Working Paper

Working Paper

[ADRN Working Paper] Governance in India During the Pandemic

  • 2021-05-03
  • Kaustuv Kanti Bandyopadhyay & Kaustuv Chakrabarti

ISBN  979-11-6617-118-5 95340

Editor’s note

Managing a global pandemic at the national level is undeniably difficult, but more so in countries with a weak foundation of governance such as India. The outbreak of COVID-19 in India has disclosed several shortcomings of the governance capacity of India as well as its capability to manage its economic impacts and protect the poor, vulnerable, and informal workers. Kaustuv Kanti Bandyopadhyay, director of Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), and Kaustuv Chakrabarti argue that the pandemic has immensely impacted the lives and livelihood of millions of people in India. It has decelerated economic growth and increased the unemployment rate. India’s weak public health governance was manifest in its limited capacity to provide adequate healthcare and medical personnel. The pandemic is expected to push 4000 million informal workers into deeper poverty and instigate discrimination towards migrant communities. Not to mention, a series of protests and assertions of rights illustrates that Indian politics have reached a critical juncture. In order to move past the aforementioned setbacks, the authors state that it is crucial to improve the social and economic security of the migrant workers, enhance the healthcare system, and develop democratic spaces.



※ The following are excerpts from the article. For the full text, please check the attached file at the top of this page.



The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the foundation of governance in India as in many parts of the world. The lessons emerging from the pandemic reveal that a capable, accountable, inclusive, and participatory state is essential for effectively addressing the challenges posed by the pandemic that will have long-lasting ramifications. Since the end of January, when India identified its first COVID-19 case, over 10,858,300 cases of infections and 155,280 deaths have been recorded. A total of 10,559,604 persons have recovered which means nearly 99 percent of all the people who got infected have recovered (as of February 10, 2021).[2]

The COVID-19 pandemic has immensely impacted the lives and livelihood of millions of people in India. The pandemic-induced lockdown has added to unprecedented misery and suffering of the poor, vulnerable, and informal workers including the migrant workers. The economy which was already on a weak footing even before the pandemic has suffered the most. The weak and unprepared health system in the country proved to be grossly inadequate to handle a pandemic of this magnitude. The pandemic provided a pretext to the ruling dispensation to restrict dissents and civic engagement. ■



[1] Throughout the year, ADRN members will publish a total of three versions of the Pandemic Crisis and Democratic Governance in Asia Research to include any changes and updates in order to present timely information. The first and second parts will be publicized as a working paper and the third will be publicized as a special report. This working paper is part I of the research project.

[2]  Worldometer, Retrieved from on 10 February, 2021.



  • Kaustuv Kanti Bandyopadhyay is the director of Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), a pioneer CSO, who has dedicated more than three decades for work on participation, democratic governance and civil society development. He has twenty-five years of professional experience working with universities, research institutions, and CSOs. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Asia Democracy Research Network (ADRN) and the Asia Democracy Network (ADN). He holds a PhD in anthropology for his work with the Parhaiya tribes of Chotanagpur in India.
  • Kaustuv Chakrabarti is an independent author, who served as a senior program officer at PRIA. Kaustuv worked on the issues of civic space, multi-stakeholder partnerships, South-South Cooperation, and building CSO capacities. He has been passionately engaged with PRIA’s work on civic space both at the Asian and South Asian level. He co-authored Civic space under Siege: experiences from South Asia; the “State of Democracy: India” report, and the synthesis report on “Civic Space in Asia: Emerging Issues and Policy Lessons from Six Asian Countries 2018.” He has a Master’s degree in globalization and development from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex.
  • Typeset by Jinkyung Baek, Director of the Research Department
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