India coronavirus dispatch: Strategies to reform governance beyond pandemic

Health workers conduct thermal screening of passengers who have arrived from Delhi by a special train at Howrah station, during the ongoing COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, in Kolkata
Here is a round-up of important articles from across Indian publications on Covid-19. From building a functioning public health system to why you must not use sanitisers on fruits and vegetables — read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Expert Speak

On the frontlines in battling viral infections: This podcast discusses being at the forefront of both research and treatment of the infection, and understanding both the spread of and treatment options, with Dr Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine and a professor at the Departments of Paediatrics and Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

How migrant exodus has hit construction industry: 120 million people have lost their jobs in the past eight weeks or so. A significant chunk of this are construction workers who also happen to be migrant labourers. At last count, India had almost 60 million construction workers, and the construction sector accounts for 7 per cent of India’s GDP. Will these migrant labourers and construction workers return to the sites they were working at? What happens if they do not return, or their return is delayed? with Niranjan Hiranandani, the managing director of the Hiranandani group, and president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce (Assocham).

Long Reads

Beyond the pandemic — strategies for reforming governance: We need to address the basic structural issues of governance design if we are to be better prepared for complex challenges in the future. This is particularly necessary in managing disasters, but the broader process of policymaking also needs reform. to know why a mega-crisis such as this requires us to analyse what went wrong and then suggest improvements in our public management processes.


We need social physicians: The pandemic has served to water down the elitist and individualistic barriers of medicine that have hitherto kept apart the private and the public, the rich and the poor, and the individual patient and the community. Covid-19 has delivered one strong message: when it comes to a nation’s health, private care is of public concern, and public health is of medicine’s concern.

Avoidable anxiety: Is there an alternative to holding exams amid a pandemic? There are issues with conducting exams during a pandemic. First, internet connectivity conditions will widen the gap between students with different backgrounds. Second, a change in the style of question papers will create legitimate anxiety. Third, technical glitches and malfunctions are certain to impose long delays in declaring results. on the alternative that also meets the basic objective of avoiding uncertainty and delay in the award of degrees.

Citizens Under Lockdown

TB patients badly hit by lockdown — 80 per cent drop in diagnosis, huge struggle for medicines: India accounts for more than one-fourth of the world’s TB cases — 2.6 million out of 10 million — and the disease killed 449,000 people in India in 2018. One-third of global drug-resistant TB cases are also in India, according to the World Health Organization. Experts worry that the number of TB cases might suddenly increase once the lockdown ends, because of the backlog.

How lockdown has impacted non-migrant poor in Delhi: The study, a working paper by researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of British Columbia, covered 1,392 individuals in Delhi, in slums and unauthorised colonies, and found 9 out of 10 people reporting that their weekly incomes had fallen to zero.

Managing Covid-19

Bihar says 2 million to return, Centre plans Shramik train surge: As the Centre pushed to operate more ‘Shramik Special’ trains for stranded migrant workers, the Bihar government said on Tuesday that it would bring back over 2 million migrants, in about 800 trains, over the next few days.

How India can lead the world to build a functioning public health system: The world has not yet invested in a cadre of trustworthy, community-embedded public health workers who are empowered to undertake their tasks as professionals, despite the lessons from Ebola virus disease. on how novel evidence from a survey of public health workers in Bihar can immediately be used to design a new type of contract with public health workers based on job security, steady wages, and trust in professional norms.

Understanding Covid-19

Why you must not use sanitisers on fruits and vegetables: A lot has been said and written about the do’s and don’ts of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but some basic questions about day-to-day living continue to be asked. How can you ensure the virus is not transmitted through home-delivered food, medicine strips, and packaged items? As offices reopen, what should you be careful about?

Why a vaccine is still far away: Development of a vaccine is a long process that can falter at any step. There is also the issue of effectiveness — how the vaccine performs in real-life conditions against efficacy, which is performance in ideal conditions during trials. Once a candidate is identified, its safety and efficacy have to be tested over three phases, according to protocols. A fourth stage involves collection and analysis of post-marketing data.

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