Multilateral banks’ praise shows India covers both covid-19, economy well
They have termed the government’s lockdown measure as an important move to minimize the long term cost the virus spread will cause
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a Washington DC-based organization, which has drastically revised India’s GDP to 1.9 per cent for the current financial year from the 5.8 per cent made three months ago, has said that the country’s steps to fight the epidemic can cause a drop in economic activity, yet it is very wise and important decision to minimize the long term cost that the virus spread will cause.
The Bretton Woods institution is right in its assessment of things in the country. Similarly, the World Bank in its latest assessment of India’s financial situation said the country is expected to grow 1.5 per cent to 2.8 per cent in the current financial year due to the Covid-19 and lockdown.
Undoubtedly, the country’s economic condition can’t be in its good health when it is undergoing unprecedented challenges in the form of coronavirus, which has led to over 400 deaths, while more than 10,000 people have tested positive.
In comparison to other countries, India has been very much successful in containing the spread of the contagious virus, which is said to have originated from China’s Wuhan city, a claim which is ratified by The Lancet weekly medical journal too. “Covid-19 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2(SARS-CoV-2), began in Wuhan city, Hubei province in December 2019,” The Lancet says in its latest issue.
In India, where stress is laid on ‘Jaan Hai To Jahan Hai’ (where there is life, there is world), a saying that has been repeatedly used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his addresses to the nation, health comes first over money. Viewing it as a serious health challenge, airport screening began in India even before the country reported zero cases of coronavirus. A 14-day isolation was made necessary for every foreign visitor even before the country reported 100 Covid-19 cases. Also, a 21-day nationwide lockdown was imposed when there were 550 coronavirus cases.
In comparison, Italy had reported 9,172 positive cases when it had imposed nationwide lockdown on March 9; Spain had reported 5,753 Covid-19 cases when it imposed 15-day lockdown on March 14; France had over 6,000 cases when it had slapped nationwide lockdown on March 17. While these countries, including the US are today finding themselves in the whirlwind of a deadly virus with none strong enough to tear asunder menace of Covid-19, India is giving the contagious disease a tough fight with whatever resources it has.
The key thinking behind India’s strategy to contain the fatal virus is to break its chain by imposing social distancing and lockdown. Today, India conducts 18,000 tests per day, and aggressively tracks coronavirus cases. Besides, health infrastructure has been ramped up with beds, ventilators and other necessary equipment to handle coronavirus patients, seeing a huge jump. Currently, over one lakh beds are available for the virus-afflicted patients and more than 600 hospitals are dedicated for Covid-19 patients in the country.
All this shows that the country is in no mood to show any leniency in its fight against the disease and this is what the multilateral financial organisations confirm in their statements when they term the government’s lockdown measure an important decision to minimize the long term cost the virus spread will cause. IMF’s Asia-Pacific director Changyong Rhee is also optimistic about the government’s economic measures taken to stem the crisis that has hit all sections of people in the aftermath of the rise in Covid-19 afflictions. “The fiscal stimulus as well as the monetary policy easing adopted by the Indian government and the Reserve Bank are in the direct direction, but whether they will be enough depends on how this containment policy is just adopted, how successful it will be,” Rhee was quoted by a news agency as saying.
The statement has come when the country is planning for the second stimulus package to cater to the needs of employment generation and economic growth in the post Covid-19 scenario.