ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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COVID-19: Examining the Impact of Lockdown in India after One Year

One year after its announcement in March 2020, the consequences of India’s strict COVID-19 lockdown measures and ineffective policy responses continue to be felt, be it in terms of livelihood loss and economic downturn or increased marginalisation of vulnerable sections of society.

Policy Complementarities in Achieving Universal Immunisation Coverage in India

The role of two policy pillars in achieving immunisation coverage of essential vaccines in India is examined by assessing the funds disbursed by the centre to the state governments under the Universal Immunisation Programme and the available physical health infrastructure in the states. It is found that funds by themselves are ineffective in improving vaccination coverage but are effective in conjunction with the available infrastructure. This finding has important implications for achieving full immunisation coverage, which stems from the sharing of responsibilities between the central and state governments under India’s federalised system of government.

COVID-19 and Dwindling Indian Federalism

One of the many effects of COVID-19 pandemic disaster is also visible on legislative, executive and financial federalism in India. The constitutional mandate for functioning of centre on behalf of states has been missed and recourse to disaster has been taken to undertake unified but unconsented measures.

Karnataka's Changing Fiscal Landscape

Analysing the second Karnataka budget since the Fourteenth Finance Commission award, it is noted that, as assured, more fiscal space is made available to the state government. With greater untied funds, the state has budgeted for higher capital expenditure in some key areas--urban development, police, and tribal welfare--even as it failed to build capacity for power generation, and has introduced too many schemes with too little funds allocated to each.

Evolving Centre–State Financial Relations

After the Fourteenth Finance Commission award, aggregate transfers as a percentage of gross domestic product has increased, while grants as a percentage of GDP has declined. The centre is resorting to cess and surcharges that are not shared with the states. This would mean denial of revenue to states, which goes against the spirit of the Constitution. Further, the states have a reduced untied fi scal space, with the union’s share in Centrally Sponsored Schemes in 2016–17 (BE) being reduced. Finally, in the absence of plan transfers, post 2017–18, the focus should be to develop a framework for non-fi nance commission grants to states which is predictable and certain.

Federalism in a Globalising World

Federalism is indeed in ferment. Pressures have been generated for decentralisation of powers and functions of governments from national to lower levels paving the way for competitive federalism on the one hand and on the other for inter-governmental cooperation to regulate or resolve the conflicts and externalities that such competition creates. How to get India's federalism to respond positively and adapt to the needs of a globalising world was the theme of a seminar in Delhi last month. A report.
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