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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 19, New Delhi, April 24, 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, April 24, 2021

Friday 23 April 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, April 24, 2021

As the explosive Covid-19 second wave strikes across India, the officials and politicians who call the shots have been caught unawares and unprepared in developing the much needed medical infrastructure to deal with a large public health crisis. But our political leaders and the bureaucracy that runs the state seem not to be bothered. They are never in the wrong and their record is spotless clean come what may.

In April 2021 as India has filled the front pages of the world media for having beaten all records in the numbers of daily cases of Covid-19; there is no room in its hospitals, there is a shortage of vaccines and a shortage of Oxygen in the hospitals. The Lockdowns, restrictions and curfews are back in its cities triggering panic among India’s vulnerable workers – the migrants. One year after the huge exodus of 2020 when millions of workers had fled India’s cities back to their villages, there is a second migrant workers exodus happening in its big cities and also in many states of India like Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. This time the departure of vulnerable migrant workers is smaller in scale so far and not comparable to the huge migration of 2020, but it still demonstrates the total lack of faith of the labouring poor in the institutions of the Indian State. Despite tall pledges by Niti Aayog in its 2021 policy regarding migrant labour the Central Government has not bothered creating any practical social protection system for migrant workers or urban poor – why bother when fancy proposals on paper and hot air can keep the show running. The governments in most states too, have shown little preparedness or plans to handle panic migration by the poor (who earn a daily wage with nowhere to go when they lose their jobs). Thanks to consultants, populist welfare schemes are announced every now and then, but the people are left to fend for themselves.

In 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic had hit the country and the Central government had done a big show with helicopters and planes showering the hospitals with flower petals and announced a special insurance scheme for all health workers to the tune of half a million Rupees (or Rs 50 lakhs) One year after, while we are bang in the middle of a second wave of Covid-19 putting all health workers at extreme risk at work, this insurance scheme has simply lapsed. Hypocrites run the show and know they can get away by just faking it with it.

Tributes:

Avik Ghosh was a founding member of the truly pioneering Centre for Development of Instructional Technology (CENDIT) based in New Delhi. He passed away on April 13, 2021.

Com SK Bakshi, Bihar Colliery Kamgar Union and CITU leader of Jharkhand, is no more

Former Nagaland Chief Secretary and Padma Shri, Achyut Madhav Gokhale passed away on April 19, 2021 in Pune.

Indu Bhai Jani a leading secular activist in Ahmedabad passed away on April 19, 2021

Maidavolu Narasimham the former governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) [India’s central Bank] in the late 1970s passed away on 20 April 2021

Shankha Ghosh, a noted Indian poet and literary critic, passed away April 21, 2021.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, the noted Islamic scholar passed away on April 22, 2021. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honour, in January 2021.

Ashish Yechury an Indian journalist associated with newslaundry.com, passed away from Covid-19 on April 22, 2021. We convey our condolences to both his parents, Indrani Mazumdar - a Socialist-Feminist activist/scholar and Sitaram Yechury - the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI-M.

Marc Ferro the much-acclaimed French historian who was a specialist in European History and of Russia and the USSR, as well as the history of cinema passed away on April 22, 2021. He was also co-director of the famous journal Annales – the journal of the Annals school of history.

Ambrish Rai, the Convener of the Right to Education Campaign based in Delhi and former full-time activist of the All India Student Federation passed away on April 23, 2021.

We pay our tributes to the above figures

April 24, 2021 – The Editor

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