Name few items (product or service) on which, State Government can apply tax/levy.
Government-run Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC)
The conflict between fiscal health andpublic health is quite real for the States.
States are desperate to raise money to combat disease spread and to keep their public health services going.
In TN’scase, SC has stayed the HC order, paving the way for resumption of sales through outlets of the State-runTASMAC.
The Madras High Court initially allowed the State government to open its vast network of liquor shops, subject to several conditions for maintaining physical distancing.
As there was overwhelming evidence that physical distancing had been given the go-by, the HC banned across-the-countersales, and directed that only online sale be permitted
The reality is that sellingliquoronline would cut into the unaccounted extra fee that TASMACstaff charge for every purchase.
At ₹5 to ₹10 for each sale, this amount runs into crores of rupees annually and is believed to be shared among vested interests.
A question of quarantine
Tens of thousands of people are moving across States.
The Centre finds itself facing a fresh front in the campaign to contain the COVID-19pandemic.
Those who were stranded within the country and abroad have started returning home.
The system of quarantine in the States is not uniform.
Labourers compulsorily quarantined in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar escaped from the facilities after complaining of bad conditions.
InKerala, the Centre insists on a 14-dayinstitutionalquarantine for those arriving by air, rejecting the State’s proposal for seven days in a public facility and another seven at home; train passengers were given a home quarantine option.
Such a lack of certitude, even as the extendedlockdown is set to expire, reflects failure at building consensus.
With further easing of the lockdown, if not full withdrawal, many more will want to move within and between States, by railandroad, besides those returning from abroad.
There could be options, including hotels and private accommodation, at non-exploitativetariffs.
This is a daunting scenario as India has crossed 85,000 cases ofCOVID-19 and slowing the spread depends vitally on joint action.
It must be pointed out that the Health Ministry, in its updated advice issued on May 10, approved home isolation for even patients with the virus, if they are deemed to be very mild to pre-symptomatic cases.
This indicates a recognition of both the growing case load, the rising pressure on public facilities and the limited scope for paid quarantine.
The pandemic and the challenge of behaviour change
The COVID-19crisis is far from over, but governments everywhere appear to have either relaxed lockdown parameters or will do so soon.
The curve may have been flattened, but there will be a greater risk now of being infected.
We have to adopt few behavioural changes that in many ways go against socialandculturalconventions.
The science of social marketing uses known marketing principles and behaviour change theory to influence people’s behaviour for the benefit of both the target audience and of society.
Public health, safety and environmental concerns are some of the areas where social marketing can have huge impact.
The Health Belief Model(HBM), developed by Irwin M. Rosenstock others suggests that a person’s health-related behaviours ultimately stem from the desire to avoid illness.
The two most important constructs of the model are:
Perceived Benefits — the effectiveness of actions available to reduce the threat of the disease
Perceived Barriers — the obstacles to performing a recommended health action
The model also recognises the importance of “cues to action” or triggers which set into motion the process of adopting the desired behaviours.
These cues, typically, are emotional, not just informativeoreducational.
The HBM presumes that knowledge or education alone is grossly insufficient to change a person’s behaviour.
The blend of fear, patriotism and gratitudeextolled by the Prime Minister appeared to have been just the right buttons to push and people did stay indoors.
Fear, patriotism and gratitude, even if they were effective as “initiating” cues to action, were insufficient to sustain behaviour change and needed to be periodically rekindled.
“Sing Together Singapore”
HBM to be effective, the social marketing message would present the benefits as applying direct to the individual, not just indirectly to society at large.
Messaging about barriers should not make the change appear too difficult to engage in or make the cost of adopting the behaviours appear too high.
In the 1970s, Bangladesh undertook an ambitious family planning campaign keeping in mind the country’s limited resources.
Research showed that while the women were able to readily see the benefits, the men, who were the decision makers at home, could not.
The campaign became successful after social marketers decided to empower women by making female contraceptives available through women rural medical practitioners who made house calls.
The marketers also designed a communications programme directed at men highlighting benefits such as better health for their wives, thereby enabling them to look after their husbands and children better.
Telling someone to stand away is also difficult because it could be considered rude.
Hygieneinstructors often ask an audience to colour their hands and then show the imprints they leave everywhere to demonstrate how germs can spread.
The recommendation to hand wash often or use an alcohol-based hand rub was unrealistic for too many people even though they saw the merit in it.
Shame is a powerful disincentive to undesirable behaviour.
Naming and shaming
Making long-pending agricultural marketing reforms the centrepiece of the third tranche of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan economic stimulus package, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced plans to enact a central law to permit barrier-free inter-State trade of farm commodities and ensure a legal framework to facilitate contract farming.
The third tranche also included plans to invest ₹1.5 lakh crore to build farm-gate infrastructure and support logistics needs for fishworkers, livestock farmers, vegetable growers, beekeepers and related activities, although this includes some previously budgeted money and extensions of existing schemes.
Lockdown likely to be extended till May 30
The lockdown is likely to be extended till May 30 with considerable relaxations in the green and orange zones. An announcement to this effect is likely to be made on Saturday.
Lockdown 4.0 would be more about implementing its “spirit” than imposing restrictions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought suggestions from the State governments and they were asked to convey their views by 5 p.m. on Friday.
“The suggestions from most States have been received and they have advocated an extension of the lockdown. Every official is concerned that if the lockdown is lifted in one go, the number of COVID-19 cases could spike. The medical infrastructure cannot deal with that kind of pressure,” said the official.
Buses would not be allowed in red zones. Autorickshaws and cab aggregators are likely to be allowed in all zones with maximum two passengers.
India surpasses China’s COVID-19 tally
India’s COVID-19 case tally shot past China, with a total of 85,761 cases, including 53,219 active ones, according to data from the State Health Departments.
The death toll nationwide stood at 2,674.
The country has registered over 3,600 cases and over 100 deaths on average everyday since May 8.
Stressing the need to focus on high load areas and case fatality management, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said while worldwide the total number of cases stood at 42,48,389 with 2,94,046 deaths and the fatality rate pegged at 6.92%, India had managed to keep its fatality rate at 3.23%.
Monsoon will arrive on June 5, says IMD
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast a delay in the arrival of the monsoon over Kerala while Skymet, a private forecaster, expects it to arrive earlier.
The difference in the arrival dates by both agencies is as much a week.
The normal date of onset for the State is June 1. In a statement on Friday, the IMD set a date of June 5 whereas Skymet, on its website, has forecast May 28.
The discrepancy appears largely on the agencies’ interpretation of the influence of a developing cyclone in the Bay of Bengal as well as the prevailing summer temperatures in north India.
This storm is likely to burgeon into a cyclone by the weekend, and aid the advent of the monsoon into the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Jharkhand CM takes on Goyal
‘Railway Minister’s statement that State was not giving NOC to run trains is not true’
Cyclone alert in Odisha
With a cyclone brewing over the Bay of Bengal, the Odisha government on Friday put 12 of its districts on high alert and advised them to make fresh assessment on temporary medical centres set up for COVID-19 pandemic.
The well-marked low pressure area over south-east Bay of Bengal is likely to concentrate into a depression over the same region during next 12 hours and further intensify into a cyclonic storm by the evening of May 16, a Meteorological Department bulletin said.
Apprehending that the cyclone could hit Odisha, a high level meeting was convened here to take stock of the situation.
Key conspirator in naval espionage case held
An alleged key conspirator in the Visakhapatnam naval espionage case, Mohammed Haroon Haji Abdul Rehman Lakdawala, 49, was arrested in Mumbai by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday.
The case relates to an international espionage racket involving individuals based in Pakistan and at different locations in India.
Investigation has revealed that a few naval personnel, some based in Visakhapatnam, had come in contact with Pakistani nationals through various social media platforms and were allegedly involved in sharing classified information for monetary gains.
14 arrested so far
U.S. envoy calls out COVID-19-related rhetoric in India
The U.S. envoy for ‘International Religious Freedom’ , Sam Brownback, called out COVID-19 related rhetoric and harassment in India — especially against Muslims, while also praising Prime Minister Modi’s messages for unity.
In India, we’ve seen reports of unfortunate COVID-related rhetoric and harassment, particularly against the Muslim community.
This has been exacerbated by fake news reports, misinformation being shared via social media.
There have also been instances of Muslims being attacked for allegedly spreading the coronavirus,” Mr. Brownback said to reporters on Thursday during a telephone briefing about COVID-19’s impact on religious minorities.
Now, I’ve been encouraged and we’ve been encouraged by statements from senior Indian officials really urging a unity, and noting the Prime Minister stated even that COVID does not see religion, language, or borders, which is certainly true he said.
Mr. Brownback’s comments come weeks after the U.S. International Commission for Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent bipartisan commission set up by the U.S. Congress, downgraded India’s religious freedom rating to the lowest grade.
Rajasthan moves to deal with huge migrant influx
Fearing a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases with the influx of thousands of migrants into rural areas, the Rajasthan government has decided to adopt effective quarantine management as a strategy to deal with the threat.
Among the migrants who have returned from States such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, 313 persons have so far tested positive.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said on Friday that a 14-day quarantine had been made mandatory for everyone coming from outside under the Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020, promulgated earlier this month.
In addition to home quarantine, arrangements have been made for institutional quarantine facilities for the migrants.
Mr. Gehlot said “best practices” would be applied for migrant workers staying at the quarantine centres.
Those travelling from one district to another, except from hotpots and curfew-bound areas, will not be sent to the quarantine facilities.
Among these people, only those showing symptoms of influenza-like illness will be quarantined.
20 deaths in Gujarat, 340 new cases
Gujarat’s death toll crossed 600 with 20 deaths on Friday, increasing the toll to 606, while the number of COVID-19 cases in the State neared 10,000. With 340 new cases, the State’s tally has gone up to 9,932.
Gujarat’s trend of an unabated spike in cases continues with around 10% of samples testing positive. On Friday, a total 3,150 samples were tested, out of which 340 were positive.