good governance in the times of covid-19

at the time of writing this, a few more than 27,000 samples have been tested in india, a country of more than 1.3 billion. of these, more than 800 have returned as positive for coronavirus. but this may not be the only concern. we are short on testing kits and test centres and the government’s and other authorities’ response to the crisis is worrisome.

let’s start with the announcement that the prime minister will address the nation at 8pm on 19 March, 2020. this announcement came in advance and gave enough fodder to rumour mills. the pm has a history of causing panic at 8, one can recall the demonetization episode. an advance announcement of pm address triggered panic buying and people stockpiled. in fact, the pm and his team of advisors failed to realise this would happen.

then came the declaration of a ‘janta curfew’ on sunday. will this be a curfew, a lockdown or something else, nobody knew. without planning anything, this went ahead. many people misunderstood the clapping thing and thought it would lead to an end to the coronavirus crisis. many states extended this janta curfew and made no provisions with respect to those not in their homes, especially migrant workers.

trains were halted and buses too, leaving migrant workers no way to return to their homes. this came in the wake of losing jobs since economic activity has literally stopped. a few days later, pm addressed the nation yet again at 8 pm and declared a poorly-planned lockdown till april 14. what was intended was preventing people from leaving homes and contracting the infectious disease. however, exactly the opposite of this happened. people gathered outside grocery stores, medical shops to buy essentials.

then came another announcement, this time from the reserve bank of india. that term loan emi will be deferred for 3 months was announced and every news house bought this on its face value without reading the fine print or without thinking that if all emis are suspended will indian banks be able to sustain?

moreover, prudence suggests that allowing moratorium to public sector, government and mnc employees who shall be paid in full even during lockdown is unjustifiable. will this not adversely impact banks’ balance sheets and shatter priority sector lending? but, at the time of writing this, there is still no clarity.

good governance in the times of crisis means planning and management, not mere presentation and oratory. tens of thousands or even more migrant labourers are out on the roads walking to their home states. are they not vulnerable? central, state and district authorities are not on the same page and nobody knows how to exactly implement lockdown. the police is seen beating up people who have stepped outside of their homes, even when they may have done so to buy essentials.

we, indeed, elected good marketers, orators, but not good planners, good managers.

‘pradhan mantri swasthya yojana’ with premium-linked subsidy

health concerns entail costs that are unforeseen and many a time colossal. while the government has enabled citizens, poor and middle-class, to build a house for themselves under pradhan mantri awas yojana by providing credit-linked subsidy, the sensitive area of health has skipped the attention.

the present schemes run for enabling access to health-related services – pradhan mantri swasthya suraksha yojana (with two components, one building new aiims and other as upgrading government medical colleges) and rashtriya swasthya bima yojana (insurance cover of inr 30000 p.a. for bpl families) – do not cater pragmatically to needs.

construction of new all-india institute of medical sciences can augment research and teaching of medicine and can eventually hike number of medical practitioners, the same cannot substantially bring down costs involved in treatment of diseases. rsby too doesn’t go beyond basic health facilities for the burden of diseases in india is cumbersome.

contemplating a health scheme, which can be termed ‘pradhan mantri swasthya yojana’, with premium-linked subsidy to buyers of health insurance is more a need than a desire.

both health and housing expenses are entitled to tax breaks, the latter however is also subsidized now by pradhan mantri awas yojana under affordable housing. the same concept needs a duplication in health insurance premium paid by a buyer. under the arrangement, a percentage of premium be paid by government as central sector scheme. the quantum of percentage be dissimilar, aligned to annual income of subscriber.

the need arises in the wake of findings that tell how private sector is increasing its hold over health services and how the dismal picture of state health services is further deteriorating, barring a few exceptions.

the budget for the scheme doesn’t need additional earmarking, budget from pradhan mantri swasthya suraksha yojana can be diverted since the ultimate aim of both is to provide affordable and reliable health services to citizens.

‘100millionfor100million’ with ‘100million’- initiative for good

to summarise, a nobel laureate from india has lately launched a campaign titled ‘100millionfor100million’, targeted at holistic development of unprivileged children around the world. an initiative for good, this mandates our support in not one but many ways, for the betterment of these children is an investment for future, we may produce leaders and job-givers, or can produce a vulnerable, hopeless generation, what do you prefer?

it is a blessing that this initiative has emanated from indian soil, with blessings from the head of state, president of indian republic. but will that be all? will it just remain moderately covered by press without any further action?

will it yet again prove that we are best at rhetoric, lethargic in implementing a plan?

as a youth, you comprise the group of 100 million which has been called upon to pave the way for betterment of 100 million children who aren’t blessed in the same manner as you are.

the initial step is to create awareness of the program. and who can be better than us with smartphones and connectivity tools at our easy dispense. and this is an investment not for someone unwanted or unknown, these 100 million children will make or break our lives in upcoming years. then why not help them become abled? adds ‘with100million’ to this humanitarian initiative against the backdrop that funds are to be contributed for effective execution of the program.

we call upon governments to fund the program spearheaded by kailash satyarthi by way of funding and advertising.

give your verdict

note: we are an independent team, not associated with this initiative. more details can be read at