A whammy pandemic and the exponential loss of lives reported daily create panic and fear in the heart and soul of the people. New Delhi’s alacrity being appreciated by several global leaders and International Organizations, the domestic roots question several efforts without realising Modi Administration’s effort and strategy in this pandemic management. This exploratory study moots the following questions: What is the central theme of New Delhi’s response to COVID-19 Management? Does Modi running a long term vision to manage future pandemic? Unquestionably, in this situation, Modi’s leadership being proactive, composed and compassionate to reduce the risk of this pandemic to India primarily and to the whole of humanity in a more broad picture.
Probity in Leadership
Maintaining integrity, compliances with processes and preserving public confidence were central to Leadership’s probity. Modi’s leadership in this pandemic management is with maintaining probity in his administration from New Delhi. The implicit objective of observing probity by a leader is to boost people’s morale, it is more psychological than administrative. Maruti Suzuki Chairman R.C. Bhargava praised Prime Minister, by stating “I think in a country like India, a psychological approach more than a blank speech is necessary”. It is true to agree with Shri R.C. Bhargava’s comment as the people are panicking with the rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases which resulted in the hoarding of essential commodities in a microeconomic level to a decrease in consumption in a macro level. The psychological approaches, Janta Curfew and 5th April Diyas 9 baje 9 minutes, intend not to serve only the purpose of boosting the frontline work but also keeping the morale of the people to fight this battle without an inch back.
COVID-19, a Notified Disaster
When other nation views COVID-19 as a health emergency, on 14th March 2020 India recognised it as a ‘notified disaster’. However, it is wrong to say that India acted only after WHO recognised the COVID-19 disease as pandemic on 11th March 2020. India, the first arrow against the deadly disease, had commenced in a “pre-emptive, proactive and graded” manner and “comprehensive response system” at borders from 18th and 30th January 2020 respectively.
From the beginning, Modi’s administration had predicted that the ongoing battle against the pandemic has two front: one against the COVID and the other on the economy front. This foresight of Modi’s Administration understood the need for a better plan which National Disaster Management Plan 2019(NDMP 2019) serves. The NDMP 2019, crafted with priorities as per The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s Sendai Framework, approaches a disaster with a vision ‘To make India Disaster Resilient, decrease the loss of life, livelihood and assets’ and stipulates the strategy for “Build Back Better” (Ministry of Home Affairs, 2019). In a fiscal framework, NDMP 2019 adopts a decentralisation approach, State Government as the first responder and the Central Government will supplement.
Fiscally, this could be viewed from the point when the entire country is locked down, the question of inflation, in the short run, and recession, in the long run, hamper India’s ambitious 2024 dream. This nuanced approach will neutralise the inflation spikes and keeping the fiscal deficit within the mandate of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development implicitly had applauded this approach; in their 31st March 2020 report forecasted that India, likely, to escape the world recession after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Engagement, Shared Prosperity and Policy
The countries, advocated for a borderless world, now looking into ‘Nation First’ and seeking local solutions to the pandemic at this point of time, Narendra Modi is the only leader to call for global engagement to battle against the novel coronavirus. His affable conduct of engagement includes calling for shared prosperity likely: First, calling on SAARC leaders, setting up ‘SAARC COVID-19 emergency fund’ with the prime objective to mitigate and tackle the pandemic. Second, calling on extra-ordinary virtual G20 Leader’s Summit to forge co-operative plan to fight the virus globally and he stressed to show collect solidarity amongst G20 nations to contribute voluntarily to the World Health Organisation (WHO) led COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, and modestly calling for reforms in WHO to tackle future pandemic.
Though the critics point it as a Sisyphean task, it shall be noted that Global Leaders who in this junction helpless and creates a vacuum for leadership, Modi stepping to fill the gap to usher the world to chart a ‘co-ordinated and co-operative strategy’ to fight the virus. Internally, Team Modi had announced several policy interventions like PM CARES Fund, Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Package, etc. His leadership shall be duly credited for smart use of available resources like converting rail coaches to emergency hospital beds, disbursing funds to the states not only through State Disaster Mitigation Fund but also releasing Budget Deficit Grant parallelly, launching Arogya Setu App for seamless assessing the risk of getting infected from the novel coronavirus, to save India’s economy from shocks arising due to the pandemic Modi had announced the creation ‘COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force’, and regular meeting with the frontline workers, the pharma sector, the AYUSH Practitioners.
The Modi’s Adroitness in this pandemic is multi-folded; on the one hand, he advises people to observe Janta Curfew by showing gratitude to frontline workers, and on the other, asking the people not to do panic shopping. This approach of Modi, goes with the Aristotle view on the state that it is an ‘association of association’, vividly advocates that in this situation a multidisciplinary approach is needed in defeating this virus which includes political like All Floor Party Meeting to discuss on the future course, Social like free cooking gas for 80 million households for the next three months from April 2020, Economical like sanctioning Rs. 15,000 crores for ‘India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package’ to immediately quench the gap arising in the health sector in a mission mode and with a vision to battle the future pandemic and Gender Neutral like cash transfer 204 million women Jan Dhan accounts. Modi’s Leadership in this pandemic being appreciated by many national leaders for putting humanity as the prime most agenda been credited by several countries leaders like Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and WHO had appreciated the Modi Government’s efforts to mitigate the COVID-19 in India. Modi in this pandemic situation had showcased an orderly and fastidious leadership that other national leaders shall imbibe in this battle to save the whole humanity from the coronavirus.