Among countries fighting to stave off COVID-19, India became known as the world’s largest and the most stringently imposed lockdown, with the Modi government giving barely four hours’ notice to residents and citizens before the shutters went up on March 24. The lockdown, after multiple extensions, lasted for several weeks. Yet, today, India is ranked as the third most affected country in the world (as depicted by Johns Hopkins University) in terms of total confirmed cases (although, when adjusted for population size, it has a better ranking). In terms of number of deaths too, it does not fare well relative to many of its peers.  

What happened? How did the great Indian lockdown fail to produce the expected outcomes? It appears that, instead of ‘flattening’ the pandemic curve, the lockdown strategy merely delayed it for a while.

Table 1 Confirmed Cases by Country/Region/Sovereignty – the top ten

3,711,359 US
2,074,860 Brazil
1,038,716 India
764,215 Russia
350,879 South Africa
349,500 Peru
338,913 Mexico
328,846 Chile
295,632 United Kingdom
271,606 Iran

This is what Kaushik Basu , noted Indian economist (former Chief Economic Adviser to the Indian government and former Chief Economist of the World Bank) says:

The lockdown, announced on March 24, far from controlling the spread of the pandemic, seems to have made it worse. Two weeks after the start of the lockdown, the infection rate picked up and it has been on an alarming upward climb since then (See Figure below)

There is apparently more bad news on the pandemic front. Media reports in India highlight the following disturbing prospects:

A study by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that stated that the number of Covid-19 cases recorded per day in India may surge to 287,000 by early 2021 if a vaccine or treatment isn’t developed soon. In fact, India may record the highest number of fresh cases in the world by the end of winter in 2021, according to this study.

Please click here to read the full “How the great Indian lockdown became the great Indian ‘policy disaster” article originally published at Reflections on development and governance written by Griffith Asia Institute, Adjunct Researcher, Professor Yan Islam