From Wuhan, China, to the man next door, the COVID-19 spread all over the world, causing a global frenzy triggering safety protocols. After months of rigorous lockdowns, we are yet to eliminate this threat. India began battling the virus in early 2020, rather successfully, given its massive population. Front-line workers worldwide receive vaccinations developed in India. This article discusses the niche aspects of the pandemic impact policymakers could tend to.
While India has successfully flattened the curve and has managed to save over 10 million lives, the economic and social setbacks continue to persist. The unprecedently prolonged lockdowns in the country have affected fiscal contributors such as the manufacture and supply of goods and services, consumption, and investment. International tourism yields a remarkable amount of Governmental revenue owing to the rich culture and heritage of India. Suspension of international travel to contain the spread of the deadly virus has hamstrung the tourism industry too. An estimated 174 million people lost jobs due to both international and domestic travel restrictions. The travel ban has also added to the misery of aviation businesses caused by alarming income reductions.
Another unsurprising yet unfortunate result is the increasing number of domestic violence over marginalized women of India. With lockdown restrictions in place, they cannot reach out to their support groups or even call out for help. Families forced to stay at home have contributed to these numbers. The first two weeks of lockdown saw a 100% increase in domestic violence cases, according to the National Commission of Women (NCW). As the lockdown continued, there was a gradual decrease in the number of complaints due to inaccessibility.
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the disabled community. 2.21% of the Indian population lives with a disability. Parents of children with disabilities like the ASDs have struggled to keep their children safe inside a contained space for more than a year. The inability to access treatment has only worsened their conditions, with developmental setbacks intensified over these months. The lockdowns have seen a rise in different psychiatric disorders that have manifested themselves across various societal sects. Recently it has been noticed that the demand for psychiatric and psychological services has increased manifold. Research has suggested that around 18–28 % of the population experienced anxiety and depression caused by the pandemic. Over 80% of the participants in the study experienced anxiety about contracting the virus. 12.5% of the participants complained of disturbed sleep that can be associated with anxiety and depression. 34.6% of the participants complained of distress related to social media.
Over and above that, those suffering from substance use disorders have also seen a spike in their symptoms. Addiction rates have skyrocketed. Those who were just over SUDs also found themselves relapsing. More than 80% saw a need for mental health care. The mental health service sector is working towards resolving this crisis.
Thank you, front-line workers
The Indian government has played a notable role in containing the virus and its impact on the populace. Due to the pandemic, this year’s budget shows a remarkable increase of 137% in the healthcare sector and a whooping Rs.35,000 crore allotment for the development and administration of vaccines for COVID-19. Both government officials, as well as social workers, have helped alleviate the distress in society. Doctors, nurses, and other front-line workers have tirelessly spent several hours, sometimes without sleep, and pay to serve the victims. Their sincere efforts and dedication to their jobs are highly valued and appreciated.
Credits – Purva Sreekaanth & Vivian Chieh