A few decisions automatically find its own place in the history books & debated forever by generations. One of such decision which surely going to be part of history books will be the decision of imposing nationwide lockdown on 24th March in India by PM Modi led BJP government.
With Economy contracting by 23.9%, millions of job losses, still no signs of recovery & adding to the fact that India now in top 3 of the most number of Covid-19 cases in the world, it’s evident that lock down has badly affected people of the country. All including Economists fear worst is yet to come & the present crisis is just a beginning of bad times in store for the Indian Economy. So, can we safely say that lock down was a poor decision by Modi Government? Before coming to any conclusion, let us try to explore what was going through the minds of Modi Government which led to the decision of nationwide lock down.
I always believe- Any decision must be reviewed in the light of the context or scenario in which it has been taken then only we will be able to know where the decision taken was right or wrong?
What was the scenario in 2020 mid-March?
Number of confirmed cases– in India was just over 50 on the day of 24th March when Lock down was announced by Modi Government. India is the only country to impose such a strict lock down virtually stopping movement of 1.3 billion people. Surely, this small number of confirmed cases didn’t warrant lock down.
Massive media campaigns by Chinese Government for Covid-19- I don’t remember when last time Chinese government was so opened to share internal news that it shared in about Corona cases & its impacts in Jan to March. It was one of its kind of pandemic & no one outside China knows what exactly the corona is but surely the news, pictures & videos created panic among the world leaders. The government of India very well know that Indian health infrastructure will not be able to fight this battle in its present state & need to buy time for building such health infrastructures. It can be easily understood from that fact that during initial days, test can be done only in Pune but in the lock down, Government ramped up the testing facilities. Today, we have more than 1000 labs qualified to do Covid tests.
With many countries already in grip of Corona virus, the search for the vaccine & medicines started on war footing & at that time it looks that we are just few months away from getting a vaccine. India being largest producer of vaccines in the world, Government was very confident that they can address this problem but till that time they need to save its people from infections & so lock down is the only way to slow the spread of the virus.
Unlike other places, Indian culture is very vibrant where people love to meet face to face, social gatherings are part of life, many of us live in large united families. So, there may be fear in the minds of government that people will not ably follow social distancing norms. Government needed time to educate people on new norms of hygiene & social distancing & for that they needed time. So, lock down is the only solution.
PPE ( Personal Protective Equipment)– India is one of the largest producers of PPE kit, masks, hand sanitizer etc but still it was not positioned to match requirement of its huge population. So, the manufacturer needed a bit of breathing space to increase the production & distribution capacity of these much-needed weapons to fight Corona.
If we closely review the context & situation in which the decision of lock down was taken, I can say with full responsibility that the lock down decision was right at that time. But yes, in the manner the decision was taken was not right. Government should have given at least a week’s time to people of the country before imposing lock down.
This brings to my next point- of highest number of cases getting reported in India, USA & some European countries. Before I tell you Why? We need to understand here that all these are most vibrant democracies of the world. There is freedom of speech, Independent Media, transparency in the work culture in all these countries. All these countries are doing maximum number of tests & reporting actual numbers whereas few countries like Iran, Pakistan have stopped conducting tests for Covid-19 & few others have stopped reporting it to the world.
As I told you, it’s difficult to imagine what other leaders would have done during this time of uncertainty but BJP led Modi Government taken most of the decision right during this pandemic. History will always ask the questions but when it comes to choose between life & economy, the government took the right decision of choosing life knowing that vaccine could be available soon however not everything goes as per expectation. Delay in discovery of Vaccines led to economic chaos & Government forced to unlock when cases are rising in the country. Lastly, Decisions should not be viewed from the lens of right or wrong because great leaders do not take decision by thinking whether its right or wrong, decisions are taken to serve the purpose.