With respect to COVID-19
1. As a means of social distancing and lockdown, those who are in precarious forms of employment are worst hit
2. People in the lower socio-economic segment might be hit more as their access to testing and health-care and interim treatment might be compromised. Given that public health infrastructure in India is already a disaster, the onset of an actual disaster might only exacerbate, with increasing number or patients and limited facilities, thus triage would mean prioritizing some patients over others.
It depends on what kind of a disaster it is.
On one level, if one takes the example of Bhopal Gas leak? The obvious answer is the gas leak is the disaster itself, but the beginning of the disaster can perhaps be attributed to a lot of factors that came together and enabled that moment of disaster. The government policies that enabled the establishment of the factory knowing the kind of substances that are to be produced, the complete faith in the techo-scientific aspect of the establishment of the factory as a step towards development, the capitalist mechanisms that failed to ensure safety regulations by cutting corners, the proximity of the factory location to the residential areas, etc These in some way anticipate the disaster and therefore the beginning of the disaster could be traced before the actual event. The disaster and often times the way it is managed bring upon a continuing series of disasters, as the systems get overstretched and the susceptibilities get overexposed. Often time the lack of will to build inclusive infrastructures that ascertain and guarantee basics to everyone are writ off as being too expensive and have to be traded in for options and solutions that favour a few.
Therefore, does the disaster end is an interesting question. More than 30 years after the tragedy the victims of Bhopal Gas leak continue to feel betrayed by the series of events that transpired, decisions that were taken on their behalf without their consent. For some, invariably, the disaster is ongoing in terms of its impacts on their everyday lives.
In the context of disaster, most often, given that affected populations are vulnerable along many axes (depending on the kind of the disaster), the role of the state is manifold. It is not just to respond to the emergency; ideally, there ought to be a larger onus to safeguard the affected populations against obviously known vulnerabilities that populations might be exposed to. To ascertain care along multiple axes that worry and stress individuals in most precarious situations.
In case of COVID-19, knowing that the lockdown ( an essential measure to reduce social contact)would initiate a surge in travel (migrant population within the country returning to their native places) was anticipated. It should have been managed by making essential arrangements.
Given the immediacy/ urgency factor in situations of disasters, the state's role ought not just to respond to circumstances at one single level, but in some ways, it needs to be equipped at least to anticipate the most obvious consequences of the measures that are put in place and to be cognizant of the existing systemic issues that might especially flare-up in unprecedented circumstances.
From the readings, it seems evident that there are two levels to the production of disaster.
One is the actual onset that causes an emergency situation and the second level is the production of diaster as management strategies are implemented which tend to leave out certain segments of the society.
In that sense, along with the political, technoscientific, economic institutions, it is also processes like bureaucracy and globalization that produce the disaster at both levels.