Lockdown Routines: Bothered By Rumours, Panda Looks To ‘Educate’ Those Sharing Fake Messages About The Virus

In Our Special Series, 'Water-Man Of Odisha' Shares With OB His Passion For Cooking And Continuous Pursuit Of Water Campaigns

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Well past three weeks into the nationwide lockdown, which has been clamped to curb the spread of novel coronavirus, one thing that is greatly bothering Ranjan Panda is the fake news being forwarded mindlessly in social media.

“As fake forwards — about history, science, current events and almost everything that affects our lives — dominate the learning domain of many people, we really don’t know whether the next generation will be left with analytical brains to read beyond the line,” says Panda.

“But, as Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing,’ I am hopeful.  We should keep doing that — what is worth writing and write things that is worth reading,” says the Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance, New York) and Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India.

Panda, known as the ‘water-man of Odisha’, has taken it as a challenge to ‘educate’ people who are sharing rumours.

“I am constantly writing back to every person who is sending out fake news and rumours about COVID-19 in WhatsApp groups that I am a member of.  I’m asking them to verify facts from authentic sources before forwarding or else they would actually end up doing more damage to our collective fight against the pandemic than helping it,” says Panda.

“Thankfully, we have the internet which can be used as a major resource to help the government, civil society and others who are engaged in supporting the poor and marginalised,” says the former Country Manager for India, Climate Scorecard Project (Boston, USA).

Panda is part of some initiatives to help people who have lost their livelihoods and are stranded far away from their homes without basic services and amenities.

“Staying at home 24×7 has also given me the opportunity to try my hand at cooking which I love but am normally not allowed to do,” Panda reveals, adding that he also waters plants, provides water to birds that visit their terrace garden and provides stray dogs with food and water.

Water is close to his heart, and so he has started a video message series to reach out to youths and others involved in water campaigns.

“These are short messages asking them to be productively engaged with activities that would help them stay mentally and physically fit, will also help save water and send out conservation messages,” Panda explains.

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