The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have found an unlikely ally in former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. Even as India records more than 3 lakh cases per day, and the daily death toll hovers at the 4000 mark, the BJP leader decided to champion the virus, batting for it's right to life.
In remarks that have since gone viral, the CM can be heard telling reporters that if one viewed the situation from a "philosophical angle", the coronavirus too had rights. And while he did put man's needs above that of the virus, Rawat seemed somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the virus too.
"Coronavirus is also a living organism. It has the right to live like the rest of us. But we (humans) think ourselves to be the most intelligent and are out to eliminate it. So it is constantly mutating itself," he was quoted as stating.
Needless to say, social media users were not pleased. While some reminded that this was the individual who had handled the COVID-19 crisis in Uttarakhand for the better part of an year, others wanted to grant him a Nobel prize (we're not sure in what field).
"They always think out of the box. Amazing," mused one Twitter user.
"Alumni of WhatsApp University," jibed another.
"Human Rights waale to sune the! Ab virus rights bhi!" marvelled a third.
There were also many who took to Twitter defending the lawmaker. "This is what some had been saying in English. Only difference is that this is Hindi. I am not admirer of TS Rawat but he is not wrong here. Virus is living organism it enters into body to find suitable environment for living and than mutates itself," remarked one user.
But even if one looks at the situation from a philosophical standpoint, the description of coronavirus as a living organism is somewhat contentious. Viruses occupy a midway point between living and non-living in the conventional sense, being made up completely of RNA and encased in a protein shell. They cannot reproduce by themselves, and cannot grow, move on their own or have cells. As such, they lack many of the defining characteristics that biologists use to tag living organisms.