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When Governments Fail

A Pandemic and Its Aftermath

Edited by Vikas Rawal , Jayati Ghosh , C.P. Chandrasekhar

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When Governments Fail

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 an economist and former Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is a regular columnist for Frontline, Business Line and Economic and Political Weekly.


Jayati Ghosh

Jayati Ghosh taught economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi for nearly thirty-five years and is now Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA. She has been Executive Secretary, International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs) and serves on a number of international commissions.


Vikas Rawal

Vikas Rawal is Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The main focus of his research is on agrarian issues, food security and employment. He has conducted field-based research in many states of India, and also worked on global issues related to agriculture and food. His recent book (co-edited with Dorian K. Navarro), The Global Economy of Pulses, was published in 2019 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.