India, March 27 -- It is perhaps a less-known fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's political career was dramatically transformed by a natural disaster. The alleged mishandling of relief operations during the 2001 Kutch earthquake by the Keshubhai Patel government in Gujarat forced the central Bharatiya Janata Party's hand. Modi was sent to Gandhinagar. The rest is history.

Covid-19 is not a natural disaster but a once-in-a-century global pandemic. Modi could bring an element of order to relief and rehabilitation efforts in Kutch because it was a "controllable" situation. By contrast, a medical emergency such as Covid-19 is a crisis plagued with extreme uncertainty. From autocracies like China to open societies like the United States (U...