NYT Article on India's COVID Response 'Provocative' & 'Attention-Seeking': Govt

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The Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Balram Bhargava, on Thursday, 16 September, termed a recent article by The New York Times on India's COVID response "provocative" and "attention-seeking".

A report published by The New York Times had pointed out how India’s scientists and top agencies misguided the public about the urgency of the pandemic in order to suit the politics and narrative of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The article had claimed that the "ICMR tailored its findings to fit Prime Minister Narendra Modi's optimistic narrative despite a looming crisis".

Also Read: How BJP’s Political Narrative Influenced Results of ICMR’s COVID Studies

Responding to a question at a press conference on Thursday, Bhargava said, "This is a provocative and attention-seeking article published at a time when India is doing good and our vaccination drive is also excellent. It is aimed at diverting attention. All the issues raised are dead ones and probably do not merit any attention."

"We greatly value journalistic and editorial freedom. But at the same time we must also realise that all of us, including the Union government and the state governments, are fully engaged in fighting the pandemic and all our energy and time is devoted to that," said Union Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan.

"We cannot afford to get diverted by things that can be addressed at a later date, or which are not a priority from the public health point of view," Bhushan added.

Condemning the article, NITI Aayog Member (Health), VK Paul, said, "We condemn such distorted and out of context reporting. This is not desirable."

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