Fear is in the air and I am not entirely exempt from it. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc, prompting our bustling and normally boisterous nation to slip into an eerily quiet lockdown, I have started displaying a phobia—that of touching doorknobs. Be it at home or office, I am rudely kicking open doors, adhering to a hands-off policy.
That I am using my legs is good. Desperate times need desperate measures, and this certainly is one time when we need frantic steps to save ourselves from the rampaging novel coronavirus. That we all are washing our hands with soap, both furiously and intermittently, to me has a larger meaning. For me, the current emergency we are confronted with is no time for mere handwringing. Notwithstanding the inconvenience and disruptions caused, we must continue to be proactive and do whatever it takes to win this war against the pandemic.
At stake is whether we live or die and there certainly cannot be half-measures in this battle. Never immune to surroundings or situations, we at Outlook have been doing our bit to help the cause. We began by encouraging people to work from home and not step out unless absolutely essential. But as the grim struggle to worst the virus continues, we have now taken another important step: for the first time in our 25 years of existence, we are temporarily suspending printing of your favourite magazine.
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Our hands were forced obviously by the near-collapse of our daily routine. Printing a magazine when movements are severely restricted poses immense challenges. Even if we print, distribution of copies at a time when flight and train services have been halted, and several states have ordered border closures, would be a veritable nightmare. Though all of us are currently under stress, it still makes sense to think rationally. And this decision of ours, though a difficult one, has been made after much consideration. Among everything else, we don’t want our staff to take unnecessary risks. At the same time, we do not wish to enhance your exposure to anything that has passed through several hands, increasing the risk of a possible contamination.
We are proud that the relationship that Outlook has had with its subscribers and readers have been long and time-tested. And no matter how trying the times are, I assure you that our bond will continue to be as strong and we will continue to inform, engage and converse with you in the digital space at www.outlookindia.com. Also, no matter the disruptions, my colleagues and I will do our very best to ensure your favourite magazine is available online, with all its cutting-edge news reports, incisive opinions and balanced analysis.
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All these and more are for taking precautions and not to panic. It is understandable that we might fret and fume a bit under the lockdown, but we must not ever allow ourselves to lose our cool. I am particularly distraught at reports that fellow citizens, particularly from the Northeast, are being targeted at certain places. In this battle to protect mankind, all of us must prove once again what humanity is all about.
The task at hand is onerous, and it certainly will take more than banging utensils. Our deeds must match the din we raise to express our gratitude to those fighting the pandemic on the front line. To clap the loudest one day and to ostracise the brave hearts the next in an attempt to drive them away from their homes over fears of contamination is criminal. As human civilisation faces its stiffest challenge, we must show civility and courage in equal measure. Please stay calm and be safe.