The epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic Wuhan, China had received reports of a SARS-like virus emerging late in December 2019. Unconfirmed reports claim it was as early as September 2019. This virus spread to 177 countries across the globe with over 8 lakh active cases. The World Health Organisation has declared this outbreak to be a pandemic. Various developed and developing nations such as USA, UK, France, Germany, China etc have a surge in the active cases and are facing an acute shortage in resources required to mitigate the crisis. Covid- 19 has spread to numerous under developed countries across the globe, they are facing a huge crisis in their financial resources, medical resources and also man power resource to contain the rise in cases. This article aims to draw a comparative analysis of the policies implemented by the Government of Bangladesh – an under developed country and the various issues that the country is facing due to the pandemic with that of the policies implemented by the Government of India – a developing country. Bangladesh is identified by the United Nations as an under developed country.
Bangladesh reported the first case of Covid-19 on8thMarch 2020. As of 1st April 2020, the country has recorded 54 cases of with over 23 active cases on Coid-19, 6 deaths and around 25 recovered cases. Concerned health experts claim that the low number of cases reported might be due to the low testing rates in the country. Bangladesh is one the most densely populated countries in the world, thousands of citizens are stateless and in Refugee camps these are conditions prime for rapid spread. Mass gatherings at different parts of the country during the initial stages of the reported spread of the virus calls for panic and vigilance in the country. Critical containment measures and social distancing during the crucial initial stages could have prevented any spread of the virus.
The first case of Covid-19 in India was reported on 30th January 2020, 3 students from Kerala who were studying at Wuhan, China. As of 1st April 2020, there are 1,649 active cases, 41 deaths and 143 recovered cases. Health experts suggest that the number of cases maybe substantially underestimated due to the decreased rates of testing done in the country. India is the second most populous country in the world which reiterates the need for the country to have stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus and to follow effective social distancing measures. The epicentre of the outbreak in India can be traced back to an Islamic religious congregation at the NizamuddinMarkaz Mosque in Delhi. Cases of mass gatherings in violation of the lockdown rules and regulations are a cause for concern in the country.
Measures taken by the Governments to contain the spread of Covid-19
In January 2020, the Government took measures to screen travellers from China to prevent the spread of the virus. The Bangladesh Government evacuated their citizens stranded in Wuhan in February 2020. On 24th March 2020, the Government suspended domestic flights, public road transport, launch vessels, and trains. The Prime Minister declared a 10-day nation-wide lockdown from 26th March 2020 till 4th April 2020 to battle the spread of the virus. The Prime Minister has announced an extension of the lockdown till the 9th of April 2020. Both the private and public sectors, except emergency services, were closed down. All Educational institutions were also closed down. Bangladesh’s armed forces were deployed to assist the administration in every divisional and district town to ensure that people maintain social distance and are taking precautionary measures to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading further.
The measures to contain the spread of the virus in India began in January where airports were required to set up thermal scanners to ensure that there is no spread of the virus from other people who have visited other countries that have a large number of covid-19 active cases. India carried out mass evacuations of Indians from across the globe. On the 11th of March the Government urged the in vocation of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the pandemic was declared a notified disaster under the Disaster Management Act 2005. On the 19th of March 2020 the citizens of the country observed a Janta curfew. On 24th March the Prime Minister of the country announced a complete National wide lockdown staring from midnight for 21 days till the 14th of April 2020.
Economic aid rendered by the Governments
The country is facing a huge economic crisis due to the lockdowns. The garment industry that employs millions of workers is witnessing a collapse in the demand due to economic fallouts across the globe. Various countries are cancelling their orders worth billions of dollars and putting jobs at risk in Bangladesh. The Asian Developmental Bank has granted an emergency fund of 300,000 USD to combat the spread of covid-19. USA has announced $174 million dollars aid to 64 countries of which Bangladesh is an important receiver. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced $590 USD incentive package for the country’s garment industry and other export related sectors to help cope with the economic fallout due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The country has witnessed a steep decline in the stock markets. UN reports claim India to be one of the 15 worst affected across the globe. The Prime Minister, NarendraModi on the 19th of March 2020 announced a $2.1 billon USD economic aid for the healthcare sector. The Finance Minister of the country NirmalaSitaraman announced a Rs.1.70 lakh Crore relief package under the Pradhan MantriGaribKalyanYojana to help the poor and the needy to fight against any economic fallouts due to the lockdowns. It was formulated by the Government with the major objective to ensure none of the citizens could be hungry. The GaribkalyanYojana had classified the aid to 7 different components or sectors who would be directly benefitted by the Yojana. The Government also announced that withdrawals from ATMS will not be charged and that minimum balance need not be maintained. The RBI announced that the EMIs for a period of 3 months should not be deducted by the banks. The Government has also urged that Private sector employers to pay their employees during the lockdown period, Private schools and colleges were instructed not to collect the term fees from the students. The government announced a 75% cut in the wages of the Government employees.
Efforts between India and Bangladesh to jointly combat covid-19
On 13th of March 2020, the Prime Minister of India, NarendraModi proposed that the SAARC nations jointly need to combat and fight the pandemic. The idea was well received and welcomed by Bangladesh which is a member of the SAARC nations. On the 15th of March 2020 all the leaders of SAARC nations had a video conference to detail a plan to combat the threat of Covid-19. $10 Million USD was allocated by India for the Covid-19 emergency fund for the SAARC countries. Bangladesh allocated $1.5 million USD to the Emergency fund.
Anakha Angeline Anilesh
3rd yearBA.LLb at University Law College, Bangalore University