When the COVID-19 pandemic hit India, its economy was going through a difficult phase. This left the government ill prepared to tackle the pandemic and its economic dislocation. Furthermore, India’s health infrastructure – suffering from decades of under investments – was at serious risk of being rapidly overwhelmed. The government decided to impose a strict lockdown, which brought to a halt most economic activity. The decision to give virtually no advance notice left millions of migrant workers stranded in India’s large metropolis without a source of income, shelter and a means of transportation to reach their hometowns and villages. When tens of millions of them started walking towards their home, a humanitarian catastrophe ensued. The lockdown did not stop contagion, as active cases continued to rise sharply. The halt of economic activity resulted in widespread destruction of livelihoods, accompanied by alarming increases in school dropouts and nutritional deficits. In the last part of the year, the economy appeared to be recovering, as the pandemic was brought under control.
Keywords – India; COVID-19; lockdown; economic recovery.
Diego Maiorano | National University of Singapore ISAS (Institute of South Asian Studies) | email@example.com