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What might have convinced the Hon. PM for
Corona Lockdown India

By Rohit Aarrya on 11th April 2020

At a time when Europe was getting gripped with Corona Virus, visitors to India started getting the virus in our country. The numbers in India were quite low; many vigilant people had started voluntary social distancing. The media at one end might be blamed for fear mongering, however were also educating people about social distancing. At some point the fear mongering took over sanity and “experts” started giving extreme views based on predictions made on several assumptions. The warnings of a “fast spreading” virus got louder and louder with every passing day. Financial markets had already started crashing. The number of infections in India were (are still) low, mortality rate quite low and number of people cured thrice those unfortunate that turned fatal. However no “expert” spoke about people recovering, nobody seemed interested to do discussions on medication and treatment given to cured people instead of threats of the spread.  

What could or should have been done instead of total lockdown on 24th March? It is futile thinking what could have been done now; however since discussions of extending the total lockdown are happening; it becomes relevant. This may also be thought about instead of extending total lockdown.

  1. Restriction to entry in India is already imposed and should be continued. However Indian residents stuck abroad can be permitted with their testing on arrival at point of entry. Similarly residents of other countries should be permitted to travel back; if their home countries permit.
  2. Quarantining those who entered India after 1st February and have them tested before lifting quarantine. 
  3. Now that quick testing facilities are available; Quarantining and testing people in societies with patients that tested positive.
  4. Quarantining people that came in contact with those who tested positive till they get tested.
  5. Lockdown premises visited by those who tested positive till sanitizing.
  6. A strict implementation of banning all functions or gatherings involving more than 5 people.
  7. Quarantining those that gathered; at the place they gathered and letting them out ONLY after testing individually.
  8. Using police force prudently to help in testing and monitoring quarantined patents instead of concentrating on general violators of lockdown. (how many violators can they control with so many exemptions anyway)
  9. Anybody seeking to travel should be permitted to do so after getting tested at own cost only at approved testing centers.
  10. Seal all borders of every district. Let only people with test certificates and supplies pass only after disinfecting / sanitizing.
  11. Ramp up testing, not to rely on sample testing.
  12. Announce strictest penalties for anybody proven guilty of corruption toward test certificate.
  13.  A thorough study of patients that were cured to establish what cured them and publishing the treatment given to them.
  14. Sensitizing about social distancing continuously just as is being done.
  15. Appealing people to avoid unnecessary things by staying home voluntarily.
  16. In view that economic activities need to keep going, allowing establishments to work at 50% manpower to work in rotations.
  17. Hefty penalties should be imposed for establishments not adhering to directive of working at 50% manpower.
  18. Permitting travel by reducing bookings to half capacity and doubling travel fare so only those in real need to travel will make the journey.
  19. Not limiting market hours so there will not be crowding for supplies.
  20. Permitting street vending of food products with proper hygiene standards
  21. Restricting media to specific time for news related to Corona in view of reducing fear mongering.
  22. Compelling all media to dedicating an hour for news to clarify rumors that get spread through social media.
  23. Just a thought – If HCQ which is used to cure malaria has given hopes, there is a possibility that anti malaria vaccines will increase immunity. Why not give this immunity to all those who need to be working? Whether it works for Corona or not, people will get protected from malaria. Nothing adverse will happen. 

 

I wonder if any of the “experts” discussed if just above steps would have been better instead of a total lockdown with Hon. PM. It seems most experts, citing the situation in Europe, were busy predicting spread in India based on assumptions.  

I regard Modiji to be very practical, so I have serious doubts if he was convinced for total lockdown over partial lockdown as discussed above only on predictions of experts based on assumptions. Especially so; if the “experts” had cited at least the basic challenges that I mentioned in my previous article. I say at least because I am no expert; good experts would have foreseen many more challenges to lockdown than what I have mentioned.

So what might be the reasons Hon. PM thought lockdown to be the best solution?

Either the “experts” misguided Modiji by not pointing even the challenges I mentioned above or painted an extremely gloomy picture like in movies such as Contagion ….. Or may be a combination of getting overwhelmed by super pessimistic predictions based on assumptions; lead to wrong expert opinions (economic as well as medical), inability of “experts” to suggest better alternatives, over ambitious political advisors etc, an emotion to save lives at whatever cost and wee bit of a personal weakness might have been the reason for lockdown decision..

Let me clarify here that I am an admirer of Modiji for being an assertive and bold PM and undoubtedly one of the best leaders in the world. However that does not mean he cannot be wrong or does not have any personal weaknesses. The spread of Corona in India did not demand a total lockdown as of then and even now, however the spread of fear signaled it could be required. Nobody could have assured a lock down would never be required. Being a “headline hunter” seems one of his personal weaknesses. He has achieved to grab Indian headlines; but not World headlines as he would like to as yet. So being the first to lockdown the Nation would grab World headlines. Modiji probably thought this bold decision will be followed by many countries and he will be hailed for giving the courage to heads of other countries to take this extreme step. This may have tipped Modiji to favor the thought of total lockdown.

In 2016 he experienced world attention with DeMo, his first draconian announcement that gave him recognition as an assertive and bold PM. Just like Demonetization, even this Corona lockdown can never be proven to be a wrong decision and Modiji will be hailed as the PM who saved India. Any challenge later will be countered easily by saying number of people could have been much more had we not imposed a lockdown. With his clout among people and expertise in managing media the political benefits easily derived; turns to a win-win situation for Modiji. However, the Nation pays the price for sudden draconian decisions.

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 many more people to participate.


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