180 Dead from Encephalitis since Jan in East UP, Media Doesn’t Care

An epidemic has claimed 180 lives since Jan this year in Gorakhpur, East UP – with 8 children dying on Tuesday. This news was reported by a news agency ANI, but has hardly found any takers in leading newspapers and TV news channels. It seems the new agenda set by MSM these days is: Kashmir, Dalit atrocities, cow vigilantism, upcoming UP elections.

A Google search for ‘Encephalitis UP’ pulls up barely two results:


This is what one of the few reports on the Encephalitis epidemic says –

“Encephalitis, commonly known as ‘brain fever’, has claimed 180 lives in Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College since January. A total of 682 people had been admitted with the disease, Dr RK Mishra, Pathology Head of the institute, told news agency ANI.

“The situation this year is much more severe than last year. The highest number of deaths took place on Tuesday, with ten patients dying, of which eight were children,” said Dr. Mishra.

The disease broke out last year as well, but on a smaller scale, in states including Uttar Pradesh, Assam and West Bengal. It’s common in India during the monsoon season, and claim hundreds of lives.

Providing clean water to drink is the sole solution to stop this disease, Dr. Mishra told ANI.

Infants and elderly people are particularly vulnerable to Encephalitis. It causes inflammation of the brain and the symptoms include high fever and vomiting, with extreme cases reporting incidents of seizures, paralysis and coma.”

The usual group of ‘experts’, columnists and analysts who fill the opinion and editorial pages of our newspapers will talk endlessly about caste & religious permutations-combinations for the upcoming UP state elections, but none will talk about the shambolic state of the public health system in UP as an election issue.

So if this Encephalitis related tragedy was not considered news-worthy, what interests the editor’s of Bharat’s largest selling English daily ‘Times of India’ enough to make it to the front page of their Lucknow UP edition? Lets see-

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Each and every journalist working for Times of India ought to be ashamed that they work for an organization that didn’t deem it fit to make a story of 8 children dying due to the same disease on a single day as their cover story. The story is probably similar in other newspapers like Hindustan Times, Indian Express etc – our English language media lives & breathes on what the Lutyen’s circuit deems significant.

The people of UP deserve better – better governance and better media. While the ordinary citizen has little control over the latter, the former is definitely in the voter’s hands. It is time that the SP-BSP cycle was broken to give a fresh face a chance to put UP on the path of good governance, similar to other states like MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu etc.