Was Lock Down the only alternative? Should it just have been planned better?


As said by Ramanan Laxminarayan, an epidemiologist and economist who directs the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy in Washington, D.C in an interview with The New Yorker-

At the stage we were at, the lockdown had to have happened, to slow down the epidemic. Otherwise, given all the reasons I spoke of earlier, we would have had a really sharp peak headed into April. And, generally, for politicians to act proactively to prevent death is not very popular, because the public will never give credit for deaths they averted. The public will only blame them for the damage they caused. So, from that perspective, Modi was very decisive and acted quickly.

Now, could there have been better planning of the lockdown? Certainly, yes. I think, given the complexities of India, some things were focussed on, like supplies and food and so forth, but not others, like how these migrants would get home or how people would cross borders if they lived in a different state and had to get home and couldn’t afford to live in the place where they were, or the homeless, or whatever it is.

You’re right. It was rushed. But, I think, in the case of demonetization, that’s a different experience, because there wasn’t a rush to do it at a particular time. They could have waited a week and done it probably better. In this case, I would say that there was very little time available, just because everyone is learning from everyone else. I think the scenes from Italy just shook people here. And then what started happening in the United States was even more disconcerting.

And then when the modelling estimates came out, saying, “Look, this is going to be even worse here because we’re not prepared for it,” that really was something which shook the government into action. I think, in this case, they legitimately had less time, but I certainly think that a bit more planning and organization should have been brought into it.

And it is absolutely gut-wrenching to see what’s happening in the news stories. But, remember, the news stories are only reporting on what they can see in the urban areas. We have no idea about the rural distress, what’s happening out there, whether farmers are okay, whether people are eating, and so forth. So I suspect we have not seen the end of this lockdown story.