In India, the fight against Covid-19 has brought an unforeseeable equation of benefits and costs. As India reaches the 25000 mark of confirmed cases with around 800 deaths, it is yet to be declared a worst-hit country.
The Economist report indicated that the lockdown measures brought on 25th March might have “bought some time”. The confirmed cases are doubling every eight days, which could have doubled every three days without the lockdown.
Ordinarily, air pollution kills at least 1.2 million Indian a year but, “cleaner air during its covid-19 lockdown may have saved 17 times more lives than the (oﬃcial) number lost to the virus”. Levels of nitrogen dioxide are 85% lower than in recent years.
These benefits are eclipsed by the debilitating effects of the quarantine measures devised by the authorities. The report says, “According to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy, unemployment has shot up shockingly, from 8% at the beginning of March to 26% in mid-April”.
Nomura, an investment bank, forecast that GDP growth of 4.5% could slip down to -0.5%. At the same time, “one estimate suggests an extra 100m people could fall below the World Bank’s poverty line of $3.20 a day”.
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On top, “there may be a jump in the 30,000 who perish from tuberculosis since the lockdown has made it much harder to get treatment”. Yet there is a silver lining, as reported rapes in Delhi drop off by 83%.
“National Council of Applied Economic Research, a think-tank, found that 55% of respondents in Delhi had seen their incomes shrink sharply since it began, and another 30% somewhat”, the report points out.
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