India's Case to Protect its Civilians from COVID-19: Beyond Myths and Fears

Updated: May 15

Kartikey Misra,

Executive Member,

Global Legal Innovation Advisory,

Internationalism.

Since yesterday, I am witnessing people on social media making all sorts of accusations on the work done by the central government. Some resorted to rhetoric and started sharing illogical and unverified facts, while the others made fun of the speech and concluded that the PM Modi’s chief policy to combat Coronavirus is to observe the ‘Janta Curfew’. I also came across people comparing the steps taken by Trudeau and others, while ignoring the tax percentage and the population in India and Canada.

I am appalled to see the level of hate among some people. It is not that the government should not be questioned or criticised. We are in this together and the government’s prime duty is to deliver and we should make the government accountable.

However, these criticisms just ignore the facts what the government has done on the ground.

In this post, I would like to discuss other steps adopted by the government to combat Coronavirus.


ECONOMIC RESPONSE TASK FORCE?

PM Modi announced the creation of ‘COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force’ during his nationwide address on 19th March under the FM. He assured a swift response. At least wait for what the government has to offer.

Sources in the government have expressed that repayment of loans might be temporarily deferred [1].


NOTIFIED DISASTER DECLARED

On 14th March, the Central government declared the COVID-19 pandemic as “notified disaster” under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, which enables the state governments to spend larger funds from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

Kerala has announced to spend Rs. 78.4 crore from the fund! [2].


ISOLATION OF THE CORONAVIRUS

The government allowed research and allocated fund, which is why India became only the fifth country in the world to successfully isolate a strain of the novel coronavirus on 14th March [3].


TESTING AND LABS

India announced the first and second confirmatory tests for the virus to be free (not free in every country). India’s current capacity is 8000 samples/day (testing the only 500/day), which will expand to 10,890/day in 121 labs (not including private labs). The Union Health Ministry has decided to allow accredited private labs to conduct tests for COVID-19, officials said on Monday [4].

India has 62 functional Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDLs) are capable of testing for COVID-19, with 9 more to be functional by the end of this week. This is an increase of 40% in a week, from only 51 VRDLs capable of testing on 13th March [5].


HEALTH INSURANCE?

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) said all coronavirus-related claims shall be expeditiously handled and all insurers (both public and private) shall cover all expenses incurred during the course of treatment, including during the quarantine period [6].


DAILY WAGERS?

UP CM Adityanath has announced “the state govt. has decided to provide a set amount in the bank accounts of labourers so that their families don’t suffer from the side effects of COVID-19” on March 17th [7].


ON INTERNATIONAL FRONT!

PM Modi’s initiative to organize a G20 Extraordinary Leaders Summit through a videoconference has been accepted by Saudi Arabia (G20 chair) on Mar 18. Australian PM lauded PM Modi’s efforts to lead the task force [8].


A national address is not about the technical details, but a message for the masses and in India, if we consider the history, speeches of the Prime Minister and political leaders have been taken seriously and people actually followed the suggestions. In times of struggle, statements and speeches achieve a lot.


‘We shall never Surrender…’ turned the tables.

Technical actions have been flooding the Internet since February and if you have decided not to acknowledge it, then nobody can help you.

Nobody is perfect, neither you nor I.


Refer these links to learn more:

[1] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/markets/stocks/news/pm-modi-sets-up-task-force-to-assess-coronavirus-impact-on-economy/articleshow/74716486.cms

[2] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/coronavirus-sdrf-assistance-1655514-2020-03-14

[3] https://www.livemint.com/news/india/covid-19-india-becomes-5th-country-globally-to-isolate-virus-strain-11584102221498.html

[4] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/health-ministry-to-allow-accredited-pvt-labs-to-conduct-tests-for-coronavirus/articleshow/74673390.cms

[5] https://icmr.nic.in/sites/default/files/upload_documents/COVID_19_Testing_Laboratories.pdf

[6] https://www.livemint.com/money/personal-finance/if-covid-19-is-a-pandemic-it-may-not-get-health-cover-11583748897077.html

[7] shorturl.at/alsB7

[8] https://www.deccanherald.com/national/pm-narendra-modi-calls-saudi-arabia-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-moots-g20-video-conference-on-coronavirus-814783.html

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