Localised Lockdowns

Letters to Editor

By Bhavesh Agarwal, Class 10, Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai

We have seen a fundamental shift in strategy the Indian Government has employed to battle Covid-19. Initially, a blanket nationwide lockdown was imposed on the country. The idea was that it was a time of great uncertainty and we had insufficient data on the virus so, it was better to be safe than sorry. Slowly the nature of the restrictions changed. From a complete halt to economic activity to a gradual re-opening. We saw four major phases of lockdown followed by two phases of what is being referred to as ‘unlock’. Here, the government has essentially left the responsibility to the states. It no longer makes sense to have a lockdown throughout the nation. We can simply impose restrictions on high-risk areas. The states have been doing so. We have seen this occurring in major metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. In this article I will be talking about the consequences this move will have, both positive and negative. Firstly, it will confirm the predictions of several analysts that economic growth will be bolstered by rural India. With less stringent regulations, it will be easier to carry out economic activity. The speculation has been confirmed by automotive and FMCG companies who are already seeing positive signs of recovery in their rural segments. Events which no one could have foreseen are occurring. For example, automotive companies are seeing a huge boost in orders.

This is justified because there is a shift occurring towards personal transportation to adhere to social distancing norms however one could not have predicted that it would occur so rapidly. Demand is improving throughout the country but unfortunately, the equilibrium is not met. Companies are unable to keep up with supply. It is hard to ensure the safety of workers during this time. We saw the re-opening of a Bajaj factory in Aurangabad. There was a sudden spike in cases as several workers got infected. Even the employees are now unwilling to work and rightly so because even they fear to contract the virus. Companies would be unwilling to pay if workers do not arrive and employees are worried about their safety. This virtuous cycle can greatly harm the economy. The impact is worsened as industries are mostly based in metropolitan cities where cases are growing exponentially. Undoubtedly, the Indian economy needs to recover, that too, quickly. The low growth rates seen during the lockdown are unsustainable and will impact the poorest sections of society the hardest. However, even the opposing argument carries weight. India has a long way to go in developing health infrastructure. If the system is overwhelmed with cases, it would be near impossible to deal with it. Also, a vaccine is not in sight as of now. Prevention is our only option. We are still unaware of many characteristics of the virus and almost every week new information uncovered by researchers comes to light. State governments are trying to only impose lockdowns in high-risk zones to try and ensure both safety and prosperity. As I have stated in previous articles, the dilemma continues. This time with a new twist to it. The situation is very precarious in cities and social distancing norms need to be followed but economic activity needs to resume while doing the same. It is a delicate balance but we need to ensure we get it right.

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Bhavesh Agarwal Dhirubhai Ambani International School