New Delhi ,
There has been a media report published related to IPOs proposed to be issued by LIC, where in mentioning the details of policies and claims settled by LIC, a speculative and biased interpretation has been made that the Covid -19 related mortalities could be more than those recorded officially. It is clarified that these reports are speculative and baseless.
While claims settled by LIC relate to Life insurance policies taken by policy holders for deaths due to all causes, but the news reports conclude that this would imply Covid deaths were underreported. A flawed interpretation like this is not based on facts and highlights the bias of the author. It also reveals lack of understanding of how the Covid-19 deaths in India are collated and published daily in public domain since the beginning of pandemic.
India has a very transparent and efficient system of reporting COVID-19 deaths. Right from the Gram Panchayat level to the District-level and the State level, the process of reporting deaths is monitored and carried out transparently. Further, with the sole objective of reporting deaths in a transparent manner, the Government of India has adopted a globally recognised categorization to classify COVID deaths. In the model so adopted, compilation of the total deaths in India is undertaken by the Centre based on the independent reporting by the States.
Furthermore, the Government of India has time and again exhorted States to periodically update their mortality figures as this exercise would accentuate the efforts of Public Health response to COVID-19 by giving a true picture of the pandemic. In addition to this, it must be noted that there is an added incentive in India to report COVID deaths as it entitles one to monetary compensation which further makes the likelihood of underreporting scarce. Therefore, jumping on any conclusion regarding underreporting of deaths is tantamount to mere speculation and conjecturing.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Union Government is committed to provide a Transparent and Accountable Public Health response under the Whole of Society and the whole of Government approach. Transparent reporting of deaths due to COVID-19 is one of the main pillars of the graded approach to COVID-19 management in India and the Union Health Ministry has also regularly emphasized the need for a robust reporting mechanism for monitoring district wise cases and deaths on a daily basis. In this endeavor, the Union Government from time to time has been issuing guidelines on various aspects of Covid management. In addition to this, all States and UTs were engaged through multiple platforms, formal communications, video conferences and through deployment of Central teams for correct recording of deaths in accordance with the prescribed guidelines. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has also issued ‘Guidance for appropriate recording of COVID-19 related deaths in India’ for correct recording of all deaths as per ICD-10 codes recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO).
Thus, it is highlighted that quoting issues as sensitive as death during a global public health crisis like pandemic Covid -19 should be dealt with utmost sensitivity and authenticity. India has a robust Civil Registration System (CRS) and Sample Registration System (SRS) which was in place even before the COVID-19 pandemic and covers all States/UTs. It is also highlighted that the registration of deaths in the country has a legal backing. The registration is done under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act (RBD Act, 1969) by functionaries appointed by the State Governments. Thus, data generated through CRS has utmost credibility and should be used rather than depending on unauthenticated data.