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Behavioural Change

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Much is being commented in hindsight upon the decision taken to enforce lockdown in countries across the world, as well the timing of it. In the light of what is known today, it is clear that the appropriate action was taken at the appropriate time in India, which may have prevented the spread of COVID-19 to a disastrous level. Even slightly later would have meant not having the time to prepare the absolutely necessary medical facilities and obtain the testing kits, as well as other protective equipment. Of all the countries, the federal structure has worked particularly well in India, with state governments carrying out their responsibilities as best they could.

While countries like the United States that delayed their response are now facing pressure to jettison the lockdown because of the adverse economic impact, India has already begun the process of graded withdrawal based on data obtained from the experience thus far. At least, there is now a good idea of which parts of the country are hard hit and which are not. This period of ‘hardship’ has also driven home to most people the necessity for social distancing and other precautions. The government will work on reiterating the need for precautions when economic and commercial activity is resumed. Functioning of the Aarogya Setu App will become particularly critical when there is more activity and interaction among people. Technology will prove useful in many other ways to bring back ‘normalcy’ in a world that has been greatly disrupted by nature’s protest.

People are also pointing out the lessons to be learned from this catastrophe. They point out the improvement in the condition of the rivers, the environment, and the oceans because human activity has been diminished. It is a reminder that climate change is a reality that needs to be addressed with just as much urgency as the ongoing pandemic. It will require lifestyle changes in patterns of consumption and production. In the case of India, it also underlines the need to limit population growth as it has reached well beyond sustainable levels. Owing to the potentially huge numbers that could have been impacted, the Indian Government was constrained to impose harsher methods than would otherwise have been necessary. Just the density of population in many parts of the country, particularly the big cities, as well as the fundamental lack of education among the poor, has further complicated the situation. The people must learn the necessary lessons the pandemic has taught so that behavioural changes can be introduced in the long and short term, favourable to a healthier and more prosperous future.