…so said a friend, partly in anguish, partly in jest, referring to the Principal Secretary of the Government of Karnataka, Department of Health and Family Welfare, IR Perumal! I happened to witness this gentleman speaking at a press conference recently. He was talking about swine flu. He was there to dispel the myths about swine flu and reduce the panic among the public. The one thing about him that would strike you (or anyone) is the capacity of his vocal chords. He’s loud! And animated! Well, that’s not a bad thing at all.
At this particular press conference he was addressing the general public asking them not to panic about swine flu. No doubt, his point was effective. As in, no one could have not heard him. And he insisted on grabbing the mic at every given opportunity from the other doctors who were talking that day. And he definitely seemed to be happy with the media presence there. And each of them insisted that he speak to them separately for sound bytes.
Here’s a sample of some of the things he said, all with reference to swine flu.
* India is the hottest country. The swine flu will not come to India at all. If at all, one or two places it will come. It may be cold there.
* Clear your mind, it will not come and there may not be further deaths.
* If you sneeze, it will spread ten inches only. That is maybe one metre distance. It is a dropout. After ten seconds it will fall and it will disappear, it will not spread beyond that. Please understand that.
* India is known for always, the handshake is not the Indian birth, with folded arms it will be thanked. Let us follow that system, you know with folded arms thank you, that is sufficient. Let us not handshake. If at all you are shaking hands, immediately wash the hands. These are the small small things, if you follow this system, definitely you and I will keep the disease away and drive it out.
What I would like to know about Perumal is if he is a qualified doctor. I’m just curious because his visiting card does not have the ‘Dr’ prefix.
After all this I received an e-mail a few days later, from a Bangalore-based Association. This was an invitation to attend a talk by Perumal on the various initiatives being undertaken by the State Government with regard to swine flu. This interactive session was being organised specially for the members of the Association and others interested. But it came with a price. A whopping Rs. 500 to hear this Principal Secretary of Health talk.
Well, after the preview I got at the press conference, I wondered how this next meet would have gone. But I did not make an attempt to find out myself.
How many people attended this event? And did the attendees get their money’s worth? Your guess is as good as mine.
Note: Perumal’s quotes were verified through a local television news channel.