COVID-19 Op-ed

What Indonesia and India Share in Common: The Failure of Lockdown

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Nanda Blestri
Undergraduate student of International Relations
inUniversitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta

India has enforced a national lockdown since March 25. The
government officially announced that the restrictions included shutting
schools, offices, and shops, a prohibition on public transportation and
airline travel, as well as shutting the states’ borders. The announcement
caused panic among the citizens as they were psychologically unprepared for a
total lockdown. Many people were fearful of lacking essential items, having
no savings and of unpredictable calamities that may accompany the pandemic
(Singh, Goel, Kumar, & Gettleman, 2020).After nearly three months,
India has passed through five phases of lockdown. The latest, lockdown 5.0 is
expected to be the starting point of “Unlock 1” that allows the opening up of
restaurants, malls, and places of worship (Express Web Desk, 2020). Even
though school activity and international air travel are still prohibited, the
movement of people and goods between states is now permitted.Meanwhile, in
Indonesia, the government decided to impose large-scale social restrictions
(known by their Indonesian acronym PSBB) rather than a national lockdown as
India has done. The policy was announced two weeks after the first day of
lockdown in India. President of Indonesia aimed to curb the virus
transmission whilst avoiding economic paralysis.The PSBB or LSSR is more like
a partial or local lockdown that allows people to keep working and going to
classes, although online. Although large gatherings are prohibited, coffee
shops and restaurants are still open but with certain restrictions. These
measures are aimed to strengthen physical distancing, so that the chain of
transmission can be prevented without causing a lot of economic damage.Like
India, the Indonesia government has decided to adopt a ‘new normal era’ of
transition policies. Some relaxations include reopening malls, business
districts, offices, airports, and easing international as well as domestic
travels. However, under the transition appropriate protocols are to remain in
place.As highly populated countries, both India and Indonesia have
implemented such measures to protect their many millions of citizens.
Nevertheless, the efforts taken by them have yet to show many positive
outcomes. Both countries probably did not properly-prepare their issued
policies.India was already experiencing a shortage of medical apparel and
available healthcare facilities at the time when the first lockdown was
announced. Further, there was a late response from the government regarding
the financial aids package, which was only announced two days after the
lockdown began. Moreover, the aid package was effectively worthless compared
to people’s expenses during the pandemic (Chahal, 2020). Indonesia also
experienced problems. As the response to the pandemic was similarly
unprepared. The PSBB was expected to be fine-tuned by the local district
heads; but it was not implemented effectively as many regulations overlapped
with PSBB. For instance, many manufacturers were still operating because they
followed the regulations of the Ministry of Industry (Khatimah, 2020). This
event contributed to people’s confusion given the contradictory
regulations.What makes these countries more alike is that the number of cases
keep rising, particularly after the relaxation of lockdowns. As of June 16,
Indonesian cases have increased to 40.400 from 27.549 two weeks earlier, when
the Indonesian government claimed that Indonesia was ready to begin the
transition phase. Indonesia thus became the country with the highest number
of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia.On the other hand, India has overtaken
the UK’s position as the 4th worst-hit country in the
world. India is now facing inevitable failure since it now has more than
350.000 cases and the numbers keep rising. Compared to other countries like
Spain, Germany, and the UK, which successfully contained the number of cases
by imposing lockdowns, India looks left behind.Being highly populated
countries, COVID-19 is more challenging. Better countermeasures should have
been imposed from the start so that both countries would have been better
able to ‘protect the lives’ instead of only ‘delaying the deaths’. If India
and Indonesia push harder, both may get a second chance because the pandemic
and its worst impacts are still evolving.References:Chahal, G. (2020, March
27). Coronavirus lockdown: But what is India missing?
Retrieved June 20, 2020, from CNBC TV18:
Web Desk. (2020, June 8). Unlock 1.0: What changes for you in
malls, religious places from today
. Retrieved June 20, 2020, from
The Indian Express:,
H. (2020, April 27). Aturan Hukum Kontradiktif, PSBB di Bodebek
Dinilai Tidak Efektif
. Retrieved June 20, 2020, from Ayo Bogor:,
K. D., Goel, V., Kumar, H., & Gettleman, J. (2020, March 25).
India, Day 1: World’s Largest Coronavirus Lockdown
. Retrieved June 20, 2020, from The New York Times:

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