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-Rajeev Kumar (Editor-in-chief)

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Contain Covid, not economic growth (The Economic Times)

Even as the nationwide tally of fresh coronavirus cases is trending down, there are regional surges of Covid-19 and that is being met with the kind of response that India needs to avoid — lockdowns and curfews. While in absolute numbers, India has the third-largest number of Covid infections, behind the US and Brazil, relative to the population, the incidence of the disease and resultant casualties are low in India, as elsewhere in South Asia. The strategy to check the disease must rely on testing, treating those infected and quarantining their known contacts, while allowing the rest of society to get on with life.

In terms of the economic damage wrought by Covid, India is one of the worst-hit among major economies, the pandemic wiping out about a tenth of the nation’s GDP. Even if India were to grow in 2021-22 at the same rate as at which the economy declines in 2020-21, GDP at the beginning of 2022-23 would still be lower than what it was in 2019-20. This must have a bearing on the strategy to contain the pandemic. When large numbers of people live at the margins of subsistence, loss of economic opportunity can swiftly translate into loss of lives and severe degradation of the quality of life, regardless of the direct impact of the pandemic. Tax revenue for the Centre and the states combined just a little over 17% of GDP, economic woes can amplify fiscal frailty and compromise government action to act against the pandemic and provide relief to the pandemic-affected. Conserving growth and economic activity must be a prime goal of governments at the Centre and in the states when they tackle surges in the disease.

The RT-PCR test developed by IIT-Delhi, which costs a few hundred rupees and gives a result in three hours, must be deployed extensively. Mask wearing, social distancing, sanitisation and personal precautions must be evangelised and enforced. Ad-hoc intensive care units must be improvised to augment capacity. Focus on containment and treatment of Covid, instead of choking off economic growth.

Courtesy - The Economic Times.

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Help Sampadkiya Team in maintaining this website

इस वेबसाइट को जारी रखने में यथायोग्य मदद करें -

-Rajeev Kumar (Editor-in-chief, Sampadkiya.com)

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