Bolstered by the success of his appeal for a Janata Curfew on March 22, Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday announced a nationwide 21-day lockdown- the largest shutdown exercise across the world to combat the novel Wuhan virus. A move of this magnitude has not been taken by any other country, including the United States which has been hit by the Chinese virus far more severely than India.
The novel Wuhan virus that originated somewhere in the unsanitary wet markets of China’s Hubei province has already wreaked havoc upon the global economy and the world economy. The lockdown will now aggravate the adverse economic impact created by COVID-19.
The lockdown will bring all economic activity to a grinding halt, and only the essential goods and services will remain in supply during the 21-day lockdown. Therefore, the stock markets which have been already going down are set to clash further. The adverse economic impact would in all probability last even longer than the shutdown.
Ministry of Home Affairs will shortly issue guidelines of effective measures and exceptions to the essential services during this 21-day lockdown. There will shortly be an MHA 24/7 hotline to assist states during this period. #CoronavirusLockdown pic.twitter.com/kYR1CgIInl
— ANI (@ANI) March 24, 2020
As of now no one is in a position to predict as to how long the Coronavirus Pandemic will last in India and beyond, and the economic downfall will continue as long as the Coronavirus outbreak doesn’t die out in India and beyond. With a sharp reduction in the economic activity, the Indian economy will also suffer- the intensity and duration of which no one can predict.
In such circumstances, Prime Minister Modi preferred to enforce a lockdown in order to ensure that Indian lives are not lost due to the Coronavirus. At the cost of massive and immediate economic costs, India will be saving lives. PM Modi understands that livelihoods are important, but lives are even more important because there would be no significance of saving livelihoods when human lives themselves would be under threat from the global outbreak.
India has a fragile medical infrastructure, and Prime Minister Modi understands that if Coronavirus breaks out in India in the manner in which it broke out in Italy or South Korea, then the already stressed medical infrastructure would come under even greater stress.
While Prime Minister Modi has acted as a true statesman taking a tough decision in order to ensure that no lives are lost, the West, including the United States preferred economic growth to human lives. India with 562 confirmed cases and 11 deaths has shut down its entire economy in order to contain the Coronavirus, whereas the United States- the third most badly affected country insofar the Coronavirus is concerned, with 54,941 confirmed cases and 784 deaths hasn’t been as eager as India in enforcing a total lockdown.
The difference is essentially that of leadership, while the Prime Minister Modi, being the statesman that he is, was ready to forgo economic growth for the foremost purpose of saving lives, President Trump- the first billionaire President of the United States was not ready to risk economic growth for containing the COVID-19 outbreak.
New York, which is the financial capital of not only the United States but the entire world, too was shut down only on Sunday, only after the financial powerhouse of the country witnessed 117 deaths. This shows the different levels of priorities that Prime Minister Modi and President Trump have been giving to the Wuhan virus outbreak.
The reluctance of the United States in not enforcing a nationwide lockdown can be essentially attributed to President Trump’s business-mindedness. This doesn’t sound as absurd either because even last year when Turkey invaded Syria, even as President Trump withdrew US forces from war-torn Syria leaving the Kurdish fighters to fend for themselves, Trump’s business interests in Turkey were seen as a factor behind his decision to retreat the US troops from war-ravaged Syria.
The same business-mindedness seems to be behind President Trump’s reluctance to enforce a lockdown in the United States, something that led to the US President telling his advisers in February not to “do or say anything that would further spook the markets.”
Worried more about saving stock markets than saving lives, the US President had tweeted, “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”
WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2020
Literally aspiring to take on its Asian competitor, China, the United States seems ready to sacrifice its elderly in order to save its economy as reflected in Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick highly condemnable statement that he and other older Americans should be ready to sacrifice their lives in order to save the American economy.
On one hand, Prime Minister Modi is ready to suffer extensive economic damage in order to break chain of the spread of Coronavirus and on the other hand, Trump wants to reopen the US economy by Easter Sunday blatantly disregarding expert warnings about the deadly threat posed by the Wuhan virus. In fact, throwing social distancing out of the window, President Trump also said, “Wouldn’t it be great to have all the churches full?”, and added, “You’ll have packed churches all over our country … I think it’ll be a beautiful time.”
Thus, the difference between PM Modi and President Trump is that of a statesman and a business, something that is perfectly illustrated as the entire planet gets slipped into the Coronavirus outbreak. Prime Minister Modi is ready to damage economy in order to save lives, while President Trump is ready to forgo lives in order to avoid sustaining economic damage.