India is in a crucial and especially dangerous phase of the coronavirus pandemic. With the relaxation of the national lockdown, public attention, media focus and the priorities of political leaders have shifted to other things. There is a sense — strengthened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement — that the lifting of the lockdown is progressive and linear, and Unlock 2 is sure to follow Unlock 1.
Cases are rising almost everywhere in the country, and the doubling rate is back to 18 days. Now, lifting the lockdown was necessary for reasons of survival, but it demanded that the administrative focus expand to ensure adequate physical and social distancing, hygiene and contact traceability. It also demanded that people be put on notice that in case the course of the pandemic worsens, we should expect more containment zones and lockdowns. These did not happen. So while an admirably large number of people and businesses are acting responsibly, our encounters with non-mask-wearing people and crowded public places is increasing. The public discipline of the lockdown period is fast eroding and way too prematurely.