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INDIA and LOCKDOWN: The Health Battleground

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The lockdown has not ‘killed’ the virus and was never going to. We will have to learn to live with Covid-19.

India’s national lockdown is coming to an end with permission of certain activities in green, orange zones, and red – with full restrictions only applying to containment zones.

After more than five weeks of a complete ban on the movement of anything but essentials, India is slowly limping back to normality. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal declared that it was time to re-open the capital, saying, “We will have to be ready to live with coronavirus.”

The costs of bringing large sectors of the economy and social, educational, and cultural life to a halt are enormous. Given the headwinds facing the Indian economy going into this crisis, a rapid return to as normal an existence as possible is highly desirable. For the poor and working-class, especially.

Restoring urban and rural road and rail movement requires more public investment in capacity creation. The cross-border movement of goods and services has become key to economic activity in subcontinental India. Growth in one part has become dependent on links with another. Reviving the transport sector is key to reviving growth.

An increase in governmental activism need not imply the State stepping in to produce, or the economy turning inward through insular trade policies or encouraging segmentation by promoting village level self-reliance. Rather, if the private sector can be left free to rejuvenate production, supported with adequate finance and government spending that revives demand and public investment that can facilitate the movement of goods and services, the economy will regain momentum.

But the major problem right now is that we have to nourish everything with coronavirus and till now we are not seeing a declining trend. “After 40 days of stringent lockdown, which got further extended, the case count should have come down. Many other countries have recorded a downward trend in their COVID-19 curve.”

If you compare the number of daily new cases in India with other countries that went into lockdown, often a lot less restrictive than India’s, they have tended to see an initial spike in cases followed by a peak after which several new cases begin to come down.

If it isn’t clear from the weight of all of those details, here is what is likely: the number of cases will continue to rise in India, and the danger of contracting the novel coronavirus will remain very real, even if the lockdown ends and with this fear, we have to nourish our future.


 

 

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