LAW ET JUSTICIA LAW REVIEW
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 1
DECENTRALISATION AND COLLABORATIVE GOVERNANCE: DEALING WITH THE COVID- 19 CRISIS
Prof. AYUSHI SHARMA,
Institute of Law, Nirma University
As the COVID- 19 crisis engulfs the whole world, with more than half of the world’s population experiencing lockdown measures, every country across the globe is trying its best to control the spread of the disease. While appreciating the bold and timely decision of Indian Government of enforcing a nationwide lockdown with utmost alacrity, holding the lockdown and trying to manage the economic crisis has been a particularly harrowing task for the Government.
From the perspective of controlling the epidemic, state governments have been on the frontline to ensure effective and systematic implementation of the policies by vigilating the movement of people, food, and funds. Kerala’s strict enforcement of the four-step protocol of test, trace, isolate and treat has been most effective in flattening the COVID curve. Odisha has implemented the principles of federalism and decentralisation in full stride and it has successfully formulated policies to resolve the local concerns by empowering the Panchayats and the Sarpanches by providing financial assistance. Though there have been some path-breaking decisions by a few states, India collectively as a nation has been forced to confront its own set of problems ranging from lack of funds for the states to zero preparation in management of displaced migrant workers. Most of the State’s are jostling with the Centre for funding and finances. States have been hindered by the lack of resources due to the federal setup of the government and the extremely centralised fiscal distribution system. This forces us to have a hard look at the system of Governance being followed in the nation. India being a Quasi- Federal Nation, the power is majorly centralised especially when it comes to finances. Also, resorting to the Disaster Management Act has further centralised the administration. The appropriate question to ask here would be “Can the Centre maintain control better than the States?”. The approach of unified Command- and- Control maybe was the need in the beginning of the crisis to get a general stability, however, there is now a need for decentralisation of powers.