fever just before the Eid day. I was worried about the treatment process and availability of doctors as it’s a vacation period,” Dhaka resident Prema Chowdhury said. 

“On Eid day morning I rushed to the hospital with my son and after immediate tests he was diagnosed with dengue. Doctors admitted him and after 2 days, my son is doing better.”

Doctors have warned people to be more cautious about taking other medicines if they are diagnosed with the disease.

“Any medicine like steroids or others may aggravate the impact of the dengue virus for any patient. In case of fever in this season, the best solution is to have enough water and liquid drinks like fruit juice,” Dr. Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research, told Arab News.

“At the moment Bangladesh is fully equipped to deal with dengue as we have already prepared a national guideline about the treatment process of patients. In Dhaka, which is the most affected city, around 2,000 doctors and nurses have already been trained to deal with it,” Dr. M. M. Aktaruzzaman, dengue program manager of Directorate General of Health, told Arab News.

Until last year, the highest number of dengue patients in a single year was recorded at around 10,000. 

But this year it is already close to 50,000, with half of the monsoon season still to come, worrying health professionals across the country.


India’s ‘patriotism pop’ songs urge Hindus to claim Kashmir

Updated 15 min 40 sec ago
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India’s ‘patriotism pop’ songs urge Hindus to claim Kashmir

  • The songs delivered a message to India’s 250 million YouTube users about moving to the Muslim-majority region, buying land there and marrying Kashmiri women.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has revoked Kashmir’s decades-old special status that was guaranteed under Article 370 of India’s Constitution and sent thousands of troops to the region

NEW DELHI: The music videos began appearing on social media within hours of the announcement by India’s Hindu nationalist-led government that it was stripping statehood from the disputed region of Kashmir that had been in place for decades.
The songs delivered a message to India’s 250 million YouTube users about moving to the Muslim-majority region, buying land there and marrying Kashmiri women.
It’s the latest example of a growing genre in India known as “patriotism pop” — songs flooding social media about nationalism and the country’s burgeoning right-wing ideology.
Earlier songs were limited to the rise of Hindus in India, defeating regional rival Pakistan and hoisting the Indian flag in every household. Now, they include settling in Kashmir — a rugged and beautiful Himalayan region claimed by both Pakistan and India, although both countries control only a portion of it.
On Aug. 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s decades-old special status that was guaranteed under Article 370 of India’s Constitution and sent thousands of troops to the region. The move has touched off anger in the Indian-controlled region, which has been under a security lockdown that has seen thousands detained to prevent protests there.
One of Modi’s revisions allows anyone to buy land in the territory, which some Kashmiris fear could mean an influx of Hindus who would change the region’s culture and demographics. Critics have likened it to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories.
The patriotic songs are mostly shared on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and the fast-growing app TikTok, which in June had about 120 million active users in India. Despite their low production values, poorly matched lip-synching and repetitive techno beat, many of these soundtracks have gotten millions of hits on YouTube.
The songs are a hit among youthful followers in northern and eastern parts of India, and their creators don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
Nitesh Singh Nirmal identifies himself as a producer, songwriter and composer for his Rang Music studios in the eastern state of Bihar. A Modi admirer, Nirmal claims to be the first to produce a soundtrack on the revocation of Kashmir’s statehood, completing it in three hours.
The song, “Dhara 370,” or “Article 370,” starts with visuals of an Indian flag fluttering atop New Delhi’s famous Red Fort, followed by old footage of Modi from a previous Independence Day ceremony. The singer thanks Modi and his government for keeping his promise to remove Article 370 from the constitution. The video then cuts to the map of Kashmir, along with words that roughly translate to how Pakistan has lost to India.
The song has gotten more than 1.6 million hits on YouTube since it was posted there by Nirmal, who has no musical background. He said he only found his calling when Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party resoundingly won the 2014 election.
That’s when Nirmal thought he could write songs about nationalism.

“I am doing service for the nation. People dance to these songs,” he says.

The Indian media — from news to entertainment — has left no stone unturned in portraying Kashmiri women in the racist trope of ‘coveted fair-skinned ones’ (and) at the same time being helpless and needing saving from their own men — all this while demonizing Kashmiri men.

Political anthropologist Ather Zia

Nirmal’s claims about their popularity aren’t far-fetched. TikTok, which lets the user lip-synch to music and make short vines, is flooded with images of Hindu nationalists declaring plans to go to Kashmir and marry women there. Most of the videos have music similar to the kind produced by Nirmal.
In April, TikTok was removed from Android and iPhone app stores after an Indian court ruled it was “encouraging pornography.”
The rising appeal for songs that promote nationalism and talk about reclaiming Kashmir have paved the way for lesser-known artists to join in.
Salman Siddiqui, who is in his 20s and studies science in the state of Uttar Pradesh, wanted to showcase his musical writing prowess and contacted Nirmal. They collaborated on a song about a man who is seeking a Kashmiri bride and wants to be the first to have a wedding procession that travels from India to the region.
Nirmal and Siddiqui insist the songs are not sexist.
“It’s the desire of a young man’s heart to marry a Kashmiri woman,” Siddiqui says.
The idea was boosted Aug. 6 by lawmaker Vikram Saini, who told members of his Bharatiya Janata Party “eager to get married” to go to Kashmir, adding that his party has “no problem with it.”
Critics say the idea of marrying Kashmiri women to “reclaim” the region is rooted in a patriarchy that objectifies and dehumanizes Kashmiris.
Political anthropologist Ather Zia calls this a “fetishization in the Indian imagination.”
Such songs are a “culmination of a toxic misogynistic nationalist thinking that draws validation from humiliating Kashmiri women,” Zia said.
“The Indian media — from news to entertainment — has left no stone unturned in portraying Kashmiri women in the racist trope of ‘coveted fair-skinned ones’ (and) at the same time being helpless and needing saving from their own men — all this while demonizing Kashmiri men,” she said.
Some artists oppose writing such songs, but they say the audience demand is strong.
Singer Nardev Bainiwal, who lives in Haryana state and owns the Jawan Music Co., has a song on Kashmir that got 1.9 million hits on YouTube.
“We write songs about things people want,” Bainiwal says, noting his main audience is from smaller cities and towns in northern India where Internet penetration has picked up in recent years.
Google Trends has shown an increase in Indians using search terms like “marry Kashmiri girl” and “buy land in Kashmir.”
“I am personally against such declarations, but if we don’t make these songs, someone else will and we will lose out on money,” Bainiwal says.
Nirmal says that since he published his song Aug. 5, he has earned nearly $100 for work that cost him about $20 to produce.
He says the key is to keep abreast of the news and gauge the public mood. He has songs ready if India’s Supreme Court allows a Hindu temple be built on a site where hard-liners in 1992 attacked and demolished a 16th century mosque, sparking deadly Hindu-Muslim violence.
“Songs about building of the temple could be my next hit,” he says.
Apart from the online revenue, the artists also perform concerts. Nirmal has had 10 shows in the last two weeks.
“The business,” Nirmal says, “is booming.”