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With the pandemic driven lock down in March 2020, India plunged into its biggest humanitarian crisis since Partition. In his book Locking down the Poor, author Harsh Mander shows us how grave this crisis was and continues to be, and why it is the direct consequence of public policy choices that the Indian government made.
The Indian state abandoned its poor and marginalized, even as it destroyed their livelihoods and pushed them to the brink of starvation.
Mander brings us voices of out-of-work daily-wage and informal workers, the homeless and the destitute, all overwhelmed by hunger and dread. From the highways and overcrowded quarantine centres, he brings us stories of migrant workers who walked hundreds of kilometres to their villages or were prevented from doing so and detained. Combining ground reports with data, Mander argues with clarity and passion that India is in the middle of a humanitarian catastrophe.
In collaboration with Bangalore Literature Festival.
Harsh Mander, human rights and peace worker, writer, columnist, researcher and teacher, works with survivors of mass violence, hunger, homeless persons and street children. He organizes Karwan e Mohabbat for solidarity with families affected by hate violence. He convenes and edits the India Exclusion Report. His books include ‘Partitions of the Heart: Unmaking the Idea of India’; ‘Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India’; ‘Between Memory and Forgetting: Massacre and the Modi Years in Gujarat’; ‘Fatal Accidents of Birth: Stories of Suffering, Oppression and Resistance’. ‘Ash in the Belly: India’s Unfinished Battle against Hunger’; ‘Unheard Voices: Stories of Forgotten Lives’.
His newest book is ‘Locking Down the Poor’ (Speaking Tiger) about the trauma of the lockdown for India’s labouring poor.
Pamela Philipose, who is presently the Public Editor of the news portal, The Wire.in, was earlier editor-in-chief of Women’s Feature Service (WFS) and senior associate editor of The Indian Express. Her book, Media’s Shifting Terrain, was recently published by Orient BlackSwan and she has also contributed to several anthologies. A recipient of prestigious awards for her journalism, she served as advisor to the Media Task Force of the Government of India’s High Level Status of Women Committee Report. In 2014, she was awarded a senior fellowship by the Indian Council of Social Science Research to study the impact of mediatisation on contemporary India.
Aakar Patel is a columnist and BIC member.
Natasha Badhwar is a writer and film-maker.