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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 01 August 2020

Towards a new normal

  • Centre has announced further relaxations.
  • Number of cases are unrelenting
  • Full fledge UNLOCK 3.0 will start from August 5.
  • With nearly 17 lakh cases, we are at no. THREE
  • Deaths so far, 36,000.
  • India’s case fatality rate of 2.16% is relatively low.
  • Uneven disease spread within the country.
  • Responses by Cities-States are also uneven
  • Health-care professionals: overworked & tired
  • Public showing impatience with restrictions
  • Utmost vigil must continue
  • We need to sharpen our adaptation techniques
  • Accessible & affordable testing is very important
  • Most cases turning out to be asymptomatic
  • Address questions regarding rapid antigen tests
  • Hiding data is self-defeating
  • Real time epidemiological data
  • Helps in micro-plan & localised behavioural response
  • With right efforts, normalcy is not that far from us

War and talks

  • The Taliban’s decision to cease fire for three days during Id-ul-Adha has come as a relief for Afghans who have seen unabated violence despite a peace agreement between the insurgents and the U.S.
  • Third official respite since the war started in 2001
  • Hopefully, truce could be extended.
  • U.S.-Taliban deal promised intra-Afghan talks.
  • Talks were to begin in March
  • But there was disagreement on prisoner exchange

  • 5,000 Taliban prisoners were released and in return Taliban announced ceasefire.
  • Taliban continues to engage in war and talks simultaneously
  • Americans are desperate to exit Afghanistan.
  • Since the US-Taliban February deal, 3,560 government troops and 775 civilians have been killed in conflict.
  • Last year’s presidential election saw a record low turnout.
  • Earlier Abdullah Abdullah formed a parallel administration.
  • He backed off, but only after being appointed the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation that will lead talks with the Taliban.
  • These factors allowed a resurgent Taliban to maintain the upper hand.

The COVID-19 crisis as a metropolitan battle

  • India’s top metropolitan cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad — now account for nearly half of the country’s cases of COVID-19.
  • 2018: public health expenditure was 1.28% of GDP
  • World Bank: India’s out-of-pocket health expenditure was 62.4% in 2017.
  • Manpower in the health sector is low
  • India’s doctor-population ratio being 1:1,457
  • WHO recommends 1:1000
  • Larger governance issue
  • Governance has a bearing not just on the response to COVID-19 but also in preparedness for other natural and man-made disasters and contingencies.
  • Specific systemic factors underlying city governance include spatial planning, municipal capacities, empowered mayors and councils and inter-agency coordination, and ward-level citizen participation.
  • Twenty-seven years have passed since the enactment of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, but these reform agendas continue to be on slow burn.
  • The Constitution mandates formation of Metropolitan Planning Committees (MPCs) in all metropolitan areas with a million-plus population.
  • MPCs are envisioned to ensure integrated planning for the entire metropolitan area, and are responsible for the preparation of draft development plans, synthesising priorities set by local authorities, State and Central governments.
  • In reality, MPCs are either not constituted or are defunct.
  • Janaagraha’s Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) 2017 report found that only nine out of 18 cities assessed had constituted MPCs even if on paper.
  • The absence of comprehensive integrated planning is starkly visible in the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Poor housing, sanitation, and a lack of access to meaningful social security are a reality for the urban poor.
  • Only medium- to long-term spatial planning that focuses on equal access to opportunities and services can avoid a repeat of such disasters.

Weak Municipal Capacities

  • India’s metropolitan cities have weak capacities in finance and staffing.
  • Bengaluru’s average percentage of own revenue to total expenditure is 47.9%, Chennai 30.5%, Mumbai 36.1% and Kolkata at 48.4%.
  • According to ASICS 2017, Mumbai has the highest number of officers per lakh population at 938.
  • However, this is abysmally low compared to global cities such as Johannesburg with 2,922 officers and New York with 5,446 officers per lakh population.

Weak mayor and council and fragmentation of governance

  • The leaders steering India’s metropolitan cities are toothless.
  • No big metropolitan cities with 10 million-plus population has a directly-elected Mayor.
  • Mumbai’s Mayor has a tenure of 2.5 years, Delhi and Bengaluru, a mere one year.
  • Furthermore, Mayors do not have full decision-making authority over critical functions of planning, housing, water, environment, fire and emergency services in most cases.

Transparency, accountability and citizen participation

  • No metropolitan has functional ward committees and area sabhas.
  • An absence of citizen participation is worsened by poor transparency in finance and operations.
  • As per ASICS 2017, India’s big metropolitan cities on average score 3.04/10 in transparency, accountability and participation.
  • McKinsey report, in 2012, 54 metropolitan cities and their hinterlands accounted for 40% of India’s GDP, and by 2025, 69 metropolitan cities, combined with their hinterlands, will generate over half of India’s incremental GDP between 2012 and 2025.
  • Studies by the Centre for Policy Research point that India’s spatial feature exhibits the growth of small towns beyond the economics of large agglomerations.
  • Despite this, we are inactive
  • COVID-19 is primarily a metropolitan battle
  • Globally, metropolitan cities are steered by a directly-elected leader.
  • Tokyo metropolitan government, and recent experimental models such as combined authorities in the United Kingdom and Australia.
  • Learn from the world cities and implement local-customised solution.
  • Time to prepare our cities for future issues.
  • Use the current pandemic as an opportunity

Caesarean pandemic | ToI

  • The modern C-section procedure has been a lifesaver for countless women and children.
  • WHO: the number of maternal and newborn deaths decrease only until cesarean deliveries rise towards 10% across the population, after which there is no evidence that mortality rates improve.
  • NSO survey: share of women delivering through C-section has crossed 28%.
  • As with any major surgery, they actually introduce new risks.
  • For mothers there is a reported rise in the odds of depression and serious difficulties with subsequent pregnancies.
  • For children the subtle alteration in neonatal physiology can increase later incidence of obesity, asthma, juvenile arthritis.
  • C-sections save lives when there is a medical crisis but endanger health when they are elective.
  • Consider that C-sections are 17% of births in government hospitals but 55% in private hospitals.
  • Normal deliveries should be the norm.

NEWS

  • Govt extends ban on international flights till August 31
    • The government has extended the ban on international flights till 31st of August amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, this restriction will not be applicable for international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA.
    • India had first suspended international flights on March 22, just before the national lockdown was announced.
    • As part of allowing gradual movement of passenger traffic amid the pandemic situation, 'Transport Bubble' agreements have been signed with the US, France, and Germany.
    • Such bilateral agreements allow operation of flights between the two countries subject to a set of regulations.
    • International flight services to and from India remain suspended since March 23 due to the pandemic.
  • Fifth phase of Vande Bharat Mission
    • The fifth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission begins today to rescue Indians stranded abroad. This phase will continue till 31st August 2020.
    • Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said, that under various phases of Vande Bharat Mission, more than 8 lakh 45 thousand Indians have been repatriated.
    • He said upto 1200 flights are likely to be added in Phase 5 of Vande Bharat Mission.
    • The Ministry of External Affairs has said that a total of 792 flights (692 international and 100 domestic feeders) have been scheduled to repatriate Indians from 23 countries in Phase 5 of the Vande Bharat Mission.
    • These include Gulf countries, US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, China, Israel, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
    • The flights will cater to 21 different airports across India and repatriate an estimated 1 lakh 30 thousand Indians stranded abroad.
  • Bureau of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization
    • Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan presided over a meeting of the Bureau of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) through video conference on Friday.
    • In the meeting, Health Minister asserted that unified action is necessary to ensure a timely, adequate and coordinated global response against COVID like situations.
    • Dr. Vardhan expressed his deepest condolences and concern at the loss of lives due to COVID-19 and offered sincere gratitude for the efforts of those on the frontline.
    • He said the magnitude of the damages caused to the world economy due to the pandemic was significantly high.
    • Dr. Harsh Vardhan urged WHO members to forge multi-sectoral collaboration to mobilize global response, support and cooperation to fight such diseases more effectively.
  • Kharif crops
    • Agriculture Ministry today said that the total Kharif crops has been sown on over 882 lakh hectare area against 774 lakh hectare area during the corresponding period of last year.
    • The Ministry said, pulses have been sown in over 111 lakh hectare area as compared to around 94 lakh hectares during the corresponding period of last year.
    • Coarse cereals have been sown in about 148 lakh hectare area, while about 51 lakh hectares have been brought under sugarcane.
    • The Ministry said, government is taking several measures to facilitate the farmers and farming activities at field level during COVID 19 pandemic.
    • It said, over 266 lakh hectare area has been covered under the cultivation of rice, as compared to around 224 lakh hectares during the corresponding period of last year.
    • Prez Kovind, VP Naidu greet people on Idu’l Zuha today
    • President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu have greeted the people on the occasion of Idu’l Zuha.
    • In his message, Mr Kovind said, Idu’l Zuha symbolizes the spirit of sacrifice and amity which inspires people to work for the well-being of one and all.
    • On this festive occasion, President asked people to share their happiness with others and promote mutual harmony.
    • Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said, Id-ul-Zuha is a celebration of unswerving devotion to God and the boundless compassion and love the Almighty has for his creation. He said, the festival inspires us to inculcate empathy, practice sacrifice and promote peace and universal brotherhood.
    • Eid-ul-Azha is celebrated to commemorate the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his only son in obedience of God's command.
  • Locust control operations
    • Union Agriculture Ministry has said that locust control operations have been carried out in 11 districts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana.
    • The operation was carried out at 37 places during the night of 30th and 31st July.
    • Besides this, Haryana State Agriculture Department also carried out control operation at one place in Bhiwani district against small groups and scattered population of locusts.
    • The Ministry said, starting from 11th April to 30th July, the locust control operations have been done in an area over two lakh 26 thousand hectares in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana by Locust Circle Offices.
    • Presently, 104 control teams with spray vehicles are deployed in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and more than 200 Central Government personnel are engaged in locust control operations.
  • 15th Finance Commission’s HLEG on Agricultural Exports
    • The High Level Group (HLEG) on Agricultural Exports set up by the Fifteenth Finance Commission has submitted its report to the Commission on Friday.
    • The HLEG was set up to recommend measurable performance incentives for states to encourage agricultural exports and to promote crops to enable high import substitution.
    •  After intensive research and consultations from stakeholders and the private sector, the HLEG has made its recommendations.
    • The recommendations include demand driven approach and focus on 22 crop value chains.
    • The group has also suggested creation of state led export plan with participation from all stakeholders.
  • Prime Minister Modi to address Smart India Hackathon this evening
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the Smart India Hackathon of All India Council for Technical Education at 4:30 PM today.
    • Human Resource Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said that the Grand Finale of Smart India Hackathon-2020 (Software) will be held till 3rd of August.
    • This is the 4th edition of the hackathon organised by HRD Ministry and it has proved to be extremely successful in promoting out-of-the-box thinking in young minds.
    • Smart India Hackathon is a nationwide initiative to provide students with a platform to solve some of the pressing problems we face in our daily lives.
    • The first round of Smart India Hackathon 2020 saw participation of more than four lakh 50 thousand students.