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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 1st June’20 | PDF Download

 

Adieu Hong Kong?

  • China’s parliament approved a new national security laws for Hong Kong.
  • The ‘one country two systems’ formula that ensured many freedoms for the port city is all but dead.
  • China regularly targets dissidents on grounds like separatism and foreign influence in domestic politics.
  • Now Chinese national security agencies will operate in Hong Kong.
  • It’s clear that Beijing has had enough of the city’s special status and democratic culture.
  • Perfect opportunity to strike while the world was distracted.
  • US: the territory will now lose the various economic and trading privileges it currently enjoys.
  • Exodus of talent and multinational companies from Hong Kong.
  • From its unilateral aggression in the South China Sea to triggering skirmishes on its border with India, China wants to bully its way up in Asia.
  • Its subversion of international rules is part of the same gameplan.
  • Beijing only respects strength.

The dimming of a Chinese strongman’s aura

  • To the outside world, China seeks to project a picture of monolithic unity behind President Xi Jinping’s highly centralised leadership.
  • However, media tropes point to a greater scrutiny of his role and leadership style, especially during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.
  • Reports have surfaced alleging delays in reporting facts, conflicting instructions and tight censorship.
  • Mao Zedong’s reign after the founding of the PRC lasted 27 years.
  • By comparison, the 67-year-old Xi Jinping has been at the helm for just under eight years.
  • Deng Xiaoping: Four Modernisations of agriculture, industry, defence, and science and technology.
  • The open-door policy, beginning the late 1970s, enabled China to emerge as the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment and a trade behemoth.
  • Deng generally favoured a collegial form of decision-making in consultation with a clutch of senior leaders – the Party’s “Eight Elders”.
  • The history of the CPC suggests that Mr. Xi wields less power than either Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping.
  • He perhaps evokes more fear than respect on account of his ruthless anti-graft campaign that has brought down even high-ranking People’s Liberation Army (PLA) generals and Politburo members.
  • Since reining in the pandemic in China, the Chinese economy has had a head start, but it is clearly not out of the woods.
  • Economic hardship could spark off public dissent and harsher security measures.
  • Moreover, a military confrontation with the United States leading to a “loss of face”.
  • On Taiwan, any use of force by China could drag the U.S., and perhaps its allies too.
  • A recently leaked internal report of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a think-tank affiliated to the Ministry of State Security in Beijing, purportedly warns China’s top leadership of a rising tide of anti-China sentiment in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the worst since the Tiananmen incident of June 1989.
  • The leak may point to internal churnings or it could well be meant to convey that China remains undaunted.
  • The hope, that an economically rich and prosperous China would gradually become liberal and democratic, has been belied.
  • The alienation by China of a sizeable section of the international community and public criticism of Mr. Xi, including in the Chinese social media, suggest that the sun may have reached its zenith.

Open with caution

  • It is a truth universally acknowledged now that the severe restrictions to contain COVID-19 produced traumatic displacement of the weakest sections, while the check on infection spread was modest.
  • Unlock 1’ plan should ensure a careful restarting of activities.
  • The most important of which is the delivery of goods and everyday services.
  • Health services unrelated to COVID-19 infections.
  • 13 cities have 70% of the cases.
  • Retaining curbs on big gatherings, such as in religious places, is reasonable.
  • Implementing the measures mandated by the National Directives for COVID-19 Management, such as those on face cover, physical distancing in public places, shops and establishments, spitting, and gathering in large numbers.
  • A genuinely universal PDS with adequate supplies of foodgrain, ensuring that no one is left behind, must be provided in all States.
  • Cash supplements should reach all intended beneficiaries.
  • Surveys: rising hunger levels and missing financial support
  •  The course of COVID-19 in the weeks ahead is by no means predictable.
  • Possibility of new rural clusters.
  • ‘Unlock 1’ must prioritise some actions: create public awareness that the virus is present, ramp up testing, provide health services, and intensively monitor relief measures.

A New Phase

  • Unlock 1’ guidelines indicate that we are moving back to normalcy incrementally.
  • A salient feature of Unlock 1 is that beginning next week parts of the hospitality industry, shopping malls and places of worship will reopen.
  • All activity and gatherings will be subject to physical distancing and attendant health protocols.
  • GDP growth for 2019-20 was 4.2%, an 11 years low despite factoring in just one lockdown week.
  • RBI estimates GDP may shrink in the current financial, raising the possibility of the first recession in four decades.
  • The aim of Unlock 1 must be to avoid this without losing sight of health protocols.
  • Without public transport, workers remains constricted.
  • As for the Centre, on the sixth anniversary of resuming office NDA needs to be mindful how much its legacy will be shaped by its economic stewardship during Covid times.

It’s time for a universal basic income programme in India

  • The ongoing crisis is creating changes that could end up dividing society into pre- and post-COVID-19 days.
  • These changes are also likely to exacerbate the novel challenges accompanying the fourth industrial revolution.
  • Today, disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence are ushering in productivity gains that we have never seen before.
  • Silicon Valley is home to five of the world’s eight most valuable companies.
  • These giants, all technology companies, have a cumulative market cap of over $4 trillion, yet they together directly employ just 1.2 million people.
  • Many consider a universal basic income (UBI) programme to be a solution that could mitigate the looming crisis caused by dwindling job opportunities.
  • UBI is also deliberated as an effective poverty-eradication tool.
  • Supporters of this scheme include Economics Nobel Laureates Peter Diamond and Christopher Pissarides, and tech leaders Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.
  • UBI in its true sense would entail the provision of an unconditional fixed amount to every citizen in a country.
  • Nevertheless, countries across the world, including Kenya, Brazil, Finland, and Switzerland, have bought into this concept and have begun controlled UBI pilots to supplement their population.
  • India’s huge capacity and infrastructure-building requirements will support plenty of hands in the foreseeable future.
  • Nonetheless, even before the pandemic, India was struggling to find enough opportunities for more than a million job aspirants who were entering the job market each month.
  • The fiscal cost of a UBI pegged at ₹7,620, at 75% universality, was 4.9% of the GDP.
  • IMF has projected global growth in 2020 to be       -3.0%, the worst since the Great Depression.
  • India is projected to grow at 1.9%. The U.S. economy is expected to fall by 5.9%.
  • The unemployment rate and unemployment claims in the U.S., since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, is the highest since the Great Depression.
  • Unfortunately, India does not even have comparable data.
  • Lockdowns in some format are expected to be the norm till the arrival of a vaccine.

Civil aviation

  • The Narendra Modi years have witnessed a fundamental and paradigmatic shift in civil aviation — it has changed from an elitist mode of transportation to one which is within the reach of all Indians, in tune with the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) philosophy.
  • May 25: recommencement of domestic civil aviation operations in a staggered manner.
  • Numerous citizens have been approaching us to restart international flights.
  • Many international destinations are not allowing incoming passenger traffic, except of their own citizens or diplomats.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines for lockdown 5.0 announced on May 30, which have further opened up inter-state and intra-state travel, will facilitate the gradual and calibrated reopening of the sector.
  • Pre-COVID India was the third largest domestic aviation market in the world with approximately 140 million passengers travelling annually.
  • We were experiencing double-digit growth.
  • Mission Lifeline Udan: 5.4 lakh kilometres through 584 flights, carrying critical medical related cargo load of over 935 tonnes to the farthest parts of the country and abroad.
  • Vande Bharat Mission: evacuated more than 40,000 stranded and distressed Indian citizens.
  • A lot of effort was also devoted to ensuring that we minimise the risk of contagion through meticulously designed guidelines and protocols.
  • In India, the mortality rate from the virus has been rather low, around 2.87 per cent.
  • The imposition of the lockdown helped us in achieving at least three objectives
    1. We could halt the sudden exponential growth of the virus seen in other countries
    2. Prepare our healthcare system
    3. Assess when to restart the economy in a calibrated and progressive manner

 

 

 

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