So far, India has done a phenomenal job of ‘flattening the curve’ as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) reported a test positivity rate (TPR) of 4.4% (i.e., 1in 23 people tested were positive). Compared to India, the US had a TPR of 19.3%, Spain 18.2%, Italy 13.2% and Japan 8.8%.
The number of active cases is doubling every 10 days, instead of every three days before the lockdown.
If we look at the mortality rate, India is much better than the western world due to the latter’s ageing population.
How to gear up for Post-Lockdown days?
After the lockdown is eased, our focus should be on protecting the vulnerable sections, especially those over-60.
Opening up the lockdown needs some lifestyle changes.
The government(s) should continue to enforce social distancing measures and prohibit large public gatherings.
Testing should also be scaled up to include general public, especially asymptomatic cases.
What should be done to help the Economy?
If we are unable to bring the economy back on track, India could lose 30-40 million jobs by end-2020.
Some amount of ‘quantitative easing’ to enhance liquidity in the economy is needed.
GoI will also have to provide a huge financial stimulus to boost industrial production, across small, medium and large enterprises.
India’s oil import bill could halve from $105 billion estimated for FY2020 on account of the collapse in global crude oil prices.
This will give GoI the firepower for announcing a big bang stimulus package to prop up the economy.
GoI should also look at introducing investment-linked and job-linked incentives tailored to the needs of a specific sector.
SMEs and start-ups must receive funding for manufacturing, services and innovation.
Funds should be earmarked for a big infrastructure push, both in terms of physical and cyber connectivity.
A significant part of healthcare investment ought to be directed towards providing universal healthcare and upgrading primary health centres (PHCs).
Today, India is in a position to negotiate as equal partners with the US, EU or Japan. We must rise to the occasion, lift the lockdown to revive the economy in a calibrated manner.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects India’s FY2021GDP to grow 1.9%, making it the fastest-growing major economy in a recession hit world.
We now need a mid- to long-term strategy that balances the economic, social and public health benefits and costs, while allowing for a gradual easing of restrictions.