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Cost of 21 days Corona Lockdown for India

By Rohit Aarrya on 10th April 2020

Ever wondered why is probably India the only country under total lockdown?

May be because of the cost of a total lockdown; and the fact that there are too many challenges in implementing a total lockdown. Ever thought that just few violators can ruin the exercise of lockdown? So what will be the minimum cost of the 21 days lock down in India? The list will be quite long; but ‘mota-moti’ the direct cost would include

  1. Most experts have estimated loss of USD 100 billion for India in the 21 days lock down period.
  2. I guess they would not have accounted for livelihoods of road side peddlers, cobblers, food stalls, ‘rikshaw wallas’, unregistered daily wage earners etc. for at least a month (minimum 50 million families depend on such livelihoods)
  3. I guess they would not have accounted for payments many employers need to pay to employees without productivity; which will need to be covered in some way later.
  4. I am sure we cannot calculate loss to students in monetary terms; many of whom may loose up to half academic year.

This list can be longer, but like I said ‘mota-moti let us consider the minimum cost of 21 days lock down is USD 110 billion.
1 Billion = 100 Crores (as calculated by economists)
110 Billion = 11,100 Crore
1 USD = Rs. 73
11,100 Crore USD =  Rs. 8,10,300 Crore + livelihoods of 5,00,00,000 people.

Despite immunity of Indians being better, despite Indian conditions not being as conducive for virus to spread and despite a large chunk of Indians very cautious since before lock down; let us assume “Experts” warning of India meeting the fate of Italy or Spain might have held true. About 2 million people might have got infected. Let us be super pessimistic and assume our hospitals and doctors (no disrespect from my side) turn out be worst in the world and fatality in India becomes 20%, calculates to 4,00,000 deaths. At a cost of lockdown arrived above; to save 1 probable death we paid Rs. 2 Crore + a months’ livelihood of 125 families. (Please remember the cost is actual, and number of infected is the most pessimistic projection of “experts”)

Secondly following reasons will make the lock down to be just half effective. The “experts” who convinced Hon. PM for the sudden step of total lockdown for 21 days seem to have overlooked very basic things.

  1. It did not need much thought to understand that a long lockdown will make migrants return to their native places. They will make all attempts for it. Apart from their sufferings, social distancing will suffer greatly.
  2. Many people despise compulsions. They turn violators. With various exemptions given, people simply take disadvantage of it for some benefit; or just for kicks. 
  3. It is not difficult to understand that all people trying to manage buying supplies within 3 hours will compromise social distancing; the very reason for lockdown. 
  4. Unavailability of simple addictions like tobacco starts giving withdrawal symptoms similar to that of Corona. All such people would have gone for medical help. They will be sent to test for Corona. Obviously most will test negative. The limited testing facilities will get wasted on many such “doubtful” patients.
  5. Even within limited manpower, police effort and energy has to be wasted on unnecessary ‘bandobast’ and patrolling. Many people are out for genuine reasons; and many are out unnecessarily. Police try to keep maximum patience, however they are humans taking the risk of getting exposed to the virus. Their patience toward public has limits. This ends up in harassment of both. Invariable real miscreants slip away. Worst is that social distancing suffers. 
  6. With a good number of manpower wasted on above; police cannot concentrate where needed; crowds at market places during exempted hours, quarantine violators, finding if any undeclared gatherings are happening, assigning more manpower with health workers during visits (particularly in sensitive areas) etc. 
  7. People in power; or with power of wealth manage exemptions for their leisure or just to display their clout.
  8. To add to this Hon. PM appealed people for the sentimental ‘diya’ call. It may be a good moral booster; but obviously compromised social distancing. 

With cost of the lockdown remaining same but effect getting halved; saving 1 probable death has cost India Rs. 4 Crore + a months’ livelihood of 250 families. 
For sake of being politically correct many people argue with “money (economy) is not important over life”. (Most of these are of the mentality that haggles with vegetable sellers to get some free chilies and coriander). Before making that statement, give thought for people who lost livelihoods. It is 250 families to save 1 probable death. The big threat now will be; many might get compelled to turn to petty crimes to take care of their families. Where will that lead to?

No developed country has done a total lockdown like India even after being affected over 10 times more; probably because of such humongous cost and long repercussions for which all citizens suffer for a much longer period. What is done is done, we cannot reverse it. We can hope that lockdown does not get extended; if it does the cost of saving 1 life will keep increasing. We cannot and should not over react based on opinions of “experts”; and particularly so when opinions are based on predictions which are based on assumptions. Even as of 11th April Corona virus spread is less than 0.0006% of population. It is time to realize that prediction of spread done on assumptions by scientists may be wrong. While other countries will mourn over loosing some lives for a few weeks; India will have to mourn for many things for much longer time for thinking just emotionally.     

In my next blog – What could have been or can be done instead of total lockdown; and what I think might have made Hon. PM take his second draconian decision; Demonetization being the first. 


About writer - Rohit Aarrya is an ex Banker now involved in various projects. The 2013 Project Let’s Change report and proposal given to Gujarat Govt in December 2013 may have inspired the attention toward public support for a serious cleanliness drive. This was followed up by Hon. PM himself since February 2014 which brought one of the highest regards for him before 2014 general elections. Coincidentally in January 2019,just before general elections Hon. PM proposed reservations for EWS; a suggestion that was being propagated in Rohit Aarrya’s project “Swabhimaan” since August 2018.

I welcome anybody to put forth their views. We will upload your views on this blog. We can also do a healthy discussion on any social media and invite as many people to participate.
Disclaimer – My views are based on my logic. For the sake of being politically correct many people avoid speaking what they really feel. In my opinion this has a negative impact. You may think my views in any way as per your thinking; however be honest about your opinion with at least yourself. My intention will always be for the good and I do not intend to disrespect anybody. You can reach me on email aarryarohit@gmail.com