Communication & Media Studies

A lockdown is the health response to fight coronavirus, but where is the economic plan?

It might be worth having a time-bound, govt-controlled special purpose vehicle like a National Health Finance Corporation to coordinate the action plan.


Deepanshu Mohan, Associate Professor and Director, Centre for New Economics Studies, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.

Ayona Bhattacharjee, Assistant Professor, International Management Institute (IMI), New Delhi, India.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his second address to the nation on Covid-19 response, announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown for all citizens, requesting everyone to observe social distancing by staying home – and not crossing the Laxmanrekha to step outside.

The Prime Minister also announced a general economic package of Rs 15,000 crore to be utilised in scaling-up medical requirements for testing, personal protective equipment, ventilators, ICU beds etc.

A prolonged lockdown, in words of the Prime Minister, is perhaps the “only way” available to “flatten the curve” and minimise the incidence of infected cases across states.

While many (including us) would have expected the Prime Minister to announce more targeted measures of economic relief -and reassurance to many of the vulnerable socioeconomic groups and firms, which seemed overdue, his address didn’t include any of these steps. Nor did it highlight any detailed measures to increase the state-capacity and public provisioning of medical services (including increase in number of medical staff, doctors, nurses, pathologists, paramedics).

Two critical questions emerge at this point.

Is India’s healthcare-system capable of responding to a pandemic outbreak in days to come?

The Prime Minister clearly affirmed that countries with even the most sophisticated healthcare systems (US, Italy, France etc.) were not able to respond to the outbreak thus far.

And, if this also applies to India, a second question that still stands out is: What are the key economic and institutional measures that the Union government must take to go beyond its announcement of a 21-day complete lockdown, in fighting this virulent disease?

Published in: The Print

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