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And the Ig Nobel Prize goes to…

the worst performers of COVID-19!

Mohit Sarohi
ILLUMINATION
Published in
3 min readSep 27, 2020

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Image by: Mohit the Duck

We are certainly facing the most turbulent time ever. Or are we? There have been plagues, genocides, famine, and whatnot. We got over such atrocities by learning from human mistakes. We established and improved institutions to improve human life quality. Yet, the current pandemic allowed us to reflect on a human flaw that is almost incurable.

No, I am not talking about the “incurable virus” — COVID-19. In fact, it’s just a matter of time and soon some scientist will be explaining his journey and how he managed to create a cure for the deadliest virus of the 21st century. I have faith in science.

Instead, I am talking about a particular human emotion, which is also spreading like a virus and actually seems incurable - ARROGANCE.

Humans have an innate tendency to prove themselves superior and do whatever they can do to sustain the comfort of denial. But when a national leader is overwhelmed with such a feeling and denies the existence of a pandemic, instead of tackling it — he is sacrificing human lives out of arrogance.

Consequently, the Harvard-based organizing body of prestigious awards decided to award this year’s Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine to such arrogant (prick of a) national leaders. According to the citation from the authorities, the recognition is —

“for using the COVID-19 viral pandemic to teach the world that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors can.”

What does this recognition mean?

Being an Indian citizen, I can certainly vouch for the credibility of our prime minister, Mr. Modi. His government’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic is characterized by the world’s fastest-growing caseload, complaints of fatality under-reporting, disconnect with ground realities, data suppression, and opaque administration.

How a person handles his relationship when he is down, tells a lot about the overall character of the person — even if you are a national leader. These nationalists are normalizing a chauvinistic attitude that relies on spreading propaganda more than looking for a cure. But under these not-so-normal circumstances, it gets exhaustively frustrating.

Ideally, it shouldn’t have come down to a pandemic for people to start reflecting on the adverse effects of a (extreme) nationalistic campaign. Modi, Trump, and Bolsonaro, all belong to the far-right spectrum of political ideologies.

Yet one can’t help but notice the obvious pattern among “these” winners. The tendency to be radical— they were being criticized for — shows an innate tendency to be more conservative and less flexible.

Another thing that unites these ego-mongers is their habit of denying any sort of accountability. None of these leaders took accountability ever, for failing their people.

Indian finance ministry blamed the “Act of God” for a staggering fall in Indian GDP growth, -23%.

An attempt to portray a neat self-image is becoming an essential part of the politician rule book. Even if that leads to a nonchalant attitude towards a widespread virus, going as far as categorizing this pandemic as left-sponsored propaganda.

These incidents should make everyone reconsider what type of leader they want when the apocalypse strikes.

Oh, yeah! “Those things never happen”, until it happens.

As per the current political trend — being powerful is more important than being humble and compassionate. People can misinterpret humbleness as a sign of weakness. Not everyone can be Jacinda Ardern (the PM of New Zealand).

She is stern, yet compassionate. From standing with the Muslim community after the Mosque Shootout of 2019 to taking a moment to tap her feet to celebrate New Zealand’s exceptional fight against COVID-19 — she is an ideal mix of the National Leader everyone deserves when things go south, on an unprecedented trajectory.

The Ig Nobel Prize is a satiric prize (and not a parody of the Nobel Prize) awarded annually since 1991 to celebrate ten trivial (or weird ass) achievements in scientific research. No seriously, research on a crocodile (on gas) and testicle warmth may seem hilarious at first glance but it has legitimate science behind them. After all, the tagline of the awards is —

“Honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

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Mohit Sarohi
ILLUMINATION

An unused MBA degree and (pro-left) liberal world-view. I write about topics like cultural parallel, India, and society. 📧: mht822@gmail.com