2020: The Year of the Pandemic

The year of the Pandemic

At the beginning of this year, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic had begun sweeping through the world. The biggest economies and the most “developed” countries suffered the highest casualties. By March, the crisis came home and the Indian government implemented stringent lockdown measures, bringing to a standstill all travel and economic activity.

These lockdown measures, as was soon realised, were ill-conceived and hastily implemented. Healthcare infrastructure was on the verge of collapse, with a severe shortage of hospital beds, healthcare personnel, as well as essential medical equipment and drugs. People were stranded in towns and cities away from their homes, with little to no information forthcoming on protocols for essential movement. Students faced an uncertain future as educational activities were suspended. A large section of the formal workforce struggled to transition to a digital-only mode of functioning. Thousands across industries lost their jobs as firms struggled to stay afloat.

Months after the last lockdown was lifted, many of these struggles continue. The numbers may come in only later, but what the COVID-19 pandemic has made evident is that the rot is deep and systemic. Our healthcare system urgently needs an overhaul. Massive fiscal stimuli are necessary, but are likely to not be enough. Some states have done better than others in weathering the crisis, but none have done well enough. Excessive centralisation of planning and relief measures has failed and “self-reliance” has instead been glorified. Abject poverty persists. Food and income insecurities define the lives of millions of people toiling in the precarious informal and unorganised sectors—domestic workers, construction workers, street vendors, and sanitation workers, among others. Identities at the margins have been “locked down” more than others, with the rising incidence of violence. The digital is no longer just the future. It is a present fractured by unequal access to resources, knowledge, and social capital.

As we move into the next year with this “new normal” in wait for a contentious vaccine, this resource kit brings together 170+ articles on the COVID-19 crisis published in EPW in 2020.

Navigate this resource kit by clicking on each bubble.

Curated by Sohnee Harshey

Designed by Vishnupriya Bhandaram

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