Is the Curve Flattened?

  • 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).

Conclusion

  • 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.
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