2021 kick-started unexpectedly good. The vaccines were released as promised, the lockdowns were uplifted across all states in the country, the people willingly put on masks without fail, and going back to normal seemed closer. However, after educational institutes, workspaces and other organizations started functioning as usual since early Jan, there was a rise in cases and the numbers were not ignorable.
The vaccine may be out and available for the general public to access but it still does not guarantee the end of the COVID-19 virus and its spread. Rumors have it that another phase of lockdown might be imposed to control the rising number of cases and here is why that is likely impossible to bring in effect. Yes, we analysed this rumour & claims made in the public discourse presently due to sudden rise in the cases of COVID-19. We have delineated below the reasons why another phase of lockdown in India is just like a Fairy Tale.
1. Loss of Revenue Generated in the form of Taxes by the Government:
Unknown of the impact of the virus and the need for a nation-wide lockdown it carried, the states and the centre estimated a 10% rise in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the year 2020-2021. All economic activities except the ones considered essential and the ones that could be carried out from homes were suspended during the lockdown in the country effective March 2020. This impacted the tax revenue of the State and Central Government. From the estimated revenue for the year 2020-2021, 73%, which is Rs. 16.36 lakh crore of it was generated by taxes.
2. India’s Economic Deterioration:
The economy of the country has been declining since 2015 and 2020 just added more to it. During the pandemic, the people were led to believe that India may be in trouble due to COVID-19 pandemic & lockdown, however it is stable than most developed countries in the times of pandemic, which of course, was seemingly a lie because the economic contraction in India was bigger compared to any other country. India’s GDP had contracted by 23.9% for the April to June quarter. The lockdown only accelerated the decline. When COVID-19 struck, India’s economy was in the middle of a two-year old recession.
3. Loan Repayment:
India’s external debt rose 2.8% to $558.5 Billion as of March 2020. The country is already in enough debt to last another few years. In the light of the pandemic, India signed a $400 Million loan agreement with the World Bank for social programme protection assistance for households impacted by the pandemic, to add to it. The repayment of which will not come easy and thus, the country cannot afford anymore standstills.
4. Availability of Precautionary Materials:
When COVID-19 initially hit the country, the country was not prepared and equipped with necessities of that time like sanitisers, masks, PPE kits for doctors, etc. Imposing a lockdown was required. Now, the country has enough to take a chance of functioning amidst the ongoing pandemic. More so because even the people are more educated and less adamant regarding the precautionary measures suggested, the usage of masks in public places, and the prohibition on gatherings. These are some measures that may empower the State and Central Government to keep the decision of imposing another phase of lockdown in the country at bay.
5. Discovery of Vaccine:
Numerous vaccines across the world were discovered by countries among which India is one. In late 2020, the vaccine was discovered, developed, tested, and put in action by Jan, 2021. The vaccine has not just been discovered but is also rightly being distributed and is now available to the general public as well, slowly but steadily. The usage of masks and sanitisers will now forever be etched in our routines as a habit but with the legitimate vaccine being easily accessible to all, the chances of imposing another lockdown are slim, and likely unnecessary. What is more assuring is that another three ‘Made in India’ vaccines are on the way.
6. Nation-wide lockdown is infructuous:
A nation-wide lockdown is very unlikely. States such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, etc. have been considering shutting down specific cities based on how out of hand the cases have gone but there are no confirmations yet. The people are constantly reminded to wear masks in public and not engage in gatherings. People not following any measures are also being fined. Nothing more than this has been imposed yet. The states can use the Micro-containment policy individually.
7. Most Affected Sectors:
Sectors such as Aviation, Real estate, Automobile, and Tourism, have suffered a lot during the pandemic. The travel bans frightened not just tourism but also the hospitality sector. Guides, Tour operators, Vehicle drivers, hotels, restaurants, transportation, etc. witnessed a crippling effect of the lockdown. The pandemic has led the people to look back and re-adopt the Indian way of thinking – ‘Save some for a crisis’. The demand for automobiles and properties decreased overnight. The most impacted sectors of the Indian Economy have just resurfaced and cannot bear to descend down again.
The lockdown is not necessary but if the situation continues to grow out of hand, the government will be left with no other alternative. However, as much as one may want to believe on the rumour of another phase of lockdown in the country, the idea seems far-fetched in the present condition due to the reasons stated above.