How anti-Americanism blinds us – editorials
You have to be reckless enough to be seen as defending both President of the United States (US) Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Even if it’s a small problem of two rupees, or three cents for a pill of a drug so old that it was on the market for a full two years before I was born, and it ran out of patent when I was 32 years old. That is, hydroxycoloroquine (HCQ). And you must be absolutely crazy if at the same time you also face anti-Americanism, the most enduring ideological hypocrisy. Cast in titanium.
But after four decades in journalism and the danger of courtship, and abuse, everywhere, let’s speak clearly.
To begin with, as the currently fashionable expression says: Aap samajhiye chronology (Understanding the timeline). It was at his daily White House press conference on March 19 that Trump first mentioned hydroxychloroquine, or HCQ, as it is popularly known. He said there were encouraging results among coronavirus patients who received HCQ and Z-Pak (American brand of azithromycin antibiotics).
Trump can be accused of anything, but not of understatement or discretion. So, he called this a game changer. On March 21, he reaffirmed this in a tweet. On March 22, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued a notification prescribing HCQ as a chemoprophylactic (preventive) for health personnel and family members caring for a patient with Covid-19. This sparked a drug career.
While Trump was roundly attacked and ridiculed as usual in the American media for “misusing” his office to cover prescription drugs, the United States placed large orders with the leading generic manufacturers in India. This fact was picked up by Himani Chandna, a reporter for ThePrint on health and pharmacy, in a story published on March 22. Three days later, India notified the ban on exporting HCQ.
Alarmed at the prospect of panic hoarding and self-medication, the Center issued a notification on March 26 that included it in Exhibit H1, thus restricting its retail sale.
Remember, the ban came after the US The US, and probably also Brazil, had already placed orders and also paid some advances to private Indian companies for what was, after all, a cheap, routine, patentless drug. Or drugs, since Brazil also wanted paracetamol.
After Democrats and the media had fun with “Dr. Trump” on March 20, New York Governor and current beloved liberal Andrew Cuomo told presenter Sean Hannity that he is receiving 10,000 doses of HCQ and azithromycin and will launch it for a trial at 1,100. patients in his state, now the global epicenter of Covid-19.
On Saturday (April 4) morning, Trump called Modi. In the evening, at his press conference, he said he had asked Modi to release the HCQ supplies “that we had asked for.” He said Modi said he will consider it. He of course went on to say that they (India) do a lot, which is true. He added that India also needs a lot (true), because it has 1.5 billion people (not true).
On Sunday morning (March 5), Trump spoke to Modi again. In response to a reporter’s question on Monday night (Washington time, remember, so around 4 am IST on Tuesday) press conference, he let out that he had had another conversation with Modi on Sunday morning ( Washington time) and that probably to launch the HCQ, the United States had ordered earlier. What if India says no, the journalist asked, will there be retaliation? I don’t think that’s what they plan to do at all, Trump said, India and the United States are being very good to each other. And then he added, as an afterthought, if they say no, of course there may be retaliation, why wouldn’t that be?
We woke up indignant on Tuesday morning. Trump twisted Modi’s arm and he relented. India is on its knees facing the Americans again. Modi has sold Indian sovereignty and the lives of Covid-19 patients to Trump.
Now, the little point that I had deliberately excluded in my timeline, by suspense. Three respected media organizations, HT Group’s Mint, The Hindu, and (please let me add) ThePrint, reported Monday, April 6, 12-18 hours before Trump’s Monday night publication, that India had already decided to lift the ban. In fact, The Hindu and Mint had recorded that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had also called, and the ban was also lifted for him.
Everything was done and dusted before Trump “threatened” this morning. Remember the time difference between Washington and New Delhi.
But the facts are boring, you see. Why let the facts get in the way of your “tubelight” outrage?
Acetaminophen and HCQ are cheap, long-term, mass-produced generic drugs without a patent. India has the unique strength to do this for the world now. You should use it, not squat on it. The coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has made these drugs, generally sold in bulk, as a commodity, valuable to the world. If the Heads of State are asking for this, this is an opportunity for India. And by the way, the raw material or the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for paracetamol comes from China. From Wuhan, in fact.
And surrender to America? What do we call it during the 1960s, when we lived a ship-to-mouth existence? It was also our most anti-American decade. Today, Americans need a common drug, and should we deny them? The reason we call thoughtless anti-Americanism our longest-running titanium-casting hypocrisy.
By special agreement with ThePrint
The opinions expressed are personal.
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