India in Lockdown: Eight Questions on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Between January 2020, when the first COVID-19 case was detected in Kerala, and August 2020, India has recorded over 22 lakh cases, and ranks third among countries with the most number of infections. To say that the Indian state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been mismanaged is an understatement. When the nationwide lockdown was first announced in March, the Prime Minister stated that India would be pushed back “21 years” if the 21-day lockdown was not strictly adhered to. Today, over 100 days later, the situation does not show signs of improvement. 

In the state’s response to the pandemic, the most glaring error has been the lack of a clear strategy to address the crisis. Immediately after the lockdown was announced, the country saw a surge of migrant labour leaving urban centres, owing to job and housing insecurity. In the absence of planned transport, a large number were compelled to make the journey home on foot, and nearly 200 people died on their way. There was initially little to no response from the centre and the measures announced were a case of too little, too late. 

Moreover, under the pretext of the pandemic, several states began to change their labour laws ostensibly to improve efficiency, but in effect, negating the strides made in labour reforms over the last few decades. Working hours have been increased, severance pay has been discontinued, and pay for overtime has been scrapped, among other measures. 

Meanwhile, India’s precarious healthcare system continues to be overburdened with an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. A flawed strategy of “unlocking” the nation has only added to this. New Delhi’s healthcare infrastructure, despite the investments made by the Aam Aadmi Party, is on the verge of collapse. The decision to relax restrictions in Mumbai, the epicentre of coronavirus infections in the country, has resulted in a steady stream of patients. Hospitals are reported to be running out of doctors, space, and equipment to treat patients. 

If one thing is certain, it is that the pandemic has exposed a failed governance model in India and across the world. Much has been written on COVID-19 and its effects on the sociopolitical and economic spheres of human life. To test your knowledge on the COVID-19 pandemic, take our quiz below.

 

 

 

To know more, read our coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Digital Surveillance Systems to Combat COVID-19 May Do More Harm Than Good | Krithika Bhardwaj, 2020
  2. COVID-19 and Aadhaar: Why the Union Government’s Relief Package is an Exclusionary Endeavour | Reetika Khera and Anmol Somanchi, 2020
  3. A Gender-responsive Policy and Fiscal Response to the Pandemic | Jashodhara Dasgupta and Sona Mitra, 2020
  4. Lives and Livelihood: An Exit Strategy from Lockdown | Partha Chatterjee et al, 2020
  5. Labour Law Changes: Innocuous Mistakes or Sleight of Hand? | Atul Sood and Paaritosh Nath, 2020
  6. COVID-19 and Dwindling Indian Federalism | Pankhuri Agrawal, 2020
  7. COVID-19 and Infectious Misinformation | Aniket Sule, 2020

 

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