In recent days, as India's COVID-19 case tally repeatedly set global records and accusations of underreporting began to fly, global media has taken a strongly critical stance. The Narendra Modi-led BJP government has been panned by various international publications for their handling of the pandemic. Against this backdrop, medical journal The Lancet recently made waves after publishing an editorial that appeared to hold the administration squarely responsible for India's "COVID-19 emergency".
The scathing report covered several points - from Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan announcing ahead of the second wave that India was in the “endgame” of the pandemic to what it dubbed the country's botched vaccination campaign. And as many in the country railed against the op-ed, several Union Ministers and BJP leaders stepped up with an unusual rebuttal.
Sharing a post from a blog named "Pankaj Chaturvedi's Thoughts" several top leaders including the Health Minister hit out at the Lancet, alleging bias. "A fair rebuttal to the imbalanced editorial in The Lancet titled ‘India’s Covid19 emergency’ published on May 8th. While the Covid crisis did assume alarming proportions in India, it was indeed important to remain politically unbiased for a reputed journal," Dr. Harsh Vardhan tweeted.
And while some took the effort to read through and counter parts of the article, most (it would seem) could not move past the sorrowful cat featured in the thumbnail and the fact that the Health Minister was featuring a blog post to make their point. For the uninitiated, Pankaj Chaturvedi is a surgeon working with the Tata Memorial Hospital and the Deputy Director Center for Cancer Epidemiology.
"The Lancet would be speechless and thoroughly discredited by this masterly academic response," jibed Congress leader Karti Chidambaram.
"Are you kidding?" Jayanagara MLA and Congress leader Sowmya Reddy wanted to know.
For a large number of people, the kitten was both the "only saving grace", while others seemed to consider it the worst offender. "The article literally has a sad cat face for a thumbnail," reminded one user.
"The Health Minister of India is responding to the current crisis by rebutting a Lancet editorial with... a blogpost whose thumbnail is a cat pic. I've read the blog. The most compelling argument in it is the cat photo," remarked another.