In a blow to the unreliably inflated data of Covid casualties in India published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently, US President Joe Biden contrasted “India’s success with China’s failure” in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a closed-door session of the Quad summit in Tokyo today. A source quoted by news agencies ANI and PTI said that Biden praised Prime Minister Modi for handling the Covid pandemic “successfully, in a democratic manner”.
Biden contrasted India’s success with the failure of the originator of coronavirus to handle the pandemic, though both countries are of comparable population sizes, the official said.
Prime Minister Modi’s success has shown the world that democracies can deliver and busted the “myth that autocracies like China and Russia can handle the rapidly changing world better because their leadership can take and implement decisions without going through lengthy democratic processes”, the official was quoted as saying. According to him, the remarks from President Biden appeared to be unscripted, as he made a special intervention to say this before his prepared remarks.
Prime Minister Modi met Biden today shortly after the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo where leaders of Australia, India, Japan, and the US assembled.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said, “There was a clear realisation that the countries in Quad have been able to tackle Covid in their respective manner to the best of their capabilities. But yes, there was a general appreciation of the manner in which India has been able to shape a comprehensive response, in which India has been able to manage the response including vaccination, working at the forefront,” he said.
The official tally of Covid-19 deaths in the country stands at 0.52 million while the WHO estimates put the figure at 4.7 million during the period till the end of 2021 — in a scenario where while Indian data are mostly digitised, the rest of the world, including the advanced economies of the West, use tamper-prone sheets of papers to record news infections, deaths and vaccinations.
The Modi government rejected the WHO, which boasts of a director-general of questionable integrity, estimates released earlier this month that 47 lakh people had died in India as a result of the pandemic until in the first half of 2021 when hospitals ran out of oxygen and beds due to a record wave that was driven by the Delta variant.
Former INC president Rahul Gandhi had latched onto the WHO figures right after they were published to condemn the Modi government.
The opposition had strongly criticised the government for the lockdown in March 2020 that left crores of poor stranded without food, shelter and income, triggering a mass exodus from cities as jobless migrant workers walked for hundreds of miles home, with many dying on the way — when a rumour was spread that the relief camps were running out of food.