viral outbreak

With the deaths of 10 people diagnosed with chikungunya, Delhi's crisis is only getting worse

Most of the victims have been elderly people because chikungunya worsens existing ailments, sometimes sending patients into shock.

On Wednesday morning, 21-year-old Vijay Kumar rushed his 15-year-old brother Prashant to the fever ward in Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science. He jostled his way through the the hall packed with scores of men, women and children, down with high fever and acute pain in their joints – most of them being tested for chikungunya.

“His (Prashant’s) blood samples have been collected and the doctors suggested a test suspecting chikungunya,” said Kumar. “We are now waiting for a doctor to prescribe medicines for the fever which hasn’t receded for the past three days, the lumps in his body and the severe joint pain.”

In one corner of the room, a security guard curled up in a stretcher was shivering. “I have been deployed in this emergency ward and have been working here for around two years,” said the guard who did not want to be named “I have witnessed thousands of malaria, dengue and chikungunya patients in this fever ward but I was never affected till now.”.

Next to him lay a police constable in uniform receiving a dose of saline. “He has very high fever and severe body ache. He too is being tested for chikungunya,” the guard said.

Twenty eight-year-old Pradeep, a plumber by profession, also awaited his test results. On his bed lay a medical sheet in which the doctor noted that he had fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit and acute pain on his joints. “I hope it is not chikungunya,” Pradeep said. “I work on a contract and I have to get back to work at the earliest.”.

The four men are among thousands who presently throng the emergency wards of government and private hospitals in the city, down with high fever and being diagnosed for chikungunya. In what can be called a severe public health crisis in the national capital, the Delhi Municipal Corporation has recorded as many as 1,057 chikungunya cases till September 10, reported PTI. This is a 90% rise in just a week.

Even data from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme shows that the current outbreak in Delhi is worse than in previous years.

*Provisional data.
*Provisional data.

The crisis appears to have worsened with the deaths of 10 people diagnosed with chikungunya reported this week. The Indian Express reported on Wednesday that five deaths occurred at Apollo Hospital and most of the victims were above 80 years of age. The hospital authorities said that the deaths had occurred in the last three weeks.

Union Health Minister JP Nadda, however, maintained that chikungunya cannot be the cause of death even as Delhi government and the civic agencies are trading blame for the crisis. Delhi's Health Minister Satyendra Jain on Tuesday claimed that the national capital did not have an outbreak of chikungunya and blamed the media for creating panic about it. "There has never been any death due to chikungunya in the world. Medically. This is media-created panic," he said, according to a news report by ANI.

Death from chikungunya is not common. However, the disease can contribute to the cause of death especially in older people who already have serious health conditions. There is no cure of chikungunya, only treatment for its symptoms.

Dr Atul Kakar, Senior Consultant and Vice Chairman at the department of internal medicine in Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital put it in perspective. “Patients of extreme age and those with co-morbid heart, lung and liver problems or diabetes need to be more careful," Kakar said. "Chikungunya triggers the inflammation of certain cells which may lead to multi-organ failure.”

Referring to the first three deaths which were reported from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, its spokesperson Ajoy Sehgal said that the three of them were above the age of 60, two of them were diabetic with hypertension and kidney disease and the third had a severe lung ailment. “The vector-borne disease led them to a state of shock, causing death,” said Sehgal.

Meanwhile, Kumar, who watches over Prashant at AIIMS, is worried that his brother, who is in 10th standard now, may not recover before his term examinations next week. “We live here on our own and our family, which is settled in Bihar’s Siwan district, is quite tense,” he said.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.

Play

In her book ‘The confidence game’, Maria Konnikova observes that con artists are expert storytellers - “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” Harshad Mehta’s story was an endearing rags-to-riches tale in which an insurance agent turned stockbroker flourished based on his skill and knowledge of the market. For years, he gave hope to marketmen that they too could one day live in a 15,000 sq.ft. posh apartment with a swimming pool in upmarket Worli.

One such marketman was Ketan Parekh who took over Dalaal Street after the arrest of Harshad Mehta. Ketan Parekh kept a low profile and broke character only to celebrate milestones such as reaching Rs. 100 crore in net worth, for which he threw a lavish bash with a star-studded guest-list to show off his wealth and connections. Ketan Parekh, a trainee in Harshad Mehta’s company, used the same infamous pump-and-dump scheme to make his riches. In that, he first used false bank documents to buy high stakes in shares that would inflate the stock prices of certain companies. The rise in stock prices lured in other institutional investors, further increasing the price of the stock. Once the price was high, Ketan dumped these stocks making huge profits and causing the stock market to take a tumble since it was propped up on misleading share prices. Ketan Parekh was later implicated in the 2001 securities scam and is serving a 14-years SEBI ban. The tactics employed by Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were similar, in that they found a loophole in the system and took advantage of it to accumulate an obscene amount of wealth.

Play

Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.

Play

The people discussed above have one thing in common - each one of them was well respected and celebrated for their industry prowess and social standing, but got sucked down a path of non-violent crime. The question remains - Why are individuals at successful positions willing to risk it all? The book Why They Do It: Inside the mind of the White-Collar Criminal based on a research by Eugene Soltes reveals a startling insight. Soltes spoke to fifty white collar criminals to understand their motivations behind the crimes. Like most of us, Soltes expected the workings of a calculated and greedy mind behind the crimes, something that could separate them from regular people. However, the results were surprisingly unnerving. According to the research, most of the executives who committed crimes made decisions the way we all do–on the basis of their intuitions and gut feelings. They often didn’t realise the consequences of their action and got caught in the flow of making more money.

Play

The arena of white collar crimes is full of commanding players with large and complex personalities. Billions, starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti, captures the undercurrents of Wall Street and delivers a high-octane ‘ruthless attorney vs wealthy kingpin’ drama. The show looks at the fine line between success and fraud in the stock market. Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund kingpin, skilfully walks on this fine line like a tightrope walker, making it difficult for Chuck Rhoades, a US attorney, to build a case against him.

If financial drama is your thing, then block your weekend for Billions. You can catch it on Hotstar Premium, a platform that offers a wide collection of popular and Emmy-winning shows such as Game of Thrones, Modern Family and This Is Us, in addition to live sports coverage, and movies. To subscribe, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.