Weekend Reads

  1. “Insaf Ali walked or hitch-hiked 1,500 km from Mumbai to Shravasti district in Uttar Pradesh, carrying his last remaining Rs 5,000, and managing to dodge police and checks for 14 days,” writes Asad Rahman in the Indian Express. “Just when he had reached his Mathkanwa village early Monday morning, the 35-year-old, who worked as a helper to a mason in Mumbai before the lockdown, was caught and quarantined. By Monday noon, he was dead.”
  2. On paper at least, for the first time in 150 years, Indians will have to work for 72 hours a week, up from 48 hours a week, after five states amended the Factories Act through ordinances, writes Somesh Jha in the Business Standard.
  3. “Not only are the government’s technological solutions unfounded in legislation, there is also little to suggest that they represent the least restrictive measures available,” write Suhrith Parthasarathy, Gautam Bhatia and Apar Gupta in the Hindu, regarding the government’s Aarogya Setu surveillance app. “A pandemic cannot be a pretext to abnegate the Constitution.”
  4. Not all lockdowns are the same. In Kashmir, students being asked to continue their schooling from home have to contend with online classes at 2G speeds, report Azaan Javaid and Kritika Sharma in the Print. Said one teacher, “We have internet speed as low as 0.2 kbps.”
  5. Despite private hospitals accounting for two-thirds of hospital beds in India and almost 80% of the available ventilators, less than 10% of the patients critical with Covid-19 are in private institutions, report Prabha Raghavan, Tabassum Barnagarwala, Abantika Ghosh in the Indian Express.
  6. “India, in the last six years since July 2014, has approved over 270 projects in and around its most protected environments, including biodiversity hotspots and national parks,” write Tish Sanghera and Disha Shetty on IndiaSpend. “At the same time, the Centre has watered down environmental safeguards, prompting stakeholders to warn that such interference not only imperils habitat and ecosystems but also endangers public health.”
  7. Many have been arguing for herd immunity, a strategy that involves allowing the virus to infect a significant portion of the population. But they don’t tell you what that might actually mean in terms of casualties, write Carl T Bergstrom and Natalie Dean in the New York Times.
  8. “It could happen, but it might not. There will be enormous pressure to forget this spring and go back to the old ways of experiencing life,” writes Kim Stanley Robinson in the New Yorker. “And yet forgetting something this big never works. We’ll remember this even if we pretend not to. History is happening now, and it will have happened. So what will we do with that?
  9. The record for developing an entirely new vaccine is at least four years. It may happen faster this time, but Stuart A Thompson in the New York Times talks to experts about what vaccine development actually looks like.
  10. Read this piece in the Atlantic by Ed Yong: “Beyond its vast scope and sui generis nature, there are other reasons the pandemic continues to be so befuddling – a slew of forces scientific and societal, epidemiological and epistemological. What follows is an analysis of those forces, and a guide to making sense of a problem that is now too big for any one person to fully comprehend.”