Using “nationalism” to “nudge” a country of 1.3 billion to treat the onset of the novel coronavirus as a juggernaut that would require a giant wall of public participation to stall, PM Narendra Modi’s frequent public appearances and assurances in the initial days of the pandemic were critical to setting in motion India’s response with an unprecedented 21-day lockdown, according to a Cambridge study that used machine learning and AI-based algorithms to identify the key interventions.
The peer-reviewed research article published in the scientific journal PLOS One contains the findings of an in-depth look into how the Centre formulated reactive policies to fight Covid-19, backed by critical “nudges” from the PM, employing a concept that proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence the behaviour and decision-making of groups or individuals.

The article by Ramit Debnath and Ronita Bardhan, titled “India nudges to contain COVID-19 pandemic: A reactive public policy analysis using machine-learning based topic modelling”, states that PM Modi’s “nudging” was critical in creating “the herd effect”.