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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 30th March’20 | PDF Download

Everyone counts

  • The Centre’s decision to postpone the first phase of the 2021 Census, earlier planned to start on April 1.
  • India is still struggling to make sense of the extent and intensity of the pandemic and the accompanying and inevitable economic calamity. Post-lockdown: Return of normalcy in daily life will take many more weeks, if not months.
  • All resources, public and private, will need to be mobilised, first for combating the malady and then for tending society and the economy back to its health and dynamism.
  • Several State governments had made their opposition clear to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • The pandemic is a reminder that the future of humanity is collective and cannot be fragmented.
  • Unshakeable national unity is essential for the country to tide over the pandemic crisis.
  • The coronavirus is forcing the re-examination in many nations about national power.

The deep void in global leadership

  • Total void in collective leadership at the global level.
  • The G20 has just had a virtual meeting.
  • G20 leaders have agreed to inject $5-trillion into the world economy.
  • World leaders are obviously overwhelmed with their own national challenges.
  • China delayed reporting the virus to the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Trump administration did not even inform the European Union before it shut off flights from Europe As long as the virus is alive in some corner of the world, it would resume its travel across the world the moment international travel restrictions are relaxed.
  • Epidemiologists point out that unless herd immunity develops — which will take long and come at the cost of at least half the population being infected — the virus will remain alive and strike whenever there is a lowering of guard.
  • This is a war.
  • Seeds of indifference
  • The swing towards right-wing nationalism
  • There is no issue more global than climate change
  • The atrophy of multilateral institutions.

G20 offers hope

  • What is important is for the global leaders to acknowledge what every foot soldier knows: winning a war would require the right strategy, rapid mobilisation of relevant resources and, most importantly, timely action.
  • The collective should ensure that shortages of drugs, medical equipment and protective gear do not come in the way of any nation’s capacity to contain or fight the pandemic.
  • Urgent development of an information exchange on global production capacity, present and potential, demand and supply.
  • A common information exchange could restrain the richer countries from predatory contracting of global capacities.
  • There needs to be instantaneous exchange of authenticated information on what clinical solutions have succeeded and what has not.
  • This is a time to have cross-country collaboration on laboratory trials and clinical validation for vaccines and anti-viral drugs.
  • Facilitate easy movement of trained health professionals across the world to train others and augment resources wherever there are shortages.
  • We must anticipate food shortages occurring sooner or later, in some part of the world, consequent to the national shutdowns.
  • There is no doubt that human talent will triumph over the microscopic virus.
  • Does India have the power to awaken the conscience of the Superpowers and catalyse collective global action?

Looking beyond just diagnosis and quarantine

  • A pandemic is upon the world and coronavirus is not the last word.
  • Ebola, Zika, Nipah, SARS, MERS, H1N1 and now COVID19 — the viral onslaughts will continue.
  • Zika virus is spread by Aedes mosquitoes
  • Bats seem to be another constant source of new viruses.
  • Seafood has also been stated to be a cause for the Wuhan outbreak.
  • In India, given the population density and unsatisfactory hygiene conditions and awareness, citizens can face serious situation even though the disease may have originated elsewhere.
  • India does have the expertise to put a team together to respond much more than just diagnosis and quarantine.
  • The first requirement is to sequence the genome of all the isolates from infected patients in India.
  • It is important to sequence the virus isolates in at least three different institutions in India to ensure that sequencing errors are eliminated.

From apathy to action

  • The Central government has asked States to seal borders to prevent lakhs of workers.
  • The workers are paying for the callousness of the government in declaring a lockdown without even a day’s notice.
  • The Home Ministry has also invoked Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to imprison those who violate government instructions.
  •  “package of ₹1.7 lakh crore for the poor”
  • If the workers really believed that the package was helpful, they would not have started their long march home.
  • Offering one kilo of pulses a month for an entire family, as has been done in the package, does not even rate as a charitable gesture.
  • For crores of daily workers the reality is that if they stay home, their families can’t eat.
  • For this large section of the population, what was required was an immediate cash transfer, through the PM Jan-Dhan Yojana or MNREGA accounts of a minimum of ₹5,000 for the three-week period of the lockdown.
  • These cash transfers are the lowest in the world.
  • The government’s refusal to take the people into confidence about the lockdown that had already been planned, as indicated by the Prime Minister in his second address on COVID-19, has led to immense avoidable distress.
  • Thousands of workers remain stranded without food, shelter or money in cities.
  • Countless have walked hundreds of kilometres, facing hostile police forces, just to get home.
  • A lockdown which is considered essential to fight SARS-CoV-2 cannot lead to a disproportionate burden on the poor.

NEWS

  • As inter-State buses dwindle, migrants are stuck with nowhere to go Hundreds of people remained suspended between hope and despair at Zero Point on the Yamuna Expressway on Sunday as desperate migrant workers — forced by a sudden and indefinite loss of employment due to the nationwide lockdown — tried to return home to villages in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana.
  • Zero Point is an unofficially-designated spot on the Yamuna Expressway, which links New Delhi with Agra via Noida, where inter-State buses usually pick up passengers.

  • Migrant workers to be stopped, quarantined at borders: Centre
  • Terming the movement of migrant workers to reach their home towns a violation of the lockdown measures on maintaining social distance, the Union Home Ministry on Sunday directed State and Union Territory (UT) governments to provide temporary shelters, food and other essentials to the stranded poor and needy.

  • Cases surge; ICMR denies community transmission
  • India on Sunday reported 106 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the overall case load to 979.
  • “There have been six deaths in the past 24 hours,” said Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry Lav Agrawal at a briefing.
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said testing for new cases has been stepped up to 30% of the nation’s capacity.

  • PMO working in teams to battle virus
  • Inside the fight against COVID-19 in India, there is no “war room” for a disease that is best fought by maintaining physical distance.
  • Instead it is being fought by forming discrete groups of officials and Ministers who communicate remotely and whose linchpin at the Centre, apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is his Principal Secretary, P.K. Mishra, and Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba.
  • Lenders ready with EMI holiday offer
  • The Housing Development and Finance Corporation (HDFC), the country’s largest mortgage lender, and some other lenders will reach out to customers and give them the option to skip equated monthly instalment (EMI) for the next three months as announced by the Reserve Bank of India on Friday.
  • The move will enable customers, particularly those who have opted for the electronic clearing service (ECS) facility, to opt for deferring payments for the next three months.
  • The other alternative for the borrower to defer EMIs is to instruct the bank from where the EMI is debited to stop the ECS facility.
  • Spain reports record daily toll of 838
  • Spain reported a national daily record of 838 COVID-19 deaths on Sunday in a fresh warning to the world that long-term lockdowns may be needed to halt the deadly march of a disease that has claimed more than 31,000 lives.
  • A deluge of patients are overwhelming hospitals in Europe and the United States, now the focal points of a pandemic that is upending the global economy in unprecedented ways.
  • In the U.S., an about-face by President Donald Trump on quarantining New York highlighted the panic and confusion unfurling across many parts of the world trying to contain the virus. In Spain, where the 24-hour death toll rose for the third consecutive day, lockdown measures have been tightened as officials cling to hope that slowing growth rates mean they are nearing the peak of the crisis.
  • ‘Worried’ German State Finance Minister kills self
  • Thomas Schaefer, the Finance Minister of Germany’s Hesse State, has committed suicide apparently after becoming “deeply worried” over how to cope with the economic fallout from the virus, State Premier Volker Bouffier said on Sunday. Mr. Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railway track on Saturday. The Wiesbaden prosecution’s office said they believe he died by suicide. “We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all we are immensely sad,” Mr. Bouffier said in a recorded statement.
  • ‘Outbreak could claim up to 2,00,000 U.S. lives’
  • A senior U.S. scientist issued a cautious prediction on Sunday that COVID-19 could claim 1,00,000 to 2,00,000 lives in the United States. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who leads research into infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told CNN that models predicting a million or more deaths were “almost certainly off the chart.”

 

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