A Handful of Stories

Reportage on health, science and politics. And some meditations on film

Science and Health

The Silence of the Archives: Why the Grave Diggers of the Bubonic Plague are Unremembered


The Mahars of Bombay Presidency, who buried the human and animal dead, were essential to the colonial state as frontline health workers. They worked in filthy burial grounds where jackals often dug up the dead
A guest post from Sohini Chattopadhyay, PhD candidate, History Department, Columbia University

Do Mortuary Workers Come Last in the Covid19 fight?

The invisible indispensable cadre of workers who handle the dead in government hospitals received PPE kits only in the sixth week of the Covid19 lockdown in Bengal. This is probably the case in other cities. The viral videos of dead bodies in hospital wards may point to this At the largest government hospital in Kolkata, mortuary assistants started being given…

Locked Out of Mental Healthcare and Drugs

There are those whose mental health conditions cannot be managed by deep breathing and physical exercise and whatsapp conversations with doctors. Patients in government hospitals, for instance. The lockdown violates their care In the first week of the lockdown imposed by PM Modi, arguably the harshest in the world, a chance memory of a policeman who had briefly consulted him…

‘I can’t take it anymore’: Sights and awful sounds from the labour room of an Indian public hospital

A reporter goes undercover to see how women are treated in a large government facility in Kolkata By SOHINI CHATTOPADHYAY | 31 May 2015 Munmun Mukherjee is a good patient. She lies quiet on the white stone delivery table of the government hospital in Kolkata but for an occasional low moan. Even this is muted, the edge of her voice flattened, as…