Return to Transcripts main page
Fareed Zakaria GPS
Is The World Headed For A Great Depression?; New Dangers To Democracy In The COVID-19 Era; A Slow Slide To Autocracy Speeds Up With COVID-19; Hungary's Prime Minister Can Now Rule By Decree; Almost All Of India's 1.3 Billion Citizens Are Mandated To Stay Home; The Largest Lockdown In History. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired April 05, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.
Today on the show, the coronavirus and the economy. Is the world headed toward a Great Depression? And how do we come out of it?
I will ask the Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, Ian Bremmer and Zanny Minton Beddoes.
Also, coronavirus becomes the excuse for dictatorship. In the last few weeks Hungary's government has used the pandemic to give its leader unchecked power. Is this the end of democracy in a European country?
And India, we will take you inside perhaps the greatest gamble yet, the unprecedented lockdown of some 1.3 billion people to stave off catastrophe. Will it work?
But first, here's my take. Even as we're just beginning to confront the magnitude of the shock caused by this pandemic, we need to wrap our minds around a painful truth. We are in the early stages of what is going to become a series of cascading crises reverberating throughout the world. And we will not be able to get back to anything resembling normal life unless the major powers in the world can find some way to cooperate and manage these problems together.
The first phase has been the health care crisis in the world's major economies. The next phase is the economic paralysis, the magnitude of which we are only just beginning to comprehend. In the last two weeks, two weeks, America lost 10 million jobs, exceeding the 8.8 million total jobs lost over 106 weeks during the 2008 to 2010 recession. But this is just the beginning. Next up will surely be the danger of countries defaulting.
Italy entered the crisis with the highest level of public debt of the eurozone countries and the third highest in the world. The country's debt will skyrocket now as it spends money to combat the economic fallout from COVID-19. Next come the explosions in the developing world. So far the numbers of infected have been low in countries like India,
Brazil, Nigeria, and Indonesia. Probably because they're less linked by trade and travel than the advanced world. In addition these countries have tested very few people which is keeping their numbers artificially low. But unless we get lucky and it turns out that heat does temper the virus, these countries will all get hit and hard.
And then there are the oil states. Even if the quarrel between Saudi Arabia and Russia gets resolved, at this point demand for oil has collapsed and will not soon recover. Consider what that means for countries like Libya, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq and Venezuela where oil revenues make up the vast majority of government revenue, the vast majority of the economy. Expect political turmoil, refugees, revolutions, crackdowns, maybe terrorism. All of this might happen on a scale we haven't seen for decades.
The world has entered this pandemic with two challenges. It is awash in debt, government and private, with a total global GDP of $90 trillion, public and private debt add up to $260 trillion. The world's two leading economies, the United States and China, have public and private debt to GDP ratios of 210 percent and 310 percent respectively.
Now this would all be manageable if not for the second challenge. This crisis is occurring at a time when global cooperation has collapsed and the traditional leader and organizer of such efforts, the United States of America, has abandoned that role entirely.
Last month the G7 meeting was not even able to issue a joint statement on the pandemic because the U.S. refused to sign anything that did not label the disease the Wuhan virus. A dispute that sounds like something that comes out of high school.
The centerpiece of any global effort would have to be close cooperation between the United States and China. Instead, that relationship is in free fall with each side deflecting blame on itself by blaming the other. The follow-up to the G7, the G20 meeting, was also a dud. Even the European Union has been late to recognize the seriousness of this crises, the most serious crisis in its existence.
A rash statement by the head of the European Central Bank caused Italy's worst stock market crash in the country's history.
Now, what would be achieved by greater global cooperation? Well, since so much of the containment strategy involves travel, it would be far more effective if travel bans and advisories were coordinated. During the '08 and '09 recession, central banks and governments worked with each other to help contain and dampen financial contagion. If countries like Iraq and Nigeria explode the cost in refugees, disease, terrorism would all make us wish we had tried harder to manage their fall.
If the richest countries pool funds and share information that will speed up the arrival of treatments and vaccines, and when the time comes to reopen economies, coordinated action on trade and travel, for instance, would give us all the biggest bang for the buck.
The problem we face is broad and global. But unfortunately the responses are increasingly narrow and parochial.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Look at Los Angeles at rush hour. Freeways that are usually bumper to bumper now eerily empty. Now take a look at the shot of the Champs- Elysees that makes the usually vivacious Paris look like a ghost town.
Seeing such stark pictures in these two cities and there are many, many more across the globe, it is obvious that vast parts of the global economy are shut down simultaneously. The question many are asking is, will this unprecedented shutdown lead to another Great Depression? This one really global.
Joining me now are Paul Krugman, a Noble laureate in economics and a columnist for "The New York Times," Zanny Minton Beddoes is the editor-in-chief of the "Economist" and Ian Bremmer is the founder of the Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.
Paul, let me start with you. I sometimes I feel as though we're even mislabeling this when we talk about a recession or even a depression. We've never seen anything like this. This is more like a great paralysis. Mark Zandy at Moody's who has the best data on this, says that if you look at it right now, you have had essentially what would amount to a 75 percent decline in GDP in the United States. How do we comprehend something like this?
PAUL KRUGMAN, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: The metaphor I've been using is that this is -- it's like a medically induced coma where doctors deliberately shut down a lot of the brain's function in order to give a patient a chance to -- a chance to recover from severe blow. And what we've seen so far is mostly not a recession in the normal sense. Recessions happen when there isn't enough spending, there isn't enough demand more goods.
What's happened instead is that we have more on those deliberately shut down a large part of the economy because we're trying to avoid activities that can spread the disease. We've done that way too late. But that's -- it's what has to be done. And overwhelmingly what we're seeing so far, you know, those 10 million jobs -- I'm sure it will be 15 million by the end of this week -- that we've lost in the U.S. are because of that deliberately-induced coma.
The -- that's pretty bad in itself. And for millions that's a total loss of income. And then there is -- we worry a lot -- people -- all of us working on this now, that there's then a second wave, which is because so many people are suddenly impoverished they can't buy other stuff. And so you get a severe recession of a more conventional type overlaid on top of this coma that the economy has already gone into.
We're definitely going to see unemployment numbers that are as high as if not higher than anything we saw in the Great Depression. The only question really is how long it lasts. ZAKARIA: Zanny Minton Beddoes, does this look different in Europe?
Because, again, we have this extraordinary reality that it's all happening at the same time and it's happening in the richest countries of the world simultaneously.
ZANNY MINTON BEDDOES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: No. I'm afraid it doesn't look different. And I find Paul's metaphor grimly appropriate, a medically-induced coma.
And if I might just extend that metaphor a little bit, I think what is worrying is that we don't really have a clear exit strategy. And I think that there's still a view that we're going to beat this and then life will go back to normal. And that's just not going to happen. We are going to almost certainly have periods of undoing some of these restrictions and then having to put them on again as the virus comes back.
And we're going to damage just as a medically-induced coma can leave serious damage if people are that sick, so we're going to leave serious damage to the economy. And right now we're seeing these almost unimaginable figures that in real time so much is happening that we're going to be behind, the official statistics are going to be behind again and again. So we're going to have a cascade of figures.
And just how bad they get will depend in part how long this goes on for but also how quickly the very equally dramatic government stimulus plan can actually get to the people that need them, the workers that are being laid off, the companies that need payroll support and right now on both sides of the Atlantic, they're way behind on that because it's just very, very hard to get these enormous programs into gear very quickly.
So I'm afraid, I think is -- we are just, as you said in the introduction to your program, in the early stages of something that is going to be much, much worse economically than it is now.
ZAKARIA: Zanny, let me ask you about Europe because there have been sort of -- there does seem to be an interesting difference when Europe -- unemployment is not spiking in quite the same way and they're approaching it somewhat differently. I look at a place like Denmark. Explain how that part of the European response looks different from the American response.
BEDDOES: So there are several ways in which the European response is different. But one in particular is whether you basically subsidize firms to keep workers on the payroll, which is broadly the European response. And something like close to a million European firms have across countries applied for payroll subsidies. And the generosity of those subsidies differs.
So in Denmark, 75 percent, I believe, of the average salary is paid for by the government. In the U.K. here, it's even more generous, it's 80 percent. The U.S. broadly has a different approach, which is that there's been a very big increase in unemployment insurance, and so there's been a huge increase in layoffs. There's some attempt also through loans that can then be forgiven to help particularly small businesses keep people on their payroll but I think you are seeing, if you will, a sort of classic difference.
The -- you know, the U.S., the tougher capitalism that are just people get fired, there's much bigger than usual federal support. In Europe it's much more trying to keep workers paid with the companies that they are currently at. And broadly the European response, I think, is one that is more likely to keep people getting their salaries, getting income in the short term, but it also has some interesting consequences.
So for example in the United Kingdom where we do have this very generous support from the government for keeping people on payroll, actually those companies whether it's in the retail sector that are desperately trying to attract new workers and hire people to do all the surge and demand for home delivery are finding it quite hard to get workers right now.
ZAKARIA: All right. Stay with me. When we come back, I'm going to ask our panel how exactly do we start the economy and what do the political effects of all this look like, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: And we are back with Paul Krugman, Zanny Minton Beddoes and Ian Bremer. I should note Paul Krugman has a new book out, "Arguing with Zombies."
Paul, let me get -- let's get back to this issue that Zanny pointed out, which his that when we start the economy, it's not going to start up in full stream. I want to ask a different part of that, which is President Trump clearly wants to restart the economy, wants to get the United States back to work. What is the danger if it starts up too early? After all, one does understand his concern, which is, you know, there is a cost, a huge cost to the economy being paralyzed this way. Is there a danger that you start up too soon and what happens then?
KRUGMAN: It's a huge danger. I mean, the -- we really need a period of extreme lockdown to make sure that this thing has -- you know, that we've really brought the pandemic to an end. And I keep on seeing people saying that economists want the economy to restart. That's actually not true. The overwhelming consensus of serious economists is that if you want to wait, better to err on the side of staying shut down longer rather than to err by starting up too soon.
We even have some evidence. In 1918-'19 flu pandemic, there was actual -- there was social distancing. Well, many of the same policies we're doing now. They varied quite a lot among cities. And the cities that did more social distancing and stayed with it not only had much lower death rates, they actually did better economically. So everything now says this is not the time to worry about GDP. Don't worry about dollars. We need to provide disaster relief. We need to provide aid to people
who are not getting incomes, and that makes it tolerable. And we can go on for -- we need to go on as long as it takes. Trying to get things started because you want -- you know, everybody wants a return to the life we had. But trying to do that prematurely is a recipe not just for a lot more people dying but also a recipe for actually a much longer economic slump.
ZAKARIA: Ian, what we are seeing in China -- I think we lost Ian now.
Let me ask you, Zanny. What we're seeing in China is the return of the economy after a period of a very drastic and dramatic lockdown. Yes. Is that a hopeful sign? Because if you look at the way China is reopening its economy, it does seem to suggest that once you get this under control and the numbers of new cases are very small, you can start up again.
BEDDOES: It is, although I would caution that it's quite early days in China. And there are a -- you know, there was an increase in infections that came from people returning from abroad and so they shut the country to foreigners in particular. And I would point to Singapore, which has really handled this in an exemplary manner but Singapore has actually on Friday increased its lockdown or has actually broaden their lockdown which it hadn't really had before, but it was seeing cases increasing.
And I don't think it's going to be binary. I think at some point we are going to have to weigh the costs of keeping the economy shut down with the impact on lives saved and the pandemic. And of course right now I completely agree with Paul, it's absolutely clear that the right thing do is to lock down. But over time, the costs of the lockdown are going to increase. And for some countries it won't be possible to do this. They won't have the resources to carry on doing this.
And then I think we're going to have to figure out ways to start bringing the economy back to life. And I think one of the big differences between now and 1918 -- and I read that very interesting study about the U.S. then -- is that we have technology in a way that we didn't then. And I think one of the kind of under-focused on areas of this is how we can harness technology. Not just technology to get as fast as possible to a vaccine, to a treatment, but technology to trace people, technology to see where people are.
Let's use this huge infrastructure we got in terms of, you know, everybody having a cell phone in their hand. There are big issues with this, you know. Are we going to be heading towards a surveillance state? Do we need to worry about invasions of privacy? But I think right now that stuff is outweighed by people's desire to know whether they -- you know, how far the virus has spread, to know whether they have had it, to know whether they have been near people who've had it.
And I think we'll see businesses reorganize themselves so that you can have production lines with social distancing. We will see service sector firms reorganize themselves. Restaurants will have much bigger space between tables, and we'll, I hope, use technology in a much, much more dramatic way than we've used it now to know kind of who's had the virus, where there are hot spots and where there's much less of it.
ZAKARIA: Ian, let me ask you about a bigger picture about this. And I'm sorry, we had a little technical difficulty getting you on, which is China is now donating ventilators to New York. Talk about the competition for leadership that is coming out of this with China appearing to be at least more confident than the United States essentially uninterested.
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Well, of course. On a couple of levels. I mean, even though the Chinese are responsible for the original outbreak with all the travel and the cover-up, the fact is that their economy is going to be back to pretty much 100 percent, at least on the supply side, within the coming weeks, while the Americans and Europeans are still shut down. They've got the medical supply chain. They have the excess medical personnel.
They have the ability to learn some lessons from when the Americans gave humanitarian aid after previous crisis, some lessons that the Americans appear to have forgotten. And, you know, I certainly believe that the Americans are capable of implementing real lockdowns and listening to authority. We're clearly capable of putting a lot of money into our economy for relief and restart as we need it. But we have completely abdicated leadership internationally.
For the developing world that will most need it, for our allies like in Europe that we're not coordinating with. And the Chinese smell opportunity here. They recognize that the global order will look very different coming out of this crisis than it did going in. And we really need to be paying attention to what Beijing is doing right now.
ZAKARIA: Paul, let me ask you a quick question. We only have a few -- we have about 45 seconds. One thing that worries me, all of us on this battle line have been to graduate school and social science. The data is very bad that is coming out.
ZAKARIA: Countries are testing differently. Is there a danger that we are making predictions on the basis of very incomplete data here?
KRUGMAN: Yes. Especially because everything moves so fast. I mean, we knew that the exponential growth in the disease but also even on the economic thing. We're now at a point where, you know, monthly economic data are already so far out of date that they're useless. And so even the -- we really are -- weekly figures which are not the right numbers, but we're doing what we can. So, look, just three weeks ago people -- I was in contact with people who were debating whether we needed any sort of major economic response.
Do we really have an economic emergency to justify a large package? Unbelievable now, right? Now we're probably 15 million jobs down while we were just getting this thing together. So we are -- yes, turns out that we have a -- we're not prepared not just for something of this magnitude but we're not prepared for something of this speed. And this is a big problem.
ZAKARIA: Thank you all. We will come back to you because this isn't going away. And thanks, Ian, in particular.
Next on GPS, Hungary's leader, Viktor Orban, has used the coronavirus crises to grab all but absolute power. He was given the power this week to rule by presidential decree. I'll tell you all about it when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Donald Trump's usual complaints no matter what he terms fake news which is really news he doesn't like have not gone away during the Coronavirus crisis. But one leader has taken it further, much further.
A new law in Hungary calls for up to five years in jail for publishing so-called fake news related to the Coronavirus. That is just a minor part of a major measure that will give Prime Minister Viktor Orban ultimate power the ability to rule by decree.
His personal whims will have no checks no balances. What will this mean for Hungary, Michael Ignatieff is the President of the Central European University; a George Soros funded institution founded in Hungary that was expelled by Orban last year.
And Valerie Hopkins is a Budapest based Correspondent for "The Financial Times. Michael, let me ask you how did we get here? This is a European country that is essentially slid from what looked like a functioning liberal democracy to something very different?
MICHAEL IGNATIEFF, PRESIDENT AND RECTOR, CENTRAL EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY: Fareed, this began ten years ago when he won power in 2010. He muzzled the press, he cut back on the autonomy of the courts and he came after our free institution, Central European University and now this just seems to be a culmination of a pattern that developed over ten years.
And it's developed frankly because the European Union didn't stop him because successive American administrations didn't stop him and because China, Russia and the authoritarian states were only too happy to welcome another authoritarian into their camp.
So it's a story of him getting away with stuff but it is also a story of him being simply continuous with what he's been doing since 2010.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating. 2010 of course he wins a big election because his opponent, the Prime Minister, said something - he made a gaffe on TV. Valerie, let me ask you about this. The judiciary in Hungary seemed independent. The press seemed to be a thriving free press. What did he do in both cases to neuter them? VALERIE HOPKINS, SOUTH-EAST EUROPE CORRESPONDENT, FINANCIAL TIMES: Wow. Well, thank you very much for having me, first of all. I think it's important to know that if anybody knows how dangerous an economic crisis is, it is Viktor Orban. So he, as Michael said, he swept into power in 2010 after an economic crash, and I think now this law is geared towards preventing a similar loss of power.
And over the course of the last decade he's really focused on first rewriting the constitution, amending it several times and then stacking institutions like the constitutional court and also regulatory bodies with people loyal to him.
I mean most Hungarians will tell you that actually the lower levels of the judiciary are still fine and many of them will still make good decisions. But it's the highest levels that we have to be worried about.
Regarding the press, there's been a real trend of powerful oligarchs tied to the government coming in, taking profitable, interesting independent media outlets, buying a majority stake in them and then eventually turning them into government propaganda mouthpieces.
That actually was announced, that one of the most important media outlets that are still independent because there are still a number of very brave and very wonderful local journalists working very hard to do their job here, was bought up by a businessman close to the government he bought a controlling stake in the paper.
So it is very concerning when that happened the day after this law was passed. And one other thing is that in November of 2018, 500 media outlets that had systematically been targeted and sort of had their editorial policies affected, shall we say, donated themselves to free for a foundation that's one and managed by Orban loyalists and they will publish identical news about how great the government is every day.
ZAKARIA: Michael, describe what some Hungarians call Viktor Orban's peacock dance. This shows you, I think, how savvy he is, and that, you know, when he's confronted sometimes, he takes one step too far, he backs off?
IGNATIEFF: Well, the optimistic view of this suspension of all parliamentary rule and constitutional rule is that he - he contrived this back if he gets external pressure, but I actually think this is a peacock dance that in which he's not dancing back, I think he's consolidating power and is going to be indifferent to what European Union says.
Because I think the European Union, the French, the Germans are so deep in their own crises that they are not going to mind that basically one European state has turned into a single-party state in front of their eyes.
IGNATIEFF: And I think President Trump has been positively friendly to Orban for two years. So Orban's peacock dance used to depend on counter pressure, counter pressure from the French, from the Germans or from the Americans.
He doesn't need do the peacock dance, he just keeps on running. That, it seems to me, is very important here. You can't see what's happening in Hungary apart from a basic abdication of the defense of the basic principles of European Democratic Freedom right across the European Union and also the retreat of America from any role in defending democracy overseas.
ZAKARIA: Valerie, what do Hungarians look at this and think? As often happens in parliamentary systems, it seems to me that Orban has about 30 percent of the population solidly behind him. May be another 10 percent you know somewhat supportive but it's not a vast majority. What are all these Hungarians who are uneasy with all this, what are they saying? What are they doing?
HOPKINS: Well, Orban like many leaders now in the Coronavirus crisis has experienced a bump in his popularity but it's unclear how long it will last. Before coming out with an economic package, the government already started proposing laws that had nothing to do with Coronavirus like or combating the virus like making it illegal to change one's gender identity or something.
I think most ordinary Hungarians are incredibly worried about the very poor health system here and the very poor economic measures that may be taken. The Prime Minister has announced that there won't be any special measures other than three months of unemployment for people.
So I think they're very, very scared about what their economic future will entail and very worried about their own personal safety and security when it comes to the health system. I think it's - the measures are not quite so popular, but the opposition in Hungary has been quite fragmented for so many years, and in addition to being able to rewrite the laws, the government changed the electoral maps of the country making it more difficult for the opposition to come back.
However in the local elections in October, 10 out of 23 of the major cities were won by the opposition, and it's possible that - that eventually they may be able to make a comeback but it will be ever harder with the new laws imposed, especially now a new proposal announced yesterday that will make all parties give half of their funding to a special Coronavirus fund administered centrally by the government.
ZAKARIA: Michael, let me ask you very quickly. We have 30 seconds. The European Union provides 6 percent of Hungary's GDP some years. Couldn't it just say stop this?
IGNATIEFF: Fareed, if only. That's clearly the most important lever. But the European Union, I think, is so weak that they fear if they apply that lever, Hungary - where Hungary would walk to be not clear. So I think it's a lever that should be applied, but they certainly have had many occasions where they could have brought that hammer down and have not done so Fareed. And this is just, I think, a sign of the extraordinary fragmenting impact of the Coronavirus on the - on European politics and on the capacity of European states to act together and act against what I think is a threat to the democratic values of the whole continent.
ZAKARIA: Michael Ignatieff and Valerie pleasure to have you on. Next on "GPS" all these spring breakers making it clear how difficult it is to lock down America, which is a country of 330 million people. How about a country of 1.3 billion? We will take you inside history's largest ever lockdown when we come back.
ZAKARIA: On March 24th, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a nationally televised address to tell Indian citizens that at midnight, four hours from then, the nation would be on lockdown for at least three weeks.
It is the biggest lockdown ever ordered in history. Almost all of India's 1.3 billion people are subject to it. Sounds like many western nations? No, there's a big difference and in order to help us understand all that the Indian Journalist Barkha Dutt joins me from Delhi. She is a Washington Post Columnist.
Barkha, the extraordinary nature of this lockdown, giving people no time to prepare must have thrown India into - which is already a functioning anarchy, it must have made it pretty chaotic?
BARKHA DUTT, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean Fareed chaotic would be an understatement. When the Prime Minister announced that the nation was effectively go to shut down, the first instinct of the country was to be a little fearful that essentially applaud him and understand the inevitability of the decision as also though how extraordinarily difficult it was going to be?
But I think what people did not anticipate is spaces that had not been planned at all. What we saw erupt in the first 72 hours after the lockdown was hundreds of thousands of poor people literally fleeing the cities that they work in.
These are India's migrant workers that the poorest of the poor. They're estimated to be 45 million migrant workers union people who lived as where in religious that come to the cities to work they're effectively daily wagers.
Because the Prime Minister's address did not make any sort of message about economic packages and economic rehabilitation when he announced the lockdown, there was massive panic Fareed.
I walked with many of these men and women there were poor men carrying 5-year-old children on their shoulders, women carrying their life's belongings rolled into one sack on their heads little children on the roads walking hundreds of miles.
[10:45:00] DUTT: And it's been called the largest mass exodus mass movement of people since partisan. And you know it was staggering to see this has not been factored in the millions of poor had not been factored in and just four hours was given for the country to shut down.
So people are now worried. So many men and women I met while reporting this story said to me the poverty that we're going through, the loss of jobs, the loss of wages, the absence of food, that is going to kill us before the Coronavirus does.
ZAKARIA: The theory behind this, which I think most people understand, was that you needed to take very tough even brutal measures because - and try to suppress the virus, which is still in low numbers in India, because if it did spiral, the Indian health care system is really one of the worst in the world, right?
DUTT: Yes. Like I said, I think we got the theory, we got the logic and the country really did rally behind the Prime Minister when he first made the announcement. But I think there's a sense now that the execution and the planning has not been up to the mark.
And I don't mean to be an arm chair analyst saying this - I've been out on the ground reporting this story. We understand that this is 1.3 billion the world's sort of largest democracy that we are talking about.
We understand how difficult this is, but the fact is that the evidence on the ground tells you, Fareed, that this should have been A, done earlier, B, the government should have given itself time to plan for the most vulnerable Indian people.
Just to give your viewers a sense about 250 million Indians live below the poverty line. Just imagine that in relation to the United States entire population. 45 million, as I said, are transient workers, who are daily wagers. And 92 million Indian homes, households actually live in one room.
So when you tell these households stay at home what are you really saying to them? So the challenge before India right now is that the socioeconomic crisis, the specter of starvation, the very real fear of hunger, that does not become a bigger crisis than the Coronavirus infection.
We understand the logic of the lockdown. We just wish as citizens and reporters covering this story that the government had given itself much more time to plan it better keeping the most vulnerable and most impoverished citizens in mind.
ZAKARIA: Finally, tell me how this impacted Modi and his kind of leadership style? Last night he called for a kind of national period of darkness and the lighting of lamps. What is it - what has he turned this into?
DUTT: Well, I think Modi's great skill is to turn every disruptive moment in politics into a test of patriotism. That is how he handled demonetization which in his first was considered one of his biggest mistakes when he swiftly took more than 80 percent of India's cash out of circulation.
The lockdown is not seen as a whimsical decision by him, but in many quarters it's seen as an in plan decision when he rushed through without giving the government enough time as that we're saying for planning it and planning it properly.
That said, Modi does have a kind of Teflon advantage almost, and he's managed to convert this moment also into a sort of test about whether you're standing with India or against India. The other thing that's happened that does enable and it's a horrible thing to say at this point.
But it's true - it enables the BJP's Hindutva politics is that 30 percent of India's confirmed cases according to officials are linked to religious congregations of an orthodox Sunni Muslim group called the Tablighi Jamaat. More than 1000 of confirmed cases in India have been linked--
ZAKARIA: Barkha, I have to--
DUTT: Sorry. So this just enables that politics at this point.
ZAKARIA: We will get back to it. That's another important part of it. Sorry, I have to let you go.
DUTT: No problem.
ZAKARIA: Thank you so much.
DUTT: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," can our politics come together like our scientists do?
ZAKARIA: My book of the week is a terrific story of a courageous leader who took his country from depression and despair to hope and recovery. No, it's not a fictional story. But rather a great history of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first 100 days. Jonathan Alter's "The Defining Moment" will give you a rich sense of what great leadership actually looks like.
And now, a last look at some good news. Across the world scientists have been busy working together across borders, across oceans, across time zones to fight COVID-19 to build an antibody test or develop a vaccine.
The impact of the disease is felt far beyond hospitals and doctor's offices and so technologists are stepping in to fill the gap. As the virus spreads, Italian, Austrian and German mobile operators aggregated cell phone data to track user's collective movements from hotspots. In the U.S. the world's fastest super computer IBM Summit was put to
work screening 8,000 molecular compounds to identify the 77 most likely to block COVID-19 infections. This process which would have taken months on a normal commuter, allowed researchers to narrow the scope of their research within just a few days.
Now the newly narrowed list of drugs can be studied by scientists around the world. And in the tech savvy anything of Estonia, two tech companies held a hack-a-thon last month more than 1300 people in twenty countries worked together for 48 hours to develop digital solutions to the many problems created by the crises.
ZAKARIA: To cut through the swirl of information and misinformation, there's an Artificial Intelligence BOT to answer questions about the virus' spread based on reliable source like the World Health Organization and the Estonian Health Board.
For sick people wondering if they should get a test or go to the hospital, there's an app to help track your symptoms, compare them to the prevalence of COVID-19 in your neighborhood and help you assess your risk.
This first hack-a-thon was so successful the Estonian companies are helping organize a global hack-a-thon this coming week. If you have an idea, go to the globalhack.com to register.
Maybe all this global collaboration can inspire politicians to follow the examples being set by private citizens working together across borders against common foe. Thank you for all of you for being a part of my program this week. I'll see you next week.