Jim O’Neill, chairman of Chatham House, triggers a new controversy by remarks on India over COVID-19. The ruling BJP says that “criticising the quality of the Indian governance in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak” showed his “sheer ignorance towards the Indian healthcare system”…. Reports Asian Lite News
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in India has taken strong objection to Chatham House chairman’s deprecating remarks about India’s healthcare in view of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which originated in China.
Jim O’Neill, former chief economist of Goldman Sachs and chairman of Chatham House, a London-based international organisation that analyses global affairs, during a discussion on CNBC TV channel had scornfully said, “Thank god this (coronavirus pandemic) didn’t start in somewhere like India..”
BJP in-charge of foreign affairs, Vijay Chauthaiwale, in a letter written to O’Neill said the statement “criticising the quality of the Indian governance in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak” showed his “sheer ignorance towards the Indian healthcare system.”
While appreciating the efforts by the Chinese government in its response to the coronavirus outbreak, Chauthaiwale said Prime Minister Narendra Modi too has extended all his support to China to fight the disease.
“At the same time, measures taken by the Indian government to prevent the spread of the pandemic in India cannot be overlooked,” he wrote.
The Indian High Commission in London also criticised O’Neill. Indian High Commission Minister Vishwesh Negi told CNBC that O’Neill’s comments were “ill-informed and irresponsible.”
China took almost 40 days to acknowledge the virus and neighbouring Pakistan left its citizens in the lurch when the outbreak was reported from Wuhan. At the same time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a government meeting at the weekend and directed officials to identify suitable locations for quarantine facilities and make provisions for critical care.
At present, India has only 80 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The country has suspended all existing visas except for diplomatic and official UN and international organization visits until April 15 and requires all incoming travelers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having recently traveled to China, Italy, Iran, Korea, France, Spain and Germany to enter a minimum 14-day quarantine.
In total, the Indian government has evacuated 766 people, including 723 Indian nationals, through three special Indian Air Force flights out of China, all of whom were placed into a quarantine facility set up by the Indian army. On Tuesday, and Indian Air Force military transport aircraft returned 58 Indian nationals from Iran.
“The next sortie by the Indian Air Force aircraft to evacuate Indian national is expected in couple of days. An Indian medical team is already stationed in Qom, Iran to assist the local authorities in screening COVID-19 cases,” Negi told CNBC.
“The above points illustrate to a significant degree India’s pro-active efforts in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 which resultantly has put the actual number of cases within India to a minimal given the size of the population.”
The BJP office-bearer said that he strongly deplored the remarks made by O’Neill “underestimating the proactive efforts and efficiency of the Indian government in countering the coronavirus outbreak and evacuating the Indian citizens from the affected areas of the world.”
Taking an indirect dig at China’s authoritarianism, Chauthaiwale reminded O’Neill that “democracy and the free flow of information” could have helped in “such unfortunate eventualities. Transparency, public trust and government accountability ensures effective response to such critical situations,” he wrote in the letter.
The BJP official hoped that O’Neill will “re-evaluate the Indian health system and its response with an open mind.”