The “Salt Satyagraha” or “Dandi March” as it is popularly called,was an act of civil disobediance led by none other than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The 24 day march lasted from March 12, 1930, to April 6 1930, to protest against the British salt monopoly. Mahatma Gandhi started this march with 80 of his trusted volunteers. Walking ten miles a day for 24-days, the march spanned roughly 240 miles from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, which was called Navsari at that time. When Gandhi broke the British salt laws at 6:30 am on April 6 1930, it marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire and it’s colonisation over India, by setting off a chain of events that finally gave India her much coveted independence, in August 1947, seventeen years hence.
In contemporary India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call for a “Janta Curfew”, on March 22 2020, is as historic and unprecedented as Gandhi’s “Dandi March”, as this time,the enemy was hidden, it’s moves unpredictable, the territory was unchartered and the fight was against a pandemic that was fast colonising the world, cutting across geograhies and demographies,like never before.
On March 19 2020, Prime Minister Modi’s outstanding speech took cognisance of the seriousness of the pandemic, without either underestimating or overestimating the complexities of the issue when he said — “It is clear that this pandemic is deeply hurting the economic interests and wellbeing of our nation’s middle class, lower-middle class, and poor segments. In such a time of crisis, i request the business world and high-income segments of society to as much as possible, look after the economic interests of all the people who provide them services”.
It is precisely this ability of Modi, to understand the gravity of the worst pandemic to strike mankind in the last 102 years,that eventually helped India to valiantly push back the challenges arising from the Wuhan virus and emerge relatively unscathed,compared to global peers. Case fatality ratio (CFR), which estimates the proportion of deaths among identified confirmed cases, is the best measure to guage how successful a government has been, in the fight against a global pandemic, like Covid. Lower the CFR, higher the success rate. At just 1.45%, India, undoubtedly, has the the lowest CFR in the world, speaking volumes about the stellar role played by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, in the decisive war against Covid. Despite festivals in the month of October-November, no big surge of Covid cases was reported due to comprehensive testing, tracking and the treatment policy implemented on the ground, by a highly proactive Modi government. Also, India’s Covid recovery rate has crossed 95.46% while the strategy of testing 1 million samples a day, has decreased the cumulative positivity rate (CPR), to just 6.25%.In a reassuring sign, the daily positivity rate (DPR), fell recently to a low of 3.45%. Lower the CPR, better it is. The tests per million per day figure in India, is five times more than the standard set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in a clear reminder to all and sundry, that the Modi government has been at the forefront in the fight against Covid. The active caseload in the country has been falling consistently and currently accounts for barely 4.44% of the total cases. The CFR in Karnataka, fell recently to 0.99%, from an already low 1.32%, in November. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh, the most populous State in India, with a population equal to that of Brazil, at 220 million, has reported a little over 8200 deaths. In sharp contrast, Brazil, with a population density of just 25 persons per square kilometre, has reported over 189,000 deaths. The moot point is that, whichever way you look at it, India’s pushback against the Covid pandemic, is a textbook case of managing a crisis, effectively and seamlessly.
India has put up a tremendously superior fight against the Wuhan virus, with India’s death rate being less than half of America. Again, compared to the USA, India’s overall Covid cases are 80% lower, at barely 10 million. Modi has repeatedly stressed that India made the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic a peoples’ movement with the joint efforts of the government and civil society and it is precisely this collaborative effort, that helped India outperform global peers, in the fight against this deadly virus
Compared to some countries like Brazil, Canada, USA and Russia, India has a far greater population density and yet, India has had the lowest deaths per million, speaking volumes about the war footing on which the Modi government mounted an offensive, against the global pandemic. For example, despite a population density of just 4 persons per square kilometre, Canada’s CFR at 4.3% is more than double that of India’s,which has a population density of 455 persons per square kilometre, as per the World Bank. Preliminary numbers suggest that the United States is on track to see more than 3.3 lakh deaths this year, with Covid cases currently at 18.5 million. The USA with a population of 330 million, has a population density of just 36 persons per square kilometre. USA’s population is just 24% of India’s,which is a massive country of 1.38 billion people. Yet, India has put up a tremendously superior fight against the Wuhan virus, with India’s death rate being less than half of America. Again, compared to the USA, India’s overall Covid cases are 80% lower, at barely 10 million. Modi has repeatedly stressed that India made the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic a peoples’ movement with the joint efforts of the government and civil society and it is precisely this collaborative effort, that helped India outperform global peers, in the fight against this deadly virus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s food security scheme for the needy, called the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana,(PMGKAY), provided 5 kg of rice or wheat per person and 1 kg of dal or gram to each family, making this welfare scheme the largest food security program in the world. For nine months, starting March 2020,every month, close to 81 crore, as in 810 million people were being given free ration by the Modi government, which effectively means,a population 2.5 times the size of America, was being fed every single month, for nine months in a row, in what is an unprecedented outreach by the Modi government, during the pandemic. No government anywhere in the world has delivered such a large scale food security program to such a large mass of people, reflecting glowingly on Prime Minister Modi’s excellent execution skills.
Again, the total number of Indians brought back home from different parts of the globe, via the Vande Bharat Mission, is over 30.90 lakh people, showcasing the visionary Modi government’s commitment of purpose. India has also extended medical and other assistance to more than 150 countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Be it earthquakes, cyclones, Ebola crisis or any other natural or man-made crisis, India has always responded with speed and solidarity.
Critical aspects of vaccination, the process of pre-clinical and clinical trial of six vaccine candidates undergoing trial in India (in terms of composition, manufacturers and technical partners, numbers of doses, and conditions for storage and efficacy), and the composition of target populations in India in terms of age, occupation and co-morbidities, and how they compare with other countries, are being monitored on a daily basis. 2020, will go down in world history as the year that tested human resilience and the will to survive.2020 will also be remembered for separating the men from the boys. While an overconfident Italy, once admired for it’s health system, saw it’s medical infrastructure crumbling in the face of the Coronavirus scare, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deft handling of the Covid pandemic and an early lockdown, saved millions of lives, with minimal damages. India, has shown that a vigilant political leadership is critical in desperate times like these. Italy’s Prime Minister, Giusseppe Conte, could certainly take a leaf out of Narendra Modi’ book. Modi’s ambitious Ayushman Bharat scheme, the biggest healthcare program in the world, aimed at providing free healthcare and insurance to 500 million Indians, worked wonderfully well, during the pandemic.
The mysterious disappearance of Chinese real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang, the harshest critic of Chinese premier, Xi Jinping’s miserable failure, at the height of the pandemic, in handling the Coronavirus, is a telling reminder of how China still resides in the 18th century, when it comes to handling matters more humane. The fatal explosion of a hospital in China’s Chongqing municipal province, which had thousands of patients afflicted with the infamous Covid virus, is again a grim reminder of everything that is wrong with the “Made in China” model. Many suspect, the explosion was “engineered” by the Chinese regime, to get rid of thousands and, not merely an accident. China’s wildlife trade worth more than $80 billion, with over a million people employed in this industry, has recklessly endangered large parts of the globe. Clearly, China could not care less, as hard numbers are all that it cares about.
Contrast China’s sordid lethargy, with the Modi government’s unfettered and much-needed overdrive against the Wuhan virus, from the word go. Rather than acknowledging the problem in its initial stages, when it could have been contained to prevent it from imploding into a full blown contagion, all that the Chinese did, was to deny the existence of the virus. From the Bubonic plague in 1855 to the Spanish Flu in 1918 to SARS in 2004 and now to COVID-19, every major pandemic can be traced back to China and its love for eating anything that moves or crawls, from bats and rats, to illegally trafficked pangolins.
Contrast the policy of obfuscation and apathy followed by China, with the probity and transparency shown by India. India’s endearingly humane approach in ensuring help to those beyond it’s own borders is evident from the supply of 3 month stock of medicines to Maldives and other neighbouring countries. India decided to export pharmaceuticals to Israel despite the ban on drug exports. The ban was lifted following a special request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India is the world’s main supplier of generic drugs. The country restricted the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the medicines made from them, including Paracetamol, a common pain reliever, also sold as acetaminophen, as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world. For the Modi government, the fight against the Wuhan virus has been centred around the “India First” approach and rightfully so.
The world, therefore, has a lot to learn from India, which has showcased in no uncertain terms, that the “Namaste” as a form of greeting is far more hygienic than a handshake. A vegetarian diet, preferred by most Indians, in Hindu majority India, is a much safer bet, than being beef eaters, in testing times like these, in particular. So while the leftist media locally and internationally had a whale of a time making “Gaumutra” jokes for the past several years, post the Wuhan virus, the joke is certainly on those who regularly eat slaughtered animals, with remorseless impunity! Under Modi’s leadership, there has been a cultural renaissance for the Hindu cause and the Hindu way of life. Be it offering prayers at the Sangam to “Maa Ganga”, during the Kumbh mela at Prayagraj in February 2019 or paying obeisance to Lord Shiva at the Kedarnath shrine in May 2019, Narendra Modi’s solidarity with Hinduism as a way of life, has been a huge catalyst in bringing millions of Indians closer to their roots and leading a cleaner, fitter and healthier life,which is what our ancient texts and sages always focussed on.
Contrast China’s sordid lethargy, with the Modi government’s unfettered and much-needed overdrive against the Wuhan virus, from the word go. Rather than acknowledging the problem in its initial stages, when it could have been contained to prevent it from imploding into a full blown contagion, all that the Chinese did, was to deny the existence of the virus
The Wuhan virus is among other things, the result of China’s unsustainable development model, that not only paid scant regard to cleanliness, hygiene and the environment but arrogantly dismissed the usefulness of building adequate social infrastructure. Modi’s “Make in India” model on the other hand, has paid equal weightage to both, financial and social capital, with India targetting 175 GW of renewable energy sources by 2022, of which atleast 100 GW, will be solar energy. From founding the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in 2015, alongwith France, building over 116 million toilets in the last six years under the “Clean India” or “Swachh Bharat” mission, making India and its over 5.5 lakh villages open defecation free (ODF), to the emphasis on banning single use plastic, recycling waste and reducing India’s carbon footprint—sustainable development has been the hallmark of Modinomics.
The 1st case of Coronavirus can be traced back to December 10 2019, after a 57-year- old lady, Wei Guixian, a seafood merchant in Wuhan’s Hua’nan wet seafood market, fell sick. Chinese government and state media, on December 31 2019, reluctantly admitted to the presence of some “mysterious pneumonia”. The 1st death from the deadly Wuhan virus happened on January 9 2020, but China acknowledged the existence of the deadly Coronavirus and informed the public only on January 18 2020. This, despite being aware on January 11, of seven senior health workers, who had been affected. The worst part is, China quarantined Wuhan only on January 22 2020, after some 5 million people had already left Wuhan just a few days prior to the quarantine.
Amidst all this, 34-year-old doctor and whistleblower, Li Wenliang, who was forced to sign a letter on January 3, 2020, under police and political pressure from China’s ruling Communist party, that he had spread lies about this fatal virus, finally died on February 7 2020, while treating patients. Li is a national hero today in China but sadly, he is no more, thanks to the Chinese government which wanted to keep the fatal nature of the virus under wraps. China has been more worried about its global image, even if it meant playing around with the lives of its citizens, children, doctors and students. Li Wenliang’s death is a tragic and gory reminder of how China may be a dominant economy but can be ruthlessly insensitive and hopelessly incompetent, during a healthcare crisis. “Made in China” fell apart, piece by piece, in 2020, showcasing to the world that the Chinese model is more like a destructive and aimless, bull in a China shop. In sharp contrast, Modinomics is about growth with equity and development that is married to the avowed principles of humanity.
India produced over 60 million PPE and 150 million N95 masks from March to October 2020. India also exported over 20 million PPE suits and 40 million masks, in this period, in a befitting tribute to Modi’s clarion call of “Vocal for Local”.
India is a vast country of 1.38 billion people, that shares a 3488-kilometre long border with China. India’s response to COVID-19 under the outstanding leadership of “Global Goalkeeper”, Modi, is a textbook case in how great leaders do not escape–rather, they take the bull by its horns. Modi took the lead in hosting a video conference of SAARC nations, where India pledged to share disease surveillance software, work towards a common research platform and provide all help required, including assistance from the Indian Council of Medical Research, to its SAARC partners. India has also taken the lead in setting up a COVID-19 emergency fund, with a voluntary contribution of $10 million. Taking a cue from Modi’s initiative, the G-7 group decided to host it’s summit via video conferencing, in June this year. And then of course, virtual meetings became the norm, this year.
Li Wenliang’s death is a tragic and gory reminder of how China may be a dominant economy but can be ruthlessly insensitive and hopelessly incompetent, during a healthcare crisis. “Made in China” fell apart, piece by piece, in 2020, showcasing to the world that the Chinese model is more like a destructive and aimless, bull in a China shop. In sharp contrast, Modinomics is about growth with equity and development that is married to the avowed principles of humanity
Needless to add, in the final analysis, Modi’s “Make in India” model runs high on both the growth and humanitarian quotients whereas Xi’s “Make in China”, lacks the emotional quotient that separates a robotic, authoritarian regime, from an aspirational India, helmed by a “karmayogi” like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who leads by example, never playing on the backfoot and always keeping the nation first, above everything else.Covid-19, which is still unfolding, will also be remembered for the global outreach by the Modi dispensation, which has shown to the world, how a responsive and nimble-footed government can tackle any emergency, with the right mindset and more importantly, with a heart that is in the right place.
On November 19 1863, Abraham Lincoln, made an iconic speech at Gettysburg, redefining the concepts of nationalism, liberty and equality and thereby, forever changing the course of American history. Lincoln, to this day, is remembered for abolishing slavery and winning the American Civil War—most importantly, however, he is remembered for his famous Gettysburg Address, which healed a divided America and connected the work of the Union’s soldiers at Gettysburg, to the work of the Union’s founders at Philadelphia. In much the same mould, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s endearing call for a “Janta Curfew”, which sought to bind together a diverse nation, and sent a powerful message of “resolve” and “restraint” to the global diaspora, is India’s historic Gettysburg moment. For a gigantic country of India’s size, to have the lowest Covid deaths per million and to have helped well over 100 nations, with food and medicines, is commendable. But most importantly,2020 will be remembered by the global diaspora, for the cultural leadership showcased by India, under the aegis of the unstoppable Narendra Modi, who has shown that honesty of purpose, the courage of conviction and compassion, can surmount the mightiest challenges.
(The Writer is an Economist, National Spokesperson for BJP and Bestselling Author of ‘Truth&Dare–The Modi Dynamic’)