Mosquitoes and the man

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By JAYANTA BASU
  • Published 9.01.06
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Mosquitoes, responsible for spreading deadly diseases among hundreds of millions across the globe, are, unbeknown to most, intelligent critters.

Currently, in addition to scientific and administrative measures, awareness generation about their activities is considered an important step to control them.

Now the mosquito man of the city, entomologist Debasish Biswas, working with Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) as the vector control officer, has made an important contribution in that effort by writing The Sting, a book dealing exclusively with the killer.

For a change, the book ? published by Science Association of Bengal and released by CMC?s deputy chief municipal health officer Tapan Mukherjee ? is not a dry-as-dust scientific tome, but a compilation of 24 short stories that try to make readers more aware about the insect.

?We hardly have any book on the mosquito in our country,? says Biswas.

?In this book, I have tried to raise important issues regarding mosquitoes and their control ? there are 3,500 species in the world ? through light-hearted stories. I feel that dry scientific or administrative information does not cut much ice with the common people,? he adds.

Biswas had earlier written two books on the subject, both in Bengali ? Mosha (Mosquito) and Mosha Banam Moshababu (Mosquito versus Mosquitoman) ? and received the Gopal Chandra Bhattacharya Memorial award last year for his contribution in popularising science.

But can awareness alone contain the problem?

?No, it is just one of the important methods to be used. Ultimately, you need to have professionals as well as money,? stresses Biswas.

He is one of the few entomologists in the country in an important administrative position in an organisation that spends peanuts to control a creature which wipes out crores of rupees from the government exchequer by spreading dreaded diseases like malaria, dengue and Japanese encephalitis.

?India spends $ 0.5 per capita whereas World Health Organisation (WHO) prescribes a minimum spending of $ 5 per capita for mosquito control. Even the money spent hardly involves proper planning and scientific wisdom,? observes Subhabrata Roy Choudhury, secretary of Science Association of Bengal.

The Sting refers to this apathy in one of the stories, Mahadev Meets PM, where the god urges the prime minister to clear funds to keep the insect under check.