Why PM Modi Must Not be Blamed for Covid Disaster in India

Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi. Photo: PIB
Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi. Photo: PIB

With the coronavirus explosion, India has become the  pandemic epicenter, which is posing a health threat to the entire world.

By Rakesh Raman

When news reports claim that the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths are declining in India, you can assume that the government is concealing the number and quality of tests. If you can’t test, you can’t find a case and you need not count it. Similarly, if you don’t count the number of Covid deaths, you can easily report the undercounted deaths. 

But the dishonest Indian media outlets simply report the understated infections and deaths as a universal truth without revealing the status of tests and without counting the dead bodies which do not appear in government records. The government bosses downplay the impact of Covid virus to protect their image among the people while they have failed to manage the disaster.

Thus, the Covid-19 statistics being released by the Indian authorities are like bikinis, as they conceal more than what they reveal. Since the official data is fake, it is not possible to do any quantitative analysis of Covid situation in India.

Only a qualitative assessment can be made from the dreadful conditions in Indian hospitals where patients are dying for lack of oxygen and scarce medical support and the dead bodies are being thrown in and around rivers for lack of cremation sites.

While it is not possible to count the number of infections in the absence of tests, experts believe that the number of deaths is far higher than what is being reported in India.

For example, Bhramar Mukherjee, Professor of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Global Public Health at Michigan University, told The Wire news service that India is reporting about 260,000 total deaths, but more than a million people – 1 million to 1.25 million – deaths attributed to Covid-19 have happened. And there is tremendous variation in terms of this under-reporting across the geography of India, she said.

In a video interview to The Wire’s Karan Thapar, Mukherjee talks about the undercounting of deaths as a result of Covid-19, the government’s refusal to classify itself as a country with community transmission, testing rates across the country, and so on. 

Also, the deaths from Covid infection in rural India are not being counted. Every year, nearly 70% of the 10 million deaths happen in rural areas. So there is a need to count the number of Covid cases and related deaths separately in rural India. Prabhat Jha, epidemiologist and Director of the Centre for Global Health Research in Toronto, suggests that the Indian government should make a dedicated strategy for rural areas.

Tests Performed Each Day
Data as on May 17, 2021
Country Number / 1000
Canada 3.12
Turkey 2.51
Mongolia 2.42
USA 2.17
Russia 2.04
Malaysia 1.98
Australia 1.80
Saudi Arabia 1.78
Iran 1.61
India 1.30
Data: Our World in Data. Data Link

It is impossible to empirically measure the impact of coronavirus in India when the testing numbers in the country continue to be dismally low. According to May 17 data from “Our World in Data” research service, India tests only 1.30 persons per 1,000 people in its population.

The testing performance falls further if you take into account the rural areas where testing is negligibly low or it is not available. Low testing means lower number of cases. If you test more, you will find more infections.

India’s Covid test numbers are so low that only the least developed countries such as Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Namibia, and Pakistan have lower testing performance than India.

Tests Per Confirmed Case
Data as on May 16, 2021
Country Number
Australia 6835.7
Vietnam 190
Russia 35.3
USA 21.7
Canada 19.6
Pakistan 13.4
Ethiopia 9.7
Indonesia 7.8
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 7.6
India  5.3
Data: Our World in Data. Data Link

Similarly, the data shows that India has to do only 5.3 tests to find an infected person. Going by this count, nearly 20% of India’s population or 350 million people are already infected while India reports only about 30 million infections which is a fraction of the total infections. The situation in other poor countries such as DRC, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Pakistan is much better than India. 

Now, the whole world is blaming Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi for mishandling the Covid situation in India. But he should not be blamed because Modi is not trained in any area that needs the use of intellect. 

Modi can only appear for his TV monologues to preach like a religious demagogue, but he can’t understand the ground reality. His loose sermons hardly make any sense as Modi can’t speak properly on any subject in any language. 

Since the Indian courts are weak, bureaucrats are corrupt, political opposition is almost dead, and the Indian citizens prefer to live like slaves, Modi’s incompetence can’t be challenged. Result: the Covid disaster along with other problems such as joblessness, inflation, pollution, corruption, etc. are going to persist under the Modi government. Remember, you get the government you deserve. 

Meanwhile, in an ongoing RMN Poll, 82% people say that Modi is not handling the coronavirus crisis effectively while the infections and deaths are increasing rapidly in all parts of the country.

With the coronavirus explosion, India has become the pandemic epicenter, which is posing a health threat to the entire world. As the Modi government is not capable of handling any situation that requires professional competence, the global community including the UN, WHO, the U.S., and the European Union must intervene to guide Modi before coronavirus assumes catastrophic proportions.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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