Most of my readers know about my friend who lives on the 104th floor in the tallest building in Mumbai. For those who don’t know, this friend of mine is the richest person in the world. His wealth is more than the wealth of Ambani’s (I mean Mukesh), Adanis, Tatas (including Shapoorji’s), Birla’s and Mahindra’s, Agarwal’s and Mittal’s all put together. He pays income tax as much as the annual budget of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. But despite the financial power he holds, he is a very simple, friendly, well-meaning and a warm gentleman.
Last Sunday, he called me and my Professor Friend for a breakfast. We reached the 104th floor of the tower in seconds using one the special lifts that he has reserved for his esteemed guests.
We were ushered to the breakfast table where my friend was reading a newspaper. He was picking up some Californian blueberries that were stocked in a silver bowl. “Hello friends”, he said while keeping aside the newspaper. He had noticed us come.
I read the headline on the front page the newspaper.
It’s not just the third wave. The International Institute of Forecasting predicts that there will be at least 10 waves of COVID-19 pandemic over the next 5 years.
I thought that this news was scary although I did not quite trust the 10 wave prediction.
After some topics we all discuss nowadays related to COVID-19 infections, deaths, oxygen, medicines etc., we asked him the purpose of our meeting.
“Well, my dear friends. I am noticing that India is in trouble and badly needs help. Many countries across the world are sending ventilators, oxygen machines, medicines and vaccines to fill the gap, but all this help is still going to be short to combat this deadly pandemic. I haven’t yet chipped in but would certainly like to. I thought of consulting you to know how I can help”. He sounded very sincere and to the point. We knew that his stepping in will make a huge difference, considering 10 waves ahead.
I suggested that my friend should finance modern hospitals especially built for COVID. These hospitals should be constructed in rural areas where medical infrastructure is poor.
Professor pooh poohed my suggestion. He said “Dr Modak, it is alright to build modern hospitals in rural areas but given the challenge of reliable supply of electricity, these hospitals will stay in trouble. Besides power, getting medical staff to these remote places is not going to be easy. Very few medical experts will be interested and prepared to move to healthcare in rural areas”.
My friend understood Professor’s concern. He said, alright, I will build several energy generation plants at the hospitals in rural areas. These energy generation plants will be based on solar energy with provision for energy storage. I can sponsor 10,000 such hospitals with solar energy plans having energy storage. All these hospitals will be equipped with modern facilities, ICU units.
And regarding your question on doctors and medical support staff, I will offer them more than what a five-star hospital in Mumbai will pay. Will doubling of the salary work? He asked this question innocently as for him money did not matter.
Professor was not still happy. He pointed out the challenge of COVID -19 contaminated biomedical waste and need for its destruction and safe disposal. He said, “ Dr Modak must be aware that our common biomedical waste processing facilities are already under terrible stress.”
I thought the Professor was right.
My friend responded and said “Alright, I will finance 500 high tech common biomedical waste treatment facilities across the rural areas of the country. That will address your concern Professor”
But Professor was not still satisfied.
He said that we have not thought of the road infrastructure that will allow access to these hospitals situated in the rural areas. How will we transport the medicines, ventilators, masks and PPEs and importantly oxygen on a daily basis?
This time I had an answer. I said
“ We will build new roads, resurface and widen the existing roads connecting the hospitals to city centers, airports and ports”
My friend had even a super idea. He said in addition to Dr Modak’s suggestion, we will sponsor businesses to manufacture medicines, masks and PPEs right next to a cluster of hospitals. This will help to generate rural employment and reduce urbanization. We will also fund skilling canters to get people trained and work in the factories. I can sponsor 5000 such factories for achieving atmanirbharata (self-reliance)
I thought all these ideas were so visionary – and all to combat the forthcoming 10 waves of the COVID 19 pandemic in India.
Our conversations continued and for every concern raised by Professor, my Friend on the 104th floor had an answer. There was no stopping to the moneys he was committing to help India. No Ambani, Adani or Governments like US, UK could match with my Friend’s generosity.
Suddenly, I noticed one man sitting on the other side on the long breakfast table. He was closely listening to our conversations. He had a laptop and he seemed to do some number crunching.
My Friend turned towards him and asked, “What’s the situation Mr Pickering?”
“Well Sir, all this will add to 10,0000 trillion dollars equivalent. While we have sufficient reserves to spend …..
And Professor interrupted Mr Pickering
He said “My Friend, If this is a kind of budget you are willing to spend, then I suggest a new option. Why don’t you construct a huge space station or take over a liveable planet in outer space to transport Indians? There will be no COVID 19 risks at this new creation due to the controlled environment and the precautionary measures. We all and our future generations will start living life COVID 19 free.
This time, I couldn’t agree with Professor’s crazy idea.
“Professor, have you thought how difficult it will be to fix the eligibility criteria for such space transportation? May be only the members of ruling party will qualify”
There was silence on the breakfast table.
And Mr Pickering shut down his laptop after listening to this conversation.
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