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Issue Articles

Band-Aids for Bullet Wounds

Why has the second wave devastated India and what lies ahead?
The brutal advent of Covid-19’s second wave in India was not unforeseen. But claims of an ‘Indian exceptionalism’ lulled politician, policymakers, and the public into complacency.

Dr Pradip Bijalwan: An Unsung Journey for an Equal World

Many health workers have given their lives working tirelessly for the Covid-19 ill; Dr. Pradip Bijalwan was one of them. His journey was different: he had given his life caring for the under-privileged and he died caring for the homeless of Delhi.

Is the Pandemic the Wake-up Call We Need on the Drug Regulatory Process?

Sometimes it is the power of lobbies rather than Science that is now driving approval of new drugs, as seen in the questionable clearance to a few Covid-19 drugs; people end up willing to pay anything for these drugs though it is not certain that they work.

Vaccine Conundrums

The government lost an opportunity to dampen the second wave but it should at least protect us from the third wave. For that it needs to revise its ‘liberalised’ vaccine policy, which with its array of complicated procedures will not aid rapid vaccination.

Estimating Covid-19 Fatalities in India

India's recorded Covid-19 fatalities are a gross underestimate. A more accurate assessment, from careful interpretation of available date and of international trends, is needed to better respond to the pandemic.

What has Gone Wrong with India’s Vaccination Programme?

In the middle of a virulent second wave, India finds itself staring at shortages that will delay vaccinating its 45+ population well beyond August. If only the government had not thought it was infallible and had been less complacent in its planning.

Planning the Family, Planning the Nation

India’s family planning programme advertised the small middle-class family as a means to develop the nation. But its top-down approach meant that sterilisations became the default contraceptive option for poor and working class women. This legacy persists.

The Wages of Low Public Spending on Child Nutrition Programmes

Stagnant government funding and mis-allocation of available resources in recent years are together resulting in limited improvements in levels of child nutrition, anaemia and mortality.

Confronting the Pandemic

A primer on Covid-19 offers a comprehensive guide to the science of pathogens, disease, and therapies; but disappoints with a lack of analysis of the policy response to the pandemic.

India and the Pandemic

The First Year
A collection of 24 essays on how India dealt with Covid-19 in 2020, published by Orient BlackSwan. The essays, with a detailed Introduction, cover the history of pandemics, the early stages, the lockdown, the law, impact on economy & society, and the future.

The Political Economy of Covid-19 Vaccines

Vaccine grabs, the refusal to relax patents to enable mass production, and the use of vaccines for diplomacy run the risk that poorer nations may not be protected against Covid-19 quickly enough. This will prolong the pandemic, even for the richer nations.

Vaccine Platforms Old and New for SARS-CoV2

Ten years of work have been compressed into 10 months to yield the 10 vaccines now in use in the world. But trust has to be built among people by sharing accurate information, and a vaccine is also only one tool for dealing with this Coronavirus.

Knowns and Unknowns in the Covid-triggered Global Economic Crisis

The traditional toolbox of fiscal and monetary measures will not help deal with the exogenous shock given by Covid-19 to the global economy. In these unknown waters for now the state can at best ramp up medical services and devise proper relief for the poor.

The Blind Spots of Public Health

The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates that the discipline of public health needs to be open towards a plurality of ideas and paradigms. Else it could end up being reductionist and suited to authoritarian governance and commercial interests.

Making Medicines for Pandemics

Can Bangladesh do for Covid-19 what India did for HIV/AIDS?
Bangladesh could do for Covid-19 and other diseases what India did for HIV/AIDS: provide expensive therapeutic drugs globally at low prices. But its potential is constrained by a lack of indigenous capacity to produce the basic ingredients for these drugs.

Towards Universal Health Coverage?

Taking stock of two decades of health reforms in India
A survey of reforms in health policies in India over the past two decades – actually a string of privatisation policies – indicates that we have moved away from and not towards Universal Health Coverage. What then needs to be done?

Situating the Biology of Covid-19

A Conversation on Disease and Democracy
‘Struggles for a more just, fair, inclusive, or caring politics in the time of Covid-19, need to be grounded in the everyday work of building institutions, supporting the vulnerable amongst us, and cultivating a deeper ethic of mutuality.’

Psychosocial Challenges In the Midst of the Coronavirus

While trying to maintain our psychological equilibrium during a pandemic, we may well do so in a manner that facilitates the emergence of authoritarianism. But there can be hope too if we allow ourselves to be touched by an awareness of our vulnerabilities.

Seven Lessons for the Future

For the World After Covid-19
The pandemic has already taught us that for a better world we cannot have the market as the backbone of the economy; we need a more inclusive politics; decentralised governance is essential; and we obviously need a more harmonious relationship with nature.

Manufacturing Epidemics

Pathogens, Poverty, and Public Health Crises in India
India's Covid-19 crisis is one effect of a decades-long process that has produced impoverishment, hunger, and ill-health, all at once. Its history of epidemics can offer insights into understanding the structural roots of its poor public health infrastructure.

‘The Government Will Come To Its Senses’

Calcutta’s Workers and the Plague of 1898
The plague of 1898 brought Calcutta's workers out into the streets to strike against low pay & forced inoculation. The disorders during the epidemic gave the working class their first opportunity to organise themselves & to build up the city’s labour movement.

Justice and Rights In Viral Contexts In India

There are dimensions of justice, human rights and constitutionalism that need to guide governments when there is a public health emergency as with Covid-19. The focus has to be on the right to health, empathy for the working poor and ethical state practice.

Past and Present

Can India Beat Corona the Way It Beat Smallpox?
The eradication of smallpox in India in the 1970s may throw light on the evolving corona strategies. The attempts, then & now, operate against the backdrop of a destitute landscape, & increasingly a bigoted one, where some lives are more expendable than others
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