India's Response To COVID 19



Key Takeaways


Lockdown of Wuhan in China was the single most important event in the COVID19 saga.


India has punched above its weight as a nation. India is the best among Western countries and the worst among Asian countries.


India’s recent national software projects such as Aadhar, UPI and now Aarogya Setu has shown that as a nation India can execute better than many western countries.


India can execute large scale technology initiatives as compared to Western Countries.

India needs to do better on the test and isolate. They were successful at the beginning then got overwhelmed afterwards due to the sheer population.


In a well-functioning society: both centralised and decentralised responses work well.


India has a tradition of the culture of smart folks doing great stuff and the Guru-Shishya tradition and it serves it well in the software age.


In India, the software boom happened because it was outside the radar of the regulatory state. The regulatory system does an okay job but it is not capable of serving modern society.


How to think about regulatory institutions in the USA:

Thesis: People want safe devices and drugs.

Antithesis: The current regulatory system is giving too many false negatives

Synthesis: We need a better regulatory system.



India’s COVID19 response


India has punched above its weight as a nation. India is the best among Western countries(like USA, UK, Spain, Germany, etc) and the worst among Asian countries(South Korea, China, Singapore, etc).


Indian Prime Minister Modi took COVID19 very seriously and has been dignified. Masks were promoted early on and there was travel restriction very early on. 30-second voice clips in the beginning of the epidemic were a good idea.


India’s recent national software projects such as Aadhar, UPI and now Aarogya Setu has shown that as a nation India can execute better than many western countries.


Aarogya Setu has no parallel in other countries. Maybe WeChat in China comes close.


India still has pockets of deep poverty but at the end of the epidemic India will be considered a peer of Western countries and there will be a security alliance.


COVID is testing India’s state and social capacity. India has shown a lot of discipline and the widespread usage of masks is a signal of altruism.

---There was a very good point made by Sri about wearing masks being an altruistic thing, as it protects others more than you. That’s why it worked in Asian societies because we are more social than individualistic.

India ranks somewhere in the middle of the table among nations. Lockdown seemed draconian but the government was proven correct.


India needs to do better on the test and isolate. They were successful at the beginning then got overwhelmed afterwards due to the sheer population.



Decentralisation of COVID response


The best outcome comes from a competent centralised state like in South Korea and Singapore. A distant second is a decentralised response and an incompetent and malicious state like the USA comes in a very very distant third.


In a well-functioning society: both centralised and decentralised responses work well.


Liberteratinism paradigm breaks down in such situations of pandemic and war-like situations.


Comparison of COVID responses


Sri’s View:

India has been weak in economic response and the migrants have been affected. India could have done better to organise transportation for the migrants. Now since they are scared and worried hence an economic restart might now be tougher. Overall the government has not done a bad job but the situation reflects the limits of India’s state capacity. USA relief was much better and faster. India doesn’t have much less fiscal space.


Balaji’s View:

US spending was not good at all. The 2 trillion dollar bill in the USA and only a small percentage was sent to masks, vaccines and healthcare projects. The USA should not be emulated and I think India is doing a good job in not printing additional currency.


Sri’s view: There is a dichotomy on the US’s response in the healthcare and economy.


Balaji’s view: Fed has spent on wrong issues. They are more interested in mopping the floor rather than bandaging the patient. The USA should solve the epidemic and then the economy issue is solved automatically afterwards. The USA should be making it easy to build masks and other measures rather than making it harder. Such measures might not be popular but will be better in the long run. In 1-day events like hurricane, price gouging is bad and the worry is legitimate. But for longer problems like COVID19, price gouging is not really an issue to be tackled. This is a multi-year thing: control the viruses and not the prices.


Sri’s view: The USA political system is archaic and premodern. European state structures are different with different capacity.


Balaji’s view: The real model for western countries is like the west coast of the USA. East coast has exported bombing and drone strikes. West coast has given iPhone and Googles, and the startup culture. Tech companies have functional organisations, but the mayors and presidents have inherited an organisation.



Culture In India and other places


Balaji’s view: India has a tradition of the culture of smart folks doing great stuff and the Guru-Shishya tradition and it serves it well in the software age.


Progress in western political structure has to come from Z-axis. Bitcoin is a political reform of Fed and the banking, political system and the debt culture. It came from the internet which is the Y-axis.


Oculus Quest is the most important device since the iPhone. VR is really immersive and will have massive implications for the future of social media. People are going to be able to start virtual countries with smart contracts and legal contracts. Virtual societies will be a model for the real world.


Sri’s view: In India, the software boom happened because it was outside the radar of the regulatory state. The regulatory system does an okay job but it is not capable of serving modern society. Aadhar has been helping ease the pains of state capacity in India and the Aarogya Setu app is the example of how India has used digital tech to plug gaps where state govt infrastructure is not available.


Balaji’s view: Over the last 500 years, radical reforms have taken place in countries like Japan, China and India. In these countries, the leaders have faced humiliation and have taken actions.


The USA currently can’t remember a time when it was behind while India has a recollection of poverty and scarcity. The poor memory of any true catastrophe has turned it into a complacent country.


Sri’s view: India has a memory of catastrophe. When Hurricane Sandy hit the US, there were electricity outages and the response was pretty shoddy for a developed country.


Balaji’s view: The troubles of the past act like civilisational vaccination for many countries. India can look at the catastrophes of the past, roughly understand the danger, pattern matches it, and see to it that it never hands again. In the USA, the shoddy response to another catastrophe like hurricanes were black signets to the COVID19 black swan.



New institutions


Indian institution has been proactive. Indian doctors have taken up a very difficult job since we do not have enough capacity in healthcare.


How to think about regulatory institutions in the USA:

Thesis: People want safe devices and drugs.

Antithesis: The current regulatory system is giving too many false negatives

Synthesis: We need a better regulatory system.


We should slowly and responsibly replace by building an alternative.

US dollar -> Bitcoin FDA -> Right to try


Reforms in India: Labour laws will help India but still more needs to be done. It will at least help entrepreneurs to sidestep many inspectors to start a business. It takes years and decades to create ecosystems, India has just begun.


Remote work: Remote work will be good for India but also good for any place having talent. You can parachute in any virtual community and work there.


COVID exit scenarios: Vaccine, drug and herd immunity are the ways out, but none of them is guaranteed.


Scenario 1: we get these solutions quickly

Scenario 2: we get these solutions slowly

Scenario 3: we never get these solutions or get them after a very very long time.


We might have to pull the biotechnologies of 2100 into 2020 to solve these issues.


If there is no cure in the short term, people will go back to work anyway. People will not shut down life.













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