How COVID-19 Second Wave Affected Centre-State Relations

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Ashima Sahni, Palwinder Singh Bhatia, Dr. Jagroop Kaur


Currently, the second wave of COVID-19 is shaping the contours of Indian politics. Partisan conflicts that have fueled centre-state tensions have raised many questions over the complexities of the relationship between the two. The first wave of the pandemic in 2020 consolidated a new phase of federal relations, where states increasingly embraced the Centre's reform priorities that had not been seen before. But in the year 2021, the major decline in trust and coordination between the Centre and the states has weighed heavily on the enormity of the crisis. The lack of respect for each other's authority (centre and state), polarization of media reports and the excessive politicization of the second wave crippled the ability of otherwise capable states to contain the virus. Conspiracy theories, nationalist and authoritarian movements in response to the pandemic undermined citizens' trust in both central and state government, leading to moral and social disruption at the public level. The findings suggest that the current tension between the Centre and the state is more a result of political forces more raised by media reports than structural constraints.; The 'health system' will be an important factor in India's future elections. This crisis calls an academic research on the issue of 'One Nation One Election' to shift 'health' as ​​a subject from the state list to the concurrent list and fix the responsibility and accountability of both the centre and state governments.

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