Second wave of Covid and India’s political landscape

By Ramanand and Dhanisha 

A little over a year since India first began its battle with the covid-19 pandemic, and it is apparent to any observer that once again, India is standing more towards the losing half. In March 2020, confronted with the emergence of the virus and simultaneous lack of resources to tackle the same, especially in terms of medical infrastructure, the Indian government opted for a nationwide lockdown. 

Therefore, despite the many negative economic consequences, this hard response did succeed in keeping control of the spread while India acquired the necessary resources and began working on vaccines. Now, the country is in the midst of a grave second wave with cases rising to numbers higher than last year, and the response seems to be lacking. One reason behind this, no doubt, is the heavy influence of politics that seeps into all aspects of life. For instance, the government’s reluctance to impose reasonable restrictions during the flurry of public gatherings took place from August 2020 onwards. 


We can take lessons from the state of Kerala. Initial response to COVID-19 by Kerala was claimed as one of the success stories quoted as the state managed to mitigate the crisis and bring down cases rapidly as early as May. However, later found, it was an early celebration because the instances kept rising after that. It has begun with a public gathering celebration of the Onam festival, followed by Christmas later on in December. It is characteristic of politics not directly to intervene with such functions despite the negative long-term impact, and therefore in Kerala, these were celebrated without much restriction. 

Maharashtra is another example where the cases rose and contributed more than 30% in the overall cases. Maharashtra is one of the epicentres of the Covid-19 issues, continuously contributing for the last four months. The political misgovernance and mismanagement have badly hampered the battle against Covid-19 in the state. 

The election is another occasion that has contributed to the current rise of Covid-19 cases. PM Modi is keeping advocating for ‘One Nation, One Election to save time and resources, which we keep spending on the elections. Due to political compulsion, his demand is still pending as many political parties do not agree to this demand. For the implementation of ‘One Nation One Election, some state assemblies must resolve early or come under the president rule.


The present rise could be controlled if we would have a system of simultaneous election. The election is one occasion where people rarely follow social distancing norms; it has been validated repeatedly by political parties’ conduct.

The imposition of weekend lockdowns and night curfews is being adopted by many states – Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, MP, Uttar Pradesh – in response to the recent surge of cases.

The lockdown again will attack the poor’s livelihood who are employed in restaurants, hotels, taxi’s or employed/self-employed in other dependents fields.

The response to the second wave brings about two important considerations. First, the role played by politics, in terms of the surface level politics of governance in the face of rising cases and times of the entire political process contributing to this rise during rallies, campaigns and misgovernance of some states. 

Second, noting that India’s vaccine diplomacy’s criticism in terms of doses exported also comes from the political blame game. In troubling times, one cannot afford to be selfish, and in extending vaccines to other countries, India is far from it, and the efforts should thus be recognized.

(The Op-Ed appeared in The Times of India)

Image courtesy of (File photo)

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