Book Title: The Making of a Catastrophe
Author: Jayati Ghosh
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
The coronavirus pandemic hit the world with unprecedented fury, starting sometime in early 2020 or even earlier. Until then the world had not seen anything like it since the Spanish flu of 1918-20. It took more than two years for the world to conclude but on not quite sure we have seen the end of it.
Along the same lines, India could not have expected to be exempt from the pandemic and it wasn’t. With a combination of religious blame, political game, and citizen’s fury, the government responded with a complete lockdown in March 2020. The lockdown was lifted in phases, starting a few months later. The country got away relatively lightly in the first phase compared to what the advanced countries went through.
It was in the second phase, which commenced around February 2021, that India felt the full fury of the pandemic. It hit severely and the worst was seen then. The health system proved unequal to the challenge, the death toll rose and the government faced major criticism.
The Making of a Catastrophe by Jayati Ghosh, a former professor at JNU, who is now with the University of Amherst, narrates how the pandemic played out in India against the world. The book explains the people’s sufferings and the economies in detail. The book won’t please many readers and definitely will find the writing judgemental.
Ghosh thinks the nationwide lockdown was stringent. She argues that cases of COVID infection went up, nevertheless, so a complete lockdown was needlessly brutal. There was a situation where even the medical fraternity and public health experts knew very little about the virus when it first erupted.
Even a complete lockdown or no masking, a battle between medical science and vegetarian habits created enormous rupture among the people. The information sharing on WhatsApp created much havoc. And the elders who had access to the internet went haywire in understanding what a virus is and how it attacks a person irrespective of being healthy or not.
As for the second wave, Ghosh thinks the government was complacent and ill-prepared and that is why the pandemic took such a huge toll. Again, the intensity of the second wave caught even medical experts by surprise. Lockdown fatigue had set in and mental health took a toll. People had suffered a loss of income and were eager to recoup this. There was a general sense that one had to take chances with the virus if one wanted to get on with life.
The economy along with other countries sank. But the Modi government which was then already facing criticism for its economic policies including demonetization was under the constant radar of criticism by the opposition. The Author also explains the plight of weaker sections and mostly the migrant labor’s relentless fight. The book is written in easily comprehensible language with facts and figures.
Though the book showcased the reality, most of it looked like criticizing the government. Overall, this book might help people to understand what happened in the country during the shocking times of COVID-19. A book for those readers who can accept anything written against the government.
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