When Government Fail

A Pandemic and Its Aftermath

Vikas Rawal, Jayati Ghosh, C.P. Chandrasekhar

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The Covid-19 pandemic has generated human suffering and economic devastation across the world – but these reflect not just the impact of the disease but the policy failures of governments. The pandemic has highlighted and accentuated the extent of inequalities between and within countries. These have been reflected in the differential ability of different countries to deal with the disease and limit the contagion, as well as the impact on economies of both the disease and containment measures like lockdowns. Some countries have been remarkably successful in managing the disease; others have shown rapid spread despite severe lockdown strategies; economic policies in response to the health crisis have also varied greatly, and had very different outcomes in different parts of the world. How do we interpret these differing trajectories of the disease, policy responses and economic outcomes? What does this tell us about the current stage of global capitalism and the evolution of particular economies?

This volume brings together articles that came out of an online lecture series jointly organized by the Society for Social and Economic Research (SSER) and International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs) over a period of about one month in April–May 2020, when the pandemic was still in its first rising wave. The subsequent trajectory of the disease and the continued persistence of infection and vulnerability have made them all the more relevant. The chapters in this book go well beyond analysing the observed patterns and assessing the official responses, to proposing necessary and viable policy alternatives. If the world is truly to transcend this pandemic and its economic fallout, and be in a position to confront other current and future challenges, the arguments made in this volume are likely to become even more important.

C.P. Chandrasekhar

C.P. Chandrasekhar is a professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has published widely in academic journals, and is the co-author of several books, including The Market that Failed: Neo-Liberal Economic Reforms in India and Demonetisation Decoded: A Critique of India’s Currency Experiment. He is a regular columnist for Frontline and Business Line.

Jayati Ghosh

Jayati Ghosh is Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has authored and co-edited several books and more than 120 scholarly articles. She is Executive Secretary of International Development Economics Associates (IDEAS - www.networkideas.org) and Trustee of Economic Research Foundation (www.macroscan.org).

Vikas Rawal

Vikas Rawal is Professor, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.