Even as we grapple with the anxieties and uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic, two things are clear. First, its impact on Indian society will be unprecedented. Second, the crisis will pass, leaving us with the task of recovery, reconstruction and rejuvenation. While much of our management of the coronavirus outbreak has been reactive in nature, it is both possible and incumbent upon us to start planning for life after the pandemic. It might sound presumptuous to say this at a time when the energies of our Union and state governments are focused on the gargantuan task of managing the consequences of the outbreak and subsequent lockdown.
But if India is to emerge from this crisis with the best prospects of resuming on its development path, it is crucial that we align relief measures and economic stimulus efforts with a medium-term reconstruction plan. With last week’s announcement of a ₹1.7 trillion relief package, amounting to under 1% of gross domestic product (GDP), the government has set the ball rolling on a fiscal response. The Reserve Bank of India followed with a reduction in interest rates. These measures are primarily intended to provide relief to individuals, families and firms affected by the current lockdown.