US President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden
US President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden | Bloomberg (SeongJoon Cho) & Twitter
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New Delhi: India, China and Russia don’t report accurate Covid death numbers and have contributed to the climate crisis, US President Donald Trump said during the first presidential debate against his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden Wednesday.

Biden did not make comments on India during the debate.

The US President mentioned India during two segments of the debate — Covid-19 and climate change. He bracketed India with China and Russia both times as he said these countries don’t give a “straight count” of Covid deaths, and that they contribute to global pollution by sending up “real dirt into the air”.

The 90-minute debate, in Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University Wednesday, and moderated by Fox News host and veteran journalist Chris Wallace, was divided into six segments of 15 minutes each. The topics included Covid-19, the Supreme Court, economy, racial violence, integrity of elections and the records of the two candidates.


Also read: No handshake, thin audience — how Covid will impact first Trump-Biden presidential debate


‘You don’t know how many people died in India’

During the Covid-19 segment of the debate, both candidates sparred over the US response to the pandemic, with Trump calling it the “China plague” and Biden repeatedly criticising the sitting president for letting 200,000 people “die on his watch”.

Accusing China of letting the virus enter the US, Trump argued: “And by the way, you don’t know how many people died in China. You don’t know how many people died in Russia. You don’t know how many people died in India. They don’t exactly give you a straight count.”

In India, Delhi, West Bengal and Telangana have been found to have discrepancies in their Covid-19 data. On 5 September, UK-based medical journal Lancet published a study looking into the potential underreporting of Covid-19 deaths in India. It stated that experts “have pointed to several sources of uncertainty in India’s COVID-19 mortality data.”

India has so far reported more than 62 lakh Covid-19 cases, not too far behind the US’ case count of close to 75 lakh. India has reported a Covid-19 death toll of 97,529 while the US has reported more than 200,000.


Also read: Delhi air pollution set to spike again as stubble burning begins and economy reopens


India, China, Russia ‘send dirt up into the air’

During the climate change segment of the debate, Trump once again clubbed India in the same group as Russia and China in terms of contributing to global pollution. He said: “China sends up real dirt into the air. Russia does, India does — they all do.”

This is not the first time the US President has blamed India for its contribution to the climate crisis. In an interview to UK-based television network ITV in May this year, he said: “China, India, Russia, many other nations, they have not very good air, not very good water, and the sense of pollution. If you go to certain cities…you can’t even breathe, and now that air is going up…They don’t do the responsibility.”


Also read: What China’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2060 means for big economies


 

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