Blog 4: India’s Response to COVID-19
The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, while devastating, has afforded a rare opportunity in politics—the ability to see governments of different types react to similar situations. For India, the disease’s outbreak may have been an opportunity for the BJP government to improve their blemished record; however, their response to this disease has been characteristically draconian and unfeeling.
India’s primary response to the coronavirus has been an order for “all 1.3 billion people in the country to stay inside their homes” (Gettleman and Schultz). The order came quickly—people were told just hours beforehand—and was done in order to slow the virus’s spread in India’s “densely populated quarters” (Gettleman and Schultz). It was put in place on March 25, continues today, and has recently been extended (Gettleman and Schultz, “India to Extend…”). The overall effects of the order have been mixed. On one hand, it has slowed the disease’s outbreak, and even led to drastically lower levels of pollution in Delhi (“Live Coverage”, Gettleman and Conway). Yet it has also led to a remarkable increase in the already large homeless population of India, as many people found themselves without jobs, and, consequently, “without food and shelter” (Abi-habib). Compounding the problematic situation, conflicting orders from state and national governments have left police to follow their own directives, which has led to a spike in police brutality (Abi-habib). And, as poorer citizens fear starvation, many worry that riots will break out on the streets (Abi-habib). (Additionally, Katie Nail’s blog serves as an excellent resource to discover other effects of the order which are not mentioned here.)
Sadly, the horrific outcomes that have resulted from the country’s response to the virus are, in some ways, unsurprising. Indeed, the country’s response is characteristic of the administration as a whole—marked by power, yet out-of-touch with their lower-income citizens. The pervasive homelessness that now sweeps the nation serves only as a reminder of the Modi government’s failure to count all people groups equally, even when it comes to something as serious as a virus.
Abi-habib, Maria, and Sameer Yasir. “India’s Coronavirus Lockdown Leaves Vast Numbers Stranded and Hungry.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Mar. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/03/29/world/asia/coronavirus-india-migrants.html?searchResultPosition=5.
Gettleman, Jeffrey, and Kai Schultz. “Modi Orders 3-Week Total Lockdown for All 1.3 Billion Indians.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Mar. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/world/asia/india-coronavirus-lockdown.html?searchResultPosition=11.
Gettleman, Jeffrey, and Rebecca Conway. “India Savors a Rare Upside to Coronavirus: Clean Air.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Apr. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/world/asia/india-pollution-coronavirus.html?searchResultPosition=1.
“India to Extend Lockdown Against Coronavirus, While Spain Eases Work Rules: Live Coverage.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 Apr. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/world/coronavirus-news.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage.