NBER

Debraj Ray, S. Subramanian

Bibliographic Information

NBER Working Paper No. 27282
Issued in May 2020
NBER Program(s):DEV, HC, HE, POL

Available Formats

Abstract

We provide an interim report on the Indian lockdown provoked by the covid-19 pandemic. The main topics — ranging from the philosophy of lockdown to the provision of relief measures — transcend the Indian case. A recurrent theme is the enormous visibility of covid-19 deaths worldwide, with Governments everywhere propelled to respect this visibility, developing countries perhaps even more so. In advanced economies, the cost of achieving this reduction in visible deaths is “merely” a dramatic reduction in overall economic activity, coupled with far-reaching measures to compensate those who bear such losses. But for India, a developing country with great sectoral and occupational vulnerabilities, this dramatic reduction is more than economic: it means lives lost. These lost lives, through violence, starvation, indebtedness and extreme stress (both psychological and physiological) are invisible. It is this conjunction of visibility and invisibility that drives the Indian response. The lockdown meets all international standards so far; the relief package none.

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