India & COVID-19
India faced COVID-19 in a proactive and pre-emptive way, with unmatched scale and determination. In a country of 1.35 billion, there are only 0.1 million cases of COVID19. India is currently in the fourth phase of the lockdown. While India’s case count has now roughly doubled in the last thirteen days, the death toll has roughly doubled in the last 15 days, much slower rate compared to early-April, when cases were doubling every four days.
The number of Covid-19 cases would have risen exponentially had lockdown not been implemented. 7.9 people per lakh population of India has got affected due to Covid-19 infection while 62 people per lakh population are affected by the disease across the world. 4.2 per lakh have died across the world due to the disease, India has recorded 0.2 deaths per lakh population, -said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, at a press conference last week.
Atma Nirbhar Bharat (Self Reliant):
i).Starting with less than 100 COVID-19 tests per day just two months ago, the testing capacity has been scaled up to 1 lakh tests per day, — a 1000-fold increase in just 60 days was made possible by dedicated teams from research institutions, to testing laboratories,
ii).In January 2020, India had only one laboratory testing for COVID-19, at the ICMR’s National Institute of Virology, Pune. Today there are 555 laboratories across the country, performing molecular tests for diagnosis of COVID-19 – an unparalleled achievement in the history of the Indian health system, -ICMR said.
India’s FY-20 GDP growth expected to show sharp contraction: According to a report released by global rating agency Goldman Sachs, GDP will contract by more than an annualized 25% in the Apr –June quarter. For the full year 2020-21, GDP is expected to contract by (-)5%, which would be deeper than any recession India has ever experienced. Domestic rating agency Icra also echoed the same sentiments, which implies a recession.
Covid-19 Tit-Bits: i).As of last Sunday morning, Indian Railways has run more than 2,813 Shramik Special trains, carrying over 37 lakh stranded migrants since 1 May when they have been operationalised; ii).Domestic airlines to resume operations in calibrated manner from all major airports from 25 May, -said Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri; iii).India’s gold imports contracted for the fifth consecutive month in a row, falling to USD 2.83 million in April 2020 against USD 3.97 billion in April 2019, -data from commerce ministry.
India,Chairman of the 34-member WHO executive board:
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan took charge as chairman of the 34-member World Health Organisation (WHO) decision making Executive Board for 2020-21, taking the baton from Japan. The international politics of global health now sharply focuses on China –how it (mis)managed the coronavirus outbreak, the alleged ‘hold’ the Chinese government has over the WHO that purportedly hoodwinked the latter, ‘mask’ diplomacy that Beijing has used to quell umbrage from affected countries, Taiwan’s stunning success in containing the virus spread that has renewed calls to reinstate its status as a WHO observer, and a flurry of debates over the need for a global inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Into this vortex stepped in India as the Chairman of the WHO’s 34-member Executive Board. What India should do with its WHO position? Like-minded democracies such as the US and Australia, may want India to stand up to China, introduce a global inquiry to investigate where the Coronavirus originated. India can do that only with American aid and tech support.