From three cases three weeks ago, the number of coronavirus cases in India has shot up to 223, underlining the gravity of the situation. There is little point in exulting at the low numbers relative to the developed world; testing in India is inadequate so it is entirely possible that the outbreak is far more widespread than we know. Since India’s healthcare system is rarely up to the task at the best of times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did the next best thing in his address to the nation, warning citizens that the threat may be far worse than we know, presenting India with unique challenges, as opinion writers point out today. Kanika Datta sums up the views:
The Janata Curfew and the 5 pm applause on Sunday represent Narendra Modi's second attempt at social mobilisation, the first being his appeal to the better-off to give up subsidised cooking gas. This effort harks back to India’s freedom movement but the lessons of coercion from Mao’s China suggests that this could be a double-edged sword, says T N Ninan.
Read it here
Narendra Modi's prime time address did not dwell on how to protect the lives of the poor at a time when the economy is in dire straits. There was no reference either to the insanitary conditions of urban slums and plight of wage earners fleeing to villages, writes Sunil Sethi. Read it here
Coronavirus is the biggest story of our lives, says Shekhar Gupta, and a billion-plus people expect us to be around, recording this for posterity and blowing the whistle to draw attention to injustices and state failures. Read his outlook here