Chennai

Former police officer spearheads efforts to create Corona monograph

Anoop Jaiswal interacts with students and the front cover of the monograph. Photos: special arrangement

Anoop Jaiswal interacts with students and the front cover of the monograph. Photos: special arrangement  

Retired DGP Anoop Jaiswal gets epidemiologists to be part of an initiative to publish a free book that answers questions about COVID-19

Retired DGP Anoop Jaiswal seems to have a story for every scientific concept and a toy to “enact” it. He volunteers as an itinerant teacher, offering a free after-school programme that demystifies these concepts. An assembly of “assistants” make this work easy for him; and for the students, engrossing. They aren’t flesh and blood, but toys that Anoop has breathed life into, assembling them with electronic discards purchased near Lily Pond Complex, popularly known as Moore Market.

“As part of the outreach, I have so far visited 127 schools across India. It’s meant for students from classes VIII to XII,” explains Jaiswal, who is secretary at Theosophy Science Centre.

When the pandemic struck, some of those students who had attended his “Science At Play” programmes, had curious questions for him about all things Coronavirus. On the guard against offering facile generalisations, he wanted epidemiologists to tackle those questions.

“I watched Dr. Jayaprakash Muliyil being interviewed by Karan Thapar for The Wire not once but twice, and the lucidity with which he explained the various aspects of the pandemic was impressive,” recalls Jaiswal.

Dr. Muliyil is a heavyweight in the field of epidemiology. Retired Principal of the Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore and former professor — epidemiology at the Department of Community Health, CMC, Dr. Muliyil

is now the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Institute of Epidemiology.

“Half-hesitant, I spoke to Dr. Muliyil and suggested the idea of a free monograph

on the pandemic to help people, especially youngsters, to a better understanding of it. Luckily, he had known me when I was in law enforcement. While welcoming the suggestion, he said he was too old to undertake an exercise of this nature, and also expressed his difficulty in typing any material,” elaborates Jaiswal. “Dr. Muliyil however proceeded to put a work plan in place. So, his former student Dr. G. Thangavel, (Assistant Professor —Epidemiology, Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Faculty of Public Health, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research), was roped in.

I was told by Dr. Muliyil and Dr. Thangavel that when the monograph was in the making, they would discuss questions around COVID-19 with Dr. T. Jacob John, retired Professor of Virology, CMC, who would weigh in with his views.”

The next step was to frame those questions about COVID-19 that are likely to be asked by most members of the general public.

“Dr. Muliyil made a draft, and 100 people representing a cross-section of society were quizzed,” says Jaiswal. “Expecting people to be impatient and avoid going through the 24-page monograph in a linear fashion, we decided to have an index of questions at the outset. So, anyone can choose the question that bothers them and head straight to the answer.”

Explaining the credits, as given in a particular order, Jaiswal says: “Dr. Thangavel did the writing, putting the content in order, under the authority and supervision of Dr. Muliyil. My job was to just simplify the content, working on it for readability and easy comprehension. Simplification can lead to falsification, and so the material would move between the phone and the computer continually, for factual verification.”

After the English version monograph was ready in PDF format, the question of making physical copies of it had to be addressed, and this included the logistics of printing.

“Though an order for printing the book in thin sheets was placed with one Prakash Printers, the proprietor decided to use thick sheets at the same price. He explained that with thicker sheets, the book would last longer and more people could read it,” details Jaiswal. “There are cases of people volunteering to print and give away copies to others.”

Jaiswal says his son Manu Jaiswal, associate professor at IIT-Madras, has been generous in supporting the initiative.

“To make the book available for more people, it had to be translated into vernacular languages — there are Tamil and Hindi versions; and based on requests from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the book has been translated into Urdu too.

“Sometimes, I get a call seeking permission to print the book. I tell them that it is in the public domain and does not have a copyright and they could go ahead.”

Anoop reveals Manu has created a blog — anoopjaiswalscience.blogspot.com

where the PDF versions of the monographs in the four languages have been shared.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 10:27:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/former-police-officer-spearheads-efforts-to-create-corona-monograph/article31825751.ece

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