South Asia is the most densely populated part of the world and also one of the poorest. With very low standards of healthcare, the region was seen as very high risk for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Surprisingly, however, most countries have done well to contain the pandemic. With one exception: the largest country in the region, India.

India now has 4.4 million total cases – making it the country with the second highest number of cases. For the past week, India has also been clocking the highest number of new cases in the world.

With socio-economic conditions across South Asia being similar, how did India’s position diverge so sharply?

India’s lead

India outstrips other countries in the South Asia region, with a Covid-19 caseload that is 13 times that of Bangladesh and 15 times of Pakistan.

However, since India is also the largest country in the region, a better way to measure performance would be to look at per capita figures. Even there, however, the situation in India is worrying compared to the rest of South Asia.

With respect to total cases per million population, India is 1.6 times Bangladesh and 2.3 times Pakistan. In comparison to Sri Lanka – which has had remarkable success in controlling the disease – India’s cases per...

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