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COVID-19 in the Indian Context and the Quest for Alternative Paradigms

The COVID-19 pandemic has provocatively challenged the extant paradigm of development whose theoretical underpinning is derived from the neoclassical ideology of market-mediated growth. The Indian context of the pandemic is examined, and a reimagining of the development path for a more rational and egalitarian democracy is argued for. Some of the postulates of Thomas Piketty outlined in his Capital and Ideology are brought home as a pointer to stimulate thinking by all, especially the social scientists.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brutally challenged the ruling paradigm of resource allocation and accumulation of capital, largely based on the neoclassical ideology of development. It has affected different social classes, the rich and poor, privileged and margin­alised, differently. Long before this episode, but very much into the 21st century, several concerned economists (for example, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Thomas Piketty, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo) have drawn attention to the iniquities and even irrationalities of the existing system and its theoretical underpinning.

The United Nations (UN), fittingly called “outdated structures” by the Indian Prime Minister at the special session marking 75 years of the UN on 22 September 2020, continues to remain clueless, with no collective posture before the might of the pandemic. The UN, an admittedly undemocratic institution, has called for “a review of democracy in the world.” The World Health Organization (WHO) in its six manifestos for a recovery from “Covid-19 the greatest global shock in decades” drives home the need for protecting and preserving nature “the source of health” (WHO 2020: 6). To be sure, humanity has a common ecological existence. But the world community looks askance at the bio-insecurity that keeps unfolding. Communism as an ideology has failed to usher in a just world. Social democracy has not made any visible impact. The digital regime responded to the pandemic with more automation and robotics, which is but counterproductive in the face of growing unemployment.

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Updated On : 10th Nov, 2020

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