Volunteers spray disinfectant in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak at Sarai Kale Khan, New Delhi | PTI
Volunteers spray disinfectant in wake of the coronavirus outbreak at Sarai Kale Khan bus stands, New Delhi | PTI
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File photo of Raghuram Rajan

The Covid-19 stress test could bring expertise back in favour

Raghuram Rajan | Professor of finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Rajan points out that if there is a “silver lining” to the coronavirus pandemic “it is the possibility of a much-needed reset in public dialogue that focuses attention on the most vulnerable in society, on the need for global cooperation, and on the importance of professional leadership and expertise”. If effective treatment is not found quickly and COVID-19 is not “eradicated globally”, the virus could always return as “a seasonal disruption”, he writes.

Behavioural economics can help battle Covid-19

Tulsipriya Rajkumari and Sanjana Kadyan | Indian Economic Service (IES) Officers
Hindustan Times

Rajkumari and Kadyan address a possible solution that can help with the COVID-19 pandemic that has now taken over the world. They highlight seven ways in which behavioural economics can help in the battle against the virus. One, address availability and hindsight bias by communicating facts and action plans; two, disclose the risks of coronavirus entirely including dangers of community transmission; three, make it easy for people to find information through Whatsapp, Facebook; four, publicise recovery cases; five, showcase desirable social norm by video/audio clips of trusted public personalities; six, reinforce precautionary messages through catchy phrases and seven, leverage default by placing sanitisers/soap dispensers next to doors and entrances.

From virtual conferencing to real leadership

Amitabh Mattoo | Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University
The Hindu

Matto comments on the revival of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as a “‘virtual’ platform through which leaders of the eight countries of our troubled region agreed to work together to combat unarguably the greatest immediate threat to the people: the COVID-19 health pandemic.” He goes on to call Modi an “out-of-the box lateral thinker” on his foreign policy and for taking this initiative, adding that India cannot miss this opportunity to “demonstrate its compassionate face to secure a region at peace with itself.”

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Coronavirus crisis could have lasting impact on global political economy, trigger new equations among nations

C. Raja Mohan | Director, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore
The Indian Express

Mohan writes on the SAARC meeting that was called by PM Modi to address the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on “the importance of South Asia learning from China’s experience in containing the spread of the virus”. He notes that the pandemic could “have a lasting impact on the global political economy, [and] trigger new equations among nations”. On Islamabad deepening their ties with China, he notes “Islamabad was more than deferential to Beijing’s sensitivities against countries evacuating their citizens and students from China.

Time-tested lessons on leadership for turbulent times

Narayan Ramachandran | Chairman, InKlude Labs

Ramachandran points out seven lessons from the history of democratic societies to understand what kind of organisational leadership is needed amidst the coronavirus pandemic. These include facing reality, taking action early and with humility, communicating, using the leadership web, focusing on values, looking outward and keeping faith in the future. His methodology for this was based on “synthesis” of “good ideas from consulting firm McKinsey, human capital firm Russell Reynolds, and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s history of four US presidents who led the country in turbulent times”.

Coronavirus is third shock to Indian economy in a little over 3 years

Mahesh Vyas | MD & CEO, CMIE
Business Standard

Vyas explains that the impact of coronavirus on employment in India first came in the form of a “supply shock of China’s shutdown” and then in the form of travel bans across the globe and the need for social distancing. The impact on labour markets will show in the data for April and May while March statistics “could provide the first glimpse”, he explains. He notes that the impact will first be “on the young who delay their entry in­to the labour market in response to a fall in job opportunities”, which will then translate into a fall in the labour force participation rate and then a fall in the unemployment rate.

Years of living dangerously

Ajay Chibber | Former assistant secretary-general, United Nations
The Economic Times

Chibber also comments on COVID-19 by crediting “India’s self-quarantine” step as a “bold one” but concluding that it “may not be enough”. He explains that “India must enhance testing and ensure that the disease is not spreading undetected”. With regard to the impact on the Indian economy, “a coordinated action RBI and the finance ministry, as well as by key agencies dealing with health, education, transportation and commerce, and state governments in a ‘whole of government’ framework” is needed, he writes.

Hardcore anti-virus hardware

Poonam Khetrapal Singh | Regional Director, World Health Organisation (WHO) Southeast Asia
The Economic Times

Like Chibber, Singh also raises the “importance of active case detection” in lieu of coronavirus. “A graded response that adapts to the changing epidemiology of the disease is crucial to prevent infections, save lives and minimise impact,” she adds. She also points out three priorities — health workers need to be protected, “health resources must be expanded and rationed”, communication with the public must be better and protecting oneself and taking the necessary precautions in order to protect others.

Today’s Editorials

Hindustan Times: HT welcomes the video conference between PM Modi and other SAARC nations over coronavirus. It writes that Asia has to work together as it is fronted by China and Iran and its borders are porous. When this crisis is over, the world needs to find a collective mindset regarding pandemics, it suggests. The focus should be on creating multilateral surveillance and prevention of the health system, public-private partnerships focused on vaccine development and protocols on cross border movements.

The Indian Express: Express writes that with the trust vote deferred, the Kamal Nath-led government will remain in question for 10 days. The speaker adjourned the house despite the presence of MLAs from both the sides, which is questionable. The daily notes that the decision can be seen to fall foul of another landmark judgment of the Supreme Court ‘SR Bommai vs Union of India’, which observed that the majority has to be established through a floor test.

The Times of India: TOI suggests that all the political prisoners in Kashmir should be released soon to rebuild the lost trust. The daily argues that since the situation has been relatively peaceful and India has been able to convey to the international bodies that Kashmir is its internal matter, this is the right time to release the detainees. It will be the first step towards laying the foundation of a new J&K, it says.

The Hindu: With the rise in the number of coronavirus cases, will the national and state-level health system be able to cope-up with the increasing demand, Hindu asks. For years, India’s health expenditure has been merely 1 per cent of the GDP. This epidemic can be viewed as an opportunity to fulfill PM Modi’s promise to increase health expenditure by 2.5 per cent.

With inputs from Unnati Sharma

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