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COVID-19: India requires a multi-pronged strategy, 21 days lockdown and beyond

By IndianMandarins- 26 Mar 2020
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Dr Manish Ranjan, 2002 batch IAS officer, emphasises that India is a country with more than 1.35 billion population and hence tracking and treating each infected person requires a robust public policy and its effective implementation. In addition to massive measures of Central and State governments the fight against COVID-19 pandemic requires active participation from individuals and community as well. Moreover, more than 190 countries all over the world are struggling to find the ways and means to tackle this exponentially growing monster. While researchers and laboratories are busy finding the most effective combination of medicine and vaccine to get rid of the virus, public policy leaders are doing the best in formulating policies and ensuring implementation amidst ever-transforming scenario of this public health hazard. In his latest address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a three-week lockdown throughout India starting March 25. But the big question remains: what after social distancing of three weeks?
The state and district level administration should ensure the implementation of all social welfare schemes, public distribution system, and cash transfer effectively on time. The establishment of hotline communication between the Centre, state, and the national level health organisations is the key to fight the pandemic. 
Indian drug companies can shed their differences, collaborate and learn from the German biopharmaceutical company, to demonstrate strong national character at this unprecedented time of crisis and pressure.
Indian companies may also share their know-how with each other to discover medicine and vaccine quickly. In addition to this Government may also announce an economic package for sharing the economic burden of the wage-bills of small and medium enterprises so that workers are not laid off. Besides, it will ensure that these enterprises too do not bear the brunt of recruiting and training their employees once the economy is restored.
This period may also be used for global collaboration and diplomacy. Once India fulfils its needs of manufacturing the testing equipment, it may lend these facilities to countries suffering enormously. New credit line may also be initiated with weaker economies to steer a soft approach towards global diplomacy.                                                                            
(Dr Manish Ranjan is pursuing Masters in Public Affairs at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, California, USA, ).

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