Vol. XLIV No. 14 April 05, 2020

One Week of the Lockdown

THE country has experienced one week of the lockdown and a few things can be noted. The first is that citizens of India have been responsible, by and large, following government instructions. In spite of great hardship caused by the sudden announcement of lockdown, people have united to play their role in taking the required steps to...

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The Politics of Pandemics

EVERY global pandemic must be seen in its political, social and economic context. The Covid-19 pandemic is occurring at a time when neoliberal capitalism has ravaged all the basic services which are vital for the well-being of people. Privatisation has denuded or dismantled the public health system in many countries; the State has abandoned the responsibility of providing for the basic needs of the people – food, housing, education and public transport. In any crisis faced by society...

The Making of a Tragedy

THE tragic irony could not have been more complete. The country is under lockdown, but thousands of migrant workers are thronging bus stands or marching on the roads, making a mockery of it; the aim of the lockdown is to prevent the spread of the pandemic, but the mass exodus can now carry the virus to the hitherto-unaffected rural India where the healthcare system is pathetic; the idea is to prevent a virus-caused human tragedy, but an immense human tragedy is now unfolding.

India’s Testing Strategy Has to Change

AS I write this column (April 2), Covid-19 is crossing a million infected cases in the world and nearly 50,000 dead. In India, the total infected cases are more than 2,000, with 51 deaths. It is clear that all countries are affected. It is a matter of time before a set of clusters or hot spots form and Covid-19 takes off in the country. Once it takes off, we are in exponential growth with a doubling rate that very soon makes the numbers look...

Self-Reliance in the Time of Covid-19

IT is now more than a week since the hastily announced and ill-prepared nationwide lockdown was imposed by the central government. WHO has long argued that lockdowns are not essential measures but, even if enforced, should be accompanied by other key measures such as contact tracing, surveillance, extensive testing, quarantining of suspected cases and hospitalisation when needed, and taking action for adequate preparedness of the health care system for the...

Stop Communalising India’s War against Covid-19

IT is a matter of serious concern that a large number of those who attended the meetings of the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi and who dispersed to different parts of the country have been found infected with the coronavirus. It was irresponsible on the part of the Jamaat leadership to have organised the meeting in mid-March when restrictions were already in place about size of gatherings. It is also inexplicable how the...

A Joint Open Letter from World Political Parties

TODAY, as Covid-19 is spreading rapidly across the globe, it constitutes the most urgent and serious challenge to both the health of the humanity and world peace and development. Faced with this unprecedented situation, we, major political parties of various countries tasked with the weighty responsibility of improving people’s wellbeing, promoting national development and safeguarding world peace and stability, hereby issue our joint...

DELHI: Continuing Relief Effort Despite Lockdown

THE CPI(M) Delhi along with CITU, JMS and DYFI is reaching out to workers and families affected by the abrupt lockdown. This includes the area of north east Delhi which had suffered due to communal violence. Volunteers are conducting relief work by strictly following the regime set by the government with curfew passes. The distribution of rations to most of those displaced families whose houses were majorly damaged and were living in...

Bypassing PMNRF & Setting Up a New Fund Unnecessary

THE Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) considers the setting up of a separate fund to meet the Covid-19 pandemic called the “PM Cares” as unnecessary. The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) has been in existence since 1948. This fund has reportedly an unspent balance of Rs 3,800 crores. The accounts of the fund are transparent; audited by the CAG; and auto-generated receipts are given to the donors. Given this, many questions...

Communists and the National Question

HINDU and Muslim communalists considered India to consist of two nations – divided on the basis of the religious beliefs of people – Hindus and Muslims. It is for this reason that both Savarkar and Jinnah did not find any problem with the two-nation theory advocated by each other. When the Congress had given the call, ‘Quit India’ in 1942, Muslim League had called, ‘Divide India and Quit’. On the other hand, Hindu Mahasabha and RSS were campaigning that India...

Prof. Arjun Dev (1938–2020)

PROF. Arjun Dev, eminent historian and educationist, passed away on March 29, at the age of 82. His academic career spanning several decades at the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), was marked by a deep commitment to zealously promoting secular, democratic and progressive values. Prof. Arjun Dev played a key role in initiatives to produce textbooks that enshrined these values. Not surprisingly these textbooks were targeted by rightwing and...