Subin Dennis

Coronavirus pandemic brings to light the need for a stronger public sector

It is a sign of how bad things are when the editorial board of the Financial Times, the world’s leading business newspaper, carries an editorial calling for “radical reforms… reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades.” The FT editorial of April 3 has advocated, among other things, a more active role for governments in the economy, ways to make labor markets less insecure, and wealth taxes. The FT’s editorial board, increasingly concerned about saving capitalism from itself, had written about the need for “state planning” and a “worker-led economy” last year in August. But the April 3 editorial has garnered much more attention since it comes amidst a massive crisis.

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An overlooked region of India is a beacon to the world for taking on the coronavirus

K.K. Shailaja is the health minister in the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala, the state in the southwest of India that has a population of 35 million people. On January 25, 2020, she convened a high-level meeting to discuss the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. What had particularly worried her is that there were many students from Kerala studying in that province of China. Shailaja had won widespread praise for the swift and efficient way she had steered her department through the Nipah virus that hit Kerala in 2018. She recognized that there was no time to be lost if the virus spread from Wuhan; the government had to set up mechanisms for identifying possibly infected persons, and then for testing, mitigation, and treatment. On January 26, 2020, her department set up a control room to coordinate the work.

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