Unlike many other countries, India is gradually lifting the lockdown before the coronavirus curve has flattened. Covid-19 positive cases are now doubling every 17 days, a little slower than a week ago. With several state governments relaxing the lockdown, we should expect that the picture will worsen and that — at least initially — we will see faster growth in the number of cases.
Is the lockdown being relaxed too early? From a purely epidemiological perspective, yes. Yet, from an overall perspective, we have little choice but to reopen the economy and allow people to earn their livelihoods. With the Narendra Modi government unable or unwilling to provide income support and direct cash transfers to compensate people for the loss of income, the only option is to shift the balance towards greater economic activity at the cost of higher epidemiological risk.