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COVID-19 and National Disaster Management Act

The lack of a clear legal framework to deal with epidemics leads to confusion between the centre and the states.

The swift, global spread of Covid-19 has exposed the failings of societies around the world—even supposedly “developed” ones. India is no exception. As on date, 50,000 cases have been detected in less than two months, and though the mortality rate (less than 4%) compares favourably to Italy or the United Kingdom, the peak is nowhere in sight. Even this picture hides much.

One glaring failure was the lack of preparedness in the Indian state machinery to handle this outbreak. This is despite a two month advance warning as the world media covered the disaster unfolding in Wuhan in China. When the SARS-CoV2 virus arrived on India’s shores, there were not, and probably still are not, enough test kits, personal protective equipment or ventilators to handle the large volume of cases. For a country with an abysmal doctor–patient ratio and number of hospital beds per million population, this was a disaster waiting to happen. Even these initial failures could have been overcome had SARS-CoV2 virus not exposed India’s greatest weakness: the lack of state capacity.

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Updated On : 11th May, 2020

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