Skip to main content

Vaccine industry, MNCs amassed 'incredibly high' profits: Book on Covid-19 impact

By Bharat Dogra* 

While the pandemic has brought distress to all sections of people, the poor and vulnerable sections have suffered the most in this phase, not just from the disease directly but including the impact of policy measures like prolonged lockouts which caused huge unemployment and loss of income. 
The urgency of discussing this issue particularly from the perspective of weaker sections cannot be over-emphasized. Hence the various writers and editors who have contributed to bringing about an important collection of papers, articles, reports and memoirs written from this perspective deserve credit for taking up a very important task.
The reference here is to an important new book titled ‘COVID-19: A View From the Margins’, edited by Yogesh Jain and Sarah Nabia and published by Manohar. As Prof K Srinath Reddy,  president of the Public Health Foundation of India says in his foreword, this book “brings together many distinguished analysts and commentators, who provide astute insights into the fault lines of our health and social systems and indicate the changes that are needed to build more efficient, equitable and empathetic systems."
He adds, "Dr Jain knits these contributions together into a remarkable tapestry that presents many shades of the pandemic experience, enriching it with his own experience as a healthcare provider, researcher, policy analyst and public health advocate.”
In his opening chapter Dr Jain has done well to highlight the need for studying the pandemic and its impacts from the perspective of the poor. This is re-emphasized later in an important contribution of Dr Shah Alam Khan of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. 
This need comes out effectively also in a chapter on a history of pandemics in India which brings out clearly how in various pandemics it is the poorer and weaker sections who suffered the most.
While this book includes contributions on a wide diversity of COVID-19 related issues, what is particularly valuable are accounts of several doctors, known for their commitment to serving the poor, of how they tried to cope with the pandemic. In terms of regional studies this book is particularly rich in terms of contributions from Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Telangana, Odisha and South Rajasthan. 
Hence areas with a significant population of tribal communities in particular are well covered, although generally these are the most neglected. In terms of the urban poor and slum areas, the chapter on Mumbai is particularly useful, in addition to being very informative about TB as well.
In fact there are several valuable essays about how the COVID-19 pandemic and its policy response have increased difficulties in the context of other serious health problems and diseases including malnutrition, TB, non-communicable diseases, mental health, maternal and child health. Several of these important issues have separate chapters.
Although this book is mainly written from a medical perspective, its value has been enhanced by the important contributions made on how the economic difficulties of the poor increased during the pandemic, written by such eminent economists like Jean Dreze and Reetika Khera who have been in the forefront of drawing attention to these issues of great importance, particularly in the context of more vulnerable sections like migrant workers.
Similarly the legal side of some of the related ongoing debates has been well-covered in this book, as issues like privacy, digital rights and arogya setu are discussed in a separate chapter as well as at other places.
While the state emphasised so much on digital verification during the pandemic, protection of people’s privacy concerns should have been ensured
While this book covers a vast ground, some very important aspects, such as the changes in the vaccine industry and multinational companies towards seeking incredibly high profits and control, as also some related issues to which several eminent scientists and doctors have drawn pointed attention in several countries, are not covered comprehensively here. The valuable work done by eminent doctors like Dr Jacob Puliyel and some other researchers in India also easily comes to mind in this context.
In the case of a diverse collection of many essays, it is not easy to briefly draw common conclusions, particularly in the absence of a joint statement of authors and editors which could have been included at the end of the book. However Dr Jain has made an attempt to emphasize some points. 
He writes, “Decentralization of decision-making is the way forward, rather than centralization of power that we saw. Effective communication between the centre and the state, and the government and people and between different institutions of the state is of critical importance.”
Further, Dr Jain writes, “While so much of emphasis on data and on digital verification was on display in the state’s response, protection of people’s privacy concerns should be ensured when digital health mission is on the anvil."
He adds, "The consequences of underperforming health systems have shown so clearly the need to develop resilient health system and to provide universal health care to all people…We need to re-capture solidarity at all levels—local, regional, national and global.”
---
*Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now; recent books include “Man Over Machine” and “Earth for Children”

Comments

TRENDING

Junk food push causing severe public health crisis of obesity, diabetes in India: Report

By Rajiv Shah  A new report , “The Junk Push: Rising Consumption of Ultra-processed foods in India- Policy, Politics and Reality”, public health experts, consumers groups, lawyers, youth and patient groups, has called upon the Government of India to check the soaring consumption of High Fat Sugar or Salt (HFSS) foods or ultra-processed foods (UPF), popularly called junk food.

Avoidable Narmada floods: Modi birthday fete caused long wait for release of dam waters

Counterview Desk  Top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), has accused the Sardar Sarovar dam operators for once again acting in an "unaccountable" manner, bringing "avoidable floods in downstream Gujarat."  In a detailed analysis, SANDRP has said that the water level at the Golden Bridge in Bharuch approached the highest flood level on September 17, 2023, but these "could have been significantly lower and much less disastrous" both for the upstream and downstream areas of the dam, if the authorities had taken action earlier based on available actionable information.

From 'Naatu-Naatu' to 'Nipah-Nipah': Dancing to the tune of western pipers?

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  Some critics have commented that the ecstatic response of most Indians to the Oscar for the racy Indian song, “Naatu-Naatu” from the film, “RRR” reeks of sheer racism, insulting visuals and a colonial hangover. It was perhaps these ingredients that impressed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, one critic says.

Astonishing? Violating its own policy, Barclays 'refinanced' Adani Group's $8 billion bonds

By Rajiv Shah  A new report released by two global NGOs, BankTrack and the Toxic Bonds Network, has claimed to have come up with “a disquieting truth”: that Barclays, a financial heavyweight with a “controversial” track record, is deeply entrenched in a “disturbing” alliance with “the Indian conglomerate and coal miner Adani Group.”

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Asset managers hold '2.8 times more equity' in fossil fuel cos than in green investments

By Deepanwita Gita Niyogi*  The world’s largest asset managers are far off track to meet the  2050 net zero commitments , a new study  released by InfluenceMap , a London-based think tank working on climate change and sustainability, says. Released on August 1, the Asset Managers and Climate Change 2023 report by FinanceMap, a work stream of InfluenceMap, finds that the world’s largest asset managers have not improved on their climate performance in the past two years.

Insider plot to kill Deendayal Upadhyay? What RSS pracharak Balraj Madhok said

By Shamsul Islam*  Balraj Madhok's died on May 2, 2016 ending an era of old guards of Hindutva politics. A senior RSS pracharak till his death was paid handsome tributes by the RSS leaders including PM Modi, himself a senior pracharak, for being a "stalwart leader of Jan Sangh. Balraj Madhok ji's ideological commitment was strong and clarity of thought immense. He was selflessly devoted to the nation and society. I had the good fortune of interacting with Balraj Madhok ji on many occasions". The RSS also issued a formal condolence message signed by the Supremo Mohan Bhagwat on behalf of all swayamsevaks, referring to his contribution of commitment to nation and society. He was a leading RSS pracharak on whom his organization relied for initiating prominent Hindutva projects. But today nobody in the RSS-BJP top hierarchy remembers/talks about Madhok as he was an insider chronicler of the immense degeneration which was spreading as an epidemic in the high echelons of th

Victim of 'hazardous' jobs, Delhi sanitary workers get two thirds of minimum wages

By Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) organized a Training of Trainers (ToT) Workshop for sewer workers and waste pickers from all across Delhi NCR. The workshop focused on bringing sanitation workers from different parts of Delhi to train them for organization building and to discuss their issues of minimum wage, contractual labour, regular jobs and social security.