Sunday, December 3, 2023

Corona Lockdowns And Economy

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The COVID Pandemic

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Consider the following:

Before Corona epidemic
1. 26000 persons were dying in India per day
2. 1600 persons were dying in Italy per day.
3. 7000 persons were dying in the US per day.

Now compare that with Covid deaths, in say, the US. Total 37000 dead in about 45 days. That is, an increase of 822 per day, that is around 10% of the normal, and the US is shaken. Or take Italy. 22000 deaths in 45 days. That is, an increase of about 500 deaths per day, an increase of 30% over the normal, and Italy is ravaged.

And now consider that 10 crore persons died in Spanish Flu of 1918, 2 crores of them in India.

Two things have led to shut down of the countries: We had grown confident that with better medical facilities, pandemics are a thing of the past. Second, now we have TV cameras. Churchill could happily puff at his cigar even as bodies were lying in piles in the markets of Bengal in the famine of 1940s. Nowadays, the dead body of a single child shook the entire world and led to chain of events consequences of which will be for decades with us.

The difference between natural deaths per day in a country and Corona deaths is that, natural deaths occur all over the country, most people die in their homes, and most die in old age. Society knows that births and deaths are part of life. As against this, in a pandemic like Corona, people of all age groups die, they mostly die in hospitals, and die concentrated in few cities, leading to choking of hospitals and crematoriums. Bodies even in a developed country like the US are being transported in trucks loaded like goods, and are being buried in mass graves. With TV cameras, no politician can survive if not seen acting against the pandemic.

As for businesses, they won’t survive even if lockdown is not imposed. Corona will explode, will take away key workers, will terrorise others, and people will simply stop buying.

We do not realise that money is just our imagination, and all business is our trust in the future. We buy today because we hope to earn tomorrow also. We invest today because we hope to sell tomorrow. Take away the trust, and businesses collapse in a heap, which people call depression. The imagination that is money simply evaporates.

What to do? Just cooperate with the leaders. They are facing something in which they are truly helpless, though they won’t admit it.

As for businesses, they will survive exactly as before, as if reopening after a Sunday, if they continue to pay salaries during the lockdown, even if they need to borrow. That applies to individuals also. They must continue to pay bills, salaries of maids and drives, rents, and EMIs. And that applies to governments also. They must also not stop salaries. Even if they need to borrow. Like Corona, economy is also just a chain. Even as we are trying to break the Corona chain, we have to make sure that the chain called economy, the लेन देन, buying and selling, must not stop.

Otherwise we will take years to recover from the economic depression, and we will all suffer equally: the employers and the employed.

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