As the COVID-19 pandemic deepens across South Asia, it has exposed challenges relating to public trust in pandemic preparedness, containment, and questioned the power and limits of expert knowledge. How has the political and public health leadership in India projected pandemic related interventions, and what are the fluid borders between public health facts, lived experiences, and media propaganda? The pandemic crisis also has significant antecedents over the past decades. The COVID-19 pandemic follows decades of neoliberal policies and health systems reforms in India and across the world, which have had severe implications for affordable access to health services and enlarged the private health sector. How has this shaped access to care and the ethics of accountability during a crisis? How do pandemic politics distract and deploy 'history' and deepen 'other' forms of social stigma and virulent marginalization, and how has the media been critical in these debates? What futures can we see in a post-pandemic world, to rebuild and overcome some of these fractures?
Rama V. Baru, Professor in the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health at Jawaharlal Nehru University