COVID-19 a global pandemic as declared by WHO has become a severe cause of concern for most part of the world. Specially its social and economic impact has been heart wrenching. The tension on one hand is escalating globally with rising number of deaths and patient with infection. A recent update from WHO informs us that total number of reported cases across the world has surpassed 6,00,000 with over 30,000 deaths. Spreading from its base epicentre Wuhan in China, COVID-19 has gone on to impact extensively some of the much advance nations in terms of public healthcare. Nations like US, UK and Italy have come across to be worse hit by the pandemic. Italy has even surpassed China with number of reported cases rising to 92,472 and death toll rising to 10,023. India on other hand has just reported 1300 plus cases of COVID-19 infected people with death toll of 27. The updates are being provided continuously by the Union Health Ministry. A broader analysis of COVID-19 impact on some of the major developed nations like USA, UK, France, Germany and Italy makes many speculate that a densely populated developing nation like India is still under reporting the actual number of cases with COVID- 19 infection. Though around the world trends of confirmed cases started emerging from early December. India on the contrary reported its first case on 30th January 2020. Indian government thought woke up from its slumber in the early weeks of March to take up certain stringent measures to curb the spread of virus but there are still certain questions that are emerging in terms of preparedness of government to tackle with deadly impact of COVID-19 medically, socially and economically. On one hand India yet not concentrating effectively on opening more testing centres for determining the spread of lethal virus and on the other hand the under reporting of cases with infection is adding to the mounting tension. Taking clues from some of the key nations like South Korea and Singapore, who have been successful in bringing down the impact of COVID- 19 by complete lockdown, India has also declared a 21 days nationwide lockdown. The measure is suggested to break the chain of transmission but going by some credible reports that government has not effectively prepared itself for these 21 days. It is evident from the chaos that has been created amongst the public for hoarding daily essential goods. Migrant workers and daily wage workers are left without any job and basic facility in terms of transportation to travel back home. Resulting them to travel several miles from the Urban spaces like Delhi and Mumbai to the rural parts of India. So far government has taken certain emergency measures to deal with these problems that were caused due to the sudden announcement of lockdown.
Government recently announced a relief package of 1,70,000 crore relief measure to deal with economic impact of COVID-19 on organized and unorganized sectors. We getting to see that marginalized communities like daily wage workers and migrant workers are gravely affected by the lockdown declaration in India. Government will have to take some effective measures to sustain the livelihood of those effected. One of the appreciable measures escalated at the governance level is the spread of awareness about the COVID-19 virus and clearing of rumour spread air pertaining to infection. India will have to prepare itself to deal with the tougher times ahead as even IMF chief has recently announced that the world economy has entered phase of recession, much worse in scale as compared to 2009 recession. India already coping with sluggish economy and rising rate of unemployment, in coming months it may have to deal with far worse conditions of starving and unemployed labourers and daily wage workers. Government needs to come up with more pro-active measures to sustain the depreciating value of our economy. Procrastinating on working miracles out of lockdown measure is only going to worsen the condition as we have seen in case of Italy and Spain. India fortunate to have both best and worst examples in front of her to take lessons and act wisely. Many Corporate giants and industrialist have like Anand Mehindra, Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani have come forward to help government in providing monitory aid in building more make shift hospitals, testing centres and medical equipment like ventilators, N-95 Masks and proper medical gear for doctors treating COVID-19 patients. Currently the government is putting all its focus on enabling the healthcare facilities in India for treating and testing rising number of COVID-19 cases.
The only means that can favourably help Indian government in coping with the impact of pandemic is a structured and systemic planning that shall go along side the nationwide lockdown. In words of renowned journalist Shekhar Gupta ‘India has all the potential to come out of a pandemic situation like the one right now. Our history of dealing with epidemics like smallpox and polio goes prove that India does have a vital capacity of dealing with such difficult times’. So it would be too early to speculate or right of Indian situation. Government is some accurate decision for policy measures in right direction. One just hopes that we land in a book of inspiration for dealing with such pandemic like South Korea and Singapore
Written By Dr. Kunwar Siddarth Dadhwal (Asst. Professor, Liberals Art, Amity University, Mumbai)