No economy is immune to a fast-spreading pathogen. But where the activity is organized more formally, authorities can at least try to reach the pain points with liquidity, credit, tax rebates, salary supplements or rental discounts.
None of this is easy in a highly informal economy like India. The lockdowns that nervous cities and states are now forced to impose to slow the coronavirus could upend livelihoods in ways that will be hard for government programs to combat. Shopping malls, cinemas and pubs in the financial capital of Mumbai are shut, along with schools, colleges and the zoo. What remains open is being shunned because of fear. Chicken prices have collapsed across the country as people avoid buying meat from wet markets. Tourism is at a standstill. Eating out is rare.