Chapter Twenty: Revisit Covid-19 Pandemic and its large impact

This week’s TypeRight will take you through some of the crucial issues that India has been grappling with for two years now and, also, how we at Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) have been closely keeping an eye on such issues, translating them into research reports and papers. 

 COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the existing inequalities of the society in the form of scarcity of food, broken health infrastructure, gender divide and so on. And, this was further confirmed when we at DEF along with US India Policy Institute conducted a social survey across the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Telangana. The findings revealed that 24% people are facing food shortage; 25% people are facing shortage of masks; the coverage of hospitals in rural areas is poor and limited; lacking awareness of the disease itself; extensive usage of ICT tools in disseminating COVID-19 related health information. 

Read the full report here: https://www.defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-19-Survey-Finds-Shortages-In-Rural-Areas.pdf

Moreover, DEF also analysed the impact of COVID-19 in India and the issues being faced by informal workers and migrants during the lockdown in various states. The reports concluded on how the informal sector workers have been hit hardest by COVID-19, weakening them financially followed by food insecurity, loss of livelihood, lack of medical facilities and lacking access to ICT tools. Do check out entire reports here.

https://www.defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Survey-Report_Negative-impact-of-lockdown1.pdf        

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https://www.defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Shramik-Sampark-Setu_final-2.pdf

 The surprise country-wide lockdown and the subsequent mass exodus of migrants from urban centers to rural areas, which came to be known as ‘Reverse migration crisis’, has also been documented and analysed to put in perspective of how it left millions of people rendered. Read to get an in-depth understanding of this entire phenomenon here. https://www.defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Migrant-report.pdf 

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the inadequacy of the state in providing essential relief services, here is an article discussing why migrants were not able to avail emergency food ration. Major points that the article highlights: Daily wage workers were exhausted doing rounds of government offices in getting their social security benefits; lack of available rations coupled with economic vulnerability increases overall insecurity of people living at the margins; unavailability of rations leads to malnutrition and starvation mainly because of constrained access to ration cards.

Read the article here: https://www.defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/PDS.pdf

The handloom sector was also badly affected by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. In Chanderi, almost every loom was forced to shut down, leading to huge unemployment coupled with the fear of starvation. Neither 65% of the weavers were aware about the social welfare schemes nor, the benefits of the health and life insurance schemes reached maximum numbers among the weaving community. To get an in-depth understanding of the situation of the weaving community, head to https://www.defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/WeaversStory.pdf 

Students have been the worst affected lot by the COVID-19 induced pandemic and its subsequent lockdown. There have been reports, studies and fatal incidents speaking volumes about the digital divide, which only increased due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The cases have ranged from school going students…

…to college going ones.

The current situation of the education is in shambles and is gasping for breath.

However, another kind of pandemic that gripped India as it tackled with the COVID-19 pandemic was of fake news, rumours and misinformation that intersected with various other aspects of Indian society especially like Islamophobia. DEF documented and succinctly analysed such COVID-19 related misinformation both in the first and second wave. 

Access two of these reports here:

https://www.defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Chronology-of-Misinformation-report.pdf

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https://www.defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Fakenews-of-covid-19-Report-2021_7-June-2021.pdf

While you are at it, you might like to have a look at our ethnographic study that explores the linkages between hate speech and offline violence in India. It aims at providing policy interventions for content moderation as flows on Facebook like, Developing and deploying responsive content moderation trainings, particularly in sensitive context; increasing decisional transparency; Increasing procedural transparency and Notification for content labeled to be fake.

Read it here: https://www.defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Facebook-Report-2021_25-Jan-2021.pdf

Below is one such news that gives a fresh proof of increasing spread of fake news and misinformation in India.

However, when developments in the vaccination started to escalate, with the hope that the pandemic would gradually recede, the government launched the vaccination programme in three phases via an online mechanism. As crucial as an inoculation drive, a public health intervention when being launched through a centralised vaccine management system (CoWin) called in for a close analysis of the same. Read the report below that documents the ramifications of CoWin platform juxtaposing it with community needs and their understanding of health, highlighting the importance of a decentralised approach and public health communication in the vaccination drive.

https://www.defindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Draft-3_COWIN-An-Exclusionary-Vaccination-Process-By-Design_7-July-2021.pdf

Presently, DEF is extensively working on ground in capacity building of women towards becoming digital entrepreneurs through Digital Sarthak Programme. Two such stories are of Puja Devi from Siladon, Jharkhand and Nirmala Chandel from Guna, Madhya Pradesh. 

Read their journey here: 

Adding to this, DEF’s centre coordinators have been conducting awareness campaigns around COVID-19 appropriate behaviour (CAB) by visiting the communities door-to-door. Catch its glimpse here:

Follow DEF on Twitter to stay updated about our latest research reports, events, panel discussions and more!

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TypeRight - The Digital Nukkad, is a weekly conversational bulletin curated through the news and discussions on social media as well as what's happening on the ground. Through the eyes and ears of Digital Empowerment Foundation across rural India and global south, TypeRight aspires to focus on bringing the contextual relevance of digital technologies and developments on the society - both connected and unconnected.