Skip to main content

Modi govt 'wholly untrustworthy' on Covid data, censored criticism on pandemic: Lancet

By Rajiv Shah  

One of the world’s most prestigious health journals, brought out from England, has sharply criticised the Narendra Modi government for being “wholly untrustworthy on Covid-19 health data”, stating, the “official government figures place deaths at more than 530 000, while WHO excess death estimates for 2020 and 2021 are near 4·7 million.”
The Lancet in its latest unsigned editorial commentary insisted, “The fact that the Indian government attempted to delay the publication of such figures while also censoring criticism during the pandemic seriously undermines its integrity.”
The journal said, this was happening at a time when press freedom in India “has diminished since Modi's ascent to power in 2014” (the ranking is down to 161, down 11 in a year), adding, this also happened at a time when “Civil society is increasingly constrained and violent Hindu nationalism is suppressing non-Hindu voices. Without a space for debate, activism and accountability are impossible, and India's place as the world's largest democracy is threatened.”
Given this framework, it stated, “Ultimately, the leadership of any country on the global stage depends upon its legitimacy. The Modi government has failed to show a commitment to transparency, integrity, and equity. As a result, India risks squandering its formidable opportunities.”
The Lancet said, the situation has worsened despite India’s new digital health programme, the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, “could serve as a model for other countries to follow, and India’s “vaccine distribution platform, Co-Win, an open-source digital health programme, could be put to “public good for international use.”
While such actions suggest “India could enhance South–South cooperation”, The Lancet, which is considered the world’s “highest-impact academic journal”, however, regretted, “There is danger that India's domestic potential and its international aspirations will amount to little more than platitudes, given the direction that Modi is taking the country.”
Thus, said Lancet, while India has shown “global leadership in access to medicines”, and it alongside South Africa was “one of the first nations to propose intellectual property waivers during the Covid-19 pandemic”, questions have been raised how its “immense generics manufacturing industry” offered contaminated medicines, raising “questions over regulatory oversight.”
Citing the example of providing “affordable medicines to many parts of the world, including about two-thirds of antiretroviral drugs for HIV”, the contaminated medicines, it complained, “resulted a series of fatalities.”
Without a space for debate, activism and accountability are impossible, and India's place as the world's largest democracy is threatened
Conceding that “India has undoubted strengths”, The Lancet said, it would wrong to call demography a destiny. It noted, “While China's population is declining, India's is projected to continue increasing. The number of young people entering the workforce is increasing, presenting a potential demographic dividend.”
The Lancet agreed that “India has shown some enthusiasm for building greenhouse gas infrastructure”, though added, “But softening of the language on coal at COP26 invites scepticism. Despite low health sector and per capita emissions, India remains the world's third largest CO2 emitter.”
It said, “India's climate policies are a contradiction. It is seeking more than US$100 billion annually to support renewable energy transition in LMICs. Huge investments in green hydrogen and solar energy could reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, which account for more than 80% of India's energy needs.”
It added, “India is already feeling the consequences of failing to act. Last year, devastating heatwaves wreaked havoc, and India recorded its hottest March on record. Articulating a clear pathway towards net zero, and having the data to support it, are imperative.”
In fact, it said, “India's climate policies are a contradiction. It is seeking more than US$100 billion annually to support renewable energy transition in LMICs. Huge investments in green hydrogen and solar energy could reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, which account for more than 80% of India's energy needs.”
Commenting on India holding the G20 presidency, taking over from Indonesia, with its New Delhi Leader's Summit in September will be the first to be hosted in south Asia, The Lancet wondered, “What will these developments mean for its role in the international system? India says that it wants to amplify the voice of the Global South, and its G20 goals reflect this ambition.”
However, it pointed out, “The nationalist agenda of Narendra Modi's government, its resistance to multilateralism, and a raft of pressing domestic concerns threaten the chances of making these aims a reality.”

Comments

In today's day and age of high-speed communications, it is difficult to hide facts and figures; but once they are made public it is difficult to disprove them.

TRENDING

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Women innovators on simple, revolutionary alternate solutions for water problems

By Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava* The detrimental effects of uncontrolled population rise and accelerated change in the global climate have posed tremendous pressure on the water and sanitation. This calls all stakeholders, from both developed and developing nations, to improve their resilience and to instigate sustainability. It is more crucial than ever to optimise the use of the resources we have on hand since the world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Crusader for people’s causes, this Hollywood actor entered 'unexplored zones' in US

By Harsh Thakor*  Marlon Brando on April 3rd completes his birth centenary. He perished in 2004, on July 1, aged 80 years. Arguably in Hollywood Brando penetrated sensitivity and versatility at an unparalleled scale and discovered new horizons or explored path breaking zones in acting.

Nuclear power expansion: Is AEC's new, 'unrealistic' target fully backed by PMO?

By Shankar Sharma*  Another unrealistic and tall claim by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) has been announced: India is eyeing 100 GW nuclear power by 2047, the AEC chairman  AK Mohanty   has said. A few years ago, the dream target for the Indian nuclear establishment was 275,000 MWe of nuclear power by 2050 (as per DAE document of 2008 "A Strategy for the Growth of Electricity in India”). Now this target of 100 GW nuclear power by 2047. And as at the end of February 2024, the actual nuclear power capacity was only 7,480 MWe, which formed only 1.7% of the total power capacity in the country. 

How huge crowd at Mukhtar Ansari funeral is comparable to BJP's 'people's court' talk

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The massive crowd at the funeral of Mukhtar Ansari in Mohammadabad reflects the power and influence that his family wields in the area. One can't deny that he had enormous power in Ghazipur and Mau districts. But the crowd that came and chanted slogans in his favour does not exonerate him of his conviction by the court.  It is important that we understand this. 

'Critical for cultural and ecological security': Ladakh women seek statehood, self-rule

By Our Representative Six Ladakhi women from different organisations in the region, who concluded their 10 day fast, have told an online press conference that it is necessary to provide statehood to Ladakh, even as declaring the region under the 6th schedule, for “deepening democracy, preserving ecology, and for survival.” Feminists across India joined the media meet in solidarity with the Ladakh movement “for 6th schedule, statehood and justice.”