OpIndia columnist Abhishek Banerjee is the new target of Congress trolls and ‘journalists’. He is being targeted because for some inexplicable reasons, they have confused him for Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee. Anyone with the reading faculties of a 5 year old would have realised that there is a difference between Abhijit and Abhishek but not Congress sympathisers.
OpIndia did not claim anywhere that Abhishek Banerjee is a Nobel laureate and we cannot comprehend why they would drag in OpIndia over the matter if not for their morbid hatred. Nonetheless, the article they are outraging over was published on News18.
In the said article, Abhishek Banerjee argued how data could be tortured enough to reach a desired conclusion. Towards that end, he highlighted multiple facts about the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic in India. The article was published on the 17th of April, 2021.
Banerjee states in his article, “In this forest, the data snipers will thrive. Because it is only too simple to pick up say state-level data from somewhere along with some metric and tell you how bad things are. Then, you can pick up another metric and maybe country-level data from somewhere else and reinforce the same feeling of hopelessness.”
He drives home his point describing how New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden became a sensation through her management of the Covid-19 pandemic but has managed to vaccinate only 2 per cent of the population in her country as compared to 7 per cent in India. He says that the comparison does not make sense because the population of India is vastly larger and that’s precisely why her management of the pandemic should not be compared to India’s as well.
Similarly, the article mentions that on the 16th of April, France recorded 400 Covid-19 deaths and Germany recorded 250. Factoring India’s population which is 20 times larger than France’s, it would take 8000 deaths for India to be considered on the same level as France. But India is seeing vastly fewer deaths.
On vaccination, he wrote, “In both France and Germany, around 16 per cent of people have received at least one dose of vaccine. While there is much to be desired regarding vaccine distribution in India so far, the numbers from India’s western states are definitely in the same ballpark as Western Europe. Rajasthan, which has a population of around 7 crore, has administered 1 crore doses as well, or roughly 14 per cent. The country of Italy also has a population of around 7 crore and has reached a coverage of around 17 per cent. While 14 per cent is less than 17 per cent, it is again in the same range. Did we mention that the World Health Organization had designated France as having the best healthcare system in the world, followed by Italy?”
Abhishek Banerjee concludes, “How has India fared during COVID-19? The pandemic hit us hard, because it hit us where we were weakest of all, in healthcare. But we made it through the first wave. Like everywhere else in the world, there were surprises, a lot of driving blind and getting blindsided. When you fix any state or country and compare on all metrics, India’s numbers look fair enough. There isn’t a model out there yet for stopping the pandemic, at least not in any free country.”
“If it did, the West would not be dealing with second or third waves. Our economy suffered heavily in one quarter, but it recovered smartly and ultimately our GDP contraction for the whole year was less than that suffered by countries with advanced healthcare systems. As of now, India is running the world’s biggest vaccination programme. We are giving more vaccine jabs a day than most European countries give in a week. And absolute numbers matter,” he added.
The overarching argument Banerjee makes is that when it comes to vaccination, critics are using percentage of the whole population as a metric but when it comes to Covid-19 cases and deaths, the same people are using absolute numbers. This is by design as the whole objective from the very beginning is to paint India in poor light.
For instance, the USA has 1,762 Covid-19 deaths per million population, France has 1,573, the United Kingdom has 1,869, Italy has 1,974, Spain has 1,659, Germany has 979, the Netherlands has 993 and Canada has 630 deaths per million population (Worldometer data). The same number for India is 140.
Note: Abhishek Banerjee’s article was published on News18 on the 17th of April. Therefore all data quoted in his article is reflective of that time period.