Towards a Post-COVID India: 25 Governance Challenges and Legal Reforms

Strengthening public health systems, protecting the vulnerable, making governance smart, kick-starting the economy and thinking digital first

Crises present opportunities for unprecedented reform overcoming governance gridlocks and strategic delaying tactics by opponents. The coronavirus pandemic is no exception. India is staring at a recession, our first in three decades. Our healthcare system is at full capacity with limited ability to deliver further. The return of migrant workers to their villages has demonstrated the failed promise of our welfare state.

The Prime Minister has called for sweeping reforms encompassing land, labour, liquidity and laws. Several Chief Ministers have already started this process. Such reforms, whether at Union or State level, must be deep, structural and meaningful rather than merely ideological or superficial.

Vidhi’s Briefing Book for the year 2020 has recommended 25 reforms to the Government of India and State Governments to build a resilient post-Covid India. The suggested reforms are designed to achieve five policy objectives:

  1. Strengthen public health systems most critically through the passage of a public health emergency preparedness law in the monsoon session of Parliament;
  2. Protect the vulnerable including by making new forms of digital education accessible to the differently abled;
  3. Make governance smart by empowering the third tier of local self-government directly;
  4. Kick-start the economy by enacting a financial relief and protection legislation; and
  5. Think digital first which can only be done through concerted efforts to achieve 100% internet coverage in the country.

Each of the 25 reform suggestions have been made after comprehensive research, weighing of pros and cons, acknowledgement of comparative efforts in other countries and a clear pathway for effective implementation.

“This book, with its careful research, suggests structural changes to the law and governance frameworks in India…Each of these reform suggestions deserve close consideration of the concerned ministries of the Government of India and State Governments.”

Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Chief Justice of India