India’s Covid-19 relief package has environmental consequences

In recent weeks, the situation in India was a throwback to two historical events. The sight of millions of internal migrants cycling and using any mode of transport to return to their homes far away in this large country brought back images of the mass migration following India’s partition in 1947. The second—with the prime minister and the finance minister announcing a series of policy changes—was a reminder to the launch of the economic reforms in 1991.

The Partition of 1947 divided the country into two. Families migrated across the newly-formed boundary. The Covid-19 lockdown of the past weeks again divided the country into two: those who stayed at home, and the others who had lost their jobs and incomes and walked.

The desperate reverse migration starkly brought out the economic links of the pandemic which is believed to be environmentally-caused. The crisis also provided an opportunity to reset some of the structural environmental-economic issues that brought the situation to such a pass.

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