Atmanirbhar Bante hai – Being self-reliant

Author: Namratha Singh

According to the census in 2019, India’s population is 136.64 crores. It is estimated that India’s population has grown to 140 crores or 1.395 Billion people. India spans over 3.87 million square kilometers, of which livable area is 2.97 million square kilometers. This means our population density is 460 people, every km². Let’s compare this to the world. The world’s population is 767.35 crores. The world’s area is 148,940,000 km² of which no more than 10% of it is habitable. Therefore, the world’s population density is about 15 people, every km².

Do you see the problem now?

PopulationHabitable AreaAverage Population Density km²Average Population Density m²

In A+ cities and metros, the population density is much larger. In places like Dharavi in Mumbai or the nearby worker community housing in our own cities, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to keep socially distant.

Some of us, however, are blessed. We live in homes where each one of us can have a room for ourselves. People like us have no excuse. Stay in! That’s the first step towards being self-reliant. The power of ending this pandemic is within each one of us. But, this is not a fight we can win alone. We can only win this together.

How can we be self-reliant?


As a personal lifestyle

  1. Stop watching the news. There is nothing one can do by obsessing over the numbers. It’s not in one’s control. After a point, all it does is drive up anxiety levels.
  2. Build your immunity.
    1. Practice Pranayama at home, or blow 15-20 balloons. This helps exercise the muscles needed for your lungs to function optimally and potentially increase capacity.
    2. Workout for at least 30 minutes a day. It could be floor exercises, Leslie Walk or Yoga.
  3. Eat healthily. Include greens and seasonal, locally available fruits and vegetables.
  4. Practice meditation or pray with a sense of gratitude. Mental health is vital as well.

As a community

Information is all over the place and the resources change all the time. The best thing one can do is to form a focus group in your community and track the items below.

  1. Be in touch with local authorities. If you see more than 5% of your community strength showing signs or symptoms, lockdown immediately and get your community tested with the help of local governing authorities.
  2. Encourage people to stay home and venture out when critical, only.
  3. Organize vaccination camps. Vaccinations are the way to go. They will not protect you from all variants, but they will protect you from most.
  4. Find out about bed availability in nearby hospitals. In cases of emergency, nearby ones are your best best.
  5. Be in touch with a pharmacist for procuring medicines.
  6. Be in touch with a medical supplier for procuring Oxygen or renting concentrators.



Personal Care Kit

  1. Be in touch with your family’s physician. During these times, your family physician is your belief. Doctors have kept themselves updated about the latest medicines that can provide relief or the new protocols being issued by the center’s disease control unit.
  2. Thermometer. If ever you have a fever that persists for more than 2 days and is over 100 degrees celsius, talk to your doctor via teleconferencing. 
  3. Paracetamol. This will be your first step towards keeping that temperature down.
  4. Pulse Oximeter. This is going to help you monitor your oxygen. Anytime it reaches 94% or below, it’s time to go to the hospital upon consultation with your doctor.
  5. Nebulizer / Jal Neti Pot. This will keep your sinuses clean. Practicing Jal Neti has proven benefits for sleep apnea as well.
  6. BP Machine for hypertensive individuals
  7. Glucometer for diabetic individuals.

Community Care Kit

  1. Procure masks and sanitizers.
  2. Procure a cylinder or concentrator for your community, or, find out how you can procure one in case of emergency. Oxygen is your best friend in case of emergency till you reach a hospital.
  3. Practice COVID appropriate community behavior. Don’t venture out unless needed.
  4. Sanitize common areas often.



  1. Be in touch with your family physician.
  2. Stay hydrated.
  3. Have hot nutritious food rich in Vitamin C and other antioxidants. 
  4. Practice Jal Neti / steaming and gargle with saltwater.
  5. Check temperature every 3 hours.
  6. Check Oxygen every 3 hours.
  7. Use separate utensils and clothes.
  8. Sanitize often.
  9. Incorporate physical and mental activities while in quarantine.
  10. Take any supplements prescribed.

When to seek help in a medical facility

  1. Act as per your physician’s advice.
  2. Report temperature greater than 100-degree celsius immediately
  3. Report oxygen saturation less than 94% immediately.
  4. Report if you are facing extreme tiredness or fatigue.



Wikipedia Population Density

The power to end the pandemic is in you

Author: Namratha Singh

In the last few days, we have seen a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in our country. It is speculated that the number of new cases of COVID-19 is going to hit at least 10 lakhs per day with an average death rate of no less than 6000 per day at its peak. This, my friend, is only a reported case count. It’s also safe to assume that the government might be forced to reduce the reported cases count by at least 3 times. Yes, you read it right! 3 times. If we do not act responsibly now, we will be pushing our country back by a decade, if not more. 

Today, the healthcare system is choked. We are putting our front line warriors at risk. At that point, we also know that people who have had COVID-19 last year, have completed their full vaccinations are being reinfected and losing their life.

Needless to say, that if we do not act now, we might lose this battle to fate.

How can I help end this pandemic?

  1. Break the chain of transmission. Don’t be a source of spread – Mutated viruses in India are dangerous compared to UK SA Brazil variants. There is a double or triple mutation that is spreading faster, affecting the younger generation more. Those people who are breadwinners for their family and the ones who push the economy of our country higher. Mutations can only occur if the existing virus has seen a mass spread and is staring at an extinction. It’s the virus’s way to survive.
  2. Listen to your doctors – Early treatment by doing the tests in initial stages and meeting your doctor early will prevent complications and admission to the hospital. Hospitals at this point, may not have a bed to offer, let alone oxygen, which is your lifesaver.
  3. Be self reliant. Adopt and abide by COVID appropriate behaviour.

What is COVID appropriate behaviour?

  1. Wear a mask. 
    1. Preferably N95 or KN95. Have two masks. Swap them and use them for 1-2 weeks unless you’ve been in close contact with an infected individual/group.
    2. If you do not have a N95 mask, wear a clinical or surgical mask over a cloth mask.
  2. Wash hands often. Hopefully every few hours. Definitely, when you’ve received a parcel or when you receive food from outside.
  3. Keep as much distance from people as possible when outside. At least 6 feet. With many of the new strains, it’s believed that even 6 feet might not be good enough.
  4. Avoid closed spaces. When there is ventilation, it will help the aerosols and virus particles move out and when there is sunlight, it’s going to kill the virus. This is not foolproof, but if you’d rather be, be in a well ventilated place.
  5. Sanitize objects that come from outside before use.

Are multi-mutation viruses more dangerous?

Viruses mutate all the time. Some become dangerous, while some weaken the virus. Double mutation is when an already mutated virus mutates again. If this virus mutates one more time, it becomes a triple mutation. Not all mutated viruses are dangerous. Just like their primitive cousins, some are more dangerous than the other. How do we know if it’s more dangerous or not? Look around. If more people you personally know are falling sick, then, you need to be more careful than before. Do note, the Indian strains are now appearing to be the dangerous kind. It’s spreading fast and affecting healthy, young individuals as well.

What does it mean that the propagation of a virus can happen through air?

  1. Aerosol spread: It was earlier believed that the COVID-19 virus spreads through aerosols. What does it mean? When an infected person sneezes or secretes any fluid from the respiratory tract, because it’s in a liquid carrier, it would drop on a surface. If we come in contact with that surface and without practicing COVID appropriate hygiene, the virus could enter one’s system. 
  2. Airborne spread: Imagine an infected person sneezing. Virus through aerosols need not immediately drop down on a surface. It can stay in the air for sometime before it expires.

Why is there a rise in cases?

  1. Not following COVID appropriate behaviour. Irresponsible healthy individuals assuming that they are fine and hence venturing in public spaces potentially becoming Asymptomatic carriers.. Remember, Asymptomatic carriers means exactly that. One does not have the symptoms, but one may be carrying a viral load enough to infect someone else, and that someone else may not be as healthy. One can also be the source of a virus mutation.
  2. Dangerous Mutations – remember, Sars-COV-2 can mutate only inside a human body and there is vast spread.
  3. Not getting vaccinated – being vaccinated is better than not.

Can we mix vaccines?

There has been no conclusive studies. However, Germany has approved of mixing vaccines. In India, we do not have any such directives. At this point, it is best avoided.

Does Remdesivir help treat?

Studies have been negative. Not even inconclusive. However, for someone who is recovering, they face less time in a hospital environment. Be as it may, leave medicines to the doctors. Do not self medicate.

I hope this note helps you make wise choices in the interest of yourself, your family, your community, and the country at large. Practicing COVID-appropriate behavior is still the best prevention and cure of COVID-19. If every single one of us takes a pledge to stay indoors and not let the virus spread, we can overcome the pandemic and contribute to rebuilding our nation. The power to end the Pandemic is IN YOU!

Nostalgia of Petrichor

Monsoons in Bangalore

Written by Sonam Singh

I steal a moment between endless “virtual” meetings to catch a glimpse of monsoon from my window. The raindrops splattering on the un-dusted windowpane lights my face up and brings in a sense of calm. The sort of calm that follows a storm! I take a deep breath and fill my lungs with the smell of earth. The familiarity of Petrichor is so deep that it floods my memory with fond reminiscences from the past that takes me back to times when life was simpler and less demanding, as reassuring as an old friend’s hug!

June-July in Bangalore used to possess unearthly charm a couple of decades ago. This was when Bangalore was just a “retirement paradise”, not painted binary – 0s and 1s as we know of it today. I remember the sulk on children’s face when rains played spoil sport and wrecked their evening “outdoor” play time. We, as a generation were blessed to be untouched and unadulterated by digital advent. The whole shebang of getting drenched in the rains, splashing muddy water over ill-fitting uniforms, smiling through braces, haggling with friends for some extra space under the roof of a kind Auntie who let us sludge her spick and span veranda and finally rushing home to dry up and get into warm clothes used to be a daily monsoon ritual.

Back at home, we would get an earful for forgetting the raincoats (oh yeah, we had them in cool prints too!) and also asked to freshen up for hot snacks – all in the same breath. Parents had a knack of scolding and stuffing our mouths with treats at the same time. There was no act in it, they dint need to clarify their intent. We as kids understood their concern. We were happy to gorge on hot Banana Bajjis (no way in hell I am going to call it Banana Fritters!) and Onion Pakoras (I don’t even know the fancy name for this one. Onion Fritters maybe?).

Banana Fritters Bajjis

Rains were followed by power cuts! Great excuse for skipping homework, which only meant one thing –more playtime. Antakshari was the king of all power cut games, where the whole family sat around a dimly lit candle and crooned Bollywood songs. Yes, the same Antakshari which is now played ONLY during employee engagement activities around a bonfire in a secluded jungle, or at weddings during Mehendi. As kids, we’d keep notes of songs starting with tough letters. Mental notes, not post-its! Such was the dedication and winner got nothing but the pride of winning!

Singing was then followed by dinner around the candle (again not calling it candlelit dinner! Allergic to anything fancy). Eating in dim light meant transferring Subjis onto siblings’ plates without them noticing it and hiding the grin of accomplishment. You can call it Subji, Bhaaji, Pallya, Poriyal, Saagu but not sautéed/ stir-fried vegetables garnished with olive oil. This is what we eat today in our well-lit apartments with power back up.

Bedtime was an early affair (As early as 9 PM!) and an arduous process. The bedding had to be set every night, freshly laid out in the hall FOR the kids and BY the kids. We kept score of whose turn it is to roll the mattress on the floor, spread the sheets and draw the mosquito net over the bed. Happy were the days when we slept to the sound of splashing rain and crickets. The melody of the rainy night put us to sleep in seconds soon after we hit the hard pillow.

My nostalgia jolts back to reality when my digital servant buzzes to remind me of the next meeting. I sip the lukewarm green tea and head back to the place unfamiliar with power cuts and Petrichor.

Sonam Singh

Sonam Singh is a voracious reader and an aspiring writer. Professionally, she is a Strategy development specialist at one of the Aerospace majors.

DIY: Bookshelf

We’ve been between homes lately thanks to the lockdown. We’ve now finally settled down, and we are trying to create a space that we both love. My husband is an avid reader and I am a crazy plant lady. We had so many pots all over the house, it was frankly adding clutter. Instead of going out and buying those floating wall shelves, we decided to do a bookshelf-plus-plant-home kinda decor by a brightly lit window.

To make this shelf, you would need –

  1. Some wooden planks – We used 4 feet width and 1 feet depth with 25mm thickness, but these ones on Amazon are 3 feet wide, and they will work just fine. We got spare wood from our local timber. You might be able to feel the wood before you buy.
  2. “L” clamps or brackets. Be mindful of the size. Buy something that would work for you. You will find these at your local hardware store too.
  3. Screws – get them after you have received / purchased your clamps.
  4. Drill gun or some method of drilling a hole in your wall.
  5. Some wooden chips to put into the wall after you have drilled a hole in it.
  6. Hammer.
  7. Screwdriver.

If you don’t feel confident enough, any carpenter would be able to put this in for you. But, if you want to do this yourself you might want to remember to space the brackets / clamps appropriately. Example, if your wooden planks are 3 feet in width- I would space both the clamps half feet from each edge. If the wooden board is 4 feet wide like ours, we used 3 clamps. We placed one right in the middle and the other two 6 inches away from the edge. This will help balance weight of the wooden plank.

If you buy a ready to install one from furniture stores, I can assure you, it would be a lot more expensive. Of course, the QC process would make sure of size, fit, etc. Doing this would not only save you money, but will also add a rustic touch.

If you try this out – do write to me and let me know how it all turned out.

DIY: Anti-Fungi Spray

Disclaimer: I am no expert on this subject. I just wish to share my experience.

A few years ago, I moved into a new space – one I could proudly call my own. Along with the home, I also bought home a Areca Palm. It was my first ever plant baby. First ever anything I chose to take responsibility of. He was gorgeous. Yes! I decided it to be a HE.

A year or two passed by and I saw some black grains on my plant. I though mother nature is giving it some design (I am that naive).

This lockdown has gotten me so much more close to these oxygen generating organisms. While reading about plant diseases and infections, I stumbled upon many more images that look like this

While I cannot find what exactly this disease is called, I know it’s some fungus. My plant was suffering from not one, but two types on fungi, one of them being the orange coloured rust. The other one was black.

There were other distress signals the plant was giving me, but it’s too far down that path of hopelessness. However, I decided to give this a try.

  1. Pruned all the infected leaves.
  2. Made a mixture of 1 part oil, 2 part dish soap and 20 parts water. Dipped a sponge into this mixture, squeezed it out. With this, I wiped clean all the leaves one by one.
  3. With the same mixture, I wiped the stalk and stems.
  4. Next morning, I gave it a nice shower.

A week later, the rust seemed to have gone down, a fair bit (not fully). I will need to repeat. However, this did much less for the black fungus. Here’s what I did –

  1. Mixed 1 part Hydrogen Peroxide and 20 parts water.
  2. I put this in a spray bottle and sprayed the infected area.
  3. Next morning, gave the plan a nice wash.

Some of my plants around this one showed some signs of mealy bugs. This is when the big-guns had to be brought out. Again, a week later

  1. 2 parts neem oil. This has a odd smell, I had to wear a mask
  2. 1 parts mild shower soap.
  3. 50 parts water
  4. Put all this and shake well before I sprayed the plant.
  5. Again, next morning, washed it down.

Now, my plant seems to be making some recovery. I plan to repot the healthy ones and let go of those stalks that are showing no signs of improvement.

I hope this story helps you help your plant.

Note: Do all the treatment after sunset. Wash the plant in the morning as soon as you can. This will help your plant photosynthesise effectively.