Corona Pandemic – How Indian bureaucracy is bending the curve?
Lockdown from corona virus pandemic has hit the “business as usual” for almost every section of the society – legislators are unable to function the way they used to, political activities have been curtailed. Streets were empty for more than one month, shops and companies were closed. Social customs changed, festivals were spent under social distance norms.
Other than the health industry, few essential things were operating business as usual. And during this lockdown, if one thing that kept things moving, delivering critical functions like maintenance of law and order to food supplies to needy, it might be the Indian bureaucracy. For them, the job is still not over, and the system will have to keep running until the fight against the deadly virus is over.
While the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a lockdown for the world’s second-most populous country, the job of the police, district administrative heads were to execute the lockdown and ensure there are no violators.
The police and rest of the administration were also the frontline warriors to coordinate with the aviation industry and health officials to get the foreign travelers entering India and test them tested for COVID-19, help in quarantining them and assist health workers in contact tracing.
The bureaucracy is working as per the guidelines of the Epidemics Disease Act, 1897, and the much recent Disaster Management Act, 2005. Imposing a lockdown for any country can never be easy; for India, it is even more complicated. Many criticized the use of lathis to impose the lockdown. Social media was divided over if such stringent steps were necessary.
While India’s COVID-19 positive count continues to climb, it must be acknowledged and appreciated how some bureaucrats were not just discharging their usual responsibilities, they were also constantly communicating with netizens on Twitter and other social media platforms, on Dos & Don’ts, what next and much more. This interaction created a new template for the bureaucracy to govern responsively.
Some have questioned that such immense powers in the hands of the unelected executive can be dangerous for the country.
It is a subject of in-depth analysis to find out if the powers invested in the hands of bureaucrats during such a crisis is a bit too much. It may also be noted that most acts of the bureaucrats are also subject to scrutiny by the media and social media. And like any institution, bureaucracy is also evolving and learning from its mistakes.