India's frontline health response to COVID-19: Language and culture in pandemics

Krishnan, Sneha, Menon, Rohini and Purwar, Deepshikha (2022) India's frontline health response to COVID-19: Language and culture in pandemics. In: Translating Crises. Bloomsbury, Dunblin, pp. 297-314. ISBN 9781350240100

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Infectious diseases are complex entities, and moving beyond the disease (medical approach) to people and communities affected (a societal view) is an important endeavour. Whilst science has provided us with facts or informed hypotheses on which to base public health interventions about the virus; there is potentially a need for much more nuanced holistic approaches surrounding how infections may be prevented and managed, and how stigma can be avoided in future. Life during a pandemic or other disasters can be trying and testing times, but it is particularly terrifying for those whose primary language for communication is not English. For such people, translation and interpretation provide a critical tool to interact and transform each other. The pandemic demonstrated examples where language was used as a political tool to make decisions at the subnational and supranational level, but also afforded an opportunity to critically unpack the role played by translation and interpretation. Those who collectively held power were able to not only “decide” what information is to be conveyed but also who is to be informed and by when. Appropriate and timely information about COVID-19 and related initiatives should be accessible to all. It was widely recommended and expected of national governments that translation was a shared responsibility, coordinated centrally by thegovernment, for example, and not left to regional or local governments or non-governmental organisations. In this chapter, we will outline the existing evidence on the role of language in disaster studies describing the cultural perspectives on translation, and will then focus on the diverse setting of India with its plurality of languages and communication methods. Sharing the finding of a qualitative study conducted in 2020, this chapter offers a unique overview of some of the vast challenges to support public health messaging in India. We are particularly interested in understanding the case of frontline female health workers (FFHWs) who engaged with digital platforms and applications to manage health systems delivery in India and how languages featured in these socio-technical interactions.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Gender | Language | Crises | Pandemic | Health | ICT
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Social Sciences (General)
JGU School/Centre: Jindal School of Environment & Sustainability
Depositing User: Amees Mohammad
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2022 08:52
Last Modified: 27 Dec 2022 04:24


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