The people of the country have stopped taking Rahul Gandhi seriously since the mid-2010s, but, he keeps making absurd claims to prove his relevance. The latest claim of the Congress leader is that even Pakistan and Afghanistan have handled Covid-19 better because their economic growth in the ongoing calendar year is better as compared to India.
Another solid achievement by the BJP government.
Even Pakistan and Afghanistan handled Covid better than India. pic.twitter.com/C2kILrvWUG
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 16, 2020
Left-liberal media establishment, being true to its characteristic, has started justifying his absurd claims. But, let us analyze Rahul Gandhi’s claims on facts and data.
Right from the beginning of the Coronavirus spread, India chose life over livelihoods and imposed harsh lockdown from March 23 to ensure maximum lives are saved and the spread is minimal. Given the extremely high density of our cities- India has the largest number of most densely populated cities in top 10- the risk of the rapid spread of the virus is highest in India and our medical infrastructure capacity is too little to deal with large numbers of cases.
So, the stringent lockdown imposed by the union government was poised to postpone the demand- which is being reflected in the third and fourth quarter- which resulted in the negative growth in the second quarter. When a government chooses life over livelihood in the Coronavirus period, the country is set to lose economic momentum in the short-term and that is what happened in India.
The Modi government chose the life of its citizens while Pakistan and Afghanistan chose livelihood because they cannot afford to shut down the country given their extremely poor and backward condition. In India, not a single citizen died of hunger despite complete lockdown of almost two months but had Pakistan and Bangladesh done the same, hunger would have killed more people in these countries than Coronavirus.
So, in a nutshell, India chose to save the life of its citizens because it values them more than Pakistan and Afghanistan. And, it can afford to do so, given the fact, its economic capacity is many times better than our poor neighbouring countries.
Now, leaving aside the economy, let us look at hard Covid data to analyze whether Pakistan and Afghanistan have done better than India so far? If you look at dumb data, like pure infection number and death numbers, Pakistan and Afghanistan have done better than India. But, Covid-19 figures are all about testing and transparency.
Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, the poor countries in our neighbourhood, are testing very little as compared to India, and that is the key behind low Covid figures in neighbouring countries.
Uttar Pradesh, the largest state of India whose economic and demographic profile is similar to that of Pakistan, has tested three times more than the Islamic country. Uttar Pradesh has tested a total of 1.06 crore people out of 22 crores while Pakistan has tested just 36 lakh people on a similar population base and Bangladesh even less-at around 20 lakh.
Pakistan has tested 16,419 people per million and Bangladesh has tested 12,059 per million. Meanwhile, India has tested 57,810 people per million while Uttar Pradesh, a more comparable state, approximately did 48 lakh tests per million.
People with Covid-19 symptoms are not coming to the hospital unless they become severely ill, said Hina Shah, a doctor at PAF hospital, Islamabad. “Whole affected families are not coming to hospitals, there is some stigma attached but also many people choose to quarantine themselves,” she said.
“There is also no real follow-up to check if family members are also infected like there was in June,” she added. If a country is not testing, how it is supposed to find Covid related cases and death.
Covid has become a social stigma in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, and therefore, people chose to self-quarantine themselves and take general fever and cough medicine instead of getting tested. The medical infrastructure in these countries is even worse than that of India, so even if a person tests positive, there is very little that government hospitals can offer.
The primary reason for the low figures in Pakistan is low testing. Even this week, as the Covid figures- positivity rate and deaths- have declined drastically, India is testing more than lakhs of people every day while Pakistan has reduced the number of testing.
India has tested more than 8 crore people so far which is more than two times of Afghanistan’s population- 3.2 crore- and around half of Bangladesh’s total population. The neighbouring countries are too poor to spend billions of dollars on testing and their government does not have the political will to spend more.
So, any person arguing Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh have handled Covid-19 better is Rahul Gandhi level stupid. The left-liberal media establishment, which is often armed with agenda rather than facts and data, would continue to bat for Rahul Gandhi but the fact remains that neither Gandhi nor the media establishment is taken seriously by the masses of the country.