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Why is Europe locking down instead of copying globally famous Kerala model?

Why won’t these European countries just follow the globally acclaimed and supremely successful Kerala model of containing the Coronavirus?

Now, this is surprising. They say that a second wave of Covid-19 is sweeping across Europe, pushing these countries into a second round of lockdowns.

France and Germany getting into lockdown as coronavirus cases increase

To give you an idea of how terrifying this spike is, yesterday France reported some 35,000 cases and over 500 deaths. Keep in mind that France has a population roughly the same as Gujarat. Here is what the spike looks like in terms of a graph.

France spike on coronavirus cases

As Europe reels under the second wave of Coronavirus, there is something we have to wonder. Why are European governments putting their people through such misery? Why won’t they just follow the globally acclaimed and supremely successful Kerala model of containing the Coronavirus?

The virus claimed 500 lives in France just yesterday. Is there anything funny about that? Now there is another lockdown coming. The economic cost could be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Millions of livelihoods are at stake. These governments owe it to the world and to their own people to explain: why not just copy the Kerala model?

I’m surprised. Why is nobody else asking this question? It’s common sense, right? I mean, we are all facing Covid-19. The state of Kerala, under the visionary leadership of health minister Shailaja “Teacher” has a solution to Covid-19. Why wouldn’t the world just copy the Kerala model?

Did something go wrong with the Kerala model? I mean, the media praised it and everything. The Guardian covered it. Al Jazeera covered it. The BBC interviewed Shailaja “Teacher.” A UK magazine declared her to be the deepest thinker in the world.

Even the MIT Tech Review announced the astounding success of Shailaja Teacher. Do governments around the world have any excuse for not taking note of Kerala model?

MIT hailing Kerala model for containing coronavirus

Hey there, world. What’s your excuse? Notice the date of that article: April 13, 2020. It’s nearly the end of October and you still haven’t learned from Kerala? Seriously, what’s your excuse?

I just hope nothing has gone wrong with the famed ‘Kerala model’ since then. The media has recently stopped covering the Kerala model. I take this to mean that everything has been going well since then. Kerala has successfully put the virus behind and returned to its usual routine of opening industries, creating jobs and generating wealth. If something had gone wrong, surely the media would have followed up on the story and asked some tough questions to Shailaja “Teacher.” Not doing so would be highly dishonest.

We now have a real mystery on our hands. Why has the rest of the world not followed the Kerala model? Who would be foolish enough to reject something so successful?

I don’t have a definite answer. But here is one possibility. This bit from a May 2020 editorial in The Hindu, titled “The mark of zero: On containment of Covid-19 cases in Kerala” might contain some clues:

While active involvement of all the stakeholders who complement each other especially during the crisis has worked in Kerala’s favour, these are not measures put in place to fight coronavirus but what has been a legacy of the State. It is a success born out of decades-old social revolution and development. This is also the reason why other States, even if they emulate the measures adopted by Kerala to fight the virus, may not be able to achieve the same level of success.

A sobering slap indeed on the faces of everyone else in India. Kerala’s success appears to be a consequence of decades of social revolution and development. And while we can all rush to copy from the Kerala model now, it may not be enough. It’s too late for the rest of us.

Perhaps this applies not just to the rest of India, but to the rest of the world. If only Western Europe had followed the Kerala model in all these decades. If only Western Europe had achieved 100% literacy, built schools and hospitals. Too late now.

Like Rome, the Kerala model was not built in a day you know.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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