The Dark Hour: India Under Lockdowns
Aamir Peerzada, Anoo Bhuyan, Kalpish Ratna, M.G. Radhakrishnan, Namita Bhandare, Omkar Goswami, Pooja Dhingra, Saba Naqvi, Soutik Biswas
At a mere four hours’ notice, at 8.00 p.m., on March 24th 2020, the Indian Prime Minister Modi announced a lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19 virus in order to jumpstart an already-crumbling healthcare system for one of the most devastatingpandemics soon to envelop India. People stormed out to panic-buy ration stocks; India’s migrant working classes started walking back to the villages, left hungry and desolate without homes, work and wages - a scene not very short of an apocalypse.
Over two summers, India woke up to similar headlines: a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen, medicines; a languishing economy; cases rising and falling; governments greenlighting Hindu religious, superspreader that compounded the second wave; misled unlocking schools, business and the social sphere, and reversed lockdowns when cases went up; underreporting of cases and deaths; lakhs dead to the virus and crores of people infected, and still counting. While the pandemic continues to rage on, notwithstanding its ebbs and flows, its real impact on society may start to be visible only much later.
Over a year of tracking how the novel Coronavirus ravaged India’s society, economy, politics and culture, nine of finest India’s writers try and make sense of this difficult reality. The Dark Hour is a publisher’s anthology of specially commissioned long-form essays that unpack two dreadful summers of the Covid-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc on the many Indias within India.
Born and brought up in Kashmir, Aamir Peerzada is a BBC Journalist based in Srinagar. He has previously worked with NDTV as a reporter and producer, where he went on to produce several award-winning documentary films.
Anoo Bhuyan is a multi-media journalist from Bengaluru, living in New Delhi. She closely covered the COVID19 pandemic in India. She has worked at The Wire; Outlook Magazine; IndiaSpend, The BBC and NPR, and comments on public policy at a number of Indian and foreign publications.
Surgeons Kalpana Swaminathan and Ishrat Syed write together as Kalpish Ratna. Their book A Crown of Thorns—The Coronavirus & Us was published in August 2020. Their forthcoming book is titled A Pandemonium in Pakshila.
MG Radhakrishnan has four decades of experience in journalism. He is currently the Editor of Asianet News channel, based in Thiruvananthapuram. He has earlier worked with India Today and Mathrubhumi and has authored four books.
Namita Bhandare is a journalist with close to 30 years of experience with publications such as India Today, Sunday and Hindustan Times. In 2013, she was appointed India’s first gender editor for Mint. She is on the editorial board of the news website, Article-14. She writes almost exclusively on gender issues, including a regular column for the Hindustan Times. She lives in New Delhi.