Editorial: Tiny mirror
Numbers can tell a story. Consider the performance of India as well as that of Indian states on the gender parity index — a register conceived of by the Unesco — when it comes to access to Covid-19 inoculation. The good news is that the gender gap has almost disappeared in as many as 11 states of the country. This is no mean achievement. According to figures made available through CoWin, the national statistics site, between January and June this year, women had received 856 doses for every 1,000 men. This means that a certain degree of sensitization augmented by policy has helped get around embedded social and structural inequalities that were preventing Covid medicines from reaching equitably to men and women. India’s GPI score is 0.98, with Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka and West Bengal, among others, achieving the ideal ratio. But there is ground to be covered still. Maharashtra, Delhi and Goa continue to lag behind in terms of gender representativeness. This in spite of the fact that these regions have some of the higher scores on the human development index. Specialized interventions to close the chasm have not succeeded in some cases — Maharashtra being a case in point. Special drives to mobilize women for Covid vaccination have been in place in Maharashtra: yet, the gap in terms of numbers in that state is not insubstantial. While 4.78 crore shots have been administered to men, women have been given 4.06 crore jabs.
Meanwhile, the other cracks that had been opened up in the course of the pandemic globally remain. Richer economies have vaccinated a larger number of people than poorer nations. Minority constituencies — sexual, ethnic or even religious groups — may not have received the necessary dosages to be adequately safe. This only goes to show that the legacy of Covid-19 is not limited to the realms of science and medicine. The virus has been the proverbial mirror, reflecting the fault lines of inequality and discrimination that continue to haunt human civilization.