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Opinion

Covid-19: a test of federalism | HT Editorial – Editorials

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The most encouraging element of India’s response to coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has been the close collaboration between the Center and the states. To be sure, there have also been differences. But rarely, if ever, has the federal structure been tested as it is being done now. And this is due to constitutional design. The Center can frame broad policies; can make evaluations at the national level; You can provide support, either in terms of health centers or affordable packages. But the states are on the front line of the battle. Health is a matter of the state; so is law and order; and the entire scope of daily administration at the local level, whether through local district magistrates or development officials or district hospitals, happens through state government.

And that is why the voices of the chief ministers (CM) must be heard. There have now been three video conferences between the Prime Minister and the CMs. In the latter, on Saturday, as they voiced their support for a protracted blockade, states called for help, ranging from requesting donations to the CM Relief Fund be considered corporate social expenses to increased availability of test kits and personal protective equipment for health workers. ; from relaxations in the norms of fiscal deficit to the payment of compensations under the regime of the Tax on Goods and Services; from a greater economic package for various sectors to fiscal support for the states. The Center must consider all these requests favorably, since it deals with both the rights of the states and the need of the moment.

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