Professor Shreya Kangovi of Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania once told “Covid is funhouse mirror that is amplifying issues that existed forever. People are not dying of Covid. They are dying of racism, of economic inequality and it is not going to stop with Covid.”
This is exactly the focus of the 200-page book Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19 edited by Dr. Rumia Begum and published by Pubanchal Prakash. In this book containing 14 scholarly articles by noted researchers and academicians from all over the country, the focus is on Covid and on issues surpassing it and the book may be regarded as a milestone in the non-fiction genre of Pandemic literature so adroitly edited by Dr. Begum.
This book which can be called a book for the policymakers reassesses the situation when a post-Covid era has become the new normal with an unbounded increase in the number of infected persons. This has impacted the global economy with large countries projecting poor GDP growth rates and even India has shown a massive contraction of 25%.
The researchers in the book have honestly tried to highlight the challenges and opportunities that arise during and post-Covid 19 period for the Indian economy. The great job that Purbanchal Prakash has done is that it published a book which is now very crucial to have an in-depth assessment of the pandemic to adopt timely and effective measures to prevent the worst and the long-lasting impact of the Pandemic.
Dr. Begum in the preface brilliantly explains the content of the book. The call for Atmanirbhar Bharat vocal for local can be seen as an inward-looking development strategy during and the post lockdown period to regain the growth across the various sectors of the economy.
In the case of Northeast India as emphasized by Nick Low British High Commissionerate for East and North East India has a huge potential to develop its soft commodities. Dr. H.K Nath, Professor of Economics at Sam Houston State University also stressed developing agriculture and allied activities to promote food security, health, lifestyle and environmental quality.
Parvin Sultana in her paper Covid -19 Crisis in India and Varied State Responses: A Study of Assam and Kerala stressed the need for inter-state coordination to ensure that better communication and information sharing can work towards addressing the gap between different states.
This is the need of the hour and the suggestion is so practical in combating the menace of the third wave when India is reeling under the second wave. Dr. Mridula Devi highlighted the impact of Covid -19 on the Handloom sector of the state. The huge loss and the consequent situation come under the scanner but the article is not negative in its focus. She has given some positive suggestions for overcoming the bleak scenario by online promotion of the silk products by some NGOs, supply of raw materials, making of the mask from Assamese gamosa.
Dr. Niranjan Das in his paper highlights the promises of small-scale tourism entrepreneurship to revive the depreciated economy after Covid-19. The author enunciated that for a vibrant tourism sector strong leadership with outstanding customer-pleasing attributes, hygiene norms, promptness in hospitality services, unique and updated infrastructural layouts.
There are pragmatic suggestions for reducing the anxiety regarding health problems in connection to the hygienic conditions of the tourist hotspots especially the hotels, resorts and restaurants. Dr. Navaneeta Bhuyan has looked into the impact of lockdown on migrant labourers in India during the Covid-19 pandemic. What is more important is that the writer tries to analyze the adequacy of the governmental policies for targeting at rehabilitation of the migrant laborers.
In the paper The Corona Apocalypse: Literary Response the writer included fiction and movies which record imaginatively the futuristic as well as present Covid situation that unsettles all habits and rituals of mankind for the first time in human history. It also highlights the disruptive effects of this pandemic which will be so great that we might be prepared to embrace more ecologically conscious lifestyles and radically new ways of running our affairs while addressing vested interests and greed.
Dr. K.M. Baharul Islam, Dean, IIM Kashipur rightly said, “Before we try to resolve an issue, we should dissect the problem, identify and prioritize them to plan and implement any solution. Dr. Rumia’s volume helps us doing the same around the Covid-19 outbreak and I am sure readers will find it is a tool to resolve the socio-economic challenges posed by the pandemic.”
Ankita Dutta explained the importance of Bharat’s indigenous philosophy ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which India should follow in building relationships with countries across the world at the hour of this global crisis. Covid-19 had created lots of problems for the students. This is highlighted in the paper of Mrinal Saikia and Prakash Das. Even folk culture is not out ambit and Suvendu Saha along with Biswajit Goswami focused on this in their joint paper. This paper prioritized the problems faced by folk culture contextualizing it in the Salkocha area delving deep into the different types of folk culture by different ethnic groups namely Sonarari dance, Holir Gan, Marai Puja, Katikai Puja, Bagrumba dance which is affected by the lockdown.
Dr. Rumia deserves praise for the promptness in narrativizing Covid -19 in such a valued discourse and Purbanchal Prakash came forward so promptly to publish the book overcoming the obstacles in the lockdown. Researchers and academicians all over the country will be benefited from this non-fiction work on Covid-19 literature and the book will be a memorable milestone in Pandemic Literature in the future like other fictional literature in recording the Covid trauma broadening the horizon from literary to the socio-economic frontiers.
DR RATAN BHATTACHARJEE
Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee is an academician and columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]