The Hits & Miss of Covid 19 in India: The WHO Representative to India, appreciated the response of the Government of India to the first wave of pandemic COVID-19 describing the Lockdown Measures as "timely, comprehensive and robust". WHO has, however, cautioned that lockdowns alone would not eliminate coronavirus and India must take necessary measures to prevent a second and third wave of infections. The government failed to understand the gravity of the problem. The healthcare spending in India is abysmally low for an emerging economy with a population of 1.3 billion. Lack of the desired level of investment in the health infrastructure has so far resulted in the fragility of the Indian health ecosystem which posed a big hurdle in generating an effective response against the pandemic. It is, therefore, strongly recommended to the Government to increase its investments in the public healthcare system and make consistent efforts to achieve the National Health Policy targets of expenditure up to 2.5% of GDP within two years as the set timeframe of the year 2025 is far away and the public health cannot be jeopardized till that time schedule.
The country has a poor state of primary healthcare, especially in rural areas. It is strongly recommended that the Ministry urgently increase its spending under the National Rural Health Mission to strengthen the delivery of health care services in the rural areas, keeping in view the languishing health infrastructure and inadequate delivery of health services to the much-needed rural population. The country is ravaged by natural fury but our country has shown tremendous resilience to overcome the traumatic time. It is good to see that the Modi government has started the work on a war footing and the country is gradually limping back to normalcy. The most surprising sequence of the covid pandemic is the behaviour of China. They have become aggressive at the border, started challenging the armed forces of the country by snatching land parcels. Even more surprising is the silence of our government on the Chinese intent, The entire world at G7 summit has condemned China but the Indian leadership chooses to remain silent.
Rafale Ghost: In another development that will escalate demands in India for an independent probe into the controversial Rafale deal, a French judge has been appointed to lead a judicial investigation into alleged corruption and favouritism in the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India of 36 fighter aircraft, including the role of a middleman whose disclosures India’s Enforcement Directorate is reportedly aware of but has not bothered to investigate till now. Given the central role played by Anil Ambani’s Reliance group – Dassault’s Indian partner in the deal for the 36 aircraft – the probe is likely to also examine the nature of the association between the two companies.
India and Dassault had officially been negotiating terms for the purchase and manufacture of 126 Rafale jets right up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s publicly announced decision – on April 10, 2015 – to scrap that deal and replace it with the outright purchase of 36 fighters. In a sensational new revelation, “Documents seen by Mediapart show that Dassault and Reliance had in fact signed their first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) – a document setting out broad outlines of an agreement – on March 26th 2015. That was 15 days before Modi’s announcement of the turnaround, and the exclusion of HAL, and begs the question as to whether the two companies had been informed of it in advance.”
“The two partners agreed on a maximum investment in the subsidiary of 169 million euros. Of that sum, Dassault, which held a 49% stake in DRAL, pledged to provide up to 159 million euros, representing 94% of the total, while Reliance would provide just the remaining 10 million euros. “This meant that Reliance was given the majority 51% stake in the joint venture in return for a relatively very modest sum. While Reliance brought neither funds nor know-how of any significance to the joint venture, it did bring to it its capacity for political influence. In November 9, 2015, Dassault CEO Trappier and Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani signed a “strategic partnership agreement”, which was a more detailed document than the previous March 26, 2015 MoU, for the establishment of a joint venture in India. While it detailed how Dassault would provide “technology and know-how”, “technical assistance” and “international marketing” capabilities, Reliance was expected to provide only “production facilities”, presumably land, and “marketing for programs and services with the GOI and other authorities in compliance with applicable laws”. Narendra Modi has to face a twin attack on Covid mismanagement and Rafale Ambani jugalbandi in the coming parliamentary session.
(The Writer is the Editor-in-Chief of The Opinion Express Group)