For a billion Indians, lockdown has not prevented tragedy | Supriya Nair

Without adequate healthcare and unable to deliver basic needs, India now faces twin catastrophes of coronavirus and starvation

The world’s second-most crowded city is trying to stay home, but it wasn’t built for social distancing. Ever since it became an entrepôt of the British empire, Mumbai has been optimised to keep things moving – both labour and capital. Over the last fortnight, its citizens have been retreating from public premises. A majority are now confined to one- or two-room tenement housing, often with dividing walls made of tin and tarpaulin. These stand cheek-by-jowl with shops, restaurants and crowded medical clinics. Isolation is for people who live in homes with attached toilets.

The numbers aren’t yet staggering. Unlike New York City, which currently accounts for nearly 10% of the world’s known Covid-19 cases, Mumbai counts 74 as of this writing. Unlike London, authorities here initiated shutdowns before India’s government passed orders for a national lockdown.

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Coronavirus means we really are, finally, all in this together | John Harris

It has taken a crisis on this scale to put paid to the divisive strivers-and-shirkers rhetoric of austerity

I saw a coronavirus banner the other day that said “Check in on your five nearest neighbours”, and I thought about Errol Graham.

Back in January, just as China’s Covid-19 outbreak was turning critical, the story broke of how Graham, a grandfather of two and lover of football, had died aged 57. In June 2018, bailiffs pursuing him for nonpayment of his rent had found Graham’s body, which weighed just four and a half stone. A coroner’s report said he suffered from severe social anxiety, and had isolated himself from even family and friends. His flat in Nottingham had no gas or electricity, and there was no food in his fridge apart from two cans of fish that were four years out of date.

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State control over women’s bodies is an unforeseen outcome of the Covid-19 crisis | Emma Barnett

A U-turn on women’s ability to access home abortions and the cancellation of IVF means they have less say over their fertility

It’s been quite a week to have a womb in the UK.

First, pregnant women were suddenly categorised as vulnerable, and advised to stay home by the government. But then some of them were told to come back into work by their employers – including the riskiest of all, the NHS.

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Amid our fear, we’re rediscovering utopian hopes of a connected world

The coronavirus blitz spirit has shone a light on networks that make us stronger – the NHS, the BBC and the internet itself

If this is the worst of times, it is also the best of times. In our anxiety we are drawing deep reserves of strength from others. In our isolation we are rediscovering community. In our confusion we are rethinking whom we trust. In our fragmentation we are rediscovering the value of institutions.

To each their own narrative or metaphor. If this feels like the blitz spirit to you, all well and good. Others find it helps to imagine a world recast through virtual networks.

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In a national crisis, people are desperate to believe in their leaders

Boris Johnson is seeing a boost in his approval ratings. That may have little to do with how his government is performing

In the early stages of the crisis, one of those at the heart of government decision-making told me: “We are all going to get it.” You wouldn’t wish a positive test for the coronavirus on anyone, but there is this to be said for the news that the prime minister, the Prince of Wales, and the health secretary now number among the infected, while the chief medical officer is self-isolating. There couldn’t be a more vivid illustration that this is an equal-opportunity virus that couldn’t care less about your status. A VIP protection squad of police officers is no defence from the invisible terrorist. It can get to you whether you are the leader of the country or the heir to its throne.

The penetration of the coronavirus within the high black gates of Downing Street takes us into another situation that is unprecedented. After e-cabinet meetings and virtual news conferences and an online emergency summit of the G20, we have now witnessed the extraordinary first of the prime minister addressing the nation via Twitter video from quarantine. The breezy “hi folks” with which he began was intended to damp down any public fright that might be triggered by the virus reaching the highest levels of government.

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Brought to book: Woody Allen’s memoir is the most damning indictment yet

The film director’s own words reveal him to be a scheming, sexist, creepy adventurer

Barely three weeks since Hachette cancelled Woody Allen’s memoir, the book has been published elsewhere, and confirms that Stephen King, among many others, was right to worry about its suppression. The only person who stood to benefit from the silencing of Woody Allen was Woody Allen.

How, without this protracted attempt at self-exculpation, could it have been so clearly established that Allen is, as previously alleged, a man from whom girls and women would be well advised – unless they actually enjoy being objectified – to recoil? If we will never know exactly what happened between Allen and his daughter Dylan, whose accusations of abuse he has consistently denied, we can readily convict him, courtesy of this homemade indictment, of learning as little as Donald Trump from campaigners he calls “#MeToo zealots”.

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Ealing comedies remind us that life is many shades of grey

The postwar black and white films, soon to be rescreened on TV, highlight moral questions that are as relevant as ever

For the British those old black and white Ealing comedies, which BBC2 is to screen every afternoon for a week from 6 April, are a bit like Dickens’ novels. We feel we know them pretty well, and we certainly believe we are familiar with the postwar, spirit-rousing world they come from. But there’s always at least one film that has slipped the memory. For me, it is The Titfield Thunderbolt. I can remedy that by watching it on 8 April. Made in 1953 it is about a rural fight to retain a railway branch line.

Yet even the titles we remember better, perhaps The Lavender Hill Mob, Whiskey Galore! or The Man in the White Suit, contain oddly uncomfortable moments that don’t fit with the cosy, music hall reputation of this moment in cinema history. This is what makes them worth watching.

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Borrow emergency cash by all means, but please pay it back

Getting the Bank of England to print money to cover the government’s debts is in principle a good idea

This is an economic crisis and it’s right that government takes unprecedented steps to compensate employees and the self-employed from huge income hits. But how are we going to pay for these decisions? Eventually taxes will go up, but governments need to raise cash right now as tax revenues fall and spending surges. Luckily, borrowing costs are low, but what happens if financial markets are unable to absorb the huge amounts of extra borrowing?

This is a crucial question with which treasuries around the world, and the IMF, are starting to grapple. The gung-ho among you may like the answer of the economist Jordi Galí, who last week called for central banks to print money for government without it ever being paid back. Our view at the Resolution Foundation is that he is right to examine the case for monetary financing (the Bank of England creating money to directly buy government debt). But we don’t agree that the objective is for it to never be repayable – in fact, we argued last week that it’s crucial to stress that any unavoidable monetary financing would be temporary and that the central bank could sell off government bonds when things calm down. We’ve seen unprecedented steps by government to tackle this crisis, with big price tags attached. Unprecedented measures may be needed to pay for them, but we should plan for that with utmost care.

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We Ugandans are used to lockdowns and poor healthcare. But we’re terrified

Coronavirus has given President Yoweri Museveni an opportunity to further clamp down on freedoms

In Uganda, for the first time since 2013, more than three people can legally meet without needing to inform the police. Last week, parts of the Public Order Management Act, a law used to gag political opponents, was declared unconstitutional. But most Ugandans are staying away from crowds and keeping at home to control the spread of coronavirus.

The government moved quickly to close schools and universities. Measures became more and more stringent – closing borders, compulsory quarantine, banning public transport and the sale of non-food items at open markets.

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Our basic decency is clear. But a good society needs more than decency

The pandemic has upturned economic certitudes and led to a revival of social solidarity. Now we need a politics to match

“It may seem a ridiculous idea but the only way to fight the plague is with decency.” So says Dr Rieux, a central character in Albert Camus’s 1947 novel The Plague. The moral thread running through the book, and indeed through much of Camus’s work, is the importance of decency to the choices one makes in life.

Camus would probably have welcomed the moral choices made by most of the country in this pandemic. This might seem an odd judgment in light of the outcry about people acting selfishly, from supermarket hoarders to seaside revellers.

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