hatam House chair Jim O’Neill told CNBC that he was impressed by Beijing’s swift response to the coronavirus outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China more than two months ago. The British Lord and former Commercial Secretary to the Treasury claimed that the situation would be much more dire if the virus had originated in India.

“Thank God this didn’t start in somewhere like India, because there’s absolutely no way that the quality of Indian governance could move to react in the way that the Chinese have done, that’s the good side of the Chinese model,” O’Neill told the American news network.

His comments were not well received on social media, with people lining up to lambast the think tank bigwig for his rather provocative slight against India. Mohammad Tawhidi, a reformist Muslim cleric known as the “Imam of Peace,” said that such a statement “reflects [O’Neill’s] ignorance.”

Tawhidi pointed out that India has one of the largest public healthcare systems in the world, and has vastly increased the number of doctors in the country.

“Yet somehow, this isn’t racist,”quipped another less-than-amused commentator.

O’Neill simply may be bad with facts, hypothesized a tweet in response to his remarks. In fact, the British peer’s views on India don’t seem to align with the current statistics.

Incredibly, with a population of around 1.3 billion people, India has only 73 confirmed cases of coronavirus — and at the time of writing, zero deaths. The United States, which has less than 330 million people, has around 1,300 infections, with more than 30 deaths.

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