Skip to main content

When there was racial tension in Singapore amidst controversy over Delta variant origin

By Atanu Roy* 

“What is there in a name”, a popular phrase originated from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". May be Shakespeare never imagined on the looming controversy surrounding Covid B1617 variant. B1617 variant has been the most contentious and ravaging Covid-19 variant from the very outset. A series of claims and counter claims ensured, whether B1617 variant originated in Singapore or India.
Some called it Singapore-Variant, some Indian-Variant and the World Health Organisation (WHO) finally devised a naming scheme with Greek alphabets which labelled it as Delta variant, the ‘variant of concern’ as per the WHO. 
Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, had tweeted to flag his concern over a "new form of corona found in Singapore", calling on the Indian government to cancel flights from Singapore. The variant he was referring, was in fact, first found in India, as confirmed by the WHO.
The Delta variant is considered more easily transmitted from human to human, and was what fuelled the massive spread of the virus in India. This variant was first picked up in India last October, but is believed to have made its way to Singapore and other countries later.
Kejriwal did not “speak for India”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar declared after Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan objected to his claim that a highly infectious variant of COVID-19 affecting children came from Singapore. Jaishankar’s comment came after Singapore summoned the Indian envoy to protest Kejriwal’s remarks.
Singapore is a multiracial country, proportions of races are Chinese 76%, Malay 15% , Indian 7.5% , Others 1.5%. Total population of 5.6 million live in a complete racial and religious harmony.
Singapore is quite popular among expats (there are over 1.5 million), one will be able to meet people from around the world when one lives here.
Citizens of different races live at peace and in harmony with one another. The children and young people have the benefit of studying together in integrated schools and living in public housing, where people across different races live together. The workplaces are racially diverse. There are no ghettos in Singapore. The legal system protects the fabric of racial harmony.
Singapore allowed expats intake from different countries including India, as such, even after the Delta Variant surfaced. Proper precautions were in place, but some slippage, due to the unique nature of the Delta variant, caused an influx of expats carrying B1617, Delta variant. It led to some Delta clusters, and government had a trying time to contain the spread.
The rapid spread of Delta variant caused some panic, and Singapore witnessed some racial tensions, leading to unfortunate incidents. An Indian woman was confronted by a Chinese man for not wearing her face mask properly while brisk-walking. The man abused her verbally, using a racial slur, and kicked her.
In another incident, a Chinese man confronted a mixed-race couple in Orchard Road, telling them that it was a disgrace for a Chinese girl and an Indian man to be together. The government has taken adequate steps to stop further repeat of any such racial offensive, as it feels that, there is simply no justification for racist attacks, as simple as that.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, in October 2020, has become by far the most dominant strain in many countries. It now accounts for almost all new Covid-19 cases in the US, Britain, Russia, Germany, South Africa and Singapore, among other countries.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus has played havoc with many governments' plans to return life to some sense of normality. Fresh outbreaks fuelled by the highly infectious strain have forced major cities in China, Australia, the Philippines and elsewhere back into lockdown and spurred the authorities, particularly in Asia, to reimpose harsh restrictions as low vaccination rates leave people vulnerable to Covid-19.
Economies have taken a hit as manufacturing hubs like Thailand and Vietnam see their supply chains interrupted. Factories making goods for global brands are halting work and potentially missing out on the crucial holiday shopping season in major markets.
The most worrying, findings, till date are the diminishing efficacies of the vaccines to counter Delta and people with completed vaccines are getting hit, though in small numbers, as compared with the non-vaccinated.
To conclude, Delta variant has created controversies, as to where it originated, how it got originated and till date we don’t have a clear picture of its nature and directions.
---
*Belonging to Kolkata, relocated to Singapore in 1997, chartered accountant, heading an IT outfit

Comments

TRENDING

Iswarchandra Vidyasagar was a 'frustrated' reformer who turned into a conservative

By Bhaskar Sur "If someone says the Manusamhita was written by all wise Manu and the principal scripture of the land and if he asks me to throw it away, I'll say it is nothing short of atrocious audacity." -- Iswarchandra Vidyasagar

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

2002 riots: Gujarat assembly 'misinformed' about dereliction of duty, says ex-DGP

By Rajiv Shah  Former Gujarat topcop RB Sreekumar, an IPS officer of the 1971 batch, has alleged that the Gujarat government gave “totally false information” on the floor of the State Assembly regarding the appeal he made to the Gujarat governor for the “initiation of departmental action against those responsible for culpable negligence in maintenance of public order and investigation of genocidal crimes” during the 2002 riots.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Odisha bauxite mining project to 'devastate' life of 2,500 Adivasi, Dalit farmers: NAPM

Counterview Desk  While the public hearing on mining in Mali hills has been cancelled due to protests by Adivasi and Dalit farmers of the Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti, Odisha, who have been protesting against the proposed bauxite mining project, India’s top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said it is “deeply concerned” at the decision of the Government of Odisha to push the project in a Schedule-V Adivasi-belt Koraput district against the interests of the people and environment.

Economy in tatters, labour codes 'take away' workers' safety, benefits, right to form TU

By Our Representative  The four new labour codes promulgated by the Government of India came in for sharp criticism from several labour unions and civil rights groups at one-day discussion meeting organised in Ranchi (Jharkhand) on the issue of ‘changes in labour laws. Participants in the meeting asserted that under these new codes, many of the benefits and safeties accorded to labourers have been "taken away", while the right of labourers to create trade unions has been attacked.

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk  A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

Politically-motivated: Global NGO network on ED 'harassment' of Harsh Mander

Counterview Desk  CIVICUS , a top global alliance of civil society organisations seeking to strengthen citizen action and civil society around the world with a claimed membership of more than 10,000, objecting to the alleged harassment of IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander by the Government in India, has said that the the the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raid on his house and office highlights “an ongoing pattern of baseless and politically-motivated criminal charges brought by the authorities against activists across India”.