STATE OF PLAY Placing a New World Order
BAKU, Azerbaijan, Apr. 13
The Covid-19 pandemic, by the time it’s done, would have set the stage for altering the global power dynamic, reads the article by Pranab Dhal Samanta published by The Economic Times under the title “STATE OF PLAY Placing a New World Order”
The author says that international institutions are already coming under severe scrutiny and stress, while the good old nation-state, riding on strong nationalist sentiments, seems to be taking centre stage.
“While the spread of the virus has been global, the fight against it has been national, with each individual government compelled to devise its own ways to cope with the crisis. Politically, governments have largely relied on national resolve — almost like fighting a big war — to deal with the situation, especially the immeasurable loss of human lives,” reads the article.
India has been no exception, said Samanta.
“If South Korea has fought the Covid-19 battle on the back of its strong public healthcare network, India has relied on its public administration system. Constrained by its limited healthcare capabilities, its fight has been built around enforcing social distancing and heavy contact-tracing. Three key areas need highlighting. First, the trust on efficacy of the colonial-era district administration system. The trinity of the district magistrate, superintendent of police and the chief medical officer of the district form the core unit eventually ensuring and enforcing the lockdown,” reads the article.
Second, carrying out heavy policeled human-intensive contact-tracing, he wrote.
“The massive effort underway to trace the extent of the Tablighi Jamaat cluster in the world’s second-most populous country is the best illustration of this approach. If India is able to deal with the unexpectedly big numbers impacted from this cluster, it would be because of its ability to conduct large-scale mass contact-tracing. And the principal reason for that, like it or not, has been the last-mile beat policing system. Third, the relatively more recent working disaster management structure from the district-level up. This system has evolved over the past decade and become robust in some states prone to natural disasters. Odisha, for instance, which has had to regularly cope with cyclones, seems to have fine-tuned this system rather well and is able to execute pre-emptive measures better than some other states,” wrote the author.
At a broader level, if India is able to pull through this challenge, GoI would believe that the oft-criticised administrative structure has actually delivered, according to Samanta.
“In other words, the State has emerged stronger. And this, with national variations, appears to be the holding narrative in most countries as governments have had to look inwards to find ways to protect their lot. India did not have a single known manufacturer of personal protective equipment in the first week of February. Now, there are reportedly five or six. The situation forced GoI to create domestic capacity, just like with ventilators where the auto sector has been exploring options,” reads the article.
The author believes that it’s logical for countries to proactively step up domestic manufacturing and explore politically viable alternate supply chains — not just as a backup but as national necessity.
“Which is why it’s vital that India’s post-lockdown strategy has a plan to position itself accordingly — as well as to bear a positive impact on the stressed domestic economic situation. The world as we know it is set for a major change. The manner in which India exits the lockdown will demonstrate how prepared India is, the efficacy of its system, and its reliability as a global alternative for the future,” reads the article.