Is the country’s economy ready for a nationwide lockdown?

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File Photo: Public Front

India has entered the stage 3 of Coronavirus as the cases continue to grow and the nation is gripped with fear. Taking a lesson from countries already devastated, it is essential to understand that drastic measures are needed to ensure minimum damage to life and economy. Firstly, PM Modi came on air and announced a one-day Janata Curfew and asked the people to refrain from coming out of their houses. He also asked the people to come on their balconies and entrances and express solidarity with the medical health professionals and other staff who are battling with Coronavirus on the streets, putting their own lives in danger.

It was questioned that at a time when governments are announcing relief packages to revive the economy, what would be possibly achieved by clapping hands and plates. After the one day lockdown on Sunday, as the number of cases grew, PM Modi announced a nationwide lockdown for three weeks where no one would be allowed to leave the confinement of their homes until and unless there is an emergency. Many State governments announced economic packages, for example Kerala government announced a relief economic package of 20,000 crore for its State while on the other hand, PM Modi announced a relief package of 15,000 crore for the entire country. It was criticized that the amount of 15,000 crore was too less to support the economy comprising of 1.3 billion people.

Amidst criticism, the government announced a huge economic relief package of 1.7 lakh crore saying that “no one will go hungry” during lockdown. The package focuses primarily on migrant workers, daily wage earners, and healthcare workers.

Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi had been warning the government of the disaster Coronavirus can cause but government was sleeping and it actually brought the country to the brink of a catastrophe. Rahul Gandhi had been tweeting about the seriousness of the situation and asking the government to pay heed to the signs of the tragedy coming to India but PM Modi was too busy in the preparations to welcome President Trump which in itself did not turn out to be a successful meeting.

Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet that “I will keep repeating this. The coronavirus is a huge problem. Ignoring the problem is a non solution. The Indian economy will be destroyed if strong action is not taken. The government is in a stupor”. Though after the government announced a nationwide lockdown Congress party has extended its support and agreement with this step.

He also said that the government announcement of a financial assistance package “is the first step in the right direction. India owes a debt to its farmers, daily wage earners, labourers, women and the elderly who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown.”

Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has expressed concern regarding how effective this lockdown will be. He said that this is a serious concern because not only does the lockdown keep people from going to work, it keeps them at home which is not necessarily that pristine isolated place but can also be a slum where people live together, it may be hard to prevent infections from spreading. He added that the lockdown will be substantially harder for the poorer sections of society.

There are videos of daily wage laborers walking hundreds of miles to reach their homes and people scrambling for food and other essential items, there are reports of a scarcity of resources for the poorer sections of society and many incidents of police brutality have also been reported. The lock down is an essential step but it is the duty of government to not let it become a nuisance for the people.

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