It is interesting to note the different approaches adopted by the leaders of the world’s nations in dealing with the Corona Virus. China adopted a harsh, totalitarian approach focused entirely on preventing the spread of the virus to other parts of the country. Italy and Spain, which have seen its rapid spread and paid a heavy toll in terms of human lives, were complacent in their response. Other nations had a greater opportunity to learn from the experience of those that were hit before but internal politics varied their strategy. In the US, for instance, President Trump was reluctant to adopt measures that would hurt the economy, because he is hoping to get re-elected on his performance on that front. Unfortunately, this policy has boomeranged with the rising number of deaths and he is having to change course. He is now describing around a hundred thousand possible deaths as a ‘good’ outcome of his policies.
Other leaders, too, like Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil have chosen to prioritise the economy, leaving the people to their own devices. At the start of the crisis, when Pakistani students were stuck in Wuhan, Khan quoted the Quran to justify his decision not to bring them home. In contrast to this hardline approach, he has offered his concern for the people’s ‘suffering’ as an excuse for not imposing a lockdown. He is willing to sacrifice lives so that he does not have to deal with the consequences of an economic meltdown. It is only to be hoped for the sake of the people in such countries that the Corona Virus will succumb to the changing weather in the coming days.
India, on its part, has decided to take the problem head on, fighting it before it takes deeper hold. The virus is the immediate problem and, technically, it can be stopped from spreading through the appropriate measures. It is proving a difficult task, what with challenges like the migrant crisis and the deliberate flouting of the lockdown by such as the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi, but this too is being dealt with in resolute manner. The world should recognise this display of character for what it is. At the present, the international media are deliberately skirting around developments in India, focusing only on the glitches, because the contrast with the developed world is proving difficult to swallow. They will descend like vultures if things go wrong. Indians should deny them this satisfaction.