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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 15 New Delhi March 28, 2020

LETTER TO THE READERS - COVID 19 Lockdown Edition No.1

Saturday 28 March 2020

This issue of Mainstream (Vol. LVIII No.15) dated March 28, 2020 is being brought out online only as there is no possibility of printing the issue on account of the lockdown across the country due the deadly Corona Virus that has affected India and the world at large in a big way of late.

A week ago, it was written in these columns on March 20, 2020: "The increase in the number of Corona Virus cases has caused quite an alarm. The possibility of an actual spurt in such cases has of late grown phenomenally as a consequence. Thus there is a view that a total lockdown for a few days was essential. However, the PM refused to pay heed to that suggestion. The outcome of this could be disastrous in a brief span of time, observers feel."

Now that the PM has given the green signal for a lockdown in his last address to the nation on March 24, this must be unambiguously welcomed even if the decision is being considered in some quarters as a delayed measure to contain the situation that could be potentially perilous in the long run.

What we have eventually decided - to bring out the journal online - should not be considered as a decision by our publication alone. Other publications could be taking a similar position given the enormity of the crisis we are facing, indeed somewhat unprecedented in our context. We sincerely hope our readers would be able to understand our plight and bear with us in the circumstances.

While making this announcement, we cannot possibly be blind to the problems faced by our citizens, especially those in the lower rungs of society. Millions of our countrymen are staring at the prospect of joblessness as a result of whatever has happened. Thus countless migrant workers from different parts of our vast landmass are trudging back home walking huge distances with the Centre and state governments doing precious little by way of providing them transportation or distributing food and meals among them to mitigate their misery on the way. Besides the manifold problems before our toiling multitudes this specific problem is of phenomenal proportion and must be effectively addressed at the earliest. That is the least we can desire at this stage.

In this context, it must also be pointed out that the lockdown in the whole country should have been decided by the Central Government after consulting all the state governments and every political party. The time for the lockdown should have been fixed after such an all party consultation. That this was not done was a blow to the federalism that guides this country’s course of development, something which is clearly underlined in our Constitution that defines our path ahead. The Centre would, we hope, rectify this mistake in the days ahead.

27 March The Editor

Notice: The print edition of Mainstream Weekly is now discontinued & only an online edition is appearing. No subscriptions are being accepted