Indian State’s Role In Health Care, Education And Poverty Alleviation: Will COVID-19 Be A Turning Point?

We are unlikely to return to pre coronavirus days anytime soon as the virus is going to stay around for a while. Nobody is talking about its annihilation. Although, efforts to have a vaccine against COVID-19 are underway, but it is more likely that the world will face a second wave of outbreak before any breakthrough on the vaccine front happens.

How It Is Different From Other Threats To Humanity
  • Unlike global warming and nuclear attacks, the threat caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is now, not in the future.
  • Everyone, from the wealthy western countries to poorest African countries will be affected equally from the virus
  • And, unlike other crisis, no country can help another; every country will have to fight its own battle.
  • It threatens to push the world into a deep recession
  • The global community spiraling into depression
  • Both demand and supply contractions are likely to be severe.
  • Work patterns, production and distribution practices will be affected
Role of The State

The Indian state’s role in health care, education, creation and maintenance of infrastructure and delivery of welfare has shrunk or become nominal after the liberalisation.

Since 1991, downsizing of the Indian state’s role has been happening.

Private sectors have become the new holy cow in place of the ‘state sector’. What made matters worse is the culture of a simplistic and shallow discourse of public policy that took hold in civil society. It mindlessly privileges the agenda of corporates.

Development is seen through the prism of stock exchange and international rating given by the rating agencies.

Unorganized sectors which have no social media handles or think tanks, are unnable to highlight their problems.

Farmers and farm labourers, the migrant workers, unemployed are most adversely affected by the shrinking role of the state in the governance.

They are paying the highest price for the necessary but unbearable lockdown. They are either stranded far away from home, or confined to their homes with no work and incomes, unsupported by the state.

Underfunded public health systems are unable to serve them.

All the talks about working from home, using apps, online classes are insult to their conditions.

But the state’s first responsibility is the marginalised. They are also the crucial part of our economy. The state will have to ensure the survival and revival of the marginalised sections.

The relation between the state and economy, its role in allocating resources and addressing questions of inequality, its duty to provide basic human needs, the extent of the market’s role in providing services such as health, education, civic amenities, and the responsibility of the state and private enterprise towards deprived sections, need urgent attention.

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