May 15: India had over 85,500 cases and the death toll stood at 2,752.
There are only10 other countries that have more cases than India.
Despite the country being under lockdown since almost end-March, the number of fresh cases and deaths reported each day has continued to rise steadily.
On average, over 3,600 cases have been reported daily since May 8.
India has not fully utilised the precious lockdown period to increase manifold the number of tests carried out daily while simultaneously tracing, isolating and treating COVID-19 patients.
India is yet to begin investigating community transmission.
Given the high rate of asymptomatic transmission, high viral resurgence isinevitable when the lockdown is lifted.
It is not the Statesthat report more cases that is a cause for concern, but those that have reported fewer.
If the latter be the case, India can expect huge numbers to be reported in the coming weeks.
Farm gate in focus
The decision to channel the funds to agricultural cooperatives, farmer producer organisations, rural entrepreneursandstart-ups is also encouraging as it lays the onus of creating the appropriate infrastructure or logistics solution largely on the principal beneficiaries, the farmers themselves.
Two proposals: one seeks to bypass the APMCregime through a central law.
The other proposes a framework for farmers to enter into pre-sowing contracts that would purportedly help assure them of offtake volumes and prices.
Getting India back to the Afghan high table
India’s foreign and security policy planners have not pursued nimble approaches.
Rigidly clinged to AfghanistanPresidentAshraf Ghani.
The United Nations Secretariat organised a meeting on Afghanistan [6+2+1].
Ghanigovernmentdid not condition its participation on India’s inclusion.
Since 2001-02, India has played a constructiverole in Afghan.
Mr Zalmay Khalilzad: U.S. wants India to have a more active role in the peace process.
Mr. Khalilzad’s views in their entirety, it is clear that he feels that by avoiding open contacts withthe Taliban, India has reduced its role in international diplomatic efforts.
That the U.S. is currently crucially dependent on Pakistan for the successful implementation of its Taliban deal.
Mr. Khalilzad’s positivewordsforPakistan make it clear.
Contactsanddiscussionsdo not mean acceptance of their ways or that their professions of not being Pakistan’s stooges should not have been tested.
‘India must not give Taliban legitimacy until it joins intra-Afghan talks’
With the terrorist organisation not willing to announce a ceasefire even amid the COVID-19 crisis, they mustn’t get a ‘free pass’ from U.S., says former envoy to Kabul
Saying that the U.S. is trying to salvage its deal with the Taliban, despite rising violence in Afghanistan, National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) member and former envoy to Kabul Amar Sinha stressed it would be pointless for India to engage with the group till it joins the intra-Afghandialogue.
Despite all the fighting and the rival factions, the Afghan leadership has shown once again its ability to come together when that is needed the most.
We saw this in 2009, and again in 2014 after elections brought fractured mandates. And this time, too, it is heartening to see the efforts of Mr. Ghani,
Mr. Abdullah, and other leaders to effect a compromise.
Unfortunately, the U.S.-Taliban deal has a tolerance for violence written into it. It contains no commitment to stopping attacks against Afghan forces, only those against American soldiers and NATO forces.
The U.S. is trying to salvage their deal with the Taliban, especially with elections ahead.
The Taliban are not even willing to announce a ceasefire, amidst the coronavirus crisis, amidst these brutal attacks, and not even during the month of Ramzan. They mustn’t get a ‘free pass’ from America.
At present, the Talibanis a destructive force. It will become a political force only when it joins the intra-Afghantalks.
Russia convened an intra-Afghanmeet, where regional countries were invited, and Taliban representatives were present. We attended it as a “non-official” presence.
Taliban should deal with India as an independent entity, as a nationalist Afghan entity, and not a proxy for other countries.
On April 16, Mohammed Rizwan, 19, a resident of Chhajjapur village, Uttar Pradesh, ventured out of his home to buy biscuits.
Licensed to beat, abuse and kill
He was beaten with rifle butts and lathis by the police, while other residents purchased their groceries from the shop.
In several places, elderly people were ruthlesslybeaten.
The high-handedness shown by the police during the various phases of the ongoing lockdown even led to a petition being filed with the State Human Rights Commission of Tamil Nadu.
The Bengaluru Police later set an example by divesting the policemen of batons and instead engaging in the use of persuasive methods to seriously implement the lockdown.
A legacy of the British rulers, brutality has been a tenacious characteristic of the Indian police and precious little has been done to eradicate it.
Most policemen are made to believe from their very training days that brutality is inherent in the very role to be performed by then, to instil a certain degree of fear in the citizens.
This attitude is reinforced by training instructors, who abuse and even manhandle errant trainees. Unfortunately, posting to police training institutions is considered a punishment.
Application of force is definitely a legal requirement and it is justified by arming policemen with lathis, pistols, rifles and othermodern weapons.
But the mere issue of lathis and weapons in no way justifies their indiscriminate use on innocents or even the accused.
Prudence demands that these weapons be used in a just manner.
True, there are officers who brook no unjustified use of force but their numbers are few.
To make matters worse, seldom are senior officers seen on the spot when their junior-ranking personnel are on duty.
UN recommendations of 222 police personnel for a population of one lakh, most States in our country have around 100 personnel only.
Where is health in the stimulus package?
Our bowlers have done well to limit the COVID-19 score and flatten the curve.
Credit for containing the spread of the virus should go to our frontline medical and health workers in government who literally rushed in where angels fear to tread to save people’s lives.
Even before COVID-19, India was staring at a seriouseconomic slowdown.
India's GDP growth for 2019-20 was lowered to 4.1% from 5% projected by several agencies before the outbreak of the virus.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, India’s unemployment rate at the end of 16|May|2020 was staggeringly high at around 24%.
Our healthcare delivery system in most States is extremely fragile.
Discussions on the strategy to win the match have been focusing on ending the lockdown, reviving economic activities, restoring livelihoods, addressing concerns of hunger and starvation, stimulating small and medium enterprises, and enhancing farm incomes.
Economic desperation might leave poor workers with no choice but to return to work.
The match cannot be won without urgently and immediately stepping up investments in health.
Stuck at around 1.15% of GDP for well over a decade, the low level of public spending on health is both a cause and an exacerbating factor accounting for the poor quality, limited reach and insufficient public provisioning of healthcare.
According to recent figures, the private sector accounts for 93% of all hospitals, 64% of all hospital beds, and 80-85% of all doctors.
This is the time then to seize the opportunity and invest in universal health coverage (UHC) by reversing the financial neglect of public healthcare.
Nearly every country in the world that has achieved anything like UHC has done it through the public assurance of primary healthcare.
Announcing a new ‘health investment plan’ (as part of the stimulus package) is the urgent need of the hour.
At least 1% of GDP out of the stimulus package should be earmarked for improving the country’s health infrastructure and strengthening public health service delivery.
Investing in health, apart from improving people’s well-being, is also essential for accelerating and sustaining India’s economic growth.
Lockdown extended; States will take a call on infection zones
The Centre on Sunday extended the nationwide lockdown, first imposed on March 24, for the fourth time till May 31 while giving considerable flexibility to the States in deciding red, green and orange zones of COVID-19 intensity.
The 33% restriction on workforce in offices has also been done away with.
The decision to extend the lockdown was taken after the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) directed the Centre and the State governments to continue the lockdown measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The National Executive Committee (NEC), chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, was directed to modify the lockdown guidelines keeping in view the need to restart economic activities.
The National Directives for COVID-19 Management said that the practice of work from home should be followed to the extent possible and staggered work hours should be adopted in respect of all offices and other establishments.
Centre throws open all sectors to private players
The Centre has agreed to demands from States to hike their borrowing limits from 3% to 5% of their GDP in light of the COVID-19 crisis, but on the condition that they implement specific reforms.
The total package amounts to almost ₹21 lakh crore by the Centre’s accounting
COVID-19 cases see sudden jump in NE
Rajasthan HC issues directions to control COVID-19 infection in jails
588 Indians reach Kochi from Maldives
INS Jalashwa arrived at the Kochi port here on Sunday from the Maldives with 588 Indians stranded in the island country following the COVID-19 lockdown.
This is the second trip by INS Jalashwa, which had earlier reached Kochi with 698 Indians from the Maldives on May 10.
Naval vessel INS Magar too had evacuated 300 Indians stranded in the Maldives and brought them to Kochi on May 12 as part of the ongoing Samudra Setu mission to evacuate by sea Indians stranded in different parts of the world.
Of the 588 passengers, 487 are from Kerala, said a communication from the Public Relations Department.
Trump honours Telugu girl for lauding COVID-19 staff
Little contributions in difficult times make a great difference, and when Sravya Annapareddy sent personalised cards to healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 across the United States, little did she know that it would catch the attention of the American President himself.
Odisha braces for Amphan impact
Odisha is bracing for heavy rain under the influence of severe cyclonic storm Amphan, which is set to skirt away from the State’s northern coast to make landfall between West Bengal and Bangladesh.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its bulletin on Sunday: “The severe cyclonic storm ‘AMPHAN’ over southeast Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood slightly moved and lay centred over central parts of South Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood about 980 km south of Paradip (Odisha), 1,130 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal) and 1,250 km south-southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh).”