An unprecedented country-wide lockdown began on 25th March 2020. What followed has gone down as the largest mobilisation of the government administrative machinery in modern India. Below is a snapshot of the early months.


25 March-14 April 

As India came to grips with the unprecedented nature of this pandemic, the frontline administrative system was promptly activated.

From the experiences we gathered from Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, numerous challenges seemed to have emerged soon enough.   

In the initial months, many interviewees reported not having received Personal Protective Equipment (masks, gloves, sanitisers), in part or full. Most did not receive comprehensive COVID-19 related training.

Private hospitals and doctors were largely unavailable, which meant people had to approach government facilities.  

However, since citizens lacked information, awareness drives by local administrations were amplified.  

A major decision by the Union government was: 



15 April-3 May 

With Lockdowns 2.0 and 3.0, the administrative response to the pandemic began in earnest.  

Inside the districts, most of our interviewees started reporting adequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment (masks, gloves and sanitisers).

Ration was being distributed to people via the Public Distribution System and existing facilities, but this did not cover the full extent of needs.

Public awareness arrangements within districts were enhanced, and so was monitoring, surveillance and the establishment of quarantine centres.

Work under the rural livelihood guarantee scheme - MGNREGS - began in some states.

Meanwhile, the full impact of the pandemic on the poorest became visible. Thousands of migrant labourers journeyed back to their home states; the government's response to their needs was widely critiqued.

A major decision by the Union government was: 

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18 May-31 May 


By the fourth lockdown, our interviewees reported a steady supply of PPE (masks, gloves and sanitisers). 

As per them, people had begun following physical distancing and other norms to prevent the virus' spread. But some of them also registered the information hiding by people as a major challenge. 


Civil disputes and disagreements on protocols to be followed wrt to the arrival of people from outside villages were documented too. Often times these needed administrative or police intervention.


Unlock 1.0

1 June-30 June


In this phase restrictions were eased considerably. With this came an increase in activities, as people started stepping out of their homes. 

A major trend frontline workers reported was the struggle of carrying out both COVID-19 tasks and their pre-pandemic roles. 

The dearth of training sessions, which were identified as a major concern earlier as well, were spoken of.

Unlock 2.0

1 July-31 July 

Challenges on intra and inter-departmental coordination have become sharper over the past months.

These include: a lack of clear directions on schemes, such as Mid-Day Meals for students; preparation of new ration cards, and job cards under MGNREGS. 


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