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Coronavirus: Elixir Or Poison

The following ideas are meant to look for the opportunity in this destruction and use it for the reconstruction of the future.

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India is at a crossroads today due to the Corona Virus epidemic.  

Every destruction is followed by a reconstruction, just as a seed is destroyed to create a tree.

In every crisis there is an opportunity and the challenge is in being able to exploit it.

Today India and the world is going through the worst destruction in contemporary times in the form of Corona Virus. 

Every government is worried about the destruction it will cause to society and the economy.

All Indians are also looking at the problem in a similar manner.

The challenge before governments is to find the resources to save lives and also subsequently save businesses and jobs.

The financial numbers required for this are mind boggling with no estimate of the damage it will cause for future generations.

The following ideas are meant to look for the opportunity in this destruction and use it for the reconstruction of the future.

The twin objectives of this proposal is to save lives and also save the economy.

Here are some of the data points to be considered for this suggestion.

1. India has a population of approximately 130 crs.

2. India has approximately 6 lac villages.

3. The cost of a mask to prevent spread of infection is about 50 rupees for a N95 mask.

4. The cost of a basic hospital bed is 10 thousand rupees.

5. The cost of a basic oxygen support system is 10 thousand rupees.

6. The cost of a ventilator machine is about 3 lac rupees.

7. The cost of a testing kit is about 500 rupees.

8. The cost of medicines to be stocked up in any treating Center in the village is about 2 lac rupees.

9. The cost of an internet connection using satellite or wire will be 2 lacs.

10. Cost of a basic testing lab will be 1 lac rupees.

Now let us assume that over the next one year India will build infrastructure to provide basic medical facility in every village. 

This facility will consist of 10 hospital beds, two oxygen support systems and one ventilator matching along with a stock of medicines.

Therefore, the investment in this basic village level infrastructure will be approximately 8.2 lac rupees.

This infrastructure will be self contained and will be connected digitally to major hospital networks in the form of a hub and spoke model. 

Therefore all basic manpower talent will be at these centres and specialised talent will be at the hubs.

Since these centres will be digitally connected, it should be possible to run even the ICUs by MBBS doctors there under the guidance of specialists sitting in the main hospitals.

Also, over the next one year every citizen will be provided a mask and will be tested for Corona Virus.

Now let us look at the cost of making this happen.

1. Masks will cost 50 * 130 = 6500 crs.

2. Primary healthcare centres in villages will cost 8.2* 600000 = 4.92 lac crs.

3. Cost of testing every citizen is 500* 130 = 65000 crs.

Therefore the cost of this entire project will be 5.64 lac crs.

Let us also assume that this cost will increase in order to build balancing infrastructure in the cities. 

This will be largely in the form of ventilators & ICU beds.

For convenience sake let us take this figure at another 1.4 lac crs.

Therefore the total cost will be 7 lac crs for the entire country to be provided basic good quality infrastructure in one year.

All costs are approximation based on expected production volumes and are reasonable. Also it is assumed that there would be no cost of infrastructure as every village has basic infrastructure available otherwise a temporary one would not cost much.

The only reason this is not being considered is because the numbers are mind boggling.

And this is precisely where there is the opportunity.

Let us assume that the Government decided to make this investment and mandated that this money will only be given for Indian manufactured products.

All the requirements can easily be made comfortably in India at the costs which are estimated.

This basically means that the government will be providing a financial stimulus of 7 lac crs to the Indian economy.

This might appear to be healthcare expense but the sectors which get a big boost are engineering, textiles, drugs and pharmaceuticals and telecom.

Apart from pharmaceuticals all these sectors are today crying for help because of the stress which they are already facing.

Except major medical devices which can easily be manufactured by the auto companies, all the other things like beds, stands etc can be manufactured by the MSME sector and self help groups.

Also most of this will be manufactured in the states thereby supporting the local economy.

The only condition that needs to be put is that all manufacturing should be done in India.

In terms of employment, there is opportunity to create huge employment opportunities for the AMWs, and Asha Workers. The Ayush doctors are also in a position to give support in a very big way if the ICUs are digitally controlled by specialists and medical protocols are strictly adhered.

The short and long term impact of this will be humongous and can be quantified in the following manner.

1. An investment program of this magnitude has the potential to pull the country out of any recession.

2. Establishing a healthcare infrastructure in the rural areas has the potential to eliminate poverty in 10 years. This is because 30% of people live below poverty line and 3% of the population is pushed back below poverty line every year on account of health-related bankruptcies. If these bankruptcies are stopped poverty can be eliminated in ten years.

3. Rural migration to cities can be reduced resulting in significant savings in the cities on account of savings in housing and other amenities. Most importantly it will reduce the pressure on urban infrastructure and reduce pollution.

4. The total cost of feeding people without work for six months and supporting businesses to avoid bankruptcies, and loss of revenue on account of economic slowdown will probably be equal to this investment anyway.

5. In my opinion the payback period for this investment will not exceed one year.

India today has a reasonably strong communication infrastructure. 

Even the languishing BSNL which is a strategic asset for India can be revived through the process by asking it to strengthen the rural connectivity infrastructure.

This also opens ups a huge opportunity in online educational and E-Learning which can be a spinoff of this investment.

Therefore, on the back of this investment in Healthcare we can kill two birds with one stone by also reviving our education infrastructure.

This destruction around us is also an opportunity to rebuild India. 

As in the Hindu Philosophy when the Cosmic Ocean was churned what appeared first was the poison. Only after the poison appeared could the ‘Amrit’ or Elixir of life appear.

Let us not be scared of this “Poison” and let us drink it like Lord Shiva because we will surely find the ‘Amrit’ in the future by building a new economy.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
coronavirus outbreak coronavirus epidemic

Udayan Dravid

The author is Founder, ConnectHub

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