None of us actually know the starting point of Covid, or whether it was organic or produced in lab. The unfortunate part is that, we are being caught up into the spread and it does not matter what we feel, believe and perceive it to be.
More than 65 million people are infected in across 192 countries and more than 6 lakh people have died already. As we speak, the numbers are still increasing and livelihood of billions is impacted. The unfortunate truth is that we need to live with this, face the disaster with a smile, big hearts, broken economy, dried out bank accounts and with the perpetual fear of death and disease looming over the horizon.
And the fear is four times higher in a country like India, with a population of 1.3 billion. On the onset of Covid, people wondered about the repercussions of the disease, how to handle such a massive population with all the limitations, liabilities and legacies. The thought of it simply shattered our imagination.
However, a huge part of the credit goes to our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi for managing the situation. Under his leadership, India has been able to handle the crisis with the highest recovery rate in the world.
We all know where we stood, and the crossroads in time left us two ways to turn: one was to be apathetic and being caught off guard and the second was to turn this crisis into an opportunity. The main challenge was to manage the economy and keep the country running. We could not let the pandemic go out of control. We needed people to be fed and all essential commodities and services had to keep running so that the wheels of the economy did not come to a halt.
We had to import PPE, masks, ventilators and we needed them in millions. We needed to maintain the internal law and order of the country which is also full of political vultures. We had to test millions per day and we did not have enough labs, we did not have enough testing kits, hospital beds and critically essential ICU beds with ventilators.
And at the same time, when we were battling a global pandemic; our communist neighbor got ambitious and saw this as a great opportunity for territory infringement, assuming that we would be too busy with pandemic management.
The classical way is to go scouting and hunting for them, but PM Modi’s way was to give the clarion call of Atmanirbhar Bharat. This built the strength in the country to fight, rather than finding hired hands. This was a tough call politically, as its ramifications and implications can be huge and irreversible.
Prime Minister Modi is a genius when it comes to political calculations, but a true blood Gujarati when it comes to risk taking capabilities, and he saw this as an opportunity. From zero manufacturing capabilities, India started making 1million PPE and masks per day. In a matter of 3 to 4 months, there were 10,000 plus testing centers, labs for Covid diagnosis in both private and government set-ups. There were hospital set ups to fight Covid in schools, hotels, institutions and government buildings. Indian Railways came up with a made in India ventilator for 10K INR, which is just 155 USD. We started sending ventilators to poorer countries in Africa as aid. We exported “Sanjeevini”, the life saver HCQ to more than 170 countries and most of them as humanitarian aid (FOC) which included Pakistan also.
We excelled in the vaccine race with 8 of our vaccines in clinical trails and 5 in stage three. We all know, it is not just India but the world will be cured with our vaccine due to our scale and affordability. Again we had PM Modi assuring the world that we will supply vaccine to the entire humanity. Next stage was virtual summits with all the countries which mattered, deals signed, quad formalized, two plus two done, missiles tested in dozens while in the pandemic FDI kept on pouring in at all time high.
We stood up to China, smashing their hard wall of perception and insensibility built for last 70 years. President Xi Jinping and his squad of chosen generals have hit a new wall, not the Great Wall of China but the wall called India.
India under Prime Minister Modi managed COVID the best and turned it into an opportunity, and for all the above reasons, Modi is getting global recognition for being the best leader. The recent research by American research agency, Morning Consult ranked him number No.1 amongst all global leaders. And the reasons are there for everyone to see.
(The author is an entrepreneur, political commentator, TV panelist and writer. Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect that of Outlook magazine)
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