Showing posts from April, 2020

Is Covid19 the only virus that we need to be worried about?

Everyday there is disturbing news of things happening during the lockdown that have nothing to do with the virus Covid 19. First, we had news of millions of frightened migrants who started moving towards their homes. The cities that they worked in provided them income. But the moment they learnt that livelihoods options were closed, the millions who live on the margins of our economic system started moving. They wanted to go to a safer haven, their homes. On the way they were sprayed with harmful chemicals, beaten up by the police, held in quarantine and many other forms of indignity were heaped upon them. While the message of ‘fear’ was clear, the message of succour, if and when it came, was always an afterthought. Then came the news of rising reports of violence against women and children at homes. The Childlines and the National Commission on Women reported higher than usual reporting of violence and abuse. We all know that reports to the formal complaint systems represent the ti

Working with men: Closing the loop of Gender And Development

O ver the last 50 years ‘gender inequality’ has become an important consideration in development. My own involvement in gender in development started thirty years ago when I was working as young doctor in the Himalayan districts of what was then Uttar Pradesh, India. I realised that women’s reproductive health was deeply influenced by social customs. Women had to face many restrictions around menstruation and childbirth. Many women suffered from prolapse of the uterus, a condition in which the uterus, usually held in place inside the body by a set of ligaments which acted like ‘guy ropes’, started sagging because these ligaments had become loose. This was a direct outcome of women’s continuing workload, including immediately after childbirth. As a young and enthusiastic doctor, I advised women on how they could change the situation but I realised that this was easier said than done. Women had little decision about their own lives and how they lived it. There were layers of social co

Decoding the Numbers: Life and Death in the Times of Covid-19

All of us are glued to the COVID statistics as if they are the IPL score of our favourite team. Or perhaps the points table showing matches, victories, losses and so on. How many new infections? What is the R 0 rate? Total number of tests conducted? Population test rate? Then there are the other figures like mortality rate, state-wise mortality rate, daily mortality rate, recovery rate and so on. The list can be quite long, and there are many websites providing tables, graphs, charts, maps and other kinds of data visualisation. India is a much-maligned country for pandemics, where it has been the reason behind a humungous number of deaths in the past. They say 12 million died of the plague in India since it started in 1897 and persisted for a few years. An even larger number of 18 million died in a few months in 1918 due to the influenza pandemic. And this at a time when India’s population was quite low. Cholera was supposed to have originated here and we were among the last bast

Hey Man, What are You doing At Home?

Hi! We are now into the second week of Lockdown. This is like no other time that I can remember. From my middle-class South Delhi home its not such a bad time though. The sky is blue, the shops selling essential stuff are open, the temperature is still pleasant, and you can hear birdcall and smell the flowers instead of the perpetual din and smell of unending traffic. The news of the millions of people who fled in fear and uncertainty from the cities only to be held back, doused in hypochlorite solution and forced into wayside quarantines is disturbing, but we are safely ensconced in the safety of our homes. The internet lines are humming and the work from home regimen is not a problem as long as the cups of coffee and tea and pakoras keep coming.     One thing that the lockdown has done to us men is that most of us are now in unfamiliar territory. Even though we would like to be known as the kings of our castle, the master of the home and hearth, lords of our mansion, actuall