Experts Support PM Modi’s Changed View On Lockdown to Save - ‘Jaan Bhi Jahaan Bhi’
| Onkareshwar Pandey - Editor in Chief - CEO, IOP - 13 Apr 2020

By Onkareshwar Pandey

New Delhi, April 13, 2020: As the number of COVID-19 cases in the country climbed to 9,205 while the death toll rose to 331, the experts have supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suggestion to all state chief ministers that they should focus on health as well as the prosperity of the nation now.

Talking about the Exit Plan from Lockdown, in his meeting with all Chief Ministers, the third such one in the last few days, to review the overall situation in the country in the wake of COVID-19 and the India Lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that there seems to be a consensus amongst the states on the extension of Lockdown by another two weeks.

He underlined that the motto of the government earlier was ‘jaan hai to jahaan hai’ but now is ‘jaan bhi jahaan bhi’.

However, amid talks over extending the 21-day nationwide lockdown, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has suggested to the government to follow a phased reopening plan with sectors such as manufacturing and construction, which provide mass employment, re-started first.

Supporting both the Prime Minister’s view and also the CII’s timely report, Ambassador Anup K. Mudgal, Former Indian High Commissioner to Mauritius and a member of the FICCI Task Force on Blue Economy and Steering Committee Member on Blue Economy under the PMEAC said, “This is a proposal worth serious consideration. So far, the lockdown has served us well in delaying and slowing the spread. However, we all know, lockdown is not a solution to the disease. The solution lies in a biomedical treatment, a vaccine is not expected before end next year and an effective anti-retroviral only a guess. So, the lockdown cannot be kept till such a solution is found.”

During the video-conferencing with PM Modi, several chief ministers, including Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab’s Amarinder Singh, have urged the Prime Minister to extend the 21-day lockdown till the end of April saying it has helped in containing the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

“There are some talks that a strict lockdown may eliminate the virus in a few cycles (14 days being one cycle). This assumption is too optimistic, especially as the disease can stay asymptomatic and there are cases of cured patients getting reinfected. Even if a small seed remains, it can spread again. Therefore, I support the PM’s view of focusing prosperity also with the health, and in my view, the highly controlled opening may, in fact, be a solution to mitigate economic meltdown as also inducing gradual herd immunity with critical cases staying within the capacity of the health care system,” said Ambassador Mudgal, whose domain specialisation also includes the larger sustainability agenda, trade policy and market access, technology transfer /adaptation/application, Human resource management including skill development, development assistance and project implementation, and diaspora post-retirement.

The CII has sought a fiscal support package for FY21 limited to 2% of the GDP to support the lowest strata and the informal sector and ₹2 lakh crore be transferred to JAM account holders.

The industry body has also said that "A calibrated and safe exit from the lockdown, subject, of course, to considerations being given to the geographical spread of COVID in the country, would be a practical approach. This is an evolving situation and therefore, we should be open to alter our approach as we go along."

Talking to the Indian Observer Post regarding the CII proposal for a calibrated opening of sectors, beyond the ones, which are operational by virtue of being essential services, while the lockdown continues, Ambassador Mudgal said, the CII proposal is relevant in this regard.

“Carefully selected industrial units, especially in low-risk clusters, that show interest in opening, may be allowed with careful regulation and monitoring,” suggested Ambassador Mudgal.

He further suggested to:

a) identify a minimum functional strength of the workforce, preferably in the least vulnerable age band (20-45 years);

b) test these workers through the pooling method to ensure they are fit to start;

c) provide facilities of lodging and boarding for these workers at the site;

d) ensure hygiene-distancing, hand washing, masks, fever monitoring etc;

e) identify any infections  on a daily basis and isolate them;

f) add more workers at reasonable gaps after testing;

g) if need be deployed supervisors from paramilitary forces to ensure that procedures are followed without fail;

h) strict access control to the units or clusters allowed to open.

CII, in its report titled - "Exit From The Lockdown: A CII Strategy", has suggested the phase-wise opening of the various sectors. "In the first phase, we recommend that manufacturing, e-commerce, and construction may be permitted to open up partially, perhaps 25 percent to begin with," the CII report said.

“In phase-2, all other sectors could be restarted, which can be 25 percent, to begin with, then 50 percent and 100 percent at a later stage, it has suggested.

“After an initial trial under complete sanitation, ideally, we should plan to introduce herd immunity in a regulated manner,” Ambassador Mudgal said.

The industry body has also proposed that five aspects should be considered while opening up the economy from the current lockdown. They are workplace safety, logistics issues, re-starting industry in phases, getting back the migrant workforce and institutional mechanism for effective coordination on real-time basis.

CII has also suggested that prior to lifting the lockdown, adequate notice has to be given and the economic package has to be announced.

Its approach to the economic revival package is two-fold, the CII said, first a part of the package through a fiscal expansion which is directed towards the bottom of the pyramid followed by enhanced credit to industry through banks.

Supporting the CII suggestions, Ambassador Mudgal said, “Expanded testing both infections and antibody would help restore gradual but expanded opening over time. As and when, we get a biomedical solution, speed of opening may be accelerated depending upon the scale of availability of such a treatment in India.

Senior IPS officer Parvez Hayat, Former IG, BSF Virendra Gaur and others have also supported the Prime Ministers view of focusing prosperity also while keeping the strict vigil to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image courtesy - PIB

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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post, and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANI



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