Prasanth was driving home to KK Nagar when he was stopped by Chennai traffic police. It was past 6.00 pm on 24 March, the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb COVID-19 transmission in India. Prasanth showed the bills for essentials he’d purchased, which included diapers for his two-week-old son. He also showed his wife’s discharge summary to prove they were new parents. No dice. The cop wasn’t as interested in enforcing lockdown rules as he was in extracting bribes from people who’d done no wrong.
A seething Prasanth paid the cop Rs 300 and drove off in silence. He had an infant to father and wife Pavithra to support, and the past week had been a nightmare already.
This is a harrowing time for new and to-be parents. Prabha Chandra would know; she’s a professor and researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru and one of the country’s foremost perinatal psychiatrists.