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India Today

India Today April 13, 2020

India Today is the leading news magazine and most widely read publication in India. The magazine’s leadership is unquestioned, so much so that India Today is what Indian journalism is judged by, for its integrity and ability to bring unbiased and incisive perspective to arguably the most dynamic, yet perplexing, region in the world. Breaking news and shaping opinion, it is now a household name and the flagship brand of India’s leading multidimensional media group. Additionally, the weekly brings with it a range supplements like Women, Home, Aspire, Spice and Simply which focus on style, health, education, fashion, etc. and Indian cities.

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5 Min.

Every country in the world is battling the novel corona-virus in its own way. Epidemiologists are churning out computer models of how the infection will spread and how many people will die. Scientists are struggling to understand the nature of the virus. Countries are looking at how each has fared and wondering which model to follow to minimise death and economic disruption. As the very articulate foreign affairs minister of Singapore, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, put it, “In fact, this is an acid test of every country’s quality of healthcare, the standard of governance and the social capital. And if any one of this tripod is weak, it will be exposed quite unmercifully.” Of course, India cannot be compared with Singapore, but the points he makes remain valid. India is unique…

12 Min.
how to prevent a breakdown

The decision that Narendra Modi took on March 24, 2020—to impose a total lockdown in the country—will go down as among the most important prime ministerial acts since Independence. Never before in human history have a billion-plus people been forced to confine themselves to their homes. Not even in China, where the novel coronavirus—which causes the disease called COVID-19—made its first appearance, did the leadership resort to such a drastic countrywide shutdown. In the four wars that India fought since Independence, barring night-time blackouts, people moved around freely, as did goods and services. The wheels of industry never stopped. During the Emergency of 1975-1977, fundamental rights were severely curtailed as was public assembly, but transport and all other activity continued—perhaps even more efficiently, out of fear. Modi and his team, therefore,…

14 Min.
preparing for the worst

Laxmi Meena, 37, an auxiliary midwife nurse (ANM) in Bandri village of Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan, has never tackled infectious diseases before; all her training has been in vaccinations and maternal care. She currently has 20 families, or 300 people, under her care. But ever since news of a cluster outbreak of COVID-19 at the BBM Hospital in Bhilwara 600-odd kilometres away broke out, she is spending more time with those in the high-risk category—her oldest patient being Dadi, 73. Asked if she is ready for the challenge of COVID-19, Meena’s simple response is—“I am ready to do my part when the time comes.” That time may not be far. India, the second most populated country in the world, had officially reported 1,637 cases and 38 deaths till April 1. That…

3 Min.
how ready are we?

TEST KITS Most medical professionals seem to agree that India needs to test more. For perspective, India has tested 32 per million, the UK 1,921, US 2,600. As per the last official communication from ICMR, the government had 150,000 test kits on March 17, and received 500,000 more kits from the US on March 26 Action Needed ICMR estimates India will need 700,000 test kits South Korea has 51 million people and has done over 200,000 tests; India has 1.3 billion people and has done 38,442 as of April 1 Most experts agree that large-scale testing is necessary, especially in viral hotspots, to ascertain the spread and transmission of COVID-19 Action Taken ICMR has invited quotations for 700,000 test kits, no orders placed yet; 16 companies have been cleared to sell commercial test kits in India PPE (PERSONAL…

14 Min.
meeting the demand for supply

In ordinary times, the Indian transport and logistics sector sees perhaps 7.5 million trucks, 7,400 freight trains and scores of cargo planes criss-crossing the country every day, alongside millions of vehicles carrying raw materials to factories and goods to grocery shops, supermarkets and customers’ doorsteps. The Union government’s announcement on the evening of March 24 of an almost immediate national lockdown—beginning midnight that very night—brought all essential supplies to a dead halt. Realising soon, but perhaps not early enough, that this was a disruption India could ill afford, the Centre issued fresh orders next week to clarify that transportation of all goods—not even just essentials—would be exempt from the lockdown. But by now the human chain of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers that keeps those wheels turning were returning in…

1 Min.
ready to go, unable to leave

The national lockdown has come as a nightmare for Uttar Pradesh-based Yadav (in white). His truck has been parked since the announcement on March 24. His employer, Lalit Kumar Pathak, has a fleet of 25 trailer trucks, but all of them are now idle at the firm’s garage at Jasai, near Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Navi Mumbai. No one knows when the textiles, rubber and steel firms that his company works with in cities like Vadodara, Vapi and Silvassa will get back to business. Some of Pathak’s work also relates to agri products, but these shipments were also being frequently stopped at checkposts, leading to the decision to pause operations. “Most of my 50 staff are from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Since they cannot go home, I have to…