The unprecedented calamity of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially a harsh lockdown, battered the Indian economy at a time when it was already grappling with a deep structural slowdown. Almost a year on, when the first signs of a tentative recovery were just visible, India was hit by a devastating second wave of the pandemic. Countdown tries to make economic sense of this disaster. As millions lost their jobs and walked back hundreds of kilometres or looked in vain for a hospital bed or oxygen, billionaires made more money than ever before and the stock markets climbed to new highs. This crisis laid bare India's extreme economic disparities. Even during the best growth years, India failed to create enough jobs or invest substantially in human development. The country's toughest economic challenge since 1947 comes at a time when her main resource, her demographic strength, is about to run out too. Countdown presents a road map for sustainable reforms that could create millions of jobs, boost demand from below and reboot the economy in time to reap the benefit of India's demographic dividend.
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