Responding to Covid-19 in India: Reducing Risk or Increasing Domination?

In Jens O. Zinn & Patrick Brown (eds.), Covid-19 and the Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty. pp. 29-52 (2022)
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During times of emergency like the pandemic itself, governments are often seen as exercising “exceptional power”. Given the state of growing urgency in responding to the pandemic, there is a worry that governments may resort to exercising their exceptional power arbitrarily—either willingly, unintentionally or perhaps even negligently. When power is exercised by states or even by non-state actors arbitrarily over a person or group, that is, at their own will in the absence of appropriate institutional checks and balances, republican theorists argue that we are confronted with a threat to our freedom as non- domination. In this chapter, I explore whether, and in what ways, worries about domination could surface in the context of government’s enforcement of risk- containment measures in response to the pandemic. While imposition of these measures is deemed necessary and important for reducing risks in response to the pandemic, their imposition is prima facie problematic if it constitutes or entails wrongful exercise of arbitrary power, thereby risking domination of citizens. I motivate this claim by examining India’s initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly focussing on the public health emergency legislature (or lack thereof) authorising the implementation of emergency risk-containment measures.



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Kritika Maheshwari
Delft University of Technology

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Republicanism: a theory of freedom and government.Philip Pettit (ed.) - 1997 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government.Philip Pettit - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (196):415-419.
The Quality of Freedom.Matthew H. Kramer - 2008 - Oxford University Press.

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