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E-Conclave Corona Series: ‘Good job by PM Modi but India still faces huge challenge,’ says Thomas Friedman

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Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, columnist and author Thomas Friedman applauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to fight the coronavirus spread. Speaking at the India Today E-Conclave Corona Series, Friedman commended India’s early intervention and said that while these measures have benefitted India, it still faces a daunting challenge — of balancing economic stability with curbing the spread of the virus.

Friedman said that the challenge for a country like India is to sustain economically with a long-term lockdown. “It is especially a big challenge for rural India where there is one doctor for 10,000 people, where people are asked to socially distance when they don’t even have another room,” Friedman elaborated.

Friedman advocated herd immunity for India. Herd immunity is a method that exposes large parts of the population to a disease in order for them to become immune. “It seems to me that PM Modi has done a good job in breaking the chain of transmission initially. However, the trick is to get your people to acquire immunity naturally but only for those who can handle the virus so that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed,” he added.

Friedman also said that coronavirus is not a usual crisis. “The enemy here is not another country. When you fight against human enemies you can use terms like win and lose. Mother Nature as a foe is different. You can’t win against her,” said Friedman. He added that the way to overcome this crisis is not to aim to win against nature but to adapt to it. “The goal is not to defeat her (Mother Nature) but to adapt to her. She rewards not the strongest or the smartest but the most adaptive. Every country has a huge adaptation challenge before it. Sweden went for herd immunity, other countries went for lockdowns and phased exits. It is too early to say who has won,” Thomas Friedman added.

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