India model on tackling COVID-19: Five key takeaways from how the country is dealing with pandemic

In India, the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus was reported on 30 January in Kerala. At the time of writing, there are a total of 13,387 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and there have been 437 deaths

Sanjay Singh April 17, 2020 10:37:09 IST
India model on tackling COVID-19: Five key takeaways from how the country is dealing with pandemic

Over three weeks prior to his speech on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to make a choice for the country between life and livelihood. In his own words, he put greater priority on life: "Jaan hai toh jahaan hai". While deliberating extending the national lockdown from 21 days to 40 days, he made a shift to "Jaan bhi, jahaan bhi". The revised guidelines on the lockdown, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday, are the first steps in the graded exit plan.

Is there an India model for tackling coronavirus? Thus far, India was perceived as being a country with meagre resources, limited health infrastructure facilities, poor civic sense, scant regard for governmental guidelines and government institutions and above all, a country with over 130 crore people living in high-density clusters.

In India, the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus was reported on 30 January in Kerala. At the time of writing, there are a total of 13,387 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and there have been 437 deaths. Contrast that with the most developed nation in the world: The USA, where the first confirmed case was reported on 20 January. At present,  of now (at the time of writing) at least 6,78,144 persons have tested positive for the coronavirus and the toll stands at 34,641.

Here are five key takeaways from the India model of tackling the coronavirus: why India can boast of creating a model of its own to be taken note by the world.

India model on tackling COVID19 Five key takeaways from how the country is dealing with pandemic

Representational image. PTI

Early measures
India was putting measures, including a 21-day national lockdown, in place when only 550 confirmed cases had been reported. Modi noted in his address preceding the lockdown, "India did not wait for the problem to aggravate. Rather, we attempted to nip the problem in the bud itself, by taking quick decisions as soon as the need arose."

Rapid enhancement of health infrastructure
An unfortunate side of the India story so far has been the poor health infrastructure. But the COVID-19 challenge saw the much-maligned government hospitals, doctors, nursing and support staff, testing and logistical provisions not just stepping up their efforts, but enhancing capacity on an  unprecedented scale. From having only one testing lab for the coronavirus in January, there are now more than 220 testing labs. India has also arranged over one lakh beds for treatment, while over 600 hospitals have been allocated for the treatment of COVID-19. Meanwhile, the country has either been acquiring or developing testing materials, equipment, sanitisers, mask and PPEs very swiftly.

India as a medicine powerhouse and provider
In these critical times, when a significant percentage of the world believes that hydroxychloroquine can provide relief to coronavirus patients, several countries looked to India to provide the medicine. World leaders, including those of the USA, Brazil and Israel, thanked the nation for supplying the drug that they believe could save millions. It re-affirmed India's status as a pharmaceutical powerhouse and a provider in times of need.

Care for poor and needy
At the outset the sheer magnitude of number of underprivileged persons and number of migrant labourers stuck in different parts of the country seemed unmanageable and worrisome. The issue came to the fore between 25 and 27 March, with thousands hitting the road to get back home. But prompt action by the Centre and states largely resolved the issue by 28 March. An unprecedented number of people have been put at state-run shelter homes, quarantine facilities and have been provided meals. Then there are several government schemes including direct cash transfers to Jan Dhan accounts, three free LPG gas cylinders for poor women and provisions of free or highly-subsidised rations.

Modi's leadership
Modi is trying to unleash the 'power of the collective' in the country's fight against the coronavirus. He has communicated with the country five times in the past month — three addresses, one Mann Ki Baat and one video message. The nation responded to his calls for 'taali and thaali' beats and the lighting of lamps. Modi's effectiveness is linked to a combination of his oratorical skills and the trust put in him by the country. In times like these, hearing from and being able to trust in a leader can make a huge difference.

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