Volume 4
Commentary-Special Issue(Deepening of Disciplinary Content: Public Health in Post-Covid India)

A Complex Systems Account of the Covid-19 Pandemic: Illustrations from India

Sayan Das
Research Scholar, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Published 2023-09-02


  • Sars-cov-2, Complex Adaptive Systems, Covid-19 Treatment, Migrant Crisis, Complexity And Health, Steroids

How to Cite

Das, S. (2023). A Complex Systems Account of the Covid-19 Pandemic: Illustrations from India. DIALOGUE: Science, Scientists and Society, 4(.), 1–13. Retrieved from https://dialogue.ias.ac.in/index.php/dialogue/article/view/22


The COVID-19 pandemic in India and the rest of the world was followed by tremendous health and social consequences. Worldwide the pandemic created challenges that were unpredictable and elusive to our existing ways of thinking. The paper posits that a complex systems thinking is needed to make sense of the society-wide ramifications of a ‘wicked’ problem like the pandemic and devise appropriate resolutions. A complex systems thinking conceptualizes our society as emergent from irreducible interdependencies across individuals, communities and systems, and the pandemic as a complex systems problem that has consequences both immediate and future. The paper uses the complexity lens to explore the unanticipated repercussions of the pandemic control measures that further accentuated pandemic induced socio-economic disruptions, and secondly, the domain of COVID-19 treatment in India, as examples, to demonstrate that while devising a response to complex phenomena like the pandemic more needs to be accounted for than what meets the eye. It thus calls for a more caring science that understands and respects our shared existence and wellbeing and makes use of diverse, democratic and decentralised processes to forge shared pathways for navigating our complex world.


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