India’s response to shocks – 1962 war to COVID pandemic

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Synopsis- The article distinguishes between the Center’s reaction to the current pandemic and its responses to shocks in Indian History.

Three criteria to analyze Indian government’s response

  • The team
  • The science
  • The organizational innovations put together

List of previous shocks and the India’s response

  • First, 1962’s Sino-India War-
    • Response- Defence reform
      • The new defence minister was appointed.
      • The financial allocation for the defence was increased
      • Alters India’s understanding of the world and foreign policy in a fundamental way.
  • Second, 1966 Severe Drought – In 1966, due to drought, food grain production fell by 20 per cent. Foreign food aid came to the rescue of the starving population.
    • Team- Indira Gandhi (PM), C Subramaniam (agriculture minister) and M S Swaminathan (scientist).
    • Response-
  • Third, 1975 National Emergency, political shock
    • Team- Indira Gandhi (PM) and Sanjay Gandhi.
    • Response-
      • The harsh family planning programme was launched by PM Indira Gandhi on her son’s insistence. Despite the efforts to create awareness and support for sterilization [surgery to make a person or animal unable to produce offspring], the camps were receiving a lukewarm response.
  • Fourth, 1991, External sector shock
    • Team- P V Narasimha Rao (PM), Manmohan Singh (FM), M S Ahluwalia (finance secretary) and S S Tarapore (from the RBI).
    • Response-
      • S S Tarapore played a key role by not acceding to the capital account convertibility requirement of the IMF.
      • Response to the shock, in this case, was that both policy and organizational change was brought about slowly, without disrupting the economy.
  • Lastly, India’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
    • Team- No clarity about who is in the team.
    • Response-
      • Not clear if the Covid-19 task force and control room in the Niti Aayog are the same.
      • Mismanagement in providing information regarding Covid-19 response.
      • There are some vaccine-related issues such as the gap between the two shots and taking two different vaccines. This contributes to vaccine hesitancy.
      • Confusion related to vaccine procurement.
      • Allowing huge gathering such as Kumbh Mela, election rallies were obvious cases of not following science.
      • Few cases of which reveal the unimportance the government gives to science.

There is a drastic difference between the handling of COVID-19 pandemic shock from the previous shocks. The government needs to improve on all three criteria.

Source- The Indian Express

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