How COVID-19 Outbreak is Highlighting Power of Indian State Govts
Amid COVID-19 crisis in India, silver lining is how state govts are exercising their power in battling the disease.
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Rising coronavirus cases, struggling healthcare system, the economy in shambles, uncertain future, extended lockdown, and job losses. The COVID-19 outbreak has brought India to a grinding halt. The silver lining, however, is how the state governments are exercising their power in battling the disease.
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Amid the COVID-19 outbreak in India, for the first time since the Modi government came to power at the Centre, state governments have exercised their power to this extent.
Our Constitution calls India a ‘Union of States’, which refers to a constitutional division of power between the Centre and the states.
Here’s How COVID-19 Outbreak Highlighted Power of State Govts
Even before PM Modi’s meeting with the chief ministers on extension of lockdown scheduled on 11 April, the state representatives took decisive action.
On 9 April, via a video message posted on Twitter, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced extension of lockdown till 30 April in Odisha. It is to be noted that number of positive cases in Odisha are lesser compared to other states, yet this announcement made Odisha the first state to extend the lockdown.
A day before this, on 8 April, Telangana Chief Minister KCR had hinted that he was in favour of extending lockdown in the state. On 10 April, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh announced that lockdown in the state would be extended till 1 May.
Dealing With Economic Crisis During Lockdown
The big challenge before the state governments and the chief ministers was to deal with an economic crisis emerging because of the nationwide lockdown.
- Punjab government announced that farmers would be allowed to harvest and sell Ravi crops
- Odisha government gave a green signal to MNREGA scheme and relief to farmers while ensuring practice of social distancing
- After grabbing headlines for its Bhilwara model, Rajasthan government announced on 7 April that it had screened 5 of the 7.5 crore residents.
Besides, without waiting for any relief package from the central government, Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government announced a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for the kin of medical staff who died in the line of duty and incentives worth Rs 25 crore for doctors and nurses.
Coronavirus Outbreak Gave CMs an Opportunity to Lead by Example
Undoubtedly, many of the chief ministers are also senior and veteran politicians but their strategy to fight coronavirus gave them an opportunity to shine at a national level and to lead by example.
From the very beginning, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan set the example for other states by introducing scientific methods like contact tracing and route mapping. The first COVID-19 case in the country was reported in Kerala. But after that, due to strict regulation, the state has seen only two deaths due to the disease.
Political commentator Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay wrote in one of his articles that the coronavirus epidemic has proved to be a challenge and opportunity for not just PM Modi but these regional leaders as well.
- Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, condemning attacks on Muslims, surprised everyone by calling ‘communal’ virus as lethal as coronavirus
- Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also grabbed headlines for identifying red zones and issuing curfew passes
By the way, law and order and state of healthcare are delicate subjects but they also give the opportunity to the state governments to show their importance and rise to the occasion.
India is a country of diversity. Each state needs to tackle issues differently. Strict regulations at state-level is the need of the hour. Amid the coronavirus crisis, united we’ll stand.
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