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India’s lockdown was put in place suddenly with just four hours’ notice, with prime minister Narendra Modi ordering that from that point onwards no one should leave their homes for twenty-one days. With a population of 1.3 billion, this was the largest and most severe action to combat COVID-19 globally. Since that announcement the lockdown has now been extended to forty days.

Modi received intense criticism for the lack of planning before lockdown, due to the number of citizens that are now trapped living in cramped inner-city dwellings with meagre sanitation and poor public healthcare. The country also has 470 million internal migrants who now jobless, and due the termination of public transport, have been forced to walk hundreds of miles home to their native villages.

A relief package of £18 billion, has been announced to help those (94% of the population) that work in the country’s informal industries, but top economists worry that this might not be enough, and that those most in need might not be reached. The package which includes food and cash transfers has also spiked reproach, as the money set aside to provide this was just 1% of India’s GDP, compared to Singapore’s much more generous offering at 10% of its GDP.

India’s economy, which largely powered by exports produced by hard labour, has been heavily hit by the COVID-19 crisis with many orders from overseas cancelled due to force major, leaving completed shipments of consumer items abandoned at ports. With India already predicted to experience its first full year of economic contraction, Modi’s extension of the lockdown has been bemoaned as it is set to directly result in an output loss of 8%.

However, Modi’s speedy action has shown a slowing in the growth rate of the pandemic which, by the 6th April, had reduced from a rate of doubling every three days, to rate of doubling every six days. India is now reporting death rates in city hotspots at far lower than other similar locations globally. The Lancet medical journal has attributed this success to India’s swift and effective lockdown, but also to the youthful population. More testing is required to investigate the reason behind this miraculous loss of life, and to assess if home deaths are being properly recorded.

Economics and Medicine applicants may wish to have a tutorial style discussion in which they weigh up the relative positives and negatives of lockdown, taking India as an example.

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