Society

Society

Issue Articles

Covid-19 and the Spectres of Colonialism

India’s lockdowns and questionable experimentation with vaccines and drugs to fight Covid-19 eerily mimic its colonial past.

The Pedagogical Problems of the Census

The policy in the census of ‘rationalising’ languages has a debilitating impact on the speakers of unrecognised languages; they are condemned not to access education in their own languages.

A Novel Virus, A New Racial Slur

In the wake of Covid-19, racial discrimination towards people from the North East has acquired a new edge. The lack of cultural understanding in mainland Indian communities has always manifested itself in slurs and attacks that have increased and not reduced.

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?

Exodus Constitutionalism

Mass Migration in Covid Lockdown Times
Multiple disasters and mass catastrophes have been on display in the migrant crises following the Covid-19 lockdown. In its light, India’s constitutionalism might be called ‘Exodus Constitutionalism’, a development that threatens to devalue citizenship.

A Black Spring

Deepening racial inequality in the US is the fundamental reason for the recent widespread protests. African American economic progress has been worse than that of Dalits in India. Any optimism about the outcome has to confront these features of US society.

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.’

Making Indian Cities Habitable

The Legacy of Patrick Geddes
The social & environmental problems of a rapidly urbanising India were anticipated a century ago by the Scottish town planner Patrick Geddes. It may be time to redeem & rehabilitate Geddes’ themes of respect for nature, democracy & architectural traditions.

Margins and Marginality

The Pathalgadi Movement and Jharkhand Elections 2019
The Pathalgadi movement of Jharkhand drew on Munda traditions to fashion the 2019 electoral defeat of the incumbent party. A unique interplay of an assertion of constitutional rights, local sovereignty and social practices made this a special moment.

States’ Loss of Fiscal Autonomy in a Centralised Federal System

The states bear the larger responsibility in dealing with Covid-19 but they have few resources to do so. The ongoing process of centralisation has weakened the states. We need an institutional mechanism to oversee bargaining between the centre and the states.

Counts and Consequences

Citizenship and Language Identity
Language diversity has always been a given for Indians. The Constitution endorses this diversity as ‘a noble intention’. But as in 2011, the 2021 Census too may see hundreds of languages removed from official records in the service of Hindi-Hindu nationalism.

Hunger Grows as India’s Lockdown Kills Jobs

Results of a Survey from 12 States
The lockdown has devastated livelihoods at unprecedented levels, causing widespread job losses and hunger. The measures so far will not solve the crisis. India should universalise the PDS, expand cash transfers, and create a national job guarantee scheme.

How many casual workers in the cities have sought to go home?

There has been no count of the number of workers returning to their home states. An analysis of NSS data tells us that the first wave of returnees is likely to be mainly urban casual workers who lost their livelihoods and lived in insecure accommodation.

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.
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