Time to reward performing states

With barely 72 hours to know if the lockdown would be lifted or not, the nation is at a crossroads, weighing between freedom and assured life. The easy way out seems to be going to the basics. Let the lifting of lockdown be result-centric. Let it be like an exam where those who score well get rewards and those who fail are made to slog a bit more. On Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the movement pertaining to migrant labours, tourists and pilgrims allowed. The ministry is cautious though and wants to take the next step only after all risk factors are taken into account. India cannot lose it from here is the bottom line as one wrong step can be suicidal. The health ministry, in particular, has not yet sounded a clean chit and a further extension is what most look at to “defeat the virus”.

Perhaps, their fears are more drawn from Germany’s example, where more cases of coronavirus-positive people got added once they started easing out lockdown restrictions. But how long can we wait? Going by results available, movement can first begin intra-state, and not inter-state in provinces showing very low or near negligible death count and perceptible decline in corona-positive cases. The case here is of states/UTs like Goa, Lakshadweep, Andamans, Himachal and Uttarakhand, where a lot of future economy is dependent on horticulture and tourism. Similarly, a lot of Northeastern states like Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland and Mizoram can breathe easy as the areas are fortunately not densely populated, the air is clean and the people are sturdy and resilient.

The third category can be those states that are on the borderline like Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, but a lot depends on how these states also handle the new migrants entering their borders soon. A fine balance is what required from these states, including strict monitoring and daily feedback after their arrivals. A mere shower wash to mass quarantine, as we saw on Uttar Pradesh roads won’t be of much help. States like Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Odisha are also better placed to ease the lockdown and put the pedal on the economic recovery process. Barring the four states — Maharashtra, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat — and to some extent Rajasthan, the country will be all gradually on roads and moving. Just by limiting movement of the last category, which adds to over 50% of total corona-positive cases and nearly 75% of total death toll in India, we will be testing ourselves and be on the course of economic revival too.

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