Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Bloomberg, the reason India is suffering from its current Covid outbreak is because there has not been enough government intervention.
Pandemic or climate change, the government plays a crucial role
Poor countries can mitigate the effects of coming crises through good governance
From Akshat Rathi
May 4, 2021, 8:40 PM GMT + 10
I grew up in Maharashtra, one of the hardest hit Indian states, and most of my family is still there. That has made the last few weeks very difficult. Every other day there is some grim news from a family friend or relative who has fallen victim to Covid-19 and no one can be sure how much havoc the current wave of infections will leave behind.
But a couple of things are already clear. According to a research by Reuters, the Indian government failed to follow the advice of its own scientific team in early March. Instead, the Bhartiya Janata Party, represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, organized political rallies in West Bengal state. It also allowed millions of Hindus to attend the week-long Kumbh Mela religious festival. Even today, as countries around the world have shipped life-saving devices and medicines, much of them appear to be sitting in the New Delhi airport waiting to be distributed.
While limited resources and poor infrastructure cripple India’s response at the height of infections, Better governance could have helped the country First and foremost, avoid the dire situation. “An individual can only go so far to protect themselves from something like Covid. The people really need to be supported by an enabling state.Says Rebecca Willis, a professor at the Lancaster Environment Center. “The same applies to the climate.”
When tackling climate change, the question that often arises is how much government intervention is required. In a way, the anti-lockdown and anti-mask protests are a variation of the same divide. “The big government / small government argument has been armed in politics, but it’s not very telling,” Willis says. Instead, you need effective government or, as University College London economist Mariana Mazzucato says, mission-driven government.
Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-04/pandemic-or-climate-change-government-has-a-crucial-role-to-play
Regarding Rathi’s suggestion that the government is not supportive enough, there are a few numbers to mention. Prime Minister Modi is seen as harshly fiscally conservative, but in 2020 Modi saw India’s debt soar from 74% of GDP to 90% of GDP. Hence, it seems quite tough on the author to claim that the Indian state has not provided enough support as Modi has jeopardized its entire legacy of economic reform to help the common people affected by Covid.
Governments may have a magical money tree in the world of author Akshat Rathi, but here in the real world, extreme national debt and economic dysfunction have consequences, especially in poor countries. Just ask Venezuela.