There is a lot that needs to be said here. About attitudes of Indian Communists, about relationships between Indian states, about BJP and its opponents and so on.
First, the factual errors, which Goa CM pointed out in his tweet thread:
(1) There is no case of anyone from Goa going to Kerala for treatment and dying of Corona.
(2) Goa has enough hospitals.
(3) Goa is a full fledged state and not a Union Territory.
Let us now try to unpack everything, one by one.
(1) Kerala Health Minister spoke with the aim of belittling the rest of India
BBC was praising her enough as it is. But trust the narrow minded Communist to launch into a tirade over how it was only 3 deaths in Kerala according to State govt. How Central Govt is counting a fourth death in their “account.” How Union Territory of Goa does not have enough hospitals.
(2) Imagine how much BBC is laughing at us
Here’s what BBC anchor and people watching would have thought. Look at this Indian. We praised her. The praise has immediately gone to her head. She is jumping up and down, talking down other Indians. The inferiority complex would have delighted British hearts.
(3) She appeared to be reading something written in front of her. Can there be a slip of tongue in writing?
The Minister’s excuse is that she was talking about Mahe (part of the UT of Puducherry) and not about Goa. That she said Goa by mistake. But she was clearly reading something out. Could there have been a slip of tongue in writing?
(4) Whether she wanted to say Goa or Mahe is a secondary matter.
The Minister’s clarification is problematic in itself. Are we supposed to feel better that she says the “not enough hospitals” jibe was directed at Mahe and not Goa? Here’s a basic fact about India for the minister from India’s most literate state : Goa is 100% Indian. Mahe is 100% Indian. Kerala is 100% Indian.
(5) Has the Kerala Health Minister made a public apology to Goa?
An apology can make things better only when news of it is disseminated at least as widely as news of the original act. In this case, while the minister has clarified, I have not been able to find any public apology made by her. If you can find one, I would be happy to know. In fact, the least she could have done is replied to the tweet by Dr. Pramod Sawant.
(6) It looks worse because Goa and Kerala are competitors in the tourism sector.
As much as we may despise it, the BBC has huge reach. Goa is a global tourist hub and an irresponsible statement by the minister hurts their economy. When you realize that Goa and Kerala are competitors in the tourism sector, it raises all sorts of questions about the minister’s intentions.
(7) The civility of Dr. Pramod Sawant shines bright
Especially when contrasted with the Kerala Health Minister. Notice that Dr. Sawant did not even try to identify where the fourth patient was from. He merely said that the person was not from Goa. His tweet was classy, factual and very respectful. Exactly the opposite of how the Kerala Health Minister came off in her exchange with BBC.
(8) How come only BJP ruled states are responsible even if something happens outside their borders?
Let us examine the Kerala Health Minister’s statement in light of the migrant worker issue that everyone is talking about. Right now, everyone wants to know: what is the govt of UP doing for migrant workers in Rajasthan or Maharashtra?
That’s interesting. Because Maharashtra and Rajasthan are supposed to have their own functioning governments. But somehow, the responsibility of a migrant worker in say Mumbai or Jaipur appears to lie with Lucknow. Meanwhile, the Kerala Health Minister makes a huge deal out of the fact that her state had to take a couple of patients from a nearby union territory.
(9) Did you know that Kerala hospitals have allegedly refused treatment to a Tamil man in Kerala?
How sad is this news item from 2017?
I hope this is not part of the famed ‘Kerala model.’ The poor man was ultimately taken to Tamil Nadu. The words of the doctor at Coimbatore Govt Hospital in Tamil Nadu are particularly touching.
“We came to know that this issue happened in Kerala with a Tamil Nadu patient, but in Coimbatore, we provide treatment to all people free of cost and don’t charge any money. Mostly, 40 per cent of the Kerala people only come to Coimbatore for treatment and we don’t have any such difference.”
Thank you doctor for remembering that we are all equally Indian. Hopefully Kerala’s Health Minister will remember that the next time she goes around boasting about her Kerala model and obsessing over who came from a tiny neighboring union territory.
(10) What if other state govts started talking back to the Kerala govt in similar language?
As hard as it may be for her Communist ego to digest, Kerala isn’t perfect. Just imagine an ugly scenario in which other state governments went to foreign outlets and began shaming Kerala. For instance over its lack of industry, tech, and finance hubs. How would the Communist minister react? She said Goa doesn’t have enough hospitals. What if some other state govt told foreign media tomorrow that Kerala does not have enough factories?
A pandemic was supposed to bring us together. In a country of 130 crore people, that was probably a bridge too far. But the least we can do is not create sinister traditions where state ministers go to mouthpieces of foreign governments to insult other states.