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Keeping on going in the shadow of the virus

May 2020

Published: Apr. 23, 2020
Updated: May. 28, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is a great story. As journalists we have our work cut out for us. But how do you hold your nerve and produce a financially fragile magazine when oil futures dip below zero, people die in tens of thousands and the world around you seems to be generally collapsing?

Well we stayed calm and kept going and we are very proud to be able to bring you the May issue of Civil Society right on time. The April issue was brought out ahead of time to beat the virus, but then came the lockdown and distribution of the print version was hit. So we put out a PDF version — as we will also do with the May issue.

Of course, we expect the planet to survive and both the April and May issues to be finally distributed in their printed form after lockdowns and containments come to an end. But till then read us online.

The pandemic is a good reason for India to reassess its healthcare system. Our cover story therefore is on shining examples of what the country’s healthcare system should aspire to be so that it is inclusive and affordable.

Even as the government’s hospitals fail to deliver and the private sector ones get too commercial to serve the people who need them the most, many non-profit rural hospitals provide the kind of healthcare services that are not just affordable and accessible but in terms of quality put urban facilities to shame.

At Civil Society magazine we have been tracking such hospitals and the doctors who run them. In this month’s cover we showcase some of the stories we think are relevant to these times. We also highlight policy issues, which need to be addressed. Small, sustainable hospitals with committed doctors take healthcare where it needs to go.

The virus comes to us with the message that we have to reform ourselves and rethink our priorities. The tens of thousands of migrant workers who filled TV screens and in a sense walked right into our comfortable homes should always remind us of what remains to be done for fellow Indians. Growth can’t just be a GDP number.

Migration from rural to urban (and the many intricate weaves in that equation) should be better understood. To take us deeper into the migration question we spoke to Chinmay Tumbe who teaches at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. Tumbe’s advice for the short term is to provide migrant workers with social security with the ‘one ration card, one nation’ idea being implemented. But a quick fix won’t do. It is important to think in the longer term by getting states to work together for the welfare of their workers and finding ways to make  employers more responsible for the people they hire.

Much of the work in fighting the coronavirus has been done in the states and also in the districts. There are many examples from all over. We bring you two from Punjab where district officials have shone in their efforts.  




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