Good News Diary
Health over economic emergency: India's choice
In the fight between lives and livelihoods, the Indian government has adopted the approach of saving lives and tackling with the Covid-19 health emergency.
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India has taken an unprecedented step to extend the lockdown by 19 additional days, until May 3, 2020. With this extension, India’s lockdown would be the most stringent across the world. However, the Prime Minister did say that the stringency of the lockdown would be reassessed on April 20. All states, districts, villages would be closely monitored to check compliance levels, and a decision will be made after assessing the severity of the spread of Covid-19.
But even with that, India emerges on the top with the stringency of the lockdown and at the bottom in terms of economic stimulus. So far, the India government has announced Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package for the vulnerable and the RBI has infused about Rs 3 crore of liquidity. But businesses say that even after nearly ten days of RBI’s announcement, banks have been reluctant to pass on loan moratorium or interest rate cuts.
In the fight between lives and livelihoods, the Indian government has adopted the approach of saving lives and tacking the Covid-19 health emergency. (Photo: DD News screengrab)
As India goes into harvest season, PM Modi did say that guidelines for ease of lockdown norms specific to the agriculture sector will be announced. The Prime Minister has also appealed to businesses to not resort to lay-offs and salary cuts.
Evidently in this fight between lives and livelihoods, the Indian government has adopted the approach of saving lives and tackling the health emergency that Covid-19 has unleashed. The PM also took this opportunity to lay out details of health infrastructure that India has to fight the spread — 600 hospitals and over a lakh beds — are available for patients affected by Covid-19, he said.
There was a wide expectation that the PM would opt for a staggered lift of the lockdown and get industrial clusters where no cases have been reported, up and running again. Economists and analysts have been warning about the meteoric costs of the lockdown which would continue to bog the Indian economy for a long time. Goldman Sachs has revised India’s growth projections for the year 2020-21 to 1.6 per cent.
As factories continue to be in shutdown mode, millions of workers could find themselves without a job once the lockdown has been lifted. That’s a challenge that the PM and his team will have to recognise and act on with as much alacrity and immediacy.