Social distancing, washing hands — all these are critically important responses to the pandemic, but such directives assume that residents have adequate space, services and social safety nets to carry out these orders. This is simply not the reality across cities in India and in many countries of the world.
Comparing two recent national urban missions, Swachh Bharat and Smart Cities, it becomes evident that local governments that enjoy full devolution of power, in terms of funds, functions and functionaries, can achieve objectives most efficiently. Time to call that into focus, as the nation faces a grave public health challenge and containment zones within cities become key to controlling spread.
In an exclusive interview with Citizen Matters, Shekhar Tomar, Asst Professor of Business and Public Policy at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, says economic decision makers must chalk out a clear blueprint on how to respond to the economic crisis which could linger even after the lockdown ends.
The current narrative around COVID in India has established the Centre and states as the main actors battling the pandemic. However, cities have been the epicenters of action and local governments play a pivotal role in mitigating the crisis. And of course, the choices made by citizens are going to determine the outcomes we see in the coming weeks.
In all the noise about social distancing, testing and fatalities, mental well-being of society receives relatively less attention, though it is one of the foremost challenges in public health as the coronavirus pandemic takes over our lives. Leading psychiatrist Dr Kalyanasundaram S talks about the risks, mitigation and how to cope with stress in times of this new normal.