New Delhi, April 20 (IANSlife) “We cant let this disaster go waste. We have learnt much in the last few weeks. We now know that we can build hospitals in a matter of days, we can design and manufacture new equipment in weeks, we may not love China, but many of our supplies depend on them. We know we have improved in managing disasters, we can release billions for our poor, our healthcare infrastructure is inadequate and we all love our planet,” states Alpesh Patel a tech entrepreneur and author of the book ‘Chalta Hai India.

Patel finds the silver lining amidst the crisis and speaks to IANSlife about the opportunities which may arise from this.

Improving healthcare
This pandemic should be a wakeup call to start focusing on building a good quality healthcare system for the masses. By allocating investments towards this, the government can also boost the economy and generate employment. Governments should build a state-wise healthcare index, setup healthcare knowledge exchange forums for states. The pharma players should move towards high-end activities like vaccine development.

Disaster management
Handling of coronavirus indicates India has gradually improved in managing disasters. UN has often praised disaster management capabilities of Odisha. Other states need to replicate and institutionalize these capabilities.

Make in India
India is overly dependent on supplies from China. China has increased its trade surplus from under a billion dollar in 2001 to a massive $63 billion in 2017-18. We need to find ways to start producing the goods imported from China locally.

Tackling China
As the world suffers from a pandemic that originated from China, India should offer itself as a balancing force and push harder for a permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. India needs to address the opportunity of gradually replacing China as world’s manufacturing hub. During last few weeks, Indian firms have shown that they can innovate, rapidly design and mass produce ventilators, testing devices, hazmat suits and disinfection chambers. We should realize that we can rise from being assemblers to mass producers of quality products.

Lead tech sector
India needs to up its game in the technology sector. During coronavirus pandemic many states deployed drones for disinfection, robots to dispense medicines and launched IT apps to trace the infected. Indian startups need to innovate more, leverage AI and Data Science and launch products for the world. Aadhar based digital cash transfer to the poor became a boon during the pandemic. Government needs to ride on this success and further push the infrastructure for DBT.

Lift the Indian economy
As we respond to this pandemic, it will be considered acceptable to take liberties with fiscal deficit numbers and inflation. The government should take this opportunity to infuse liquidity, cut taxes and aid SMEs to revive the economy. The government now also has a stronger reason to speed up disinvestment process to get out of businesses and focus on governance.

Tackling climate change
When stories about the planet turning greener, skies bluer and animals freer emerged, everyone loved them. Countries are now more prepared to take serious action to save the planet and India has a record of being at the forefront of this. India should make fresh attempts to gather funds, implement policies and technologies to tackle climate change.

Tapping the above opportunities will not be easy as it will call for perseverance, courage, reforms and collaboration with world leaders. But if we can continue to operate in ‘war mode’ even after Coronavirus is defeated, we can aspire to achieve these. This disaster has offered us yet another opportunity.

–IANS

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