The year 2020 has proved to be quite a challenge to the world and the reason being, the global pandemic caused by the virus COVID-19 which has gripped the entire world today. Not many at the start of this new year, new decade expected to see this turn of events. The pandemic has pushed several governments to their limits but it is important to examine the state in which each nation is at the moment. While many nations are inflicted with chaos and havoc, others have somehow managed to smooth out the turf. The reason for this is solely that each government has managed the crisis in its own unique way. While some have responded to the crisis with denial, others have taken a hands-on approach.
India reported its first COVID-19 case in late January and in the last four months, the cases have crossed almost a lakh. Keeping in mind the health infrastructure of the country, this certainly is commendable. The government of India from the start has acknowledged the severity of the matter and taken a proactive stance. If one must analyze and understand India’s response to the crisis, it is important that we look at it through three aspects: health, economic and social. While the Government of India has handled the crisis quite effectively, it is necessary that we understand that the threat still looms over our head and while the strategy used by India till now has proved to be competent, going ahead a more advanced plan shall be required.
From the start, the Health Minister and the health department have set about many guidelines and taken stock of the requirements to deal with this crisis and ensure no shortage arises, side by side the health ministry has also taken other comprehensive measures to support our frontline workers and also chalk out a cluster containment plan.
At the time the pandemic started, India wasn’t producing any PPE kits domestically but today an additional 5.11 Lakh kits have been supplied to the states adding to the existing 2.75 lakh kits which were available with the states and an order for 1 crore more PPE kits have been placed before 50 approved domestic manufacturers in a collaboration with the Ministry of Textiles.
Furthermore in an attempt to support the frontline workers, through the PMGK package an accidental insurance cover of 50 lakhs is provided to them wherein the premium is being paid by the government. This is a commendable move to support the frontline workers and their respective families. India from the start was criticized for having a low testing rate but along the weeks that followed, it has revised its testing strategy and also put into place an efficient containment plan.
The Indian government has also initiated plasma therapy trials, antibody testing and also pool testing, a few ways to make battling the COVID-19 easier. It is too soon to say if we have benefited from these moves and saved the country but the government can be credited for putting up a great fight against the pandemic from ensuring that testing is increased every day and increasing the COVID centers across the country to putting in place a phased lockdown effectively to an extent
But as time has passed, the governments have also focused on the economic dilemma that the COVID-19 has led to. Countries all around the world have announced economic packages to provide a stimulus to the current situation. The Government of India has also responded to the crisis by announcing various measures like money being transferred to the Jan Dhan accounts of 20 crore women and also an ex-gratia being provided by the PM-KISAN scheme.
To save the economy and lift it, the recent “20 lakh crore for 2020 package” has caught many people’s eyes. The government’s package is focusing on benefitting the MSMEs and at the same time helping the farmers and migrant workers. The package has announced several credit-based schemes as well as an enormous sum of 4000 crore support to the CGTMSE. This package has provided a 2500 crore Employee provident fund support for businesses and workers and sanctioned 25 lakh new Kisan Credit cards with a loan limit of 25000 crore.
In the last two months, 12000 Self-Help Groups have produced 3 crore masks and also 1.2 lakh liters of sanitizers strengthening our fight and resolve against the virus and simultaneously 7200 new Self-Help groups have been formed since then. Through this package, an additional Emergency Working Capital for Farmers consisting of 30000 crore has been announced and a 5000 crore special credit has been declared which is expected to benefit 50 lakh vendors.
The government has also aimed to invest in the housing sector and hence has announced a whopping 70,000 crore for the same. This move not only strengthens our infrastructure but also creates jobs and also stimulates demand for steel and cement. There are other innumerable measures like the “One Nation, One Ration Card”, 15000 crore package for the Emergency Health Response Package, Universalization of the Right of Minimum wage and the extension of the date for the Income Tax returns, Tax audit and the Period of Vivad se Vishwas which have also shown the government’s intentions to boost the economy and also lessen the economic hardships faced by the people of our country.
But even with these many measures that are announced, India is still bracing with problems like the migrant crisis, the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan and the high number of Indians coming from abroad through the mission of Vande Bharat. While the government has been credited for containing the spread from affecting lakhs and for announcing a large economic package, a lot still needs to be done. The Government can’t relax yet for it is now that maximum resolve and cooperation is needed. But an important observation has been made. Amidst this crisis, India has stood united from the many NGOs to the poorest of the poor, the people are trying to help those in need and trying to see that India makes it through this crisis with the least harm caused.
India may still have a long way to go before the livelihoods of the people are restored but today India has emerged as a global player. From providing medical supplies to contributing to funds, India has shown the world that it can still play a main role at the global level. To add lastly, the Government Of India has taken many measures and more are surely needed but this crisis has brought India together. The Government needs to put its best foot forward in this crucial lap of this race against COVID-19 and as citizens, it is time we unite to save India and its citizens.
Note for viewers: The author was chosen as a winner for the above article depending upon the participation and quality in the ‘Essay Writing Contest’ organized in May 2020. The opinions expressed in the article are purely of the author.