31 October, 2020

Breaching The Lakshman Rekha! From Mega Religious Gatherings To Labourers, How An Underprepared Government Was Caught Napping

Even as food scarcity haunted every migrant worker who was rendered jobless by the COVID-19 inflicted shutdown, the Tablighi Jamaat event was a clear case of ‘intelligence failure’ if not an administrative one

Photo by Jitender Gupta/Outlook
Breaching The Lakshman Rekha! From Mega Religious Gatherings To Labourers, How An Underprepared Government Was Caught Napping
outlookindia.com
2020-04-04T10:51:09+05:30

A sense of nation-wide emergency, across all aspects of life, now pervades governance. Coordination is maximum, and conflict minimum, across Centre and states—indeed, across the political sphere. Everyone realises how crucial this period is. The expression ‘Lakshman rekha’, a recent appearance in the lexicon of words associated with the fight against COVID-19, reflects that.  A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 21-day lockdown on March 24, Doordarshan began a rerun of Ramanand Sagar’s TV serial Ramayan, and soon someone realised this metaphor from the epic resonated particularly well in these unusual circumstances. What was this new proscription—stay at home, going out would invite danger—if not a modern form of Lakshman rekha?

Reality, of course, soon defied the epical metaphor. Thousands upon thousands of Indians had no option but to observe it in the breach. Having left their villages for a hardscrabble life in the glittering cities—where they worked on highways, built condominiums for others, served tea,...

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