tv HAR Dtalk BBC News October 9, 2020 4:30am-5:01am BST
the white house doctor has said president trump should be able to resume public engagements from saturday — the tenth day since his coronavirus diagnosis. in a television interview, mr trump said he might try to attend a campaign rally somewhere in the state of florida on saturday night. the democratic governor of the us state of michigan has accused president trump of encouraging right—wing militia groups after 13 men were charged with an alleged plot to kidnap her. gretchen whitmer said that when leaders fraternize with domestic terrorists they legitimize their actions. there's been fresh fighting between azerbaijan and ethnic armenians over the disputed region of nagorno—karabakh ahead of talks involving the us, france and russia aimed at securing a ceasefire and averting a wider war. more than 300 people have died since the fighting broke out last month.
now on bbc news, it's hardtalk with stephen sackur welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. prime minister narendra modi's dominance of indian politics is unquestioned. his ability to deliver competent government in a crisis? well, that's less certain. india now has the second highest official number of covid infections in the world. the realfigure is thought to be up to ten times higher. the economy's in big trouble, too. my guest is a national spokesman for the ruling bjp, narendra taneja. maybe mr modi's populist strongman act is about to come unstuck.
narendra taneja in delhi, welcome to hardtalk. thank you. thank you very much. thanks for having me. it's a pleasure. mr taneja, would you accept that over the past seven months, the modi government's attempts to control the coronavirus pandemic in your country have not succeeded? not succeeded? oh, well, i think if you look at our record in terms of, you know, coronavirus patients per million, and at the same time, overall numbers — right now as we speak, the number of cases, active cases of coronavirus, active cases in india is about 960,000. that's less than a million in a country of 1.36 billion people. so, i don't know what basis —
you know, you're saying it's not successful. if you look across the country and look at the economic, social, cultural life of the country, it's life almost back to, more or less back to normal. economic activities are back to normal. and you have to go by the core numbers given by, you know, doctors and scientists. the numbers is — total number of cases, a little over six million, but active cases, actually less than one million. so it depends how you want to look at it. the way i look at it, i think, it's a very good record on the part of both the federal government of india, and also various state governments, because health is a serious subject in india under the constitution, as you know. yeah. mr taneja, i think you have a reputation in india as being a bit of a technocrat. you just said to me, "you have to go with the numbers. follow the numbers. " isn't the fundamental problem in india that you have a health care system where the numbers are simply utterly unreliable? i think it's a very serious statement and i refuse to accept it. i think when it comes to numbers, you see when it
comes to coronavirus, you can't hide it. wherever you are in the country, whether you are in a village... well... ..small town, a big city like delhi, you can't hide it. exactly. you cannot hide it. you have to go to the doctors. you can't hide it. crosstalk. and there is... let me stop you there. we are using technology... let me stop you there. let me put to you something which suggests there is a profound problem with india's numbers. the indian council of medical research conducted an in—depth survey of 29,000 people across 700 villages, town and city wards. they found, in this very detailed survey, that one in 15 people above the age of ten had antibodies for the coronavirus. now, if that were mirrored, that kind of detailed, deep, deep dive survey were mirrored across the country, that would mean that your total number of infections wasn't the six million which your government officially recognises, but would actually be over 60 million. that's the truth in the numbers. no, no, no.
you want to call it a deep dive. it's not a deep dive in a country of 1.36 billion. you surveyed 30,000 people or even 50,000 people — i wouldn't call it a deep dive. that's not what i was taught in my school. you know, the point here is that we have to go by numbers. we are using technology and we are very good when it comes to technology, using technology for these things. based on technology, based on data available at the headquarters of the indian government, number is what i shared with you and of course there are independent agencies, they want to come out with their own numbers. it's up to you whether you want to buy them or not. i certainly don't. most scientists don't. .. crosstalk. no, no, no. most doctors don't. no. mr taneja, it's not up to me whether i buy them or not. it's again, it's about statistics and understanding statistics. do you happen to know how many people per 100,000 in india are actually being tested for the virus per day? do you happen to know that figure? listen, you... you can't test every single indian. 1.36 billion. no, answer the question.
crosstalk. there are certain... you're the national spokesman for the bjp. i'm answering that... how many people per 100,000 on average are being tested for the virus per day? listen, listen. i know where you basically want to, you know, your point, i understand that. but the point here is that, you see, there are certain regions and zones, total number is about ten, that's where we are focusing. and we have done the surveys there, including the surveys you are referring to. also, the area where there for instance, we don't see any reason to go, and go off on any deep dive in terms of surveys. we know those areas. no, no... crosstalk. that's being done very scientifically... mr taneja, you're misunderstanding me. i'm not talking about... that's being done very scientifically. i'm not talking about surveys any more. that's the figure... i'm talking about your people, the indian people, getting tested for coronavirus. let me give you the answer. no, no, no. crosstalk. it'sjust over 80... no, no. just over 80 per 100,000. the figure in the united states is nearly 300. listen. in the uk, it's over 300.
let me answer. unless you do the testing, unless you do the testing, you have no idea how prevalent the virus is in your national population. let me... let me answer it. we have done the testing. in some places, we are going for a kind of intense testing. in some areas, we have done testing in a slightly different way but we have got overall reserves because if in a community, or in a society or in a condominium or in a village, there are some cases, we immediately go for, you know, the intense testing in those areas. and that leads to the conclusion. 0verall, you see what we are precisely trying to do is that — don't compare with the united states. that's a different political system, that's a different society, it's a developed country. in our country, we have got — we know precisely where to go because when it comes to these tests, these are — these are expensive tests. but at the same time, the government has made it clear money is not the problem. hmm. wherever necessary, we are going and doing the testing and therefore the data that i shared with you, number of active cases is about 960,000 today. this is the scientific figures.
this is the exact numbers. the numbers being given by other people, it's up to you whether you want to buy them. i don't. hmm. all right. do you think the indian people have been impressed with the strategy pursued by the modi government? we think of your draconian lockdown in march and now, in september, where we've seen thousands of new infections across your country, we see your government easing all restrictions across the board and saying that the economy must be a priority. do you think the indian people regard your strategy over seven months as coherent? 0h, absolutely they do. that's precisely because in a democracy, unless you have the support of the people, i mean, you can't really move ahead. we have the support of the people. you're calling it draconian. it's up to you. the point is at that given time — at that given particular moment, this was the best alternative. that was taken — the decision was taken in the best interests of the health of the people.
at that time, the most important thing was to protect the health of every single indian. and that's precisely what we did. we put everything, you know, every other consideration, you know, at the moment, on the other side, and we decided to focus on only one thing. right. now, we are protecting their health. at the same time, we are also protecting their economy, economy of every single individual. you can understand this is pandemic time. it's not that easy. and we are an emerging economy. we are not switzerland or the united states. there are constraints and there are challenges. but given the constraints and the challenges, i think what we have managed to do — we have the full support and we're getting a thumbs up from the ordinary people of the country... crosstalk. nobody would... precisely for what we have managed to do. mr taneja, nobody would say this is easy. and we've seen governments grappling with this around the world. i do appreciate that. but in india, is it fair to say that you have decided to prioritise the economy, and that, in the end, coronavirus will run through india until your population has some sort of herd immunity? is that what it's going to be? no, no, no, no, no.
you see, what we have prioritised is not the economy. the people and their well—being, overall well—being — their health, their economy at the same time. so that's what the priority — priority is still the people of the country, the most important, but at the same time, they need money. they want to be — you know, they want to run their kitchen. they have theirjobs to protect, so on and so forth. so that's the kind of — that's the kind of approach that the government is following. it's a very holistic approach, on the one hand, making sure they're taking care of their health — at the same time they're taking care of their economic well—being. well... that's how it works. and the results are fantastic. you have to talk to the ordinary people. well, ah... talk to the ordinary people on the ground in the country. and then you will get to know the exact picture. well, the results... people are satisfied with the efforts being put in by the government. the results are... and also by various state governments. the results, you say, are fantastic. i doubt that feeling is shared by the more than 100 million indians who've lost theirjobs as a result of the economic crisis over the last few months. and ijust wonder what indians make of this one simple fact —
china, which is often compared to india in terms of economic management, china has restored growth and, in fact, the imf predicts that china will deliver overall growth for this year, 2020, of roughly 1.2%. now, it looks, according to moody's and others, that india, after a total economic meltdown in april and may, will see an overall contraction for this financial year of over 11%. why the difference? well, good question. first of all, i'm surprised that coming from bbc, sitting in london, you know, you are comparing india with china. you're comparing a democracy, a very vibrant democracy where everything is transparent, including data, with a dictatorship. you are quoting this figure. i don't buy these figures about china. you may. china is — we don't know about figures and data that comes out of china. we don't know what exactly the situation there. we all know the virus came from, travelled from china, you know, from china to europe, from europe to india. that's how it travelled.
the other questions — what they've done, where the virus came from, what is happening inside china? what is happening with the economy? what's happening in the economy of the ordinary chinese? we don't know. you seem to buy everything that china, the chinese government, say, which is an authoritarian government. i don't. i'm very proud of democracy. we might have our own challenges, so on and so forth, but this is — therefore, i will not compare, i will not compare a democratic society with an authoritarian society like china. you've carefully avoided... you want to do that, please do that. you've carefully avoided addressing what india has done wrong. no, i can answer that also. what india... i can answer that. hang on. what india has done wrong... i can answer that. ..because according to the world bank report that was issued injuly, because of the impact of covid—19 on your economy, around half — half of your population is, quote, "at risk of slipping back into poverty due to income and job losses". that's extraordinary, isn't it? this figure... don't buy this figure.
i don't buy this figure. it's bogus. let me tell you one thing. the figure you're quoting in terms of contraction, you're quoting the figures of month of april, may and june. that was a time when we imposed lockdown. yes, that... that means the government basically decided to shut down. i didn't even quote that figure. no... but our audience might be interested to know that that contraction, april to june, was roughly 24%. 2496. yes, that's. .. and you're telling me that your performance has been spectacular, it's been an enormous success? it is — when i say enormous success, challenges are there for everybody to see. but when i said this figure, we took the decision and that's why the contraction figure was what it was, because everything we had, we decided to shut down. now that things are getting back to normal, let me share with you, look at power consumption — a very important indicator. power consumption is back to normal — 100% the same figure. you know, which means
industries have opened. the same goes for consumption of fuel. the same goes for, you know, consumption of so many other things. when you look at the pictures now that we decided to open up, things are more or less getting back to normal. and you will see by end of this year, that is by christmastime, that economic life in india is going to be back to normal, almost. which means the figure you are quoting, then you can compare with china and so on, because we took the decision in the best interests of the people, because we have many challenges. we are a very vast country. the number of people who live in india is more than the total population of africa. so we know our country very well. we took the decision in the best interest of the people. there is no other country that you can compare with india... problem is... ..because our challenges, our constraints, our challenges and constraints are so unique to our country. the problem is... so you can't compare. yeah. problem is, mr taneja, that your sort of boss, the prime minister, narendra modi, has totally built his image in the country around delivering, quote unquote, "the new india", a newly prosperous, efficient india, which he says will be a $5 trillion economy within,
i think, three orfour years and a $10 trillion economy soon after that. all of that has gone. well, your view. you know, when we took over power in 2014, 67% indians didn't have bank account. now every single indian has got bank account. majority of people didn't have toilet. every indian household has a toilet now. majority of people didn't have access to clean fuel. today, every single household has access to clean fuel. many thousands of villages had no electricity. every single village has gotten... you think that this is not india, sitting in london, up to you, sitting in new delhi and knowing my country very well, this is new india. we are in the process of making new india. it is all there for you to see. i invite you to come to delhi. i'll personally take you and show you the new india and you'll be surprised. i thank you for that, and i look forward to it, not least because some of the things you've just
mentioned, like the tens of millions of new toilets, which is a very serious commitment... bank account... ..and a commitment which mr modi seems to have delivered on. the problem is that many of those toilets are simply not working cos your water infrastructure is so poor. but let us not get stuck on that particular detail. i am interested to hear you say that overall, you think the indian people are very, very pleased with your government's performance. if that's the case, why is mr modi and your government so keen to repress all signs of criticism? repress? oh, come on. you see the most influential newspaper in delhi, where i'm sitting, is called the hindustan times. please open the hindustan times of today, of yesterday, the day before yesterday, last month, a year before. they are very critical of our government and they are the main newspaper in delhi. the telegraph, the most influential daily newspaper of kolkata, please open the telegraph of today, e—paper, show it to your viewers. yeah, i'm...|‘m... criticising the government 2a by seven. there is no... there is...
in our constitution, the press freedom and, you know, liberty, these things are guaranteed by the constitution. well, that's an interesting... and we... the constitution is our bible. that's our bible. yeah, well... for our country, the constitution is our bible, it's our bhagavad gita, it's our koran. well, i don't know what your commitment to your bible is, but at least 55 journalists have been imprisoned, forgive me, not imprisoned, but have had official investigations opened up into them and their work since march. you've passed new legislation ensuring that every critical article has to then include a description of what the official government position is on every issue covered. you have also, if you look across the piece, you've closed down the amnesty international operations inside your own country, when they have been one of the most persistent critics of your human rights record. let me... if you are a government that is confident of your record, why are you doing these things?
let me answer. you see, first of all... i mean, first of all, amnesty, they decided to close down the office. your report is wrong. your facts are wrong. please correct your facts. the government of india didn't ask them to shut down the office, they decided to close down the office. if... there is a huge difference between the two. if your bank accounts are frozen... number two... ..it is very hard to see how you can continue operations, and you know it. listen, if you are doing something which is against the indian law and a competent authority takes the decision to close down your bank account, are we a banana republic? what do you think? india is... there are laws in this country. if you have anything against, amnesty can go to the supreme court of india, can go to any court in india... the truth is... they decided to shut down. no, the truth, mr taneja, is that amnesty and indeed other human rights groups, but let's focus on amnesty, cos they're the ones that, in the words of amnesty‘s senior director rajat khosla in delhi, he said, "we have faced an onslaught of attacks, bullying and harassment by the government. it has been completely systematic."
and the truth is, you've done that because amnesty continued to report on what you were doing in kashmir. that is the continued detention of hundreds... let me... hang on. let me finish. ..hundreds and hundreds of people in kashmir, ever since you revoked their special autonomy status. many of those people have not been released. the human rights abuses continue. also, amnesty pointed out that you have utterly failed to bring to justice the police who were involved in aiding and abetting the violence committed in riots in february of this year. amnesty catalogues all of that. you then freeze their accounts and you close them down. the question again is, what are you so scared of? in our country, we are very transparent country. you've got a big bureau in delhi. ask your people, do they face any such difficulties? the number of newspapers, you know, foreign, and, you know, that's not how it works. we are a very open country. you know, and you know that very well. the question is, amnesty, if they had any problem
with the tax authorities, they should have gone to court. you know, companies, vodafone, a british company, they have faced, they faced some tax problems. they have gone to court. they've won the case against the government of india. if you have any problem, they should have gone to the court and basically explained their case to the court, asked for the justice in the court, because oui’ coui’ts are among the best you can find on the planet. that's how it works. now, in terms of, you know, reporting and all that, people are reporting what's happened in different part of the country. yes, in kashmir, there are some challenges. but those. . .those challenges, those reports are coming from the media. indian newspaper, foreign newspaper, and all that. that's how it works. yes, there are challenges. we also know that, you know, who the forces that are behind. there is a country called islamic republic of pakistan. you know, that they are the ones behind all this. we are fighting the terrorism. and we expect that all democracies, all democratic countries to support countries that are at the receiving end of the state—sponsored terrorism. the kashmir they are referring to, you are basically referring to, is state—sponsored terrorism by a country called islamic republic of pakistan.
yeah, well... you've got an office in islamabad. get these facts checked and if i am wrong, i'll withdraw my words. yeah... if pakistan is not involved in kashmir, if it's not a state disordered by pakistan, i'll take my words back. yeah, well... ask your bureau there and they will share the facts with you. in that... let's go by cold facts, not rhetoric. in the course of that answer, mr taneja, you very successfully managed to put the spotlight and attention on pakistan. but throughout this interview, i've tried to ask you about the management of the covid crisis, the economic crisis and the divisions within your country. the management of all of that of your prime minister, narendra modi. and let us end just with a thought about the way in which he continues to push a populist, sectarian message across your country. were you proud of him? did you think it reflected good judgement, when in the late summer he chose to go to ayodhya and celebrate the foundation of a new temple on the site of what was,
of course, until 1992, one of the most important mosques in all of india, in ayodhya, which was, of course, destroyed and led to sectarian riots. and this year, in the middle of the covid pandemic crisis, your prime minister chose to celebrate the beginning of the construction of a temple on that site. were you proud of that? no, no. you say sectarian, populist. i don't buy all this. there is no truth in it. and i'm shocked to hear from this, you, you said that was the most respected mosque in the country. you're factually incorrect. please do your homework. no... that wasn't that mosque. you're actually misquoting me. that was not... isaid... no, no, i'm sorry... isaid, i did not say it was the most important. what did you say? i said it was... repeat it. it was an important... you said most important. it was an important mosque... it was not important. ..in your country. it was not important. it was destroyed. it was not an important
mosque in the country. listen... destroyed in 1992. let me correct you. it was...it was demolished in 1992. here, you are factually right. but to say that was the most important, important mosque in the country, that's not true. ayodhya is a very small town. it was a local mosque. and, you know, they stopped actually... ..performing, you know, prayers there a long time ago. long, long time ago, you know. so please, let's...let's, when it comes to the facts, it was...it was a...it used to be a mosque. it was not an important mosque. it was highly politicised. and after that, you know, that what happened there, what happened there, matter went to the court and the temple, you know, lord rama, to hindus of india, there's one billion hindus on the planet, lord rama is the same asjesus christ to christians or muhammad, prophet muhammad, to muslims. that's a very, very important place. don't ignore that. mr taneja... hindus want the temple there. and, by the way... if you would... ..by the way, majority of muslims want the temple there. mr taneja. majority of indian muslims want the temple there.
mr taneja, if you would... majority of muslims. 99% of indian muslims. if you would, we have to end, if you would just address this thought. india is in a very deep crisis right now. what mr modi appears to be intent on doing is exacerbating communal division, pursuing his populist, hindutva nationalist message. is that really...? no. is that really in the interests of your country? well, you see, first of all, this is your view. you are an independent person, you are entitled to your view, but there is no truth in it. the fact is, the fact is that india is a vibrant democracy. india is home to 200 million muslims, 30 million christians, you know, we are number—one majority hindu, number—two majority, largest majority is muslim, number three is christians. we want to build in india a prosperous country where hindus, muslims, christians, we are all going to live together. all your idea that you have about india are not right. i will... you are welcome. please come and see the country and come back after ten years,
and you will realise, all that you have formed the opinion about india, is that... well... ..that opinion is not correct. we shall... it's factually incorrect. we shall both revisit this over the next few years. but for now, i must... you are welcome. ..i must stop you. and thank you very much for being on hardtalk, narendra taneja, thank you very much indeed. thank you. thanks. hello there. when the sun came out yesterday, we saw 19 celsius, temperatures above where they should be. and they have been for much of the week. but we will swing now to feeling colder for the next few days,
probably with temperatures dipping a little bit below where they should be. we will still see some sunshine like we saw on thursday between the showers, this was the rain that moved away, the showers came in, but this next little area of low pressure comes in, giving some quite heavy rain actually through the night as it crosses scotland, northern ireland into the northern half of england and wales. you can see the wraparound here, the area of low pressure, a brisk north—westerly bringing heavy showers, frequent showers following that rain. so, as we go through the day, there will be early brightness in the south and east, but the rain will eventually reach here by lunchtime. still some heavy rain upon that weather front and we still have that wraparound left around the area of low pressure and rain in the north—east of scotland, northern isles and elsewhere, sunny spells and showers. quite a brisk breeze, gusty near those showers, and temperatures will be down, it is colder air, so we will do well to reach about 13—14 in the south, more like eight to 10 degrees in the north. some of these showers could be heavy with hail and thunder. they will continue through the night into saturday morning as well with further bands of showers going southwards, but the air
is colder, so where we see the clear spells, it will turn quite chilly as temperatures fall fairly close to freezing in the glens of scotland. so, it's because we have this cold air mass coming down on that north—westerly breeze. but again, we have high pressure to the west and that will tend to start to see the showers easing away through the second half of the weekend, but we're going to keep a close eye on this area of low pressure, as always it's going to include the risk of showers or even into next week some longer spells of rain, but for saturday, bands of showers will make their way southwards on that north—north—westerly airstream, probably more showers in northern and western areas, but they could at times fall further east and again, temperatures as on friday, well down, except in shelter. 13 or 1a if you shelter from that northerly breeze. and that wind is still with us on sunday, but probably lighter, the high pressure starting to build in from the west, probably fewershowers, but again, always going to be more of a chance near the low pressure in the north sea, so closer to the eastern parts of england and wales. so, into next week, some uncertainty on where that area of low pressure is going to go. as ever, we will keep
this is bbc news, with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm david eades. nearly 100,000 new coronavirus infections in europe in a single day — the highest since the start of the pandemic. donald trump's doctor says he will be ready for public duties in two days. the president tells american television he will be holding a rally on saturday night. a us governor accuses the president of encouraging right—wing militia groups, as 13 men are charged with an alleged plot to kidnap her. and the skateboarder, the drummer and the viral video.
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