LIBERTY is like innocence, easy to lose and impossible to regain. And while we all chafe under the necessary restrictions that have temporarily compromised the freedoms we usually take for granted, outside the UK and elsewhere in the world we’re seeing a creeping tendency towards outright authoritarianism.

In most of these cases, Covid-19 has acted either as a helpful distraction for authoritarian regimes, or a rationale for imposing (sometimes irreversible) constraints on liberty.

Recently, constituents from across Somerton and Frome have been in touch with me to express their anxieties about the Indian Government’s suppression of protests – these consequent upon the removal of a state-managed fixed price for agricultural products.

Such a move would plunge (potentially) millions of small farmers into poverty; damage food security and depress agricultural wages. Of course, agricultural policy in India is a purely domestic matter for its own government – but the measures they’ve taken in response have sparked consternation on an international scale.

Many of you will have seen the enormous protests in India in the post Covid-related section of the evening news bulletins.

We’ve seen retributive measures from the Indian government including shutting off water supplies, cutting off electricity and depriving selected areas from internet access – thus impeding the ability to organise.

And in the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the situation develop into a seemingly permanent deadlock. Fortifications have been installed on key roads into the capital; nails have been hammered into the tarmac on arterial routes and the outskirts of Delhi – in many parts – seem to resemble a militarised zone.

Under ordinary circumstances, such worrying political convulsions in the world’s largest democracy would have merited rather more attention than a brief report on the evening news. But with our health, livelihoods and loved ones at risk, most of us are understandably focusing on matters rather closer to home.

But as we rightly focus all our energy and attention on the vaccine rollout and a return to normal life, it’s worth remembering that normality is not a fixed point, but the aggregate of all our individual actions. And when we emerge, blinking, into the post-Covid world, we may find the world that stares back at us rather different from the one we remember.

MP for Somerton and Frome