Dr. Arindam Chaudhuri is an Indian author, noted economist and the director of IIPM Think Tank at Indian Institute of Planning and Management. He suggested 4 things MODI MUST DO TO SAVE INDIA & HIS CHANCES IN 2024 ELECTIONS.
Not that he will do. But if he does. India will owe him a huge gratitude. We will have least damage during the third wave and to his personal benefit, he won’t need to do fake image management. He will have a genuine chance in 2024.
Else for all practical purposes the results of Bengal and 2024 will be same.
4 THINGS MODI MUST DO TO SAVE INDIA & HIS CHANCES IN 2024 ELECTIONS
I wrote on March 22nd 2020, 14 months back – before one even got a grasp of the road ahead and were busy banging utensils and switching off their lights – I had written, “India is not China or Italy. We need to have new ideas wrt Coronavirus to save POOR from DYING HUNGRY and SAVE BUSINESSES from shutting down.
& LET’S NOT MAKE INDIA ONE HUGE MORGUE.”
Now with dead bodies floating in rivers, spread all over the banks of Ganga over miles, and crematoriums, burial grounds with houseful boards, my worst fears have indeed come true,
HERE ARE THE 4 THINGS MODI MUST DO IMMEDIATELY:
1. With the third wave coming and already research in Singapore showing that now children are getting more affected, we need to be better prepared with respect to hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators.
We must at the lowest end be prepared for about 20 lac cases a day given the numbers are being underreported by at least 5-10 times. Given about 20% of these cases need hospitalisation we would need 4lac beds per day and assuming they will be there in hospital for five days we would need about 20 lac beds. Guess how many we have now in India in total? Just 7 lac! We have just a meagre 53 beds per lac compared to 277 in USA, 800 in Germany and a whopping 1300 in Japan. Obviously now you know why their people live so much longer and healthier. So in any case the extra 13 lac beds must be there for India to reach at least a minimum respectable 150 beds per lac. This would improve the post pandemic health facilities by miles. In my April 2020 letter to PM I had asked him to prepare an additional facility of six 300 bedded hospitals in every district of India ( total 12.5 lac new beds). Had that been done and vaccines not been exported and gifted away, today this huge crisis would have never happened and so many precious lives would never have been lost. Guess how many extra beds we made? Not even 50k. What a shame.
The above situation would also mean that about 5% would require ICU, amounting to a requirement of 1lac ICU beds per day, and given people remain admitted in ICU for at least 5 days on an average, it would mean a total requirement of 5 lac ICU beds to handle this crisis.
Guess how many ICU beds India has at this point of time in total? Barely about 30k that’s it. It would mean creating at least 4.5 lac ICU beds as soon as possible. In any case that’s the minimum we should have had in the first place given we have just 2.3 ICU beds per lac people and that USA has 29.4 and Germany has 38.7.
It would also mean many more ventilators. Japan has 35 of them per one lac people, Germany 31, USA 53 and India languishes at 3.4 (total 47k). We need to immediately import at least 2.5 lac more ventilators. Overnight.
That is when we will be able to not just tackle the next wave and get it over control in two to four weeks time but also overnight change India’s health infrastructure permanently.
2. Next we would need to realise the biggest, biggest scare coming up is not actually the so called “third wave”. A third wave is scary only when you haven’t vaccinated your people, not created enough beds to provide them the medical care and most importantly not planned anything for the UPCOMING SCARCITY OF DOCTORS. That is the real big challenge with the third wave. Not anything else. What will be the use of beds, ICUs & Ventilators without Doctors & Nurses.
We must realise that apart from about 1000 plus doctors (just yesterday we lost 50 of them) and many more health workers and nurses who have already died in the pandemic, our hospitals, even before the pandemic, had a shortfall of 78% doctors. Now with the heavy workload we are virtually starving for doctors and nurses.
Currently at the first place there are no beds available for patients. And those who are fortunate enough to secure a bed somehow, have even today virtually no doctors and nurses to look after them. The virus is ever-mutating into newer variants and if the adults get vaccinated and it doesn’t find a place in their system, quite obviously it will start infecting children, as children will be its next target in its quest to find an alternative host. Not just because of children filling up the hospitals but because these hospitals will soon run out of doctors and nurses required to take care of them. And mind you children are the toughest to handle in a hospital and this need extra staff and care. Plus need their parents to be around – which is where the next point about vaccinating comes handy. They can be around only if they are vaccinated.
Imagine at the first place having no beds. And then the minuscule few beds that exist in this country are without doctors and nurses making hospitals redundant for all practical purposes. It would actually mean that we would practically have no healthcare available at all for the children falling sick.
To put things into perspective, India has a total of 8 lac available doctors that translates to 62 doctors per lac of its population. In comparison USA has 255 and Germany has 412. Even Pakistan has 80 against the WHO minimum recommendation of 100 per lac.
We can’t obviously create 20 lac new doctors. But we can surely add 15% extra doctors overnight almost.
To handle this huge, huge upcoming crisis, Dr. Devi Shetty of Narayana Health has a brilliant solution. He says there are about 1.5 lac idle doctors in the country sitting and mugging up useless stuff for their PG NEET exams. We must immediately have the exam and select the 25k that we do. Rest 1.25 lacs must be immediately asked to join hospitals. Imagine having 1.25 lac extra doctors in the next three weeks. He further says if not this then let’s give grace marks in NEET to everyone who joins current requirements for the next nine months. He feels even then a huge majority of these doctors sitting at home and doing nothing will join in.
I must admit the government has decided something on similar lines post his suggestion but without a great implementation plan and despite taking him into various advisory committees, panels and task force, we won’t see much of a success.
He actually goes further and says that 90k foreign educated Indian doctors are there waiting to pass the Indian exams to start practising in India where as with their degrees they can practice in most places around the world. Hardly anyone clears the Indian exams and that if he were to give even he wouldn’t. The government should immediately lift the exam conditions and welcome them to get into action.
For nurses his solution to allow the 2.2 lac nurses who have already finished their basic training in their 3 year GNM or 4 year B. SC. Nurshing courses but are yet to take their final exam. They should be asked to join the emergency requirement and this should be counted as exam and they should be handed over their degrees post this duty.
Such brilliant solution is there and yet a faulty incentive plan is making it practically a failure despite the government announcing these measures partially.
3. I wrote this exactly a month back on April 16th as well – Vaccinate the oldest 60cr of our population in next 3 months and achieve near herd immunity. We must understand, right now what we need is to streamline the vaccination drive smoother and faster for all if possible, instead of trying to get brownie points by distributing vaccines to virtually unknown countries who are facing just a fraction of our crisis. As you all are aware we have distributed more vaccines to these countries than we have given our own people and right now we have an acute shortage. We must also overnight allow Pfizer and Moderna, the world’s two most effective vaccines as per research to come into India.
In July 2020 I wrote that when vaccine comes it must be free and we must start a FREE COVID insurance scheme for all so that nobody dies due to lack of money. In fact UNIVERSAL HEALTH INSURANCE should be a must for every government around the world. As of now at the least the vaccination should be FREE. Without any complicated CoWin. In this very country we vaccinated 127 million people on a single day in 1997 and 134 million people again in a single day in 1998. India has enough experience in vaccinating it’s population free of cost. We didn’t have any apps, any Adhaar Card, any OTP – no nothing.
And we need to come over the entire confusion about state versus centre. I never heard such nonsense before. India is sinking. It’s first and foremost the centre’s job to save it. So there should be a central procurement policy.
Renowned expert, Dr. Devi Shetty suggests we can get this vaccination drive successfully implemented in the quickest possible time only by handing over entire order money in advance to the big Pharma companies, which would then immediately swing into action. This can’t happen if states order vaccines piece meal. Nor will we get the lowest prices nor will we get the manufacturers motivated.
Adar Poonawala is now getting greedy but initially he had told that even by selling at 150 bucks he will make profit. If that’s true to vaccinate 60cr people we will need 120cr jabs for 150 bucks each. That’s a layout of a meagre 18k cr. That’s half of the vaccine budget of 35k cr that FM Sitaraman ma’am announced this budget. Which means even if the vaccine was to be procured at 300 bucks each we should have no budget constraint!!
I am totally confused where did that money go and why didn’t we procure the vaccines?
Also apart from the shameful gifts to the world at the cost vaccinating our own people, it’s shocking to note that EU has ordered 1.8 billion doses of the vaccine enough to vaccinate its people 2.7 times over, US 1.2 billion enough for 2 times its population, UK 467 million enough for 3.6 times its population but India has ordered only 116 million doses enough to vaccinate only 4% of the population. Add to that, that the most effective Pfizer vaccine with scientifically proven 95% efficacy – against around 70% efficacy of the two being used in India – is struggling for months to get approval while the unscientific Coronil gets approval within days.
Let’s get acting overnight on this please. Till we vaccinate India no amount of Hospital Beds or doctors will be able to save us from the third wave.
And yes, till the time we have vaccinated the population people with comorbidities and those above 65 must be kept under home quarantine till their second vaccine jab is done.
4. The poor are at the brink of destruction. Last time we transferred a pittance of 500 bucks to them and we just transferred another instalment of that and had photo ops. Let’s really stop this utter nonsense.
I said this in April 2020 in a letter to PM and I say this again: we must urgently have a minimum of RS. 5000 transferred every month to the accounts of EVERY poor family of 5 at least for the next 6 months till the economy is back on tracks and the vaccinations are complete. THIS WILL COST 1 lac crore every month and assuming we have about 66% poor in this country, about 20cr family would need this support. We faked a 20 lac crore economic relief package last year. This year let’s really give one.
At least 6 lac crore to the real poor.
THIS WOULD BE A HUGE STIMULUS TO THE ECONOMY AS WELL.
WITH THESE FOUR THINGS, we should say goodbye to the fear around this pandemic and focus on economic growth and better preparation for the next pandemic if ever it is to happen again.
IF THESE FOUR THINGS ARE DONE BY MODI HIS 2024 WILL BE SECURE, ELSE NOTHING CAN SAVE BJP FROM SITTING IN THE OPPOSITION.