Time To Unlock

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AT a time when India’s coronavirus cases have crossed six million and the number of deaths as a result of the contagion is over 95000, the government is mulling further opening up of the economy. In the Unlock 5 that is set to start from October 1, the government is likely to announce further relaxations that allow more economic activities to take place. One can expect some action on reopening of schools and colleges and also cinema halls. There are likely to be more measures to reopen previously closed sectors that will be known in the coming days.

One thing is clear, the union government is gradually moving towards re-opening the economy as it fears the economic fallout from stay-at-home measures will be worse than the virus. Indian economy like many economies across the world has already gone into recession. In India, the impact of the pandemic has been devastating. Millions of people have lost jobs. Millions of migrant labourers have lost livelihood and shelter in the cities forcing them to go back to their homes in the villages. This has triggered a massive suffering in its wake. And it will only get worse if the economy is not reopened.

Government has thus done well to take steps towards resuming the economic activity. In the west too, the governments are similarly moving towards getting back to normal life. And this is happening even as the Covid-19 cases are spiking and the experts are warning of a second wave of infections. But the further damage to the economy is seen to be a cure worse than the disease. More so in a country like India where a significant population lives below the poverty line. In the absence of jobs, people will die of hunger. Government is therefore doing well to unlock the economy. It should, however, make the businesses accountable for any laxity in implementing the norms of social distancing.

The world, meanwhile, is waiting for a vaccine with a bated breath. Though some vaccine candidates are in phase-3 trials, we are still some time away from their use against the contagion. So, the governments world-over have no option but to buy time till the vaccines are ready and can be produced on a mass scale. Though the cases in India have spiked exponentially in recent past, the number of infections is not huge given the size of its population. Moreover, on a positive note, the recoveries in India have been higher than the global average. With hopefully, the vaccine around the corner, things from hereon are only expected to look up. While the union government will need to take measures to steer the nation through this critical period, the onus is also on the ordinary people to exercise the safety precautions to ensure the infection is held in check.

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