Tamil Nadu

‘COVID-19 shows need for devolution’

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need for devolution of powers, not just at the State-level but also at the district and panchayat levels, said Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, Minister for Finance and Human Resource Development, on Friday.

Addressing an online panel discussion on “Federalism versus nationalism — challenges for State autonomy”, organised by the Dravidian Professionals Forum, he said not a single decision taken at the national level for the pandemic, except regarding the procurement of vaccination and certain drugs, could have worked across the country.

Stressing the necessity for adopting different strategies even within the State, he highlighted the example of how different approaches were deployed even within Madurai district to tackle the pandemic. He said the pandemic had exposed the limitations of the nationalistic decision-making model and indubitably established the values of devolution of powers. “There is no debate left. If we do not figure out a way to devolve powers, then we have a dismal future ahead of us,” he said.

A.S. Panneerselvan, Readers’ Editor, The Hindu, said that while India’s Partition was used as a convenient tool to centralise more powers, another excuse would have been discovered, if Partition had not happened, to implement centralisation.

He said that while many traced the centralisation tendency to the Government of India (GoI) Act of 1935, he said it was evident right from the GoI Act of 1858. He highlighted how all the damages done during the Emergency were undone through subsequent amendments by the Janata government in 1977, except for the restoration of education to the State list. He stressed on the need for India to revisit the recommendations of the Rajamannar Committee report on Centre-State relations.

Louise Tillin, director, King’s India Institute, United Kingdom, said it was necessary to interrogate the assumption that there must necessarily be a tension between nationalism and federalism. She said it was important in the context of India to look at the vulnerabilities faced by federalism when a single party with a majority comes to power at the Centre.

Rajan Kurai Krishnan, associate professor, School of Culture and Creative Expressions, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Delhi, said that in India, the expression of the people’s will through electoral democracy happened at the State level.

DMK MP T.K.S. Elangovan said there was a need to re-look and amend Schedule Seven of the Constitution.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 10:27:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/covid-19-shows-need-for-devolution/article34853634.ece

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