Why in News?
Since the revision of GDP calculation methodology in 2015, there’s been a debate about how India calculates its GDP & about GDP as a measure itself.
Syllabus—GS2: India & Its Neighbourhood relations
- The rising COVID numbers during February in South Asia has completely strained health systems.
- The massive surge in India soon spilled into Nepal leading to apocalyptic scenes of overwhelmed hospitals.
- Containing the borderless virus necessitated global cooperation.
- The 2021 deadly surge makes a regionally coordinated, evidence-driven strategy even more critical.
- The challenging & changing virus made it necessary to construct multi-stakeholder regional coalitions to devise new solutions & frugal innovations that can be applied across South Asia.
- Given the region’s shared beliefs & similar contexts, local successes must be amplified across the region.
Cooperation among South-Asian countries: Fight against COVID:
- The South Asian countries shared a troubled history with each other.
- This mutual mistrust hit rock bottom during 2014 when SAARC failed to hold a summit.
- But beliefs, priorities traditions, & aversions to behavioral change are more similar across South Asia.
- This means that successful interventions in changing behavior at one place are likely applicable in other subcontinent parts.
Examples of Successful Interventions:
- Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) campaigns originally by Bangladeshi NGOs to solve the problem of open defecation, now broadly applied across South Asia & beyond.
- The Grameen Bank microcredit model was an indigenous South Asian innovation that spread rapidly.
- BRAC’s recent graduation programme targeting the ultra-poor in Bangladesh was replicated with success across South Asia.
- Its digitized social protection ecosystem with Aadhaar ids & Jan Dhan accounts serves as a model for the region.
- Pakistan’s E-governance programmes like eVaccs & Citizen Feedback Model have been replicated & provide strong models ready to be deployed regionally & globally.
- On similar lines, A new pan-South Asian Consortium evolved with core team members from South Asian nations, to develop jointly COVID prevention strategies.
- This was born out of an experiment conducted in Bangladesh which successfully changed social norms around mask-wearing in rural communities.
- The learning from the experiment is that a combination of no-cost distribution, offering information, reinforcing the message in public spaces & modeling & endorsement by community leaders (NORM) leads to a large, sustained increase in mask usage that persisted beyond the period of active intervention.
- The NORM model was quickly implemented in India by SEWA.
- In Pakistan, Lahore worked to adapt the NORM model to an urban setting & devised new creative ideas to improve effectiveness.
- Effective mask promotion requires visits to thousands of remote villages & that can be used to prepare for more effective community-based health care responses.
Efforts in India: –
- In India, a Swasth Community Science Alliance was created that committed to pragmatic, science-based protocols to manage mild COVID in rural India.
- The NORM implementation teams based across South Asia are learning from each other’s success & failures.
- The coalition is poised to change mask-wearing norms across the region.
- The CSA is working with partners across rural, tribal belts around India to support the design, implementation & monitoring of home-based programmes & COVID-19 centers providing treatment for moderate cases.
- Combining the NORM & CSA interventions, the Masking-Treatment-Vaccine preparation (MTV) approach offers a sensible strategy to mitigate the pandemic until universal vaccination is achieved.
- These regional solutions can be applied scientifically sound interventions to the local context.
- The COVID crisis has increased policymakers’ appetite for evidence-informed policy measures that can be quickly implemented to stem transmission.
- The drive for quick action has created unprecedented opportunities for enhanced cross-country collab that are normally hampered by politics & mistrust.
- The new consortium that is based on the MVT approach can serve as a model for a broader & deeper collaborative ecosystem that endures us.
- It is high time for all the South Asian countries to come together in solving the problems that affect all.
- Let the lasting legacy of the pandemic be a new era of partnership in social innovations that can benefit all South Asians.
Even with the variation in each nation’s response to the Pandemic, the successful strategies find commonality in their adherence to science & attention to the local context. Comment.