The Coronavirus Pandemic: Data and Technology Implications on Citizen-State Relations

7 May 2020

Listen to the 40th episode of ThoughtSpace (above) featuring Ananth Padmanabhan, Sahil Deo And Yamini Aiyar.

Historically, pandemics have been watershed moments in altering citizen-state relations. In the context of COVID-19, data and technology are the underlying vehicles fuelling and powering these changes. States like South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Israel have done a stellar job of handling the unfolding coronavirus pandemic by testing, contact tracing, isolating, and quarantining. But underlying this approach is the highly effective deployment of surveillance data as a means by which these states have effectively controlled the pandemic. In India, we have seen debates emerge around the privacy implications of the Aarogya Setu app. What are the legal and privacy implications of these changes? Once the world exits from the immediacy of the coronavirus pandemic, will this new data and technology regime will fundamentally reshape the social contract?

In the eighth episode of the CPR ThoughtSpace series on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, Yamini Aiyar, President & Chief Executive of CPR, speaks with Ananth Padmanabhan, Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and Dean of the Daksha Fellowship; and Sahil Deo, co-founder of CPC Analytics and faculty at Daksha Fellowship.

Padmanabhan and Deo tell us about the different ways in which data and technology have been used, from controlling the spread of the disease to supporting governments, policymakers, and the public health system. They shed light on legal frameworks required to think through the long-term implications of these technological developments, as well as the likely changes in citizen-market relations.

This is the eighth episode in a series by the Centre for Policy Research on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic in India. You can follow the Centre’s work on Covid-19 on Twitter or visit You can listen to all the episodes in the Coronavirus Conversation series here.

The views shared belong to individual faculty and researchers and do not represent an institutional stance on the issue.