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India under Lockdown: The downsides of under-reacting were simply too scary

Will the lockdown really be worth it? Honestly, this is impossible to answer. What we do know is that the rate of infection and the death tolls in Western countries were frankly terrifying.

So India is officially on lockdown in an attempt to arrest the spread of Wuhan Coronavirus. Twenty one days. For what it’s worth, India was already locking down anyway. The Indian Railways had come to a halt. All international flights had been stopped. A day later, all domestic flights were stopped. Inter-state travel was banned. Then, the lockdown was announced in 75 districts. A day before the PM’s announcement, Maharashtra had gone into a complete curfew already.

The Prime Minister has now formalized what was happening. As far as the economic cost goes,  the 75 districts locked down the previous day would represent most of the GDP of the country anyway. After all, one interesting feature of the Wuhan Corona virus pandemic is that it is going from the “rich” to the “poor.”

Will the lockdown really be worth it? Honestly, this is impossible to answer. What we do know is that the rate of infection and the death tolls in Western countries were frankly terrifying.

Yesterday, 150 people died in the US. Almost 250 people dead in France. So bad is the situation that the tragedy in places like US and France isn’t even being reported a whole lot. The headlines belong to Italy and Spain, were 600-700 people are dying daily. This may not even be the full death toll. The Spanish Army, now out on the streets, is finding bodies of old people who had been left around to die.

Article by Independent
Article from Independent

The worst in humanity has begun to surface. The fear of imminent death is looming and people are doing savage things. In India, we hear that landlords are beginning to turn doctors away from renting homes! There was the video of the poor Indigo employee whose family is being ostracized by her neighborhood. In panic like this, the animal instinct is now baring itself.

In India, while we have seen few deaths so far, the number of infections is beginning to climb at a scary pace. Ten days ago, we would see 10-20 infections a day. Within no time, it rose to 30-50 a day. Now, we are lucky if we can keep it under 100 infections a day. What if this exploded to 1000 a day? Or 10,000 a day? The US is now reporting several thousand cases a day. The same could happen in India.

Luckily, the death toll has stayed very much under control so far. But who knows for how long? After seeing the way the number of infections began increasing, do we really have the appetite to run the experiment and find out?

One thing that we can say for certain is this : Every country which tried to take it easy and thought the crisis would blow over, has paid a terrible price.

Here is the President of France on March 9.

Untitled
Article from Euronews

And here is the President of France on March 16.

Untitled
Article from BBC

Well, that escalated quickly.

The British initially said they had a plan. They wanted to go on with their lives, as usual, chasing something called ‘herd immunity.’  This is where they are now.

Untitled
Article from CNN

In the United States, President Trump initially compared the Wuhan Corona virus to the flu, which kills 37000 Americans every year. But he appears to have changed his mind again.

One thing seems clear. The virus does not spare anyone. It does not care about anyone. If we under-react, the virus could extract a terrible toll. It seems everybody eventually comes around and undertakes extreme measures. The only question is when.

India has gone into lockdown with only 500 or so cases. That makes us one of the nations earliest on the curve, to implement extreme measures. But waiting another week could have been catastrophic.

Of course, the lockdown brought out the usual caravan of Modi haters and their narrow-minded taunts, now all over social media. Why isn’t everything better planned? Why couldn’t India have tested all 1.3 billion people already? Did you hear that Iceland has tested its entire population, all ten of them? Well, maybe not, but you get the picture anyway. And now that 1.3 billion people are under lockdown, where is the plan for doorstep delivery of supplies to hundreds of millions of households.

There are two possible explanations for this. Maybe they are our sincerest well-wishers. Maybe they have sky high expectations from India, now expected to succeed at something where all of Europe and the United States have failed miserably.

Or maybe they are just impatient to see India fail and by extension, Modi. There has been a real thirst and a real curiosity in the West about India. For Indian liberals and their sponsors in the West, it seems catastrophe in India can’t come soon enough. With the lockdown, there is now genuine fear in these liberal circles that India won’t hit the per day 1000+ death toll they have been promising their editors in the West. For backup, they search for opportunity in the terrible economic toll that this lockdown will take. Either way, the more the misery of India, the more they make merry.

We really are on our own here. It does look like nobody wants us to succeed. Which is a disheartening thought, considering that Indian people have never wished harm upon any other nation. But India’s growing might has opened up deep seated insecurities and prejudices both about skin color and non-Abrahamic faiths.

The good news is that our fate is in our own hands now. If the lockdown succeeds, we will make history. Let’s make it happen.

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Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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