As we celebrate India's 72nd Republic Day, we stand at the cusp of a significant moment in the history of the country and its citizens. Last year had presented us with an unprecedented crisis, something that we had never seen before in our lifetime. The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted our lives, took a severe toll on the global economy and healthcare systems, and negatively impacted almost a billion lives. Indian economy witnessed its slowest GDP growth rate in six years by the end of 2020.
The year 2021 has dawned with new hope as the news of vaccination spreads far and wide. With millions receiving the vaccine each day we are inching closer towards a sustainable solution against the pandemic. Vaccinating majority of the population can help us to build herd immunity which will lead to the end of the pandemic. It was heartening to see the fast rollout of the vaccination drive in India with one million shots being administered in 6 days, despite the late start. As we see India providing the vaccine free of cost to countries like Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mauritius and Seychelles, it fills us with a sense of pride. The discussion on the supply of vaccines to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil and Morocco will see the country play a major role in the global eradication of Covid-19.
Now the need is to strengthen the infrastructure to be able to vaccinate the mass population at large in India and also allocate sufficient funds in the upcoming Union Budget to be able to cover at least 40 per cent of the low-income population who fall under the Ayushman Bharat scheme through free vaccination. The large Indian expat community-based in UAE is benefitting from the tremendous efforts that have been taken by the UAE government to ensure the availability of the vaccine for all citizens and residents.
On this Republic Day, my message to our countrymen based in India and abroad would be to start thinking beyond the pandemic. While Covid-19 had brought our lives to a grinding halt last year, it has also brought forth resilience and strength to fight through one of the strongest adversities. It has also fast-tracked development, innovation and fast adoption of customer-centric and technology-led solutions in many sectors. In healthcare, despite the tremendous pressure that it put on the system, it has acted as a catalyst for technology and research led progress, much faster than what it used to be before the pandemic. While we expect the consumer behaviour set-in by the new normal living to remain, the opportunity lies in building upon our learnings from last year and pave the path for a sustainable future.
India is on its path to emerge as an economic super-power and the strength of the nation lies in its youth population which is the largest in the world. The excellent advantage of having such a large work-force is that it will provide the sheer force required to catapult the country to the top. Along with this, there is the empowerment of women which is happening across all fields giving further fillip to the growth of the country. Investment into education, especially women's education, healthcare and infrastructure should lead us to our goal of being on the centre stage of global economic powers.
We at Aster pledge to standby the nation in its efforts to build a better future for its citizens and remain committed to caring for their health and well-being. India has been an important market for us. It fueled our dreams and gave us the foundation to achieve them. Having started our operations in the country in 2001, Aster DM Healthcare has now emerged as one of the top healthcare players in India.
We hope that this year helps define the path for a shining future for India!
Dr Azad Moopen, Founder, Chairman and Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare
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