India is now ground zero for COVID-19.
On Saturday, it suffered a record of more than 335,000 new infections and more than 4,000 deaths in one day. Hospitals are running out of oxygen and beds. Morgues and crematoria are overwhelmed.
In total, a staggering 22.6 million people in India have been infected, with 246,116 deaths.
With 1.3 billion people, India is the second most populous country in the world. From across the country and across the world, there are increasing demands that Prime Minister Narendra Modi order a lockdown of the country to help staunch the spread of the virus.
This may be imperative, but one can understand the reluctance to do it. When Modi enforced a 21-day lockdown last year, it helped squelch the spread of the disease but caused a 24% economic contraction in the first quarter of 2020 and widespread desperation among India’s large numbers of migrant workers.
More recently, at the same time Modi put…