The exit dilemma
Deepak Nayyar | Economist & former Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi
The Indian Express
Nayyar writes that while an exit from the lockdown poses a “real dilemma” for governments, it must be recognised that the “health of people and the health of an economy are interdependent”. Nayyar argues that the social and economic consequences of the lockdown have been severe with 90 per cent of the workforce consisting of self-employed, casual workers on daily wages, and informal workers losing their livelihood.
The writers suggest that economic activity in green zones and in districts with no infections, can be resumed and the orange zone districts can be included as they turn green.
A new line of action
Ram Madhav | National general secretary, BJP and director, India Foundation
The Indian Express
Madhav argues that this coronavirus pandemic “threatens to undo the world order” with countries becoming “authoritarian”, political scientists predicting the rise of a more closed “narrow-nationalist world” and economists writing off globalisation and free trade. The BJP leader says that India has set an example of “democratic activism” in fighting the Covid-19 challenge and that Modi has displayed calmness and optimism even in the face of “deliberate acts of provocation” and “misinformation”.
Coping with today, planning for tomorrow
Ramasubramaniam | Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Apollo Hospital, and Director, Capstone Clinic
Aruna Mohan | Consultant Paediatric Dentist, and Director, Capstone Dental Care
The writers note that the national lockdown has only helped to slow down the spread of the infections and has done little to eradicate it. They write that the flattening of the curve has only given the health system a breather in order to prepare for the “onslaught of the virus” and that “real problem” will start after the lockdown is lifted. They write that both partial and periodic lockdowns for weeks will lead to massive unemployment and recession and even when the lockdown is removed, several industries might not revive for upto a year.
Falling sick together: Covid-19 pandemic has immensely boosted the case for Universal Healthcare
Dipankar Gupta | Former professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University
The Times of India
Gupta argues that universal healthcare was never an option before in India, but with the coronavirus crisis has given a strong boost to the case for universal healthcare. He notes that strong private healthcare systems in developed countries such as the US and UK have also crumbled in the face of this pandemic. He says that in the end, public servants come to rescue. “Pandemics extract a terrible price but they teach us a fundamental lesson. When we fall sick together we realise the true value of staying connected,” concludes Gupta.
Covid-19: An opportunity to overhaul green policies
Bharati Chaturvedi | Founder and director, Chintan Environmental Research
Ashish Chaturvedi | Action Group + Director, Climate Change, GIZ, India
The authors argue that the concept of “One Health”, which focuses on the health of humans, animals and ecosystems must be “the pillar of environmental policy”. With the country under lockdown for over a month now, the environmental conditions have visibly improved. They note that zoonotic diseases which are spread from animals to humans are “linked to unsustainable economic practices of plundering diverse ecosystems through deforestation, mining, and illegal trade in wildlife”. Novel coronavirus is believed to be a zoonotic virus. We need to maximise this “opportunity of a large-scale overhaul of our environmental policies”, the authors argue.
Covid-19 and women@work
Kanika Datta | Columnist
Datta cites the Global Gender Gap Index in which India slipped 14 places from 2006 and landed at 112 out of 153 countries in December 2019. She states, “The worrying point is that India wallowed in the bottom five in the company of such regimes as Pakistan, Yemen, Syria and Iraq in terms of economic opportunities for women.”
After bearing the brunt of the Modi government’s economic policies such as demonetisation and GST, women will also be the biggest victim of the Covid-19 slowdown, writes Datta. While women were making inroads in non-traditional professions, that growth has been slowed and the fields that they do dominate in — hospitality, pubs, gyms, malls and beauty parlours and airlines — are the worst-hit sectors by the lockdown.
Why we must not persist with this lockdown
Rohit Prasad | Professor, MDI Gurgaon
Prasad writes that India has already spent nine times the entire health budget in just five weeks of Covid-19, a disease with a mortality rate five times lower than tuberculosis. The writer argues while a total lockdown is “ineffective” for Indians in urban slums, it is “unnecessary” for Indians in relatively cut off places. Prasad says that a partial and targeted lockdown is needed that made plans to ensure that internal migration didn’t occur. Prasad also explains that for the poor, this disease is no different from other diseases that have a cure, which is one of the factors for the “disproportionate response to Covid-19.”
India’s lightbulb moment: Not using this crisis for meaningful energy sector reform would be a waste
Vibhav Nuwal | Director, REConnect Energy
Himraj Dang | Consultant
Mahua Acharya |Asia director, CPI
The writers say that not to use the Covid crisis for meaningful reform would be a waste of “talent leadership and this rare lightbulb moment at every level”. This is another chance for ‘Make in India’ and bring in “fresh Covid-influenced industrial investment from Korea and Japan,” but for this, India should lower industrial power tariffs to meet competition. As far as idle, old and inefficient coal plants are concerned, the writers suggest that some of these units could be restructured and shut down based on their remaining plant life and generation costs.
Hindustan Times: The Supreme Court’s nudge asking the government to examine the feasibility of implementing the ‘one nation one ration card’ (ONORC) scheme, is critical, says HT. Many migrant workers stuck amid the lockdown don’t have a proof of identity like ration cards to access subsidised food grains via the well-stocked public distribution system (PDS). It suggests that the government must expand the well-stocked PDS system to cover all individuals and also fast-track the ONORC scheme.