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HomeGeopolitical CompassSouth & Southeast AsiaThe Callousness of India’s COVID-19 Response

The Callousness of India’s COVID-19 Response

Author: Vidya Krishnan

Affiliation: Independent Journalist

Organization/Publisher: The Atlantic

Date/Place: March 27, 2020/ U.S.

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 1651

Link: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/03/india-coronavirus-covid19-narendra-modi/608896/

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus, China, Wuhan, India, Poverty

Brief:

After reporting its first case of deadly Coronavirus on January 30th, India, a country with the world’s second largest population, recorded 1,251 cases of Coronavirus and 35 deaths while Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enforced a lockdown in India without any proper planning of large-scale, wide-spread poverty. This analysis shows how the hardline Hindu-nationalist government recklessly enforced a lockdown after weeks of denial that the infection was seeping-in to Indian society. India’s Coronavirus lockdown, the writer argues, is the world’s harshest—laced with police brutality, lacking transparency and exemplifying a shortage of compassion. The BJP government has put responsibility for containing the outbreak on its citizens, as it fails to provide a robust official support system. The lockdown to contain the virus is punishing the most vulnerable in Indian society where more than 21% of its massive population lives “below poverty line.” The author details how the lockdown was announced late night then enforced mid-night on March 24, giving people just 4 hours to prepare for 4 weeks stay at home. Unlike Europe, everything was closed the next morning with nearly 100 million migrant workers finding themselves nowhere to go; now a common scene witnessed during the ongoing lockdown. Moreover, unlike governments in Europe that have offered stimulus plans of up to 20 percent of GDP, India’s stimulus is grossly inadequate, offering less than 1 percent of its GDP. The author, who has been covering India’s health sector for various newspapers and journals, says India lacks on this front and lost time to prepare for the COVID-19 disaster at a time when India is ruled by those who believe in myths and unscientific solutions. She also attributes the lack of preparedness to Modi government’s focus on anti-Muslim citizenship actions that triggered state-backed community discrimination including anti-Muslim pogroms and utilization of police forces to suppress protests.

By: Riyaz Ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-Resident associate

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