I have not read a book for many weeks, finding it impossible to concentrate on anything but the nightmarish situation this country is in. The pandemic has made it clear that survival of the richest , which is the ruling ideology in a number of countries, including my own, has brought widespread and brutal suffering to the poor. The horrors that the migrants are suffering – no work, no money, no shelter, no food – because no thought had been given before lockdown to planning for them in this crisis, lay across every page of any book I picked up and tried to read, as did the thought of families packed into jhuggis and crowded tenements. Social distancing? What a farce.
The only sense of relief came from Kerala, a State that for 20 years has focused on health and education for its people, and worked in cooperation with local bodies and panchayats to build a more egalitarian society.
There can be no return to what is known as “normal” once the pandemic recedes. This country must go forward to a more egalitarian, more humanitarian society where Mahatma Gandhi’s endeavour to “wipe the tear from every eye” becomes a reality.
Nayantara Sahgal , April 22, 2020