Ever since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic on the 30th of January, the global superpowers have been rendered in a state of emergency. The race to protect the population and find a cure has been the center of global diplomacy. India has seen special global attention owing to its high population and a below average healthcare system. The urban areas were a major cause of concern due to high population density. With international travel, trading and businesses closed for almost close to six months now, the effects of the pandemic has affected countries. In this article, we will discuss in detail India’s Covid-19 response. We will also look at the present strategies and plans to revive the plunging economy.
India’s Initial Precautionary Steps
India recorded its first Covid-19 positive case on January 30th, the day WHO declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic. The government announced a countrywide lock-down on the 22nd of March. India had already started screening international passengers from 6th March onward. The countrywide lock-down affecting close to 1.2 billion people was the most strictly enforced one in the world with police and special forces deployed. The lock-downs were enforced in phases over a period of few months. The results of the strict lock-down was successful in delaying the spread of the disease, but could do little to keep the outbreak in check. By September 2020, India recorded the highest instance of active cases in the world, although the fatality rates were way below the global average.
Present COVID-19 handling in India
At present, the number of new active cases is seeing a decline in India. This new change can be attributed to massive testing being conducted across the country. Number of total tests makes up a whopping 7,67,17,728 units of samples tested until October 1st for COVID19. The high number of tests, which is estimated at around 15 lakh tests a day, is expected to have helped pull down the COVID-19 graph. India is predicted to have reached its peak in terms of new active cases and is expected to witness a decline in cases in the backdrop of robust testing and medical infrastructure. The high testing has resulted in early detection, isolation and faster recovery of patients. All these have led to a positive case recovery rate at 83.76% with the case fatality rate at 1.56%.
Plunging Economy – A Major cause of worry?
With the bold decision to enforce a country wide lock-down by the government, the economic activity of the country has witnessed a sharp decline. With shops and businesses closed, the economic growth of the country has been on a downward turn for a while now. Recent IMF reports pegs the Indian GDP to have shrunk to a negative 10.5%, a statistic which places India below its neighbors like Pakistan and Bangladesh. Keeping in view the current economic slowdown, the government of India had announced a host of measures to follow in hopes of reviving the economic downturn. These measures range from major reforms to social causes. Some measures adopted by the government include:
1) Atmanirbhar Bharat(Self Reliant India)
The government of India announced a combined measure of relief fiscal measure and policy reform on the 12th of May, 2020. The idea of the move was to help and facilitate the businesses and individuals to better cope with the ongoing situation created due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A relief package of worth Rs. 20 lakh crore which makes up for a tentative 10 percent of the countries GDP was announced by the government for the same.
2) Reforms In Agriculture Sector
India being an agriculture based country, a majority of its citizens are involved in agricultural and related services. This makes the sector a crucial one to revive the economy. Major agricultural reforms are needed which allows free and fair trade for farmers. The government has recently cleared a critical farm bill. It allows farmers of any state in India be able to sell their produce in other states without any added taxes or regulation.
3)Low Crude Oil Prices
India is an oil dependent country. It imports a major share of its oil requirements. Due to the global economic downturn following the pandemic, it has crashed the oil market. This has been a boon for India as it has been able to import a large share of oil reserve at reasonable prices.
4)Trading and Stock Markets
The Indian stock exchange has been performing rather well owing to foreign direct investment and increased domestic movement. Trading has been accepted by most Indian citizen as a reliable source for passive income in the pandemic.