India should learn from countries like South Korea, Vietnam and Sri Lanka how they managed to control Covid-19 outbreak, Dr Naushad D Forbes, Co-chairman of Forbes Marshall Pvt Ltd, said on Monday. He was addressing the 42nd Dr Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Lecture. He also said that India should postpone its goal of becoming a five trillion economy to 2027.
“The consensus now points to a GDP drop this year of 10-15 per cent. That will set out development back by three years. So the five trillion dollar goal by 2024 has to be postponed till at least 2027… Unless we control the Covid virus, we will struggle to get our economy back,” said Forbes while addressing a webinar organised by Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA) on the topic, “Can India Lead.”
“India’s rise in infections has been inexorable… In late March, with just 600 Covid-19 cases in the country, we initiated the world’s most stringent lockdowns… Today we have 6.5 million cases and the fastest spreading infection the world. We are simultaneously opening up and easing restrictions on movement and activities… The lockdowns were too draconian for a country like ours with such a large informal sector, no social safety net. So we must ease the restrictions. But we must communicate that we are opening up to restore economic activity… We need to warn people simultaneously that the virus is spreading faster and is as dangerous as before. Instead we are hardly communicating anything,” he said.
Pointing to countries like Germany, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea and Sri Lanka that have managed to control the virus, the industrialist said there were was some “home grown success” in states like Kerala which managed to control mortality among Covid patients.
“Kerala has seen a greater spread in 1,35,000 cases. But it has controlled mortality, better than any other state. If India had controlled mortality as well as Kerala, we would have 23,000 deaths today, instead of 1,00,000 deaths. That’s a huge difference,” said Forbes.
He said doctors and scientists on the ground should set policy direction for Covid and the implementation should be done by politicians and bureaucrats.
“In the three months to June, the Union government issued 270 separate Covid orders. State governments between them issued another 370 orders… Many were to undo the confusion the previous directive had caused. So let’s science and expertise coordinate what we do. Not bureaucrats,” Forbes said.
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