[Editorial Analysis] Towards a new normal: On Unlock 3

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: Unlock 3
Mains level: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Context:

• The Centre has announced further relaxations in the lockdown that began on March 25 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic although the numbers are unrelenting. The third phase will now take effect from August 5.

• At nearly 17 lakh, India stood third among countries with the highest number of cases; a third of these cases are currently active.

• With over 36,000 deaths, India’s case fatality rate of 2.16% is relatively low.

Vigil must continue:

• The possibility of wider prevalence indicated in serology surveys in Delhi and Mumbai suggests that the death rate could be even lower than current estimations.

• The disease spread has been uneven within the country. The responses of States and cities have also remained inconsistent.

• Along with the number of cases, overworked health-care professionals experiencing fatigue and the public showing impatience with restrictions are also on the rise.

• This is not a pleasant mix of circumstances, and utmost vigil must continue.

• By now, it is also evident that complete lockdowns that disrupt economic activities cannot be sustained over long periods of time.

• Gyms and yoga centres, but not educational institutions, metro rail, and large gatherings, will be allowed in the next phase.

• Movement of people and goods across borders will be easier as per the Centre’s guidelines.

• Random restrictions on movement such as those in Tamil Nadu, where an e-pass is required for intra- and inter-State travel, must now be done away with.

Key adaptation:

• As a vaccine or a cure is not yet visible, it is time the focus on adaptation got sharper.

• Though many questions about COVID-19 remain, certain measures are evidently helpful in managing the pandemic better and bringing fatalities down.

• The coming phase of unlocking must prepare the country for complete opening.

• For that, first of all, testing should be unlocked and made available on demand as close to home as possible.

• For those infected to not step out of home is a far superior measure in preventing spread, compared to inadequate mask usage.

• With most cases turning out to be asymptomatic, wider and cheaper availability of testing must be a thrust area for the government now.

• Easy, early diagnosis of infections, even when asymptomatic, will go a long way in containment.

• The concerns regarding increased dependence on rapid antigen tests in some places must be addressed.

• Second, real time epidemiological data should be unlocked.

• Just as weather data is freely available, and allows for cropping practice readjustments, disaggregated real time data enables micro-planning and localised behavioural response.

• The proclivity shown by some States and cities to conceal data has been self-defeating.

• Even official death counts do not match with the numbers available with other sources.

Conclusion:

• There must be efforts to harvest accurate data, and with ease of availability.

• Normalcy, albeit a new one, could be reached faster with the right efforts.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Near Field Communication (NFC), consider the following statements:

1. Near Field Communication (NFC) is a contact-less communication technology based on a radio frequency (RF) field using a base frequency of 13.56 MHz.

2. NFC technology is perfectly designed to exchange data between two devices through a simple touch gesture.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) India is moving towards unlocking state from the lockdown, in this context, what are measures that are much needed in managing the pandemic better and keeping the fatalities low?

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