India and Denmark share a strong friendship and ties built on strategic diplomacy, the one without much news and fuss. The two nations have once again come together to fight the coronavirus pandemic as “real friends”. While the Danes are sharing their best of healthcare research to make a breakthrough in treatment against Covid-19, India has been up with its stocks of Paracetamol tablets to meet Denmark’s demands. Denmark’s Ambassador Freddy Svane, in an interview with The Daily Guardian, lauded the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 1.3 billion Indians in dealing with the pandemic. “India handled this (corona) at its best… No country has so much to gain and to offer,” he said.
Q: Denmark is at the forefront in leading the fight against Covid-19. Do you see the Danish measures yielding the desired results?
A: Every country has its own strategy, as we all were — and still are — in untested waters. Denmark acted on experience and on a precautionary principle. Covid-19 spreads fast, so fast action was required and even as no necessary scientific evidence was available. Denmark managed to flatten the curve and now we have opened up slowly and graded. Our strategy had three key objectives: one, to save lives; two, to avoid a collapse of our healthcare system; and three, to limit the negative impact on our economy.
Q: As an Indian, I am intrigued that how your country contained the virus, causing minimal damage to humans compared to what Spain and Italy faced?
A: Danes, at large, have all come together to make this a huge, collective effort. Employees, business leaders, experts and politicians. In matter of days, people’s life changes. Radical changes were imposed. We have in Denmark a strong tradition for co-operation and cohesion, and most importantly trust. Our community spirit became stronger than ever.
Q: How is the India-Denmark partnership in fight against corona going on?
A: The two countries enjoy strong ties and a unique friendship. This year, even we are celebrating 400 years since the first Dane landed on the shores of India. Also during this crisis we have close contacts and try to take advance of best practices. While our experts are sharing information about treatments to make a breakthrough against the pandemic, India has also graciously met Danish demands for paracetamol. Finally, we are looking into expanding our collaboration within research and development sectors.
Q: India’s strategy in dealing with corona has been appreciated worldwide. How do you see it?
A: India’s unique efforts and holistic strategy has been reported widely. With 1.3 billion inhabitants and the scale of the challenges, we are extremely impressed. The use of digital platforms to disseminate news and guidelines are an eye-opener. To lockdown a democracy so swift and so effective demands political leadership and support from all segments of the society. Social distancing in such a densely populated society takes huge efforts, and even though there were challenges especially among the migrant workers, then India handled this at its best.
Q: Is Denmark involved in any anti-corona activities in India and what level of partnership is building on to contain and eliminate the virus completely?
A: It is a gigantic task, and it calls for global efforts at all levels. We are all committed to work together to get over this virus. Our companies operating in India are contributing substantially to the fight.
Q: For you, what has been most striking about India’s fightback?
A: For me, the cooperation between the states and the Centre stands out. Things that normally will take years to solve, have been done in few days. The mission was clear and well defined. Surely, this strong co-operation, perhaps at its best ever, will be instrumental for India’s post Covid-19 strategy. Second, the ability to gather from across the planet best practices and to transfer them in real-time to India, is another great achievement. The hitherto hidden potential of India has been unleashed and bodes well for the New India.
Q: Do Denmark and Europe endorse and credit Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership in these trying times?
A: Denmark is happy to see that efforts works. If India’s strategy had failed, the world would have seen a catastrophe of unprecedented size.
Q: The world is opening up and lifting restrictions on lockdown in its own way. How is Denmark doing it?
A: Denmark has chosen to begin reopening with daycare and school for the youngest children. Our health authorities assessed that it could be part of a responsible and cautious opening from a health perspective. Also, a number of mandatory precautions and guidelines have been put in place, including hygiene, size of room, etc.
Q: How do you see India’s handling of Covid-19?
A: Personally, I think that India’s strategy has proven to be extremely successful and effective. India had no alternative, but to apply strict lockdowns. Community spread would have created perhaps the world’s largest catastrophe ever. The cooperation between states and the Centre has turned into a fantastic mechanism, allowing for measured and graded efforts. In a country with a scale to everything, it has become a unique asset. The fight against Covid-19 turned into a mission — a political and a societal mission. By this 1.3 billion could be mobilised almost instantly and that has helped India — and us. I am confident that the same strategy will and can be applied for the reopening of India, and unleash India’s unlimited potential.
Q: What potential do you see for India out of this crisis in terms of global leadership, new business opportunities and its own stature in the region?
A: India stands with unique opportunities. India has the size and scale, and you have developed new abilities and capabilities too. Digitisation and real-time adaptions will help you onwards. India needs to act fast and focused. A roadmap must be developed with focus on facilitating FDIs and the ease-of-doing business must be scaled up instantly.