On Covid-19 and India, Washington Post fails test of fair and objective reporting
An article in the publication ignores crucial information that is readily available in the public domain
An article published in The Washington Post on June 24, ‘An exploding coronavirus crisis shows Modi is not up to the task of leading India’, fails the basic test of fair and objective reporting.
Here is an explanation of how it is ignorant of crucial facts and is, therefore, misleading.
India now has more than 440,000 cases, the fourth highest in the world after Russia, Brazil and the United States. So far, covid-19 has claimed over 14,000 lives, with many deaths of patients below 50 years old.
It is correct that India now has the fourth highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world and that over 14,000 deaths have been reported. But what the article chooses to ignore is the number of deaths per one lakh population.
For India, this stands at roughly 1.0, as opposed to the global average of about 6.04 per lakh population, which is six times the figure for India. This statistic is part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Situation Report 154 dated June 22, 2020.
The figures for some other countries mentioned in the same report translate to:
- 63.13 deaths per lakh population for the United Kingdom (UK).
- 60.60 deaths per lakh population for Spain.
- 57.19 deaths per lakh population for Italy.
- 36.30 deaths per lakh population for the United States (US).
Additionally, the WHO has clearly classified the coronavirus transmission status for India as “clusters of cases” and not “community transmission” as is the case in many other countries including the US, UK, Spain, Italy and France.
These clusters of cases are being managed on the ground through a wide range of measures including treatment, isolation, contact tracing and strict restrictions in containment zones.
With much fanfare, Modi launched a nationwide relief drive in March called PM Cares, which received $1.27 billion in donations from individuals, matched by government agencies. Now the government has absolved itself of providing any details of the expenditure and is refusing to audit the funds.
This assertion made in the article is wrong on several counts. Let’s look at one of them, the expenditure part, to illustrate this.
The government has not “absolved itself of providing any details of the expenditure”.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has said that the PM CARES Fund Trust has allocated Rs. 2,000 crore for the supply of 50,000 ‘Made-in-India’ ventilators to government-run COVID hospitals in all states and Union Territories (UTs).
A sum of Rs. 1,000 crore has been allocated from the fund for the welfare of migrant labourers.
“The distribution of the fund is based on the formula of 50% weightage for the population as per 2011 census, 40% weightage for number of positive COVID-19 cases and 10 % for equal distribution among all the States/UTs,” the PMO said in an official statement on June 23..
Now New Delhi has recorded the highest number of cases, at more than 62,000. But with most news cameras focused on the response in the city, people in villages and other rural areas that make up the majority of the Indian population are being ignored.
Governments of all states and Union Territories have put in place a thorough structure at the grassroots level for real-time monitoring to take appropriate measures to combat Covid-19.
The status of all districts in the country is monitored on a daily basis by nodal officers in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
As already pointed out earlier, a sum of Rs. 1,000 crore has been allocated from the PM Cares Fund for the welfare of migrant labourers who have left their place of work to return home to their families.
Over 60 lakh migrant workers stranded in different parts of the country after the lockdown have been transported home in Shramik Special trains that have been running since May 1.