A file photo of migrant labourers gathered at a bus stand in Jaipur | PTI
A file photo of migrant labourers gathered at a bus stand in Jaipur | PTI
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A shrunken welfare state

Christophe Jaffrelot | CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris
Utsav Shah | Student of International Economic Policy at Sciences Po
The Indian Express

Jaffrelot and Shah comment on PM Modi’s nationwide lockdown, which has since been compared to the demonetisation of 2016 and the implementation of the GST. They note, “the current order has seen a shrinking of the state,” especially the welfare state. The State has withdrawn from key areas such as public education and health which has severely impacted welfare. They add that financial constraints are a major reason for this shrinking and this is why India is unable to put forth a massive relief programme. The authors write, “Time has come for the government to revive vital functions of the welfare state” by minimising the concentration of power at the Centre in the “name of maximum governance”.

Amid lockdown, we need action plan to manage our agriculture, livestock sectors

Vijay Sardana | The writer is a food technologist and member of Commodities Derivatives Advisory Committee, SEBI
The Indian Express

Sardana comments on the agriculture sector amidst the 21-day lockdown in India. He explains that unlike factories, agriculture cannot come to a standstill. Cattle need food and crops need water and other resources. He argues that the government must ensure “free movement of farm produce, livestock feed and veterinary medicines” He warns that “the government must start planning now to prevent post-lockdown chaos, especially profiteering in the event of shortages.”

Looking beyond just diagnosis and quarantine

Professor G. Padmanaban | Former Director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
The Hindu

Proposing a long-term plan that goes beyond diagnosing and quarantining, Padmanaban states that “India does have the expertise to put a team together to respond” with therapeutic options, which he believes are “as important as sending up satellites into space or landing a man on the moon.” He suggests sequencing of virus isolated is key “to ensure that sequencing errors are eliminated”, adding that “A knowledge of genome sequence is essential to design drugs and vaccines.”

Abhinav Prakash SinghModi 1.0 will help Modi 2.0 deal with the pandemic

Abhinav Prakash Singh | Assistant professor at SRCC, Delhi University
Hindustan Times

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Singh argues that the coronavirus pandemic has “validated several of the major policy decisions of the Narendra Modi government in the past six years.” He says the virus has crumbled healthcare systems of developed countries, and states that schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Ayushman Bharat and “various pension schemes for the unorganised sector have made us better prepared to deal with the lockdown and economic distress.”

The lockdown has a strong internal security component. Manage it

C. Uday Bhasker | Director, Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi
Hindustan Times

Bhasker comments on the potential internal security issues arising from the 21-day lockdown to suppress the coronavirus spread in India. “Hunger can arouse the most intense survival responses, and the non-linear linkages with India’s internal security challenges will prove daunting”, explains Bhasker. He argues that “the police are the first line of governance in enforcing law and order and in these challenging times, the khaki force across the country has been under severe stress.” He warns that “India’s societal stability over the next few months will depend to a large extent on the competence and integrity of the police as they deal with an unprecedented scale of human dislocation and deprivation”

An important but indecent question that has to arise

Manu Joseph | Journalist, and novelist
Mint

Joseph comments on lockdowns around the world to suppress the spread of the coronavirus. He argues that “scientists, capitalists, politicians and writers who have expressed concern at the shutting down of entire economies have faced a string of public insults from other scientists, economists, journalists and probably even devious quants who have shorted everything that could possibly be short-sold.” Joseph argues that this is because sustaining the economy is considered immoral.

The Morning After

Sajjid Chinoy | Chief India Economist at J.P. Morgan.
Business Standard

Chinoy comments on the 21-day lockdown in India and argues that it must be accompanied by incentives. “Lockdowns need to be accompanied by commensurate income support — especially in emerging markets with incomplete and leaky safety nets — for populations to comply with lockdowns”, explains Chinoy

Ashok V. Desai
Ashok V. Desai
Govern More, Sermonise Less

Ashok V. Desai | The writer is former chief economist, ministry of finance, GoI
The Economic Times

Desai comments on the hardship faced by Indians in the 21-day lockdown to suppress the coronavirus outbreak. “Those who are paid once a week or month must be obsessed with the fear that there may be no pay next payday” and “day-to-day earners — casual workers, shopkeepers, etc — are already deep into liquidity problems”, explains Desai. He argues that “European countries that created social insurance systems have databases and institutions covering every resident, never mind citizen” and “India counts its residents once a decade, and forgets them for the rest of the time”.

Will the rate cuts trickle down to industry?

Rahul Mazumdar | Economist with Exim Bank
The Hindu Business line

Mazumdar comments on the interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India to boost the economy. “The massive rate cut of 75 bps at one shot has been akin to the one taken during the global financial crisis”, explains Mazumdar. He says “The cut in the reverse repo is a welcome step encouraging banks to lend — the question, however, remains whether the banks will extend when the chips in the economy are already down, and more so if there will be any genuine takers.”

Today’s Editorials

The Indian Express: Express writes that it is the Centre and state governments’ duty to ensure that those who are providing essential; services are not harassed. Also, every precaution must be taken to ensure that those working on every link of the supply chain are protected against the virus.

Hindustan Times: The daily writes that the coronavirus pandemic will change the structure of the current informational order and will force nations to re-examine their economic paradigm and foreign policy. Who will emerge less bruised from the virus will be an important variable in determining future power equations, it notes. India will be in the middle of these changing geopolitical equations, it writes.

The Times of India:The daily notes that the 21-day lockdown was meant to avoid hospitals getting overwhelmed and to buy time for increasing health capacity. However, the mass exodus of the migrant workers indicates huge humanitarian fallout from this lockdown. TOI says that a limited period should have been given before putting the lockdown in place.

The Hindu: The daily appreciate the Centre’s decision to postpone the first phase of the 2021 census in view of the Covid-19. It adds that the pause can be used as an opportunity to redraft the questions in NPR. The window can also act as an opportunity for the reconciliation between the Centre and the states on the exercise, it notes.

With inputs from Unnati Sharma

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