As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian government has responded to the threat by imposing an unprecedented 21-day lockdown. The lockdown’s stated objective is to buy time to slow the spread of the disease and “flatten the curve” – a phrase that everyone is all too familiar with now. But what does flatten the curve mean for India? Is a complete lockdown the ideal way to go about it? And how can our already strained health systems prepare for a widespread outbreak, if we do experience one in the coming weeks?

In this podcast, Yamini Aiyar, President and Chief Executive of Centre for Policy Research, speaks with Dr Jishnu Das, senior visiting fellow at Centre for Policy Research and professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy and the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Das, whose work focusses on the delivery of basic services, speaks about the challenges our health systems will face as the Covid-19 outbreak unfolds over the next few months.

He recommends the adoption of a well-thought out testing strategy along with widespread availability of testing, collaboration to get better data, and preparation of our health systems make it agile and draw on the entire gamut of health infrastructure in India – including informal providers, private doctors, and government doctors.

This is the first in a series of episodes by the Centre for Policy Research on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic in India. You can follow the Centre’s work on Covid-19 on Twitter or visit You can read more on Jishnu Das’s work here. You can listen to all the episodes in the Coronavirus Conversation series here.