Covid-19: what India has done well and what’s next – analysis
As coronavirus disease (Covid-19) spreads around the world, we remember the fragility of the human condition and a world that has stopped in time like a deer caught in headlights. We hear about historical pandemics and biblical plagues, but rarely has there been such a great challenge to modern civilization, one that has pushed the pause button on lives and livelihoods. With more than 2.3 million cases and more than 150,000 deaths, this pandemic has locked up more than 100 countries and a third of the world population. Economists warn that the damage to the economy is likely to be similar, or worse, to the Great Depression.
How India, with one of the world’s largest working-age populations, battles Covid-19 will determine how the future unfolds for the world. While the sages of western politics are painting a bleak picture of a post-pandemic world, India is charting a path to recovery and redemption. Government of India (GoI) policy responses to Covid-19 have been stellar, and have evolved from precaution to prevention and now to precision.
First, India was swift in taking precautions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus: it issued travel warnings, introduced temperature controls on foreign travelers at airports, and established quarantine centers to be one of the first countries to ban international and domestic travel. These measures contributed significantly to reducing the case count. In fact, 46 days from the first reported case, Italy’s daily case volume was more than 1,000 times greater than India’s. Likewise, despite the number of similar cases in India and the United States (USA), 40 days after the first reported case, the daily volume in the USA. USA It was 25 times greater than in the two weeks in India. The growth rate of daily and cumulative cases in India has been consistently linear and lower.
Second, India undertook one of the boldest measures ever seen by implementing a blockade of more than 1.3 billion people to break the chain of transmission of the virus. This movement was implemented earlier than it was in China, the UK, and Spain, and is estimated to have reduced the number of people infected by approximately 150 times. India’s three-week blockade is showing results in terms of a flattened pandemic curve. Consequently, the growth rate of cases has decreased by more than 40%. Nationwide, while duplication of cases has slowed from three days before closing to 6.2 days now, as many as 19 states and Union Territories (UT) have shown progress with duplication rates better than average. India’s federal configuration is a model of cooperative partnership, reinforced by the constant interaction and consultation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief ministers.
Third, with the extension of the blockade until May 3, the government’s focus is on precision politics, the mapping of critical points and progress towards the restart of the economy. While the first phase of the blockade focused on saving lives, the central objective of the protracted blockade is to find a balance between lives and livelihoods, particularly in rural India.
With the gradual lifting of the curbs since April 20, the guidelines provide autonomy for states and districts to chart their plans. In fact, this decision indicates the government’s will to alleviate the economic crisis for the most affected: the poor and migrant workers. The GoI has disbursed almost $ 4 billion to more than 320 million people through the direct benefits transfer mechanism.
With states recalibrating the resumption of core economic activities, the latest guidelines follow a stoplight approach. There will be color-coded areas: red, orange, and green. Red zones (hot spots) will continue to have a block; The orange zones (with some cases) and the green zones (without cases) will witness a relaxation in the restrictions to economic activities. So far, 170 of the 718 districts have been identified as hotspots. On average, about seven out of 10 cases have been reported in each state in three districts. Furthermore, one in two districts in India has no reported cases and will be allowed to restart economic activities.
These guidelines allow an entire ecosystem of primary and agro-industrial industries to be oriented towards production. This is significant considering that the total area under summer crops (including rice, legumes, coarse grains, and oilseeds) has increased significantly, registering an increase of 11.64 lakh hectares in the past year. The country is even moving towards an excellent harvest in the coming months.
Coordination between a proactive political leadership, a nimble bureaucracy, and a caring public has led to an appearance of life that is back to normal. We have pan ministry guidelines that are issued in rapid succession to ensure that supply chain bottlenecks are dismantled, and that beneficiaries in non-critical areas, particularly farmers and small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, begin economic activity.
Since the beginning of the blockade, around Rs 16,000 crore have been released under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme for the benefit of 8.31 crore farming families. Similarly, under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PM-GKY) around 4,000 MT of pulses have been sent for delivery to the States and Territories of the Union. The eNAM platform is being leveraged to remove the neck of agricultural logistics by creating an interface for large transport aggregators and an All India Agricultural Transport Call Center launched for interstate coordination for interstate movement of perishable goods such as vegetables and fruits, inputs such as seeds, pesticides and fertilizers etc.
Indian Railways has been running 134 special package trains on more than 65 routes for perishable goods, and the Ministry of Civil Aviation has operated 247 flights under the Lifeline UDAN scheme to transport essential medical cargo to remote parts of the country.
In addition to unlocking the agricultural sector, which is the main source of livelihood for approximately 60% of the country, the guidelines also allow the unlocking of other sectors such as construction, which has one of the largest daily informal bets, e-commerce, services for own account of plumbers, electricians, etc. and manufacturing and industry in special economic zones. In fact, these measures will contribute significantly to restoring the livelihoods of most of the country.
Despite the reduction of restrictions, there is a need to remain vigilant, since the battle against the coronavirus will have to continue to be fought by every citizen, through self-discipline, the use of masks and social distancing. Technology is a critical tool in this battle. Contact tracking is being done extensively through Arogya Setu, a unique app created by the best of India with quality, privacy, security and scalability. It has reached a staggering 60 million users in the 15 days after its launch and has added immense value in our fight against an unknown enemy.
India has already shown its success in terms of saving lives. With just 0.4 Covid-related deaths per million population, India is way ahead of “advanced” countries like Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and even Germany, which have recorded 441, 228, 118, and 54 deaths per million, respectively. In total, only four countries: France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom account for half of Covid-related deaths worldwide. While EE. USA Represents 25% of total deaths, India only represents 0.3% of total. Even in terms of tests, India reports 4.7% of positive cases as a proportion of total tests, while this number is at least five times more in countries like France, Spain and the United States.
In fact, the International Monetary Fund and the World Health Organization have praised the government’s proactive response, and India has also received the highest score on Oxford University’s Coronavirus Government Response Tracker. Going forward, India’s steps to increase a post-pandemic economy will also attract international attention, serving as a template for the world to follow.
The Prime Minister in his recent speech struck a chord with the Urdu language of the 18th century. jaan hai toh jahaan hai! (Only if you are alive, the world will survive). While the phrase uniquely captures the struggles of our current time, India’s consistent strategies and shifting political priorities will ensure that the gears of India’s economic engine take off, taki jaan rahe aur hamara jahaan bhi (so that our people survive and so does the world we have built).
Amitabh Kant is CEO of NITI Aayog. Sarah Iype is a young professional at NITI Aayog.
The opinions expressed are personal..
Amitabh Kant is CEO of NITI Aayog. Sarah Iype is a young professional at NITI Aayog.
The opinions expressed are personal.