The live session of Leadership talk by Padma Bhushan Dr. V.K. Saraswat, was conducted on 13th April 2020. Dr. Abhay Jere, Chief Innovation Officer, MHRD Innovation Cell, talked with Dr V.K. Saraswat, Member Niti Aayog, Ex-Chief Scientific officer with Ministry of Defense after retiring from the post of Head, DRDO. Faculty members and Students of Manav Rachna University attended the session. The session was very informative regarding the role of Niti Aayog in COVID-19 crisis and how Make in India will be most relevant in Post-COVID world.
Dr. V.K. Saraswat shared that Niti Aayog made digital simulation models of how Corona virus is going to spread. Using ICMR, consulting agencies, foreign University, Niti Aayog collected information on models and identified the healthcare infrastructure and facility requirement for various scenarios of Covid crisis. They also identified gaps and tried to fill those gaps e.g. ventilator. He took DRDO’s Ventilator technology and gave it to a Coimbatore based company which had tie up with MNC. He worked out strategy to scale up production and helped the company to manufacture imported components as there was supply chain problem. Niti Aayog worked with AIIMS research centre for mass production of N-95 and N-99 masks.
Niti Aayog works closely with Prime Minister’s office and gave many suggestions to Govt. of India as the following: advised Finance Ministry to support MSME, unorganized sectors, deferring EMIs, provide financial help to migrant labors, daily wage earners.
Dr. Saraswat said there will be economic recession after the lockdown and India will need to focus on increasing employment rather than increasing GDP. Further, he said that Biotechnology industry needs to be upgraded and development of drugs, medicines need to be restructured. It takes long time for trials. It takes at least 12-18 months for a vaccine to emerge. Medical equipment development and manufacturing need funding and restructuring. Interaction between industry and scientific community is required. There should be trust on private sector. Scientists should be integral part of development in private sector rather than sitting in National lab. Synergy is needed between National Lab, Academic Institution and industry otherwise the symphony of well being of people will be missing.
So India needs to be careful, regulated, disciplined. India needs to use IT technology to identify Covid patients and isolate/quarantine them. This needs to be continued for some time post Covid. In order to grow, India should reduce dependency on China. India needs to be prepared for bio-disaster. There should be major push to MSME. Private sectors need to be trusted. Post Covid India should focus on employment growth rather than GDP growth.