Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

Why community efforts are essential for real change


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Role of civil society in pandemic

The article highlights the important role played by civil society and suggest the need for the new framework for the participation of community in the solution of problems.

Important role played by civil society in second wave of Covid

  • We also have to realise that the state or the market cannot be the only provider for what citizens need.
  • Effective social interactions and community participation can play an important role in scaling up some of the actions that have been found useful.
  • During the second wave of Covid infections, communities emerged as resilient entities across the country.
  • Active engagement with civil society: Recently,  the Prime Minister called for an active engagement of civil society in coping with the pandemic.
  • The empowered group of secretaries has also identified the role of civil society during this period of crisis.

Tasks for NITI Aayog: New framework

  • NITI should engage government institutions that encourage public participation and also support new frameworks for crisis management.
  • This new framework should critically look into the weaknesses and failures of the existing ones in attracting community participation in an effective manner.
  • This would also help in NITI’s own goal of localisation of development as part of its SDG strategy.
  • NITI should create mechanisms for facilitating the creation of required space for community initiatives.
  • It should leverage advanced technologies ABCD — artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing and data analytics for bridging demand-supply gaps.
  • It is time for NITI to apply the institutional framework where it has to, to rationalise select activities of communities and overcome the failure of the state where it is imminent.
  • NITI should partner with willing state governments to explore the launch of platforms that promote cross-learning and experience-sharing to reduce the cost of operations.
  • This may help in scaling up and, in some cases, overcome the asymmetric flow of information.
  • Opportunities for the participation of communities in decision making and their implementation at local levels may be explored.
  • The advantage for NITI is DARPAN, its portal for all voluntary organisations/non-governmental organisations engaged in development activities.
  • Several informal entities, start-ups and others, at times undefined, may also have to be engaged.

Initiatives and micro-models

  • Several micro-models are coming up, but few have a larger footprint.
  •  In Nandurbar, for instance, a district collector could achieve what now seems a rare coordination between beds, number of critical patients and supply of oxygen.
  • At the end of the day, they had more beds with oxygen than required.
  • Breathe India and HelpNow represent an array of options, these apps have facilitated access to oxygen concentrators, hospitals and ambulances.
  • There are several such initiatives that are taking place across the country with little connection with each other.
  • These micro-models need to be scaled up.

Consider the question “The role played by the civil society during the second covid wave highlighted its importance. What we need is a new framework for community participation. In light of this, discuss the important aspects of such framework.”


Solutions to any social problem call for an effective collective action that coordinates the aspirations of several groups of stakeholders. The present situation underlines the necessity of combined efforts to face this challenge.


What is civil Society?

  • The society considered as a community of citizens linked by common interests and collective activity is a civil society.
  • It is the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens.
  • It is referred to as the third sector of the society distinct from government and business.

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