Early take-off: On resumption of air travel

Even after long negotiations with States, and with a truncated schedule, the Centre has found it difficult to relaunch domestic flights. Several were cancelled on the first day services were resumed after being frozen on March 25. Some Chief Ministers, notably Uddhav Thackeray in Maharashtra and Edappadi Palaniswami in Tamil Nadu expressed apprehension about a premature resumption of civil aviation, as the spread of COVID-19 is unrelenting, and quarantine monitoring has its limits. The experience of flight cancellations, passenger frustration and low capacity among States to track thousands of passengers should prompt a rethink on scheduled flights. Access to emergency air travel in a large country is a legitimate expectation, and a targeted programme run efficiently can meet that need, without induced demand produced by commercial flights. Going back to the drawing board to draft a plan for emergency travel, using documentation and aggregation of such passengers may be the short-term

Batting for free speech: On filing of defamation cases against press

A feature of public life in Tamil Nadu in the last three decades has been the indiscriminate institution of criminal defamation proceedings against Opposition leaders and the media. It is no surprise, then, that the most comprehensive judgment on the limits of the State’s power to prosecute members of the press for defamation should come from the Madras High Court. The verdict of Justice Abdul Quddhose, quashing a series of defamation complaints filed since 2011-12, is remarkable for applying a set of principles that would firmly deter the hasty and ill-advised resort to State-funded prosecution on behalf of public servants. The first principle is that the State should not impulsively invoke provisions in the CrPC to get its public prosecutor to file defamation complaints in response to every report that contains criticism. The court deems such impulsive actions as amounting to throttling democracy. It advises the government to have a higher threshold for invoking defamation

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Radha Kumar
“Indian farmers will get the much-needed freedoms, flexibility and financial strength to propel India’s economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 period.” A farmer in Daranggiri village, west of Guwahati, Assam on April 20, 2020. AP

A well-balanced stimulus package


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Illustration: J.A. Premkumar
Open Page

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Open Page

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Open Page

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