The Dark Hour - India Under Lockdowns
54 pages
English

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54 pages
English

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Description

At a mere four hours’ notice, at 8.00 p.m., on March 24th 2020, the Indian Prime Minister Modi announced a lockdown to contain the spread of virus in order to jumpstart an already-crumbling healthcare system for one of the most devastating pandemics soon to envelop India. People stormed out to panic-buy ration stocks; India’s migrant working classes started walking back to the villages, left hungry and desolate without homes, work and wages - a scene not very short of an apocalypse.



Over two summers, India woke up to similar headlines: a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen, medicines; a languishing economy; cases rising and falling; governments greenlighting Hindu religious, superspreader that compounded the second wave; misled unlocking schools, business and the social sphere, and reversed lockdowns when cases went up; underreporting of cases and deaths; lakhs dead to the virus and crores of people infected, and still counting. While the pandemic continues to rage on, notwithstanding its ebbs and flows, its real impact on society may start to be visible only much later.



Over a year of tracking how the pandemic ravaged India’s society, economy, politics and culture, nine of finest India’s writers try and make sense of this difficult reality. The Dark Hour is a publisher’s anthology of specially commissioned long-form essays that unpack two dreadful summers of the pandemic that wreaked havoc on the many Indias within India.

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Publié par
Date de parution 15 novembre 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9788195256679
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

OTHER LOTUS TITLES Anil Dharker Icons: Men & Women Who Shaped Today’s India Aitzaz Ahsan The Indus Saga: The Making of Pakistan Ajay Mansingh Firaq Gorakhpuri: The Poet of Pain & Ecstasy Alam Srinivas Women of Vision: Nine Business Leaders in Conversation Amarinder Singh The Last Sunset: The Rise & Fall of the Lahore Durbar Aruna Roy The RTI Story: Power to the People Ashis Ray Laid to Rest: The Controversy of Subhas Chandra Bose’s Death Bertil Falk Feroze: The Forgotten Gandhi Harinder Baweja (Ed.) 26/11 Mumbai Attacked Harinder Baweja A Soldier’s Diary: Kargil – The Inside Story Ian H. Magedera Indian Videshinis: European Women in India Jenny Housego A Woven Life Kunal Purandare Ramakant Achrekar: A Biography Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo Param Vir: Our Heroes in Battle Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo The Sinking of INS Khukri: What Happened in 1971 Madhu Trehan Tehelka as Metaphor Moin Mir Surat: Fall of a Port, Rise of a Prince, Defeat of the East India Company in the House of Commons Monisha Rajesh Around India in 80 Trains Noorul Hasan Meena Kumari: The Poet Prateep K. Lahiri A Tide in the Affairs of Men: A Public Servant Remembers Rajika Bhandari The Raj on the Move: Story of the Dak Bungalow Ralph Russell The Famous Ghalib: The Sound of My Moving Pen Rahul Bedi The Last Word: Obituaries of 100 Indian Who Led Unusual Lives R.V. Smith Delhi: Unknown Tales of a City Salman Akthar The Book of Emotions Sharmishta Gooptu Bengali Cinema: An Other Nation Shrabani Basu Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan Shahrayar Khan Bhopal Connections: Vignettes of Royal Rule Shantanu Guha Ray Mahi: The Story of India’s Most Successful Captain S. Hussain Zaidi Dongri to Dubai Thomas Weber Going Native: Gandhi’s Relationship with Western Women Thomas Weber Gandhi at First Sight Vaibhav Purandare Sachin Tendulkar: A Definitive Biography Vappala Balachandran A Life in Shadow: The Secret Story of ACN Nambiar – A Forgotten Anti-Colonial Warrior Vir Sanghvi Men of Steel: India’s Business Leaders in Candid Conversation
FORTHCOMING TITLE Narinder Singh Kapany The Man Who Bent Light
 

 
ROLI BOOKS
This digital edition published in 2021
First published in 2021 by
The Lotus Collection
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© For individual essays rests with their respective authors, 2021
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eISBN: 978-81-952566-7-9
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Contents
Editor’s Note by Chirag Thakkar
1. Casting a Long Shadow: How Covid Impacted Gender in India
Namita Bhandare
2. A Health Reporter in a Pandemic
Anoo Bhuyan
3. The Doctor Who Saw 23,000 Covid-19 Patients
Soutik Biswas
4. Besieged Hope
Aamir Peerzada
5. Coming Home: Finding Myself in the Midst of a Crisis
Pooja Dhingra
6. In the Mirror, the Beast: Lockdown Tales
Saba Naqvi
7. Getting Out? Or Trapped Yet Again? Covid and India’s Economy
Omkar Goswami
8. Kerala: The Unique Pendulum
M.G. Radhakrishnan
9. ImmStim, Anyone?
Kalpish Ratna
Notes on Contributors
 
Editor’s Note
  CHIRAG THAKKAR  
Over a year and a half of the pandemic and still going, only a lot more nightmarish, deadly and devastating; of uncertainty and despair; moments of hope and the illusion of the return of normalcy; 70 days of lockdown in 2020 – one of the harshest and longest in the world, and then some in 2021 in various shapes, duration, and size; the largest migration of people on foot since the bloody partition of India and Pakistan; over four lakh dead to the deadly virus, at least ‘officially’ recorded and still counting; the underreporting of cases and deaths, now, an open secret; 1 a broken healthcare system and a seemingly absent state. These are just some of the ways to describe over a year of the Covid-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc on this planet’s peoples.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the people several times since the virus spread throughout the world, usually at 8.00 p.m., and everyone paid attention, or those with radio devices, smart phones and television sets. Over time, these addresses were seen ‘without any real value,’ only gathering irk, humour and rage 2 on social media. 3 At a mere four hours’ notice, the nation was sent into a lockdown, we were told, to curtail the spread of the virus and help the health infrastructure in order to cope for what was to come. A year on, the one question everyone’s asking is How did the Indian state fail so terribly at preparing for the second wave? 4
At the beginning of the year 2021, there were signs that things were improving; a promising spring was around the corner. Two Indian pharmaceutical companies had made headway in vaccine research and manufacturing, cases were at an all-time low and the first two phases of vaccinations were in full swing. Only everything came crumbling down. In January 2021, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Prime Minister Modi took digs at the world for warning India in early 2020 that it will be the world’s worst covid-affected nation with an alarmingly high number of deaths. He gloated, prematurely, of India’s supposed victory in conquering the covid battle. 5 He then went on to boast about how India is leading the world in vaccine security by selling vaccines and medicines to 150 countries in need. Alas, India ran of vaccines and medical care for its own people soon after. 6
The Union Health Ministry outraged people on more than an occasion. As early as March 2020, it said that ‘Covid-19 is not a health emergency.’ 7 The head of planning in India in late 2020 said that India had way ‘too much democracy’ for reforms. 8 With the second wave, as the nation struggled to breathe, literally, owing to the severe oxygen crisis with millions infected and denied access to emergency healthcare, the health ministry gaslit federal states saying that they were asking for too much oxygen and that the said ‘demand should be kept under control 9 and that states shouldn’t behave like ‘crybabies’. 10 It took various Delhi-based hospitals to take the Centre to court demanding that the latter fulfill its role in supplying oxygen as an extension of the Constitutional Right to Life. The Supreme Court took matters in their hands; many saw this as too little, too late. 11
The Centre appeared to want to take credit for vaccination drives – the Prime Minister’s photo prominently displayed on vaccine certificate, but when the cases went up, the Centre conveniently blamed the states. People, too, were blamed for being irresponsible and the cause behind the widespread cases. The Central government, headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), never did once acknowledge that it errored in publicly supporting and greenlighting super-spreader religious events like the Kumbh Mela that were attended by millions of Indians and conducting political rallies in states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Assam right through a devastating second wave of the pandemic, believed to be caused by the mutated Delta variant of the virus. 12
Even as the dead were being mass buried and cremated round-the-clock, 13 India’s then Health Minister who was also the Minister of Science was recorded celebrating the fact that India’s death rates were lower than many countries in the world, even if the cases continued to rise. As early as March 2021, he declared that India was in the endgame of the pandemic. He also officially launched a dubious, herbal drug Coronil that falsely claimed it could cure covid 14 – discredited by the WHO – alongside one of India’s leading Hindu, right-wing entrepreneur-yoga guru, Baba Ramdev. A few weeks ago, the ministry greenlit a research project investigating the benefits of cow urine and cow dung in – believe it or not – curing cancer and diabetes. 15
Over two summers, India woke up to the same cycles of news: people falling sick in hordes, a shortage of beds, medicines, emergency wards, ambulances, testing kits, information, systems, and oxygen. Many died on roads after unsuccessfully looking for somewhere to get themselves and their loved ones treated for hours, days on end. Countless people went out of work, schools, homes, land, assets. Morgues, crematoriums, burial grounds ran of space, and streets, parks, terraces became sites of burial and cremation. Abandoned bodies floated on the Ganges and Yamuna. Businesses shut down; India’s poor got poorer. Depending on what class, caste, gender, and location you belonged to, you experienced the same great leveller, albeit differently.
During the first wave, one class of people was left to invent ways to keep busy such as making banana breads or Dalgona coffee, another was being run over by speeding trains in the scorching summer of the first lockdown. 16 The virus did not see colour or identity. The second wave of the pandemic ruptured through this class divide and veil where the rich, middle-income and the working classes, alike, could not find a bed when they needed one. The uber rich, if they had the chance to, were able to fly out of the country in private jets just in time before the second round of localized lockdowns and travel bans on Indians flying into various parts of the world.
At the beginning, lockdown was an unfamiliar experien

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