Preparing for exit: On lifting the lockdown

As the world watches, India must plan its strategy for a calibrated exit, possibly in a week, from the most aggressive lockdown anywhere to contain the novel coronavirus. The government faces the challenge of normalising some level of daily life and oiling the wheels of the economy, without causing a surge in cases that could follow wrong steps. It is wholly welcome that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought the views of the States on the way forward beyond the 21-day lockdown, and mandated his Ministers to come up with a set of priority actions under a business continuity plan. The strategy will have to take into account the exodus of migrant labour from cities to their home towns or to camps set up along inter-State corridors. Given that this is harvest season, cessation of activity due to labour issues can trigger food deficits and high prices. On the medical front, States are monitoring those under isolation or in quarantine and straining to trace the contacts of those who

Sanctions and pandemic: On America’s Iran policy

America’s refusal to ease sanctions on Iran even when the West Asian country is struggling hard to contain the novel coronavirus spread with limited resources shows its total disregard for the humanitarian situation in the Islamic Republic. Iran, the hardest hit by the pandemic in West Asia, has already seen 3,739 deaths and 62,589 infections. To be sure, Iran failed on multiple fronts in the battle. The government was initially reluctant to enforce drastic restrictions on businesses, religious establishments and people. As infections began spreading at an exponential pace, it was more than what Iran’s health-care system could handle. And during the crisis, the cash-strapped, isolated regime struggled to meet people’s needs. But what accentuated these failures are the American sanctions. Last year, the sanctions, reimposed by President Trump after he unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, shrank the country’s economy by 8.7%. The fall in oil prices and the

Mind the gap: on India's focus what needs to be done

For millennia, people travelled for reasons of religion and trade, and in recent decades increasingly for pleasure too. The germs that these travellers carried globalised many contagions. In the history of humankind, no pestilence has spread as fast and as far as the novel coronavirus, for the singular reason that China, its source, is at the centre of world trade and economy. China is the biggest trading partner for at least 120 countries and regions, much of Europe and the U.S. included. Until recently, it was India’s too. At least 430,000 people travelled from China to the U.S. after the outbreak of the disease. The whirlwind of global travel, goaded by an intense human hunger for new economic opportunities and pleasure, has taken the virus to at least 180 countries on last count. In the year ending March 2019, 6.9 crore international passengers arrived in India. Such context has been obfuscated deliberately by sections trying to reinforce social prejudices, justify xenophobia and


Do no harm: on safety of health care workers

‘Primum non nocere’ is the primary, guiding principle of bioethics. Every health-care worker is oriented on the principle of ‘First, do no harm’ during their training. All medical training is based on this idea, but very little in what they learn prepares them for the reverse: When harm is inflicted upon them. Over the past week, chilling stories of assaults on health-care workers, on COVID-19 duty, have been reported. Visuals beamed in of angry locals who threw stones at doctors, health-care workers and civic officials who went to screen people in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Two women doctors were injured. Earlier, there were reports of locals in Ranipura allegedly spitting at officials as they took up screening. Last week, doctors at Hyderabad’s Gandhi Hospital were attacked after a patient with multiple co-morbidities died of COVID-19. Doctors there even sought police protection. ASHA workers were reportedly attacked in Bengaluru, Karnataka, when they went to collect data on COVID-19


Enemy at the gates: On Kerala-Karnataka border row

Kerala’s grievance over Karnataka sealing its border to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has brought under focus the extent and the possible limits, of restrictions that may be imposed by the government to deal with a public health emergency. After the Kerala High Court directed the Centre to ensure free vehicular movement for those requiring urgent medical treatment on the national highway that connects Kasaragod in Kerala to Mangaluru in Karnataka, the Supreme Court has directed the Centre to confer with the States and formulate the norms for creating a passage at Talapadi, the border. An amicable solution is possibly round the corner, as there are reports of Kasaragod district suffering due to the highway closure. Many here depend on medical facilities in Mangaluru for emergencies, while others rely on inter-State movement for essential medicines to reach them. These include those battling endosulfan poisoning for many years. Karnataka’s objection is based on the fact that Kasaragod

Mockery of justice: On Daniel Pearl murder case acquittals

Light and sound: On Modi’s 9-minute light ceremony

A million and counting: On global coronavirus spread

Uncritical endorsement: On migrant workers and the Supreme Court

Beyond the blame game: On the Tablighi Jamaat episode

Step up: On citizens’ responsibility during a pandemic

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