How setting aside party politics can help India in the battle against Covid-19

An overview of the considerations and questions national authorities must reflect on in their response to the pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented global crisis and has infected more than 4.5 million people in more than 200 countries. Even before the onset of this pandemic, the global economy was confronting turbulence on account of disruptions in trade flows and attenuated growth. The situation has now been very much aggravated by the demand, supply, and liquidity shocks that Covid-19 has inflicted on many economies, including the Indian economy.

 Managing an epidemic requires tackling the health consequences of the outbreak, as well as its social, political, security, and economic dimensions. This implies setting priorities between various interests and goals – in short, a lot of politics.

What follows is a non-exhaustive overview of the many considerations and important questions national authorities must reflect on in their response to Covid-19.

Many health professionals argue for stricter social countermeasures to keep people at home. To them, saving lives should be the absolute priority and in case of doubts, a ‘no-regret’ approach should prevail. Many argue that the response should be free from so-called ‘political interference’.

However, these measures can increase inequalities, put people in precarious economic situations, and have many other consequences that cannot be fully anticipated but govt response seen in different parts of India tend to simplify the equation by only focusing on one issue; limiting the spread of virus.

Policymakers, however, have to take into account the side-effects of public health measures and other interests at stake and for that we need better cohesion amongst the political class cutting across the political ideology barriers for the betterment of countrymen. Policymakers will have to reflect on how much they should emphasize the different views and side-effects in responding to the pandemic. With COVID -19 spreading around the globe. There are fears of a deep global recession. As a consequence of lost income from lockdowns and other restrictions, there will be serious threats to poorer communities’ access to food and India will have to face this challenge too.

The world needs solutions. That’s why the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has urged G20 leaders to take measures to ensure that global and national markets continue to be a transparent, stable, and reliable source of food supply.

Amidst all these concerns situation arising due to Covid-19 fallout, global political leadership is talking of consensus in politics for their countrymen.

In Israel where two bitter political opponents came together, “We will safeguard the democracy, we will fight the coronavirus and we will take care of all the citizens of Israel.”

Netanyahu Israel PM echoed the message of unity in a tweet.

“I promised the state of Israel a national emergency government that will act to save the lives and livelihoods of the citizens of Israel. I will continue to do everything for you, citizens of Israel,” responded Gantz bitter political opponent of Netanyahu and joined his govt as Defence Minister.

Similarly, in Netherlands Mark Rutte PM invited Martin Van Riju a former Labour Party Health Secretary, his political opponent to join his cabinet as Health Minister and had the courage to say in public all for better governance for Covid-19 response, “He has years of experience in healthcare and knows the Ministry well.”

Today in this crisis Union of India needs a coalition government, especially one subordinating party differences to the national interest in a time of crisis both at the Centre and States. We have this

opportunity as nation to get united in this hour of need where political, caste, region, religion differences should take backseat and Prime Minister Modi of BJP who enjoys confidence of large sections of Indians regarding his integrity and his desire to serve the country should invite best brains to manage the affairs of governance in this crisis where inter-state issues can be tackled for betterment of economy, containment of the virus and lessening the pain of migrants travelling back home.

Manmohan Singh ex PM of Congress Party can give strong support to manage affairs for economy under his guidance. Similarly, Left Front led govt in Kerala has been a successful model for containment of spread of virus, their expertise in medical health care can be used nationally.

Udhav Thackeray of Shiv Sena has shown exemplary administrative prowess as CM of the state hit hardest by the virus. His administrative capability can be help in Inter-State advisory council kind of set up in the govt.

Arvind Kejriwal of AAP as Delhi CM has made Delhi a good example of relief work to the poor and needy in the crisis, so his relief care management skills can be used. Similarly, Telangana CM has given some good agrarian reforms in the state to be replicated at national level.

Opposition leaders in states as big as UP and Bihar can be of utility in national government. Akhilesh Yadav has been an able administrator as CM with huge experience of developing infrastructure sectors and his political party with a large cadre base can be of big utility in national government. Similarly, Tejaswi Yadav with his youth and vigour can rally large numbers of Biharis around for nation building again.

The list is endless, we have immense political talent cutting across political lines to serve the country in this hour of crisis. It is only the PM and his party can take this call for national government, hope they do it.

*The author is Director, Centre for Objective Research and Development, Lucknow.




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