ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Density, Distancing, Informal Settlements and the Pandemic

Demographic density, particularly in the low-income settlements in urban India, is posing some unprecedented challenges to governance for containing the COVID-19 contagion. Through a case-based discussion of density, it is argued that the idea of containment through distancing is rather paradoxical. On the one hand it pushes for more proximation or clustering of the poor in congested urban spaces, while on the other it deepens a sense of estrangement in an already fragmented social milieu.

Remaking the Indian Military for Women

The judgment in the Babita Puniya case illustrates the gender stereotypes, inequality and discrimination deeply embedded in the Indian military. Even when the “women’s question” has been raised with respect to the army, it has been from the typical “male” standpoint.

Walls That Speak

In a time when online education is becoming prevalent, an aspect of it that needs to be discussed is that of social disparities and embarrassments made visible by video conferencing. Visual backgrounds in these conferences can be looked at as a concrete entry point into how the system displaces a large section of students from access to and equity in education.

Migration and Reverse Migration in the Age of COVID-19

The notion of the “migrant” in the current capitalist times and the world of migrants in it are explored. The source to destination streams of migrant labour is outlined, and it is then argued that reverse migration will perhaps usher in the greatest crisis in the rural landscape of India, for which we are not yet prepared.

Saving Jobs and Averting Lay-offs amidst COVID-19 Lockdown

Despite unleashing a slew of relief measures, the state is grappling to ensure that employers abstain from imposing lay-offs, pay cuts or unpaid leave during the lockdown. Even if the state mandates employers to pay wages without any lay-offs, then, in this context, there is a need to advocate for wider coverage of labour legislation in India. In the short run, fixing accountability on employers for wages and jobs will provide an interim relief, but, in the long run, we need to take financial viability into consideration and provide stimulus wage subsidy.

The Mathadi Model and Its Relevance for Empowering Unprotected Workers

The idea of providing comprehensive social security benefits to unprotected workers has still remained an unsolved task for the government due to a number of reasons, from administrative and financial limitations, and scattered and biased nature of social security legislations in the country, to inadequate information available on the unorganised sector and lack of data. The relevance of the mathadi model of social security to casual and other workers in the present context is highlighted and inputs on adopting its good practices in the proposed code on social security are provided.

Plugging Loopholes in Taxation of Interstate Sales

States may be hesitant to increase sales tax rates on petroleum products out of the goods and service tax’s ambit to cope with the Covid-19-led revenue shock. The risk of revenue loss on account of the interstate purchase of out-of-GST petroleum products at a concessional rate of 2% may not give an opportunity to state governments to enlarge fiscal space and lift the economy out of fiscal shock, given the fall in global price of crude petroleum.

Identity of a Disease

The intersections of class, region and other social dimensions that go into the discovery and identification of some diseases as epidemics while relegating other pervasive and lethal illnesses as “ordinary” are examined. In this regard, the lopsided relationship between epistemology and epidemiology is explored in detail. It is argued that the combination of Covid-19 with other diseases (also referred to as co-morbidity), as well as undeclared silent epidemics of several other diseases, require recognition.

COVID-19’s Disruption of India’s Transformed Food Supply Chains

COVID-19 has created high transaction costs and uncertainty in India’s transformed food supply chains, putting food security at risk as 92% of food consumption in India is purchased, predominantly from the private sector. Government faces the challenge of marshalling resources between mitigating the impending food crisis and containing the contagion as the risk of sociopolitical tensions looms large. It is recommended that the government concentrate on sustaining the food supply chains towards eventual rebound, recognising that government food distribution cannot replace even a tenth of the market.

World Economy and Nation States post COVID-19

With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the world economy has come to a grinding halt. The economic fallout would be enormous in terms of loss in production, income, and employment. The COVID -19 pandemic has caused major ruptures in the world system, which has serious implications for global accumulation of capital. It, therefore, presents an opportun ity to reimagine the global division of labour and the international economic architecture.

When People and Governments Come Together

The COVID -19 pandemic has been a test of the Indian state’s capacity to deal with the repercussions of a public health crisis. Kerala’s success, as it continues to draw strength from its political culture of participatory governance and its emphasis on social welfare, is elaborated. Some of the decentralised, scientific, and humane policy measures taken to contain the virus are also elucidated.

Gendering the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has affected Indian women differently. Due to the lack of autonomy and gender insensitive nature of the state’s response to the corona crisis, women are perceived as second class citizens. While the lockdown is not qualitatively a new experience for the women, even in critical times as it does not change boundaries or the nature of the public and the private spheres for them. Rather, it overburdens them, bereaves them of agency, and compromises their safety.

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