Gujarat is among the few Indian states that have charted a remarkable recovery since the onset of the ferocious second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. It has significantly succeeded in tamping down the total infections, positivity rate as well as daily fatalities caused by the resurgent coronavirus pandemic.
Gujarat’s recovery has been particularly impressive, given the prevalence of the outbreak in the state in early April. As of 7 June 2021, there are only 16,162 active COVID-19 cases in Gujarat, with an active ratio of 2 per cent. The recovery ratio is hovering at a staggering 96.8 per cent, with 7,90,906 people already cured of the virus. The test positivity rate has also seen a drop to 1.4 per cent, which is notably low compared to other states in the country.
At the start of the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, perpetual naysayers, who allow their hatred for PM Modi to take leave of their good senses, had dismissed the notion that India will witness a V-shape recovery, a belief that revival will be quick and dramatic. If the latest coronavirus statistics are to be considered, they prove beyond any smidgen of doubt that India is on the road to recovery, and Gujarat is a shining testimony of that assertion.
The graph of active cases in the state shows an inverted V curve, which illustrates that the worst of the second wave is over and the cases are close to pre-April levels.
In addition to this, Gujarat has also been among the states that have been spearheading India’s ambitious vaccination drive.
For weeks, leaders of Maharashtra tooted their own horns on being a state that has carried out the highest number of COVID-19 vaccination.
As Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders and their lackeys in the media were busy prematurely trumpeting their success, the Gujarat administration was occupied with formulating and implementing structural changes in the state’s health policy to boost the vaccination. As a result, Gujarat swiftly vaulted to among top positions in terms of states with the highest percentage of their population administered both doses. About 6.4 per cent of Gujarat’s total population is fully vaccinated, as compared to 4 per cent of Maharashtra.
The prejudicial coverage of Gujarat’s coronavirus outbreak by usual suspects
This dramatic recovery of Gujarat, which was once in the throes of the devastating grip of the coronavirus outbreak, could be attributed to the critical and timely decisions taken by the Vijay Rupani-led BJP government in the state to curb the infection and instituting prophylactic measures to combat the rapid spread of the virus. However, as has been the case with the BJP-led governments, their achievements are understated and their shortcomings are exaggerated by the mainstream media outlets, who harbour visceral hatred for the BJP and its top brass.
Since the start of the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, Gujarat had been the focal point of attention for several mainstream media outlets, along with the opposition political parties, who spent inordinate time to obsess over the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and undermine the BJP rule in the state. Even though non-BJP states such as Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi and other states were recording an unprecedented test positivity rate, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and other BJP-ruled states were placed on the front burner and subjected to intense scrutiny.
The undue attention was also accorded to Gujarat because of the fact that it is the home state of PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. By showing the state it in a poor light, and casting aspersions on its health infrastructure, the mainstream media organisation tried to settle their scores with the two leaders and undermine the Gujarat Model, a template that seemingly catapulted Narendra Modi from regional politics to the national centre stage.
Countless articles vilifying Gujarat and its health infrastructure were published in print media organisations that have long sought an opportunity to belittle the Gujarat Model. Even media channels and journalists, who had had a difficult time coming to grips with the reality of the country being led by PM Modi, exploited the opportunity to criticise the BJP government in Gujarat. When the deaths reported due to COVID-19 seemed to be less than what they had expected, they started pointing out the funeral pyres burning across Gujarat, to allege that the state government has been economical with the truth about the actual number of COVID-related casualties.
Social media websites were rife with images from hospitals across Gujarat, alleging that patients are being asked to wait outside in the ambulances because of the shortages of beds and equipment in hospitals and COVID care centres. Reports of shortages of remdesivir and other key antiviral drugs were flashed ad nauseam in the media to raise questions on the Gujarat Model.
A highly motivated article was published in a Gujarati vernacular newspaper, accusing the government of massively underreporting the number of deaths due to coronavirus. The newspaper had used the statistics of death certificates to allege that the BJP government in Gujarat had reported almost one-third of the total deaths occurred during the second wave of the pandemic. However, it was later proved that the Gujarat government’s statistics on the death certificate was not a reliable indicator to arrive at the actual number of deaths that happened in the state. OpIndia had published an article countering why death stats from March to May in Gujarat do not prove allegations of massive undercounting of Covid deaths.
Contrary to what these eternal detractors would have us believe, Gujarat quickly emerged out of the pandemic even as states such as Maharashtra continue to reel under the debilitating effects of the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. It is, therefore, important to highlight the measures adopted by Gujarat, that have enabled the state to script such an impressive revival.
Gujarat Model that helped the state script a dramatic recovery following the second wave of coronavirus outbreak
To start with, Gujarat never imposed a complete lockdown in the second wave. With the population of the state already suffering from the economic fallout of the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak, the Vijay Rupani government in Gujarat decided to tackle the outbreak in a more calibrated manner, rather than going with a blanket ban approach that was espoused by states such as Maharashtra and Delhi. As a result, the economic activity continued unabated, with strict coronavirus guidelines in place.
Instead of imposing statewide lockdown and imperilling the livelihood of the poor, the Rupani government employed the strategy of instituting micro-containment zones in areas where the number of COVID-19 cases crossed a certain threshold. Residential complexes and gated communities were declared micro containment zones if the number of active coronavirus cases crossed a pre-decided number. This strategy provided a reasonable balance between keeping the economy open and locking only those areas that witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases.
Even though Gujarat never went under complete lockdown, the economic activities had taken a hit following the coronavirus outbreak. On Monday this week, in a sensitive gesture, chief minister Vijay Rupani announced waiving-off property tax as well as fixed charge in electricity bills of hotels, resorts, restaurants and water parks affected by the corona pandemic for one year i.e, from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, in the State. With this announcement, Gujarat became one of the few states to help businesses tide over the economic crunch following the pandemic.
In a sensitive gesture, CM Shri @vijayrupanibjp decides to waive-off property tax as well as fixed charge in electricity bills of hotels, resorts, restaurants and water parks affected by Corona pandemic for one year i.e, from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 in the State. pic.twitter.com/0Cs1apQKTy— CMO Gujarat (@CMOGuj) June 7, 2021
How Gujarat used business conglomerates and temples to suppress the COVID-19 outbreak
During the start of the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, supplies of medicinal oxygen was an issue plaguing not just Gujarat but several other states in the country. Realising that the second wave of COVID-19 caused severe respiratory illness, the state government ramped up the oxygen plants at war footing, rapidly expanding the production to not just meet the state’s requirements but to export it to neighbouring states as well. Maharashtra was one of the key beneficiaries of this initiative as oxygen manufactured in facilities in Gujarat was airlifted to tackle the grim coronavirus situation in the state.
Help was sought from those who were willing to assist the state government in blunting the new surge of the coronavirus outbreak. The private sector, which is known for its efficiency, was roped in by the Vijay Rupani government to provide a helping hand to the state government in bringing the infection under control. The Reliance Industries, headed by Mukesh Ambani, rose to the occasion and employed its Jamnagar facility to manufacture oxygen. At one point, Reliance became the largest producer of medicinal oxygen, producing roughly 11 per cent of the country’s total oxygen production.
The organisation has diverted its resources to quickly ramp up the production of medicinal oxygen from 0 to 1000 MT per day free of charge. According to RIL, it is catering to the needs of over 1 lakh people every day on an average with its production capacity of 1000 MT daily. Earlier in April, Reliance had started to send oxygen to Maharashtra free of cost from its Gujarat refinery. Maharashtra was then facing an acute shortage of oxygen because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The company was diverting some oxygen meant for its petroleum coke gasification units after making it suitable for medical use.
Besides, the company also airlifted at least 24 ISO containers for transporting Oxygen, creating an additional 500 MT of transportation capacity for India. Reliance also came up with a 1,000-bed hospital with uninterrupted oxygen supply facility in Gujarat’s Jamnagar.
The Gujarat government also sought help from another business magnate, the chairman of the Adani Group, Gautam Adani, in the fight against the pandemic. Adani run school in Ahmedabad was converted into a COVID care centre. Through this facility, the Adani Foundation provided patients with beds, nutritious food and medical care.
It had also put to use its global business relations and logistical prowess for sourcing and importing vital essentials like over 40 ISO cryogenic containers for oxygen supply, 20 oxygen plants each capable of supporting over 100 oxygen beds hospital, 120 oxygen concentrators and 5000 oxygen cylinders from Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Dubai.
While the senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi keeps abusing and criticising them, these business tycoons extended their help to Gujarat and the entire country when it was overwhelmed with the sudden surge of the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak.
Even temples in Gujarat extended help to the Gujarat government in their fight against the pandemic. Shri Somnath Temple Trust donated Rs 50 lakh for setting up an oxygen plant in Prabhas Patan based community health centre. The plant reportedly offered about 51 oxygen cylinders daily. The trust had also given up its Lilavati Bhavan to the government to run as a COVID care facility. As per several reports, the trust is also running a kitchen and tiffin service to help the needy during the pandemic.
Another temple, BAPS Swaminarayan Temple of Vadodara stepped in to help the Gujarat government to combat the coronavirus outbreak. It converted its Yagnapurush Sabhagruh to a Covid-19 facility, which was equipped with 500 beds, oxygen facilities like liquid oxygen tanks and piped oxygen lines, ICU beds, and ventilators to treat infected patients.
A holistic approach to tackle the coronavirus surge, which involved the state government’s measures to stop the spread of the virus, services of big corporates and temples in the state, meant that Gujarat could quickly recover from the virus COVID-19 induced hardships and sufferings. However, with their perennial hatred for PM Modi, one cannot expect the so-called doyens of mainstream media organisations to acknowledge the success of the Gujarat Model in suppressing the pandemic that wreaked havoc in Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan and other states.