Troughs and crests in the pandemic response

  • IASbaba
  • April 25, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Troughs and crests in the pandemic response

Context: COVID-19 pandemic has proven the ultimate stress test for governance systems across the globe

What are the different stages that governments have adopted to tackle pandemic?

First Stage

  • Early recognition of the threat and the decision to lock down society.
  • Lockdown is aimed at buying time, of flattening the epidemic curve, so that public health facilities are not over-burdened
  • The period is also used to secure the personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies necessary to save lives

Second Stage

  • Measured opening up of lockdown to slowly ease the burden on the economy by permitting restricted business activity 
  • This ensures that livelihoods and supply chains can be restored.
  • This stage can be successful if accompanied by a war-footing expansion of testing capacity so that new infections can be identified and isolated at once

Final Stage

  • Mass vaccination programme 
  • Full rebuilding of economic and social life through fiscal and monetary measures

What are the limitations of contemporary governance systems?

  1. Opportunistic and Nationalistic politicking 
    • This involves xenophobic (dislike against people from other countries) posturing by governments Ex: US President terming virus as Chinese Virus
    • This is done to deflect the criticism of government’s measures by stirring up emotions of people
    • It prevents robust and multidimensional international cooperation between nations.
    • It undermines epidemiologists, medical community and research scientists from sharing knowledge about disease & its cure
  1. Lack of whole-of-government strategy
    • Pandemic response requires political will and legitimate leadership, failure of which results in weak & uncoordinated response to pandemic
    • Ex: Germany where States enjoy lot of power, Chancellor Angela Merkel was able to mobilize the entire system which has led to success story in Europe
    • However, in US where states also enjoy lot of powers, US President was not forthcoming in mobilization of entire system which led to massive spread of disease
  1. Weak public health systems due to policies in recent decades
    • Kerala, which has consistently ranked at the top of State rankings for health expenditures, was successful in tackling the pandemic

How has India fared in epidemic response?

  • Being in the first stage of response, India has successfully flattened epidemic curve
  • India’s outreach to SAARC for a coordinated regional response was appreciated. 
  • India realises the importance of multilateralism for tackling this global issue and has called for global coordination in vaccine discovery
  • There has also been strong political will in mobilising the entire system to tackle the pandemic (PM consultation with all Chief Ministers of States)
  • However, the communalisation of pandemic by few is threatening the social fabric of country


It is to be seen if India will have successful second stage in pandemic response

Connecting the dots:

  • SAARC and BIMSTEC – which is best suited for India?
  • Impact of Nationalistic revival on globalisation

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