How India Used the COVID-19 Pandemic to Push Through a Liberal Drone Policy

Representative image of police personnel in Jaipur during the lockdown, with a drone hovering above them. Photo: PTI

The following is an except, obtained with permission, from Unmasked: Decoding the Politics of the COVID-19 Pandemic, by Dinesh C. Sharma. The digital edition of the book is available here.

While quarantine stamping and public notices outside homes looked crude and infringement of privacy of people suspected of infection and those who had infections, some state governments took to the use of technology to enforce lockdown as well as quarantine and isolation guidelines. Kerala became the first state in April 2020 to deploy drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance during the lockdown. Under a project named Eagle Eye (which incidentally is the name of NASA’s artificial intelligence initiative), the state police deployed 650 drones across the state to monitor the implementation of the lockdown. This was said to be the first…