For the first time since September 2003, when FORCE hit the stands with its first issue, we have been steadfast in our commitment of a print copy to our readers, month after month. There may have been occasions when the print issue got delayed, or reached a subscriber in the third week of the month, instead of the promised first week, but we never missed our date with our readers. After all these years, for reasons beyond our control, FORCE is dropping the print edition of the April issue.
On March 24, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a 21-day lockdown in a bid to break the transmission chain of the Covid-19, we were faced with two choices: Drop the April issue altogether and bring out a double-issue in May, or only drop the print edition of the April issue. We chose the latter option for three reasons.
- One, FORCE is a monthly magazine. Our articles have a topicality to them. They would have become stale after a point. To retain the immediacy of our articles, we would have had to discard most of them in the May issue. Hence, to bring out a double issue in May would have required double the effort. Given that we would have resumed office only on April 15, this would have been an impossible task;
- Two, we have a commitment of 12 issues to our readers. A double issue could have been a bonus not compensation for 11 issues; and
- Three, we live in uncertain times. A 21-day lockdown does not mean that India would have won the battle against Covid-19. Even the most optimistic assessment says that the best we can expect in these three weeks is flattening of the curve and building of our healthcare capacities to deal with the virus. The best-case scenarios also do not expect resumption of normal life before the end of June. Until then, we all would be required to work under constraints. What these constraints may be, nobody knows. Under these circumstances, we decided it would be best to take one month at a time.
So here, dear readers, is our April issue. The cover story is on internal security, for two reasons: February violence in Delhi and the Maoist encounter in Chhattisgarh. From the low end to the high end of internal security challenge, our law enforcing capabilities have been found wanting once again. The cover story not only looks at the challenge but also the ways in which we need to build both our capacities and capabilities – from policy-making to training and technology.
There is also a section on Covid-19, which has hit at the very heart of the modern world, our lifestyles and globalisation. We look at this in two parts. One, how air travel will no longer be the same; and two, what steps our defence and security institutions are taking to meet this unprecedented test.
From this month, we start a new section called ‘India and the BRI’. For years, we viewed China through the lens of encirclement. However, with the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, it is no longer about encirclement of any one country, but creation of multiple modes of connectivity across the world — land, sea and digital — for greater cooperation. From India’s perspective can this cooperation be without conflict? In ‘India and the BRI’, we explore India’s bilateral relationship with a country that has signed up for BRI and compare it with its relationship with China. We start with Bangladesh. Next month, we will look at Maldives.
At FORCE, we are committed to give quality editorial to our readers. Whatever be the circumstances, we will not compromise on our commitment. This month, there will be no paywall on the FORCE website. We don’t want to burden our subscribers with trying to remember user names and passwords, especially those who will sorely miss the print. We are missing it too.
Enjoy the issue. Stay safe. Stay cheerful.