ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why It Makes Sense to Leave and Stay Gone

India experienced a mass exodus of informal sector workers who were heading out of cities, bound homewards. Given the paucity of transport infrastructure, this is translating into one of the greatest mass tragedies of post-independence India. This has been rationalised as a combination of people moving out because of a lockdown-induced loss of earnings and irrational fears stoked by the pandemonium. This exodus is, in fact, a perfectly rational response to the rapid spread of the virus in informal housing localities. Three different policies are outlined whose combination could have, and can still, reduce, if not entirely stop, the exodus.

A Faulty Response to the COVID-19-induced Crisis

India’s response to the COVID-19-induced economic crisis is proving to be ineffective. The neo-liberal embrace of monetary measures that infuse cheap liquidity as a substitute for fiscal activism has not resulted in faster credit growth. The reliance on banks and credit to mediate the stimulus, rather than directly injecting demand through government spending, is not working. Agents overwhelmed by a demand recession are not seen by banks as creditworthy borrowers, and the former in turn are reticent to borrow, fearing that they will not be able to service the debt.

Emerging Governmentality and Biopolitics of COVID-19 in India

Measures like disciplining and quarantining are associated with the governments’ extraordinary powers during unprecedented times. In this context, the biopolitics of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is discussed. When the steps taken by the government to contain the spread of coronavirus are failing, we need new imageries to tackle the challenges that lie ahead of us.

COVID-19 Mortality Trends and Reporting

During the early phase of the coronavirus pandemic, Italy had a high infection burden and death rate while India appeared much less affected. By 22 May, Italy and India had 3,770 and 86 infections/million population with mortality rates of 14.24% and 3.03%, respectively. There was speculation about hidden advantages to India leading to a false sense of security. These differences are readily explained by the time and frequency of virus importations and the differences of the age profile of Italy and India.

Time for a Massive Fiscal Stimulus

Only bold interventions by the government can ensure a quick recovery of the economy.

Of Access and Inclusivity

Can online education enable all students to participate in and benefit from it equally? Massive online education without addressing the huge access gap and disparities in digital infrastructure would not only exclude a vast majority of students from learning opportunities but also exacerbate the existing socio-economic disparities in educational opportunities.

COVID-19 and Population Density

The article explores various methodologies of estimating the relation between population density and COVID-19 cases to suggest that deaths per million may not be a sound indicator as a guide to public policy. It also infers that population density alone may not suffice to explain the spread of the virus. Social and living conditions could play a more dominant role in explaining the spread.

Spatial Effects of COVID-19 Transmission in Mumbai

This article is on the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the city of Mumbai with the pandemic considered as a local public bad with spillover effects across the wards of the city. Spatial econometric techniques are used to model these spillovers using both cross-section as well as panel data. The main conclusion of the article is that the significant spatial spillover effect across the wards of the city is likely to make the exit from the enforced lockdown a major challenge.

Real versus Fictitious

The COVID-19 pandemic is stretching the contradictions of the present economic arrangements to the limits. The system survived inflating financial assets and feeding on inequalities. The divide between the real economy and the sphere of finance cannot be left unchecked without risking an economic catastrophe. Wealth and income inequalities cannot be pushed anymore without irretrievably damaging the underlying social contract. The virus is making change inevitable.

Public Good Perspective of Public Health

India’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is linked to its abandonment of the welfare state, marginalisation of public good principle and collapse and fragmentation of the public health system. As COVID-19 cases surge, many states could barely treat patients needing medical support due to bed shortages and poor infrastructural facilities. The overwhelmed system disrupted routine and emergency non-COVID services as well. The interstate differences in coping with COVID-19 are rooted in the public sector health infrastructure, investment in rural services and disease control programmes. A comprehensive healthcare system is needed as COVID-19 is not the end of the problem of the globalisation of epidemics.

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