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

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COVID-19 Vaccine Accessibility

The patent waiver procedure at the World Trade Organization needs to be fast-tracked. The global community must not be constrained by the interests of private industry and saving lives is what matters.

Our Domestic Chores

Poorly paid and with no employment benefits, female domestic workers are becoming the sole breadwinners of their families.

Of Denial and Data

A national lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020. This saw a humanitarian crisis unfold, that included deaths directly caused by the lockdown. The Indian government has been in denial about these deaths. In this article, we attempt to gather data on the human costs of the lockdown. Using media reports, we collected data on these deaths that highlights the devasting consequences of a harsh and sudden lockdown on the vulnerable sections, and underscores the need for strong social security efforts.

Crisis behind Closed Doors

The impact of the national lockdown due to COVID-19 on domestic workers in New Delhi and Gurugram is examined. Through extensive surveys with members of three labour unions, it was found that not only were domestic workers able to find less work, but were also paid lower wages, while unable to access government schemes or financial or in-kind support from their employers. This points to a dire need for policies that protect domestic workers’ interests.

Impact of Lockdown Relief Measures on Informal Enterprises and Workers

Much has been said and written about the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the Indian economy, the stimulus packages announced by the Government of India and the sad plight of the migrant workers. This article brings into focus segments of the economy that constitute the bottom of the labour hierarchy, namely microenterprises, construction workers, street vendors and domestic workers. Will the relief measure help refigure their livelihoods after the lockdown is lifted?

How Did Agri-start-ups Fare during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Although agricultural start-ups in India took a hit due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown, they have enormous potential in aiding economic recovery. A survey of 162 start-ups from 29 states, located in 98 cities, reveals that many start-ups have tailored their products, modified their technologies and invested in their long-term growth potential, even as they suffered from liquidity crunch, lack of investor funds and poor demand. The government should provide capital access, market access support and end-to-end solutions for innovation and marketing towards harnessing the power of these start-ups.

Expanding Discursive Spaces: Community Radio during COVID-19 and Beyond

Locating the ongoing migrant worker crisis in the politics of voice poverty and lack of access to spaces of representation, the article examines the role played by a grass-roots medium like community radio in India and elsewhere to provide discursive spaces for interest articulation for marginalised communities. Despite the lack of public funding and state support, community radio stations across India have risen to the occasion by broadcasting locally relevant information in local languages and helped mobilise communities to deal with the crisis. The article suggests that genuine democratisation of media may yet be possible with appropriate measures to address issues of information access and communicative equity.

Restoring Employment and Rural Landscapes

The national lockdown unleashed an unprecedented economic crisis on millions of poor urban migrants who lost their employment and were forced to “reverse-migrate” to their homes on foot over vast distances. However, the rural areas—from where they originated—were already reeling under severe and rapid economic and ecological degradation and were ill-equipped to deal with this sudden increase in the demand for livelihood opportunities. In this paper, we demonstrate the potential of “ecological restoration” of primarily rural landscapes in India to generate rapid and high-volume employment along with other co-benefits.

Whither One Health in India?

The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply brought into focus how intrusions into natural landscapes are not just environmental concerns, but are also intricately entangled with public health. Little attention has been paid to systemic causes such as large-scale biodiversity loss that underlie the emergence and re-emergence of these diseases. Institutional networks of public and animal health in India that are involved in the surveillance and control of zoonoses are outlined herein. It is shown that the lack of a systematic framework that explicitly involves institutions that manage biodiversity and wildlife health leads to gaps in operationalising a One Health framework in India. Addressing these lacunae requires a supra-ministerial mechanism that brings together public health, ecology, and veterinary and social sciences to combat the threats posed by existing and emerging zoonoses.

Interconnectedness of Illegal Wildlife Trade and COVID-19

Since its outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic’s interlinkages with illegal wildlife trade have caught a lot of attention and been touted as a primary cause. Dwelling on the carrier species of coronavirus that have been implicated and the channels of zoonotic spillover, the policies implemented to curb bushmeat consumption with incomplete ramifications to curb illegal wildlife markets are critiqued. The urgent need to address the problem is highlighted, requiring significant enforcement efforts at the local and national level along with transnational cooperation to make them successful. There is a need for alternative coordinated solutions for the COVID-19 vaccine which ironically finds its origin in a wildlife product.

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