6 September 2020   Leave a comment

India has been very hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and will likely become the country with the second largest number of COVID cases (the US remains the most infected country with 6 million cases). It will overtake Brazil for the second slot. The pandemic is derailing India’s aspirations to become economically more powerful and frustrate its desire to lift millions out of poverty. The New York Times reports:

“Not so long ago, India’s future looked entirely different. It boasted a sizzling economy that was lifting millions out of poverty, building modern megacities and amassing serious geopolitical firepower. It aimed to give its people a middle-class lifestyle, update its woefully vintage military and become a regional political and economic superpower that could someday rival China, Asia’s biggest success story.

“But the economic devastation in Surat and across the country is imperiling many of India’s aspirations. The Indian economy has shrunk faster than any other major nation’s. As many as 200 million people could slip back into poverty, according to some estimates. Many of its normally vibrant streets are empty, with people too frightened of the outbreak to venture far.”

It does not appear as if the situation is going to improve anytime quickly. Indeed, according to The Voice of America, India “recorded 90,632 new COVID-19 infections in the previous 24-hour period, setting a world record for a one-day tally of new cases.” The country instituted a very stringent lockdown, but after two months it seems that fewer Indians are observing those regulations. The Irish Times reports:

“In rural Maharashtra, the worst-affected state with 863,062 cases and 25,964 deaths, doctors said measures like wearing masks and washing hands had now largely been abandoned.

“’There is a behavioural fatigue now setting in,’ said Dr SP Kalantri, the director of a hospital in the village of Sevagram.”

Like most other countries, India suffered a very sharp drop in its Gross National Product because of the lockdowns, but it now faces higher inflation (unlike most other countries so far) which is running about 7% a year. So far the health system has been able to cope with the pandemic, but many fear that that situation will change as many more people in rural areas seem to be infected. India was making progress in addressing poverty, but those gains are now threatened.

Posted September 6, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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