Nitin Pai is the co-founder of Takshashila Institution an independent Centre for Research and Education in Public Policy.
In an interview with him, Nitin broadly shared the work that the Takshashila Institution does in general and in particular how they are tackling the pandemic.
Takshashila Institution is a policy school which educates people from all walks of life on public policy and strategic affairs. As a Think Tank the organisation looks at technology, policies related to international relations and economic policies. In addition to this Takshashila is also a policy media organisation and addresses topics related to this in public discourses.
In response to a report on COVID-19 published by Takshashila, Nitin Pai shared that the report was put together in late March-early April based on the inputs provided by a Task Force Committee. The members of this committee include Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Kris Gopal Krishna to name a few. The primary intention was to understand how to move forward and manage the pandemic. The 3 key things that were emphasised included:
- Re-opening is a calibrated resumption of economic activity; it is not going to be a linear process that removes from lockdown to progressive levels of reopening but the possibility that there may have to be further lockdowns.
- Lockdown and reopening should be done at a very local level as local as possible since the demographics is different with relation to the current economic activities. This includes limits of districts and municipalities the
- Approach the pandemic by using colour codes like green, yellow, orange to threat levels instead of looking at a linear or binary solution.
One should also protect vulnerable segments in society and allow essential economic activities to continue within the context of social harmony. The report contributed to the discourse within the state government and at the union levels also. He was happy to say that some elements suggested have been included by the government.
In response to my next question regarding his mention on Twitter where he had stated the following 3 important things:
- How to tackle COVID-19 or break as quickly as possible?
- How the provision of humanitarian relief to those hit by it is relevant?
- How does one get the economy back online as soon as possible?
To this he responded stating that one can easily get distracted with respect to public discourse politics and government policy making. Three things he highlighted included:
- Contain the COVID-19 outbreak which means either by maintaining social distancing, managing the progress of the disease, working towards the vaccine and figuring out how to deliver the vaccine to as many people as possible in a short period of time
- Several aspects like livelihoods, mental health, gender issue, children have been severely affected by the pandemic. For example, in the case of children there is a digital divide where some of them have access to the Internet while some do not. These problems cannot be solved by only government grants or projects, involvement from every citizen with a compassionate outlook is very essential. In fact, compassion should be included in government policies, the way we interact with each other, especially during this period.
- How does one want economy of the country back on track? The longer the economy is in cold storage and mothballed the more difficult it will become to combat COVID-19 or provide humanitarian aspect at least for it did get back on your feet again.
Listen to the interview here:
Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander
Public Affairs Foundation