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Counts and Consequences

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Issue Articles

Learning to Listen

Building an Empathetic State
The Indian state’s lack of empathy for the weakest could be seen so clearly in the hardships it imposed on the poor during the Covid-19 lockdown. This can be fixed only by listening to people's voices and paying heed to what they say.

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.

Sweden’s ‘No Lockdown’ Strategy

A Senior Citizen’s Personal Experience
In dealing with Covid-19 Sweden has been unique for not shutting down the economy & enforcing a stay-at-home policy. This is a 'learning by doing' approach that has the broad support of all political parties & is in line with an old social democrat tradition.

Migrants Workers, the Lockdown and the Judiciary

The millions of migrants who have lost their livelihoods have a fundamental right to a life of dignity. The refusal of the Government of India to provide comprehensive support and the Supreme Court’s ruling on a petition seeking relief have left them adrift.

‘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

The Rise of the Populist State

A populist idea has developed that an entrenched elite is exploiting deprived people. This then drives populist anger that certain types of leaders take advantage of and exploit through rhetoric and a clever manipulation of facts.

Four Future Scenarios, or, What’s Different about the Covid-19 crisis?

What should we expect, post the coronavirus pandemic? Four scenarios contain four very different futures. A better world is only possible if social actors seize this opportunity to overcome the inequalities this crisis has laid bare.

'We are the True Inheritors of the Nationalist Legacy!'

Muslim Consciousness and National Politics after CAA
Shaheen Bagh, like other sites of protest against the CAA and NRC, was more a consciousness than a mere physical space. The protesters' ways of imagining religion and nationalism to meet progressive ends offer lessons for a new politics.

India's Lockdown

If the first option of dealing with Covid-19 by imposing a complete lockdown but accompanied by comprehensive State support is not possible, then we must think of alternatives. Here is an implementable option for India that would open a lifeline for the poor.

Coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic

Are Indians Safe?
India must act now to prevent a spike in coronavirus transmission that could quickly overwhelm its weak health systems. Cooperation between union & state governments, increased testing and evaluating the social & economic consequences of lockdowns are crucial.

India Cannot Fight Coronavirus Without Taking Into Account its Class and Caste Divisions

The country must rethink its strategy of fighting Covid-19 by taking into account the lives, the work and the living conditions of the marginalised sections of the society.

Covid-19 in India

The Chronicle of a Pandemic Foretold
India could not have prevented the entry of Covid-19 but it could have responded better to the warning signs of January. If it had, it could have reduced the toll this disease will now take and the hasty imposition of the lockdown could have been avoided.

War metaphors used for COVID-19 are compelling but also dangerous

The use of war as a metaphor by politicians and media is appealing in a crisis like COVID-19. However, instead of a spirit of going into battle what we need now are a sense of civic duty, pan-national solidarity and a respect for fellow human beings.

Consent and Privacy in the Age of Digital Technology

When Big Data reigns and the economy relies on mass surveillance and data collection, will humans end up as Pavlov’s dogs? Taking back control of our data will require rebuilding digital technologies to make them compatible with greater democratic control.

Naming and Belonging

A Personal History of a North Indian Muslim Clan
Did my Shamsi clan “come” or “convert”? What qana’at made my family remain in India after Partition? Our lives are a confection of history and happenstance. As belonging is questioned and citizenship interrogated, perhaps these personal histories will suffice.

Crowdsourcing “Knowledge”

Troll Armies and the Attack on Science & History
The brazen articulation of weird ideas is now a mass phenomenon. These ideas reveal an ignorance of elementary science & history, yet have wide traction & lethal consequences. Why has 'fake news' taken deep root? Can we do anything to reverse this moment?

'Collective Conscience'

A Benchmark for Sacrifice?
To cite the doctrine of ‘collective conscience’ to justify capital punishment as for the convicted rapists in the Nirbhaya case is to reduce justice to revenge and bloodlust.

Our Brother’s Keepers

The Solidarity of Shaheen Bagh
The protesters at Shaheen Bagh have built a solidarity that has not been derived from some legal or religious text but is drawn from their own direct experience. They say in their own plain fashion: we are our brother’s keepers.

The Revolt of the Upper Castes

The surge of Hindu nationalism in India can be seen as a revolt of the upper castes against the egalitarian demands of democracy. The Hindutva project is a lifeboat for the upper castes in so far as it promises to restore the Brahminical social order.
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