Monday, November 23 2020

Dive In

Don’t think we could afford to go [to India] and come back. That’s for sure. Sunil Gavaskar didn’t see his son for many months. It was a different thing. Look, things change. If I talk about [Virat] Kohli, when his father died, he came back to playing cricket the next day. Today he is taking a leave for his baby. It’s fine, you can afford it… I’m happy for Virat.

That’s Kapil Dev responding to Virat Kohli’s decision to take paternity leave so he can be present during his child’s birth—a decision that will keep him out of all except the first test match against Australia. It reminds us that it’s not just that cricket has become more progressive. Cricketers themselves are a lot wealthier. Also: any kind of maternity/paternity leave is a privilege for many in this country.

Big Story

An alarming rise in Delhi’s death toll

The TLDR: The number of daily deaths in Delhi have crossed the 100-mark four times over the past ten days. Cremation ghats are overflowing even as the case count spirals—hitting 5,29,863 on Sunday. The government is belatedly scrambling to reserve additional hospital beds and ramp up testing—to meet a crisis that everyone could see coming. This is the first of a two-part series. We focus on Delhi today and on India’s overall death rate in part two.


What’s happening in Delhi?

The numbers: The tally of new cases added daily hit 6,746 over the weekend. But more importantly, the number of deaths is rising. On Saturday, 111 deaths were recorded—and it confirms an alarming new pattern. Deaths recorded on November 20: 118. November 18: 131. November 12: 104. To put the numbers in perspective: On November 18—which marked an all-time high—there was a death every ten minutes in Delhi.


And yet, the Delhi government insists that it has the outbreak under control. The reason: the most recent high was 8,593 cases added on November 11. The Health Minister claims the downward dip since that day shows that Delhi has turned the corner.


The cremations: While municipal officials deny it, cremation grounds are reporting long lines of families waiting to cremate the bodies.

  • Now there are 19 crematoriums and graveyards in Delhi that have permission to cremate or bury Covid victims—and they are run by different municipal bodies in various parts of the city.
  • Data is not available from all these bodies. According to the South Delhi numbers—which handles six crematoriums—883 bodies have been cremated between November 1 and 18. This compared to 720 in all of October. 
  • For further comparison, consider this: between June 1 and October 31 (five whole months), the same six crematoriums handled 3,697 Covid bodies.


That sounds worrying…


In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • A draconian new law in Kerala
  • A cross-border QR code?
  • Ayurvedic docs can perform surgeries
  • Germany introduces ‘historic’ quota
  • A brouhaha at the Tata Litfest


A list of good reads

  • A profile of Goa’s hippest new restaurant
  • A very useful guide to cooking your rice exactly right

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