Politics seems to have returned to normal after the stand-off with China in Ladakh, indicated by Prime Minister Modi being asked, as usual, to answer questions posed by Rahul Gandhi, the great interlocutor and keeper of India’s conscience. So, now, everybody can get back to dealing with the more immediate problem of the Corona Pandemic and comatose economy. The much sought after ‘flattening of the curve’ seems nowhere in sight, even though – going by India’s population – the numbers are still relatively under control. It is clear from the experience around the world that ‘containment’ of the virus has its limitations for a variety of reasons. The problem can be exacerbated by confused policy and ineffective implementation. Again, India has done well through its clarity of approach, having decided early on the lockdown and, now, moving gradually towards opening up with the much required discipline.
It is clear that the biggest problem is where the density of population is high. India’s hotspots are Mumbai and Delhi, as also smaller cities where physical distancing is a challenge. In Dehradun, for instance, the administration has done well to continue with complete lockdown on Saturday and Sunday, which is a regular reminder that the danger remains and it is not the time to relax. The treatment and quarantine protocols are also being improved progressively with greater knowledge of how the infection progresses. The results are better where authorities have more effectively and innovatively implemented the protocols.
Compare this to nations where the governments have not even decided on how to deal with the problem, such as the US and Brazil. Some of the leaders’ actions are downright invitations for the virus to strike, such as the election rally held by President Trump. The consequences of this rash act will become known in a few days. It is not as though this was an ‘essential’ activity that could not be avoided. Added to this is the refusal by people in many countries not to wear masks, thereby inviting the virus to strike.
Although it is still too early to arrive at conclusions, it can be said that, overall, India’s response has been good, disciplined and fluid when major speed bumps, like the migrants’ issue, came up. Even the military stand-off with China did not throw the government off its stride. If the corona epidemic is not a totally random event, deliberate action should achieve proportionate results. India should, logically, benefit from its better managed approach.