India’s ‘Unlock 1.0’ plan . . .
India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has announced a three-phase plan, called ‘Unlock 1.0,’ to further loosen the nationwide lockdown imposed since March 25. While lockdown measures will continue in some more heavily affected zones, the first phase of the reopening will allow for places of worship and shopping malls to reopen from June 8. The second phase targets the reopening of educational institutions, which will reopen after consultation with sates and union territories in July. The third and last phase will allow for the resumption of international flights as well as the reopening of large public places such as cinemas and entertainment parks.
Economy at an all-time low . . .
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced criticism for the stringent lockdown his government imposed on the country. Many argued that it came at a huge economic and societal cost from day one, especially for India’s poorest. It is reported that in March alone 140 million workers lost their jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to an unprecedented 26 per cent. Economists warned that India needed to reopen quickly. India’s growth forecast for 2020 has already dropped to 4.2 per cent, a 30-year low, which will impede the country’s economic recovery. Further lockdowns would be devastating for the economy, as it already faces the risks of a sustained period of relatively low growth.
Cases continue to rise . . .
While India’s easing of restrictions is seen positively by many, and is in line with previous actions by the government, others worry that the pandemic hasn’t been contained. Indeed, on Saturday, India added more than 8,000 new COVID-19 cases, a record for a single-day spike in India, making it the 7th worst-hit country. In a letter marking the first year of his second term, Prime Minister Modi urged people to follow lockdown rules to curb the spread of the virus and warned that the country is facing a “long battle” ahead.