The increase of COVID 19 cases and deaths are indicative of exponential rise of COVID 19 in India. But is it a situation to become pessimistic? I am afraid not. There are dangers, but if tackled properly we can ride the dragon and get the Indian elephant to outclass it. For this we must seize the opportunity that the world is presenting before others grab it. Amongst all the nations in the world that are affected, if we look at the total cases and deaths per million people, India with figures of 51 cases per million (10 lakhs) and 3 deaths per million fares way down. The detractors quote low testing for these figures but for their information even in other countries testing is done of cases that report to hospital or are suspected of being infected with corona. In fact even the routine deaths in India have come down. So technically if India was badly infected we should have seen rise in number of deaths, which has not happened.
But is everything hunky dory? I dare say not. There are many old and new challenges that we need to address, if we want our nation to grow substantially beyond the 1.9 % rate projected by the IMF. Take a look at the graphs below.
The above graphs point to certain issues that give us hope and some that are a cause of concern. Firstly issues that give us hope. One, the death rate remains constant at around 3 to 3.5 % of total cases. Two, the recovery rate is gradually rising and stands at around 31 %. Three, COVID19 still remains restricted to big cities. It has still not invaded the rural areas. Fourth, within big cities too, it is concentrated in certain pockets. But the issues that must concern us are first, the cases are doubling within 10 days. We are only 1/3rd through May, at the current rate the figure will reach 2 to 2.25 lakhs. We have already crossed China in number of positive cases. Second, Director AIMS has predicted peaking of cases in India by Jun / Jul 20. Hence, if we go by the current rate of increase, then by July end we will touch figures that would be counterproductive to even mention in this column. Look at the following Table, India is likely to cross the initiator of this crisis, China, in a few days’ time. Unless we reduce new cases, increase recoveries and reduce deaths we will remain slaves to passive preventive measures and cannot kick start our economy and seize the opportunities. In such a scenario, dream of PM Modi to make India self-reliant despite a 20 lakh crore package will not succeed.
|S No||Country||Total Cases||Total Deaths|
What can spoil the case for India? Have a look at these picture:-
The aim behind writing this column is not to indulge in fear mongering but to convey to the public that we so far negotiated COVID19 very well, but should not let our guard down. GUARD AGAINST FATIGUE DUE TO LOCK DOWN – THE BATTLE IS STILL ON. This also does not imply that we endlessly continue to be in a lockdown state. As I have highlighted our death rates are very low and recoveries are also slowly rising. We have gained enough experience of COVID-19 to now evolve measures to function despite COVID19. In words of the PM we have to take the slogan of Jaan hai to Jahan hai to the next level of Jaan bhi Jahan bhi. A well thought out graded and systematic opening up in phases must commence, especially our economic activity.
The Road to Revival
Areas of focus must now be on first, giving a push to the farming activity. We had lost our way somewhere down the line in this area. The migrants must be gainfully employed. Corporatization preferably by the government agencies and technology driven farming may just help boost rural growth and prosperity. The GDP must look green due to the Agriculture sector. The punch line of new revolution must read “CHALO GAON KI ORE.” Second, economic activity must slowly commence and sectors such as manufacturing, construction, MSMEs must open up on priority. This may just help stem the uncontrolled exodus of migrant workers besides kick starting our economy. Government must allow retail shop keepers to commence their activity with proper precautions as they are suffering the most. Third we must push for attracting firms that are relocating from China into India in line with the directions of the PM. Towards this end, UP government appears to have already made the move. In my view it must try to kick start the Defence Industrial Corridor in right earnest. With so many migrant workers having moved into the state, any initiative in Defence Industrial Sector will provide tremendous job opportunities. But for that we have to get into gear early and that too despite COVID19 as most of the other nations are already on reduction phase of COVID 19. On the other hand in my view India is yet to peak. Fourth the travel and hospitality industry has taken the maximum hit. Controlled opening, may be in a few weeks’ time is necessary to prevent job loss and economic slowdown. Off course this has to commence only when COVID19 shows marked improvement.
Some areas of anxiety are: first lack of early success in indigenous development of vaccine despite concerted effort by India as compared to other nations. Principal Scientific Advisor to PM Mr. K. Vijay Raghavan recently told in a webinar that globally over 100 agencies are attempting to develop a vaccine of which 30 are by Indian agencies. The PM is personally pushing the development of a vaccine. An early success is a must for a quick economic revival. Second, our dependence on China for raw material to produce drugs must end. The case of Jubliant Pharma where a number of COVID 19 positive cases have been reported could have been due to infected raw material from China. Although the firm is denying it but possibilities cannot be ruled out. The samples have been sent to ICMR for testing. We must diversify to other countries for better flexibility and security at critical times. I must also caution that this has dangerous possibilities of bio warfare. Third concern is that while globalization of economy is inevitable, self – sufficiency has to kick in for survival, growth and security. This needs special attention in areas of defence, AI and other niche technology such as communication, cyber and space. IIT, IIMs and other scientific establishments have to go beyond aping to creating. Fourth, we must counter the information and cyber war which is being waged from across the borders as it has the potential to drag our economic growth. Their fake twitter handles and messages must be ruthlessly blocked which tend to divide, inflame and incite our population on colour, creed, caste and religion. We can’t have the same media touting Osama as terrorist but glorifying Naiko as a hero – it is out rightly biased reporting and reeks of Information war against India by other means. Pakistan and its deep state’s effort to hide its misdeeds in Kashmir by merging and renaming various terrorist groups such as LeT, JeM under the umbrella term of TRF (The Resistance Front) must be exposed in single voice at all forums national and international. They appear to be secularizing in fact in my view re-pitching the ideological campaign of terrorism in Kashmir as secular – nationalism. It is a cover up to fool the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and world community. TRF initiative is also aimed at seeking support of our country’s liberalists, left leaning people and the minority community. We should not fall prey to it and unanimously condemn this move of Pakistan. National Security should be above petty politics. Finally, our population must be protected from the stigma of COVID19. India is at a cross road where one road leads to greater opportunity, we must take it. We have the leader with the will to go on that path and the resources even if they are limited. It is now for the people to stand up and be counted. Show to the world that India has arrived by propelling the elephant to surpass the dragon. Jai Hind.