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GS-II : Governance

Cooperative federalism and COVID-19

  • 13 May, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

Cooperative federalism and COVID-19

Introduction

  • Instead of dictating how States deal with the pandemic, the Centre must be a facilitator

Covid-19 case load

  • India’s national positivity rate, or the proportion of tested cases returning positive, is around 21%.

Vaccination drive coverage

  • Couple that with the faltering vaccination drive, and the picture is far from pretty.
  • On April 12, India administered 3.7 million doses of vaccine and after April 26, it has failed to administer over 3 million doses a day.
  • Ever since the vaccine drive was expanded to all adults over 18, on May 1, the maximum number of daily doses administered has been 2.4 million.
  • This, even as daily new cases added continue to be above 380,000 and deaths close to 4,000 a day.
  • The oxygen crisis continues and the pandemic has now established itself in rural India in lethal proportions, with macabre reports of bodies surfacing in the Ganga in the stretch from Uttar Pradesh to Bihar.
  • All of these point to the fact that there is a very large pool of those infected and prone to infecting those around, bringing up the question of whether a national lockdown should be reimposed.

Actions taken by states

  • No fewer than 18 States have imposed various grades of lockdown or curfews.
  • Some only lay stress on shutting down marketplaces whereas others are more reminiscent of the curbs of March and April last year.
  • These restrictions are expected to be in force at least till the third week of this month.
  • Many of the States with the highest positivity rates and growth in infections have already imposed restrictions on the main sources of continued spread.
  • These include religious gatherings, social functions and leisure visits to public entertainment spaces.

Is there a need of national lockdown?

  • A ‘national lockdown’ at this stage has only cosmetic value.
  • India’s economy was already in a nosedive before March 2020 and the sudden imposition wreaked havoc on the migrant workforce.
  • A lesson that has emerged from the pandemic is that States are best equipped to take care of themselves with the Centre doing its job best while acting as a facilitator.
  • Central Ministers, armed with the best medical experts, had declared early this year that India was in the ‘end game’ of the pandemic and that India had “shown the world” how to beat it.

Way forward

  • Instead, the Centre must focus on distributing equitably across States vaccines, oxygen tankers, testing kits and other critical medical equipment while also accounting for a potential third wave.

 

Source: TH

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