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Right actions at right time by the right government gave right results

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State Executive Committee Member, State Media Panelist , State In-Charge for Policy & Research ,Mahila Morcha BJP Andhra Pradesh

“A stitch in time saves nine”. Appropriate actions need to be taken at an appropriate time. Entire world is battling an unseen enemy– COVID 19. When novel corona cases were reported in Wuhan, China; many did not anticipate that it would affect lives and economies globally. Many developed countries have high number of cases and deaths. India is second most populous country with 137 crores people belonging to diversified cultures and very high population density of 464 per km². India is still in a better position compared globally due to the bold decisions taken by Indian government at an early stage.

The way India successfully lead the battle against corona shows that a decisive and stable government only can tide over such crisis times in world’s largest and diverse democracy. This government has been successful in handling corona crisis till now. Earlier Indians used to opt USA, now amidst corona crisis many Americans are opting to stay in India.

World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that novel corona virus was responsible for respiratory cases and deaths in Wuhan on January 12, 2020.WHO in mid-February 2020 claimed there was no human to human transmission of virus, refused to put travel restrictions on China, appreciated efforts of China and refused to declare COVID 19 as global pandemic. By late February corona cases and deaths increased and exploded in Europe, Iran, Turkey, UK. By March first week new epicenters were identified in Middle east, USA, etc. with raising cases and mortalities. WHO declared COVID 19 as global pandemic on March 11, 2020.By March midweek many predicted India would have crores of corona cases and lakhs of mortalities by April end.

As of now worldwide there are 31 lakhs corona cases and 2,18,000 deaths. While, India had reported 31,360 cases and 1008 deaths. Deaths per million cases reported in various countries are as follows, India -0.7, Belgium – 633, Spain -510 ,Italy -453 ,France – 362 ,UK – 319 ,USA -179. India contributes to 17.7 % of world population, but contributes to 1% of corona cases and just 0.46% of corona deaths worldwide now. The timely bold measures taken by Modi government helped in curtailing corona crisis in India.

Corona case was first reported in Kerala on 30 January. Cases rose to 3 by 3rd February and all were Wuhan returned. They were isolated well and no cases reported till March 4th when 22 cases, including 14 Italian tourists, were reported. On 12th march first death was reported of an old man who returned from Saudi Arabia. Cases rose to 100 by March 15th. Cases were mainly due to tourists and Indian nationals coming from foreign countries like Europe, UK, Middle east, etc. On 31 March, Delhi Tablighi Jamaat religious event has been identified as a major hotspot leading to thousands of cases and a sudden rise in number of cases nationwide.

The measures taken by government, the timing and strict implementation played a crucial role in curtailing disease. After WHO confirming novel corona virus disease on January 12 2020, Indian government started protective measures in January. India started thermal screening of passengers from China at air ports from 21st January 2020 and later extended to other nations. On 3rd march 2020 Indian government stopped issuing of new visas and suspended already issued visas from high risk countries at that point. On 13th March all visas, except diplomatic and official, including Overseas Citizens of India were suspended.

Indians returning from foreign were asked to be quarantined for 2 weeks. Land borders with neighboring nations were restricted by March 2nd week. In March first week,  at caseload of less than hundred Prime minister emphasized on personal hygiene, social distancing and requested  not to gather for Holi or other festivals. When cases were less than 100, schools, malls, hotels, movie theatres, places of worship, public places, gyms, etc. were closed from march 5th in majority states and by march 17th all over India. All social and religious gatherings were also banned by this time across India. On 11 March 2020 Epidemic diseases act was invoked all over India. On 19th March, with less than 150 cases, PM Narendra Modi addressed the nation requested people to observe ‘ Janata Curfew’ voluntarily  on 22nd March and announced establishment of COVID 19 Economic Response Task Force .PM asked people to stay at home during Janata Curfew, except for emergencies and essential services. On 22nd March with 335 cases Indian government enforced lockdown in 82 districts where cases were reported. On 24th March PM Modi announced a complete nation wide lock down for 21 days effective from midnight. On April 14th PM Modi extended lock down till May 3rd, with conditional relaxation in specific areas which have curtailed virus well.

From February 1st  to March 29th thousands of Indian citizens stranded in China, Japan, Italy, Iran , etc.. were evacuated and brought to India. From March 11th they were kept under quarantine in army base camps and observed. On 13th March PM Modi invited SAARC nations to jointly fight the pandemic. On 15th March a video conference of SAARC leaders happened and PM Modi allocated 74 crores to the COVID 19 emergency fund.

During lock down inter state and inter district travels were not allowed. On 14th March centre declared the pandemic as “notified disaster” and states were allowed to use State disaster response funds to fight corona.  From 22nd PM Modi requested doctors and people to stop elective surgeries and elective outpatient consultations. On 24th PM announced 15,000 crore package for health sector for developing PPEs, masks, ventilators, testing facilities. Arogyasetu app was launched to track health and to know about corona cases in the vicinity. Testing labs were increased involving private labs also. Random testing of samples was done since March 15 to detect community transmission.

On 20th March government advised to test all pneumonia cases also. In April first week center advised to test patients with fever, flu like symptoms in red zones. On 13th April pool testing was advised in less infected areas to detect community transmission. Doctors, paramedics, sanitation, ASHA workers were provided 50 lakhs term insurance by central government. Union government brought an ordinance by which those attacking health care staff or hospitals have to face punishment, fine and non bailable arrest.National Mineral Fund to be used by states for health facilities like medical equipment, screening kits, lab investigations, medicines ,etc. Lakhs of government officials, health employees, volunteers worked tirelessly and monitored lakhs of patients, suspects and contacts at houses , quarantine and isolation centres.

Research and development were promoted since the outbreak confirmed in January in China. Indian government encouraged the development of indigenous diagnostic RT PCR kits in late January. Within record 6 weeks the first Indian made diagnostic RT PCR kit by My Lab was approved on 24th March. This kit took short time of 2.5 hours and costed less at 1200 per kit. On 14th April ICMR and DCGI approved 18 new suppliers of testing kits, including 3 Indian firms. DRDO , ISRO and IITs started research on PPEs ,medical equipment and ventilators since January at a lower cost and good efficiency .DRDO designed multi patient ventilator .Research also resulted in world’s smallest, low cost and effective ventilators. Government entered into collaboration with various PSUs, private firms to double the ventilator count by June. Serum Institute of India, Pune is involved in vaccine trials and production. On 12th April approved plasma therapy to be included in trials of treatment in selective cases. Nearly 3.8 lakh isolation beds were prepared using railway coaches with the advantage of mobility to the needed places. Totally 4 lakh beds including 40,195 ICU beds and 18,828ventilators in hospitals are allotted for treating covid patients as of April 22.

Pradhan mantri Garib kalyan Yojana with 1.7 lakh crores was announced on March 26 to cater needs of poor, migrant labours, construction, health care workers. Through the scheme:

-Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Ann Yojna. 80 crore poor BPL card holders will get free ration of 10 kg rice / wheat and 1 kg pulses for 3 months.
-8 crore 70 lakhs farmers got 2000 rupees
– Jandhan account holders women get 500 per month for 3months
-5. 5 crores MNREGA account holders get 2000 per month now. Daily wage increased to 202 rupees per day
– 3 crores widows, divyang, elderly received Rs. 2000
-Ujwala scheme holders ,nearly 8 crore families to get LPG free for next 3 months.
– Collateral free loan limit increased from 10 lakhs to 20 lakhs for 53 lakhs Self help groups like DWACRA covering 7 lakhs crore families.
-Center to contribute total 24% of provident fund for companies having less than 100 employees upto salaries 15000
-Collateral free loan limit increased from 10 lakhs to 20 lakhs for 53 lakhs Self help groups like DWACRA covering 7 lakhs crore families.
-3.5 crores registered construction employees got money of 31000 crores from labour welfare fund

RBI announced moratorium on all loans for 3 months and cut repo rates bringing more cash into liquidity. For helping migrant labours 28000 crores amount was allotted.

India is the largest democracy with federal structure and many political parties. This is one of the few instances where leaders from all political parties united in this fight. Chief ministers of all states responded to PM Modi’s call and worked sincerely in this crisis. Such united fight in a federal democracy is inspiring and is not happening in other federal democracies like USA. Even in highly educated and developed USA, Europe significant number of people were against lock down and social distancing. The responsibility of leader lies in convincing people. India is a country with diverse cultures and socio-economic activities. India has significant poor and illiterate people. PM Modi achieved this important herculean task by repeatedly addressing people with motivating speeches. PM Modi asked people to ‘Not panic, Be prepared’. With folded hands Modi asked people to forgive him, give time and to be patient for weeks to save the lives of people saying ‘Jan hain tho Jahaan hai’- If people are there, world is there.

Later on April 14th PM Modi urged ‘Jan bhi, Jahaan bhi’– People also, Nation also. PM asked people to clap and light to show solidarity to corona warriors. Such emotional appeals have struck chord with Indians and more than 95% were compliant with the lock down. Oxford study revealed that India was the only country to implement lock down strictly at 100% capacity. India acted fast and early in taking above steps. When corona cases were 446 in India, 6650 in UK, 6,633 in France, 9172 in Italy, 6250 in Spain, complete lock down was implemented. Population density is also low in other nations compared to India.

The results are evident. The doubling time has increased from 3.2 days to 11.3 days post lock down. Growth rate has declined from 24.8% to 7.8% post lock down. Only 2059 cases were reported till April 1. After April 1st a major epicentre was identified in Delhi Markaz area where religious congregation took place in march middle. Nearly 9000 Indians and several foreign nationals attended the meeting who later were responsible for major raise in cases and deaths in 23 states and UTs. Due to lock down it was possible to identify such hotspots, trace contacts and treat patients. Lock down has limited the spread from such hotspots and super spreaders to close contacts and decreased the case load. Highly developed and top-ranking countries in health sector like France, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, UK, USA have reported lakhs of cases and thousands of deaths.

Thousands of deaths of elderly at homes were not reported in UK, Italy, Ecuador, etc. In India such under reporting of deaths of aged is unlikely due to a strong family system. Media also has lot of freedom in India and underreporting of deaths is not possible. Many predicted in March that India will see lakhs of deaths and crores of cases in few weeks. On contrary India with 17.7% global population contributes to only 0.46% of deaths (1008) and 1% (31,600) of cases globally as of now. Only 15 districts in 9 states contribute to 87 % of total cases as of now and more than 350 districts are safe.Purpose of lock down is achieved by decreasing growth rate, mortalities and health care burden. Modi government has given utmost importance to lives of people above anything. The fight does not stop here and needs to be continued balancing livelihood and lives now in coming months. People believe that Modi government will definitely take appropriate timely measures from now. “JAN BHI, JAHAAN BHI”

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State Executive Committee Member, State Media Panelist , State In-Charge for Policy & Research ,Mahila Morcha BJP Andhra Pradesh
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