Lockdown has forced much of humanity to cease everyday practices and jump-start new ones.
It is possible for individuals, communities, and nations to respond to a planetary crisis within days.
The nature of the response in different settings, however, depends on
As in any crisis, the poorest are the worst affected.
For knowledge workers, one of the new social norms being created is extensive Internet use for learning and work.
In certain sectors such as accounting, desk-based research and software development, working remotely turns out to be profitable to companies.
Many flights were unnecessary
For example, a return flight, economy class, from Delhi to New York releases about 0.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is half of India’s per capita annual emissions.
Life under lockdown has already demonstrated that there are essentials, superfluous items and luxuries.
Becoming sustainable is vital for ensuring that the worst effects of climate change — another planetary crisis lurking just over the horizon of the present one — also do not fall on the already underprivileged.
Spiritless measures often harm economic or social welfare even if they improve environmental outcomes.
Social measures must be strengthened to protect the health and safety of the poorest.
Script of unity
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reminder that COVID-19 does not recognise “race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or border” before striking.
Countries and societies can no longer afford to face off with one another.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the UN expressed concern over stigmatisation, in India, of a particular community.
The recent issue of Indian diaspora in UAE and their comments.
The Indian Ambassador to the UAE reminded expatriates that discrimination was against “our moral fabric and the rule of law”.
Such odious digital behaviour routinely goes unquestioned in India, but in the UAE, the response has been quick.
In an environment that is already rife with fear and uncertainty, the official communications strategy must focus on building trust and offering reassurance.
The village is still relevant
Public health and education are two areas in which India took a decisive turn in the 1990s.
When several States decided to stop giving permanent appointment letters to doctors and teachers in the mid1990s, they were guided by an ideological shift at the national level towards allowing health and education to be opened up for private enterprise.
This was viewed as a major policy reform, a necessary part of the bigger package of economic reforms.
The new buzz was public-private partnership.
It covered everything from roads to schools.
The form it took made it amply clear that the state would take a back seat after issuing a set of rules for private operators while the state’s own infrastructure will shrink.
Soon enough, cost-effective measures became the priority in both health and education.
Chronic shortage of functionaries became the norm while young persons learned to wait for years for vacancies to be announced.
Working on short-term contracts, with little security or dignity, became common.
For a long time, a view had been gathering support that villages were no more viable as sites of public investment.
Modernisation was a dominant paradigm of social theory that saw nothing wrong in the growth of vast slums in mega-cities and depletion of working-age people in villages.
Some social scientists did not mind declaring that the village as we had known it in Indian history was on its way to extinction.
They argued that agriculture, the main resource of livelihood in the countryside, was no longer profitable enough to attract the young.
And handicrafts too were destined to die, they said, as craftsmen and women cannot survive without state support.
The goal was to keep the poor alive and occupied.
Stuck between state minimalism and commercial entrepreneurship, villages lost what capacity they had for regenerating their economy or intellectual resources.
In the city where they had lived for years, they were part of the informal economy which offers no protection against exigencies.
In this vision, the village has no future other than becoming a pale copy of the urban and eventually dissolving into it.
Pre-retirement judgments and post-retirement jobs
The Constitution has been conceived to provide a pride of place to the judiciary.
Constitutional appointees to the Supreme Court have been guaranteed several rights in order to secure their independence.
Chapter 4 of Part V of the Constitution deals with the Supreme Court, and Chapter 5 of Part VI deals with the High Courts.
The salaries of judges and their age of retirement are all guaranteed in order to secure their independence.
They cannot be easily removed except by way of impeachment under Articles 124(4) and 217(1)(b).
They have the power to review legislation and strike it down.
They can also question the acts of the executive.
All this makes it clear that the framers of the Constitution envisaged an unambitious judiciary for which the only guiding values were the provisions of the Constitution.
The clear demarcation between the judiciary and executive got blurred as many judges over the years began to accept posts offered by the government.
During his tenure as CJI, Justice Gogoi presided over important cases such as Ayodhya and Rafale where all the decisions went in favour of the government.
People are fast losing confidence in the so-called independent judiciary.
In 2013, former Union Minister Arun Jaitley, who was also a senior Advocate, ironically said on the floor of Rajya Sabha: “I think, we are going a bit too far now, in every legislation, in creating postretirement avenues for Judges. Almost everyone, barring a few notable, honourable men, who are an exception, wants a job after retirement. If we (Parliament) don’t create it, they themselves create it. The desire of a post-retirement job influences preretirement judgments. It is a threat to the independence of the Judiciary and once it influences pre-retirement judgments, it adversely impacts on the functioning of our Judiciary.”
It is in this context that the appointment of Mr. Gogoi has to be perceived.
Therefore, appointments of persons who have held constitutional office will undermine the very constitutional values of impartiality in the dispensation of justice.
It will also go against the clear demarcation of separation of powers.
It is true that there are no rules which stood in Justice Gogoi’s way of being appointed to the Rajya Sabha.
Judges can be compensated by being given their last drawn salary as pension.
Also, the age of retirement for judges can be increased by a year or two.
It is important to remember that judges are constitutional servants, not government servants.
No transparency in West Bengal
In West Bengal, the medical fraternity claims that the State is reporting fewer cases as only a minuscule proportion of the population is getting tested.
Recently, at least three healthcare workers, including interns, tested positive for the virus after delivering babies of COVID-19-positive mothers in the Kolkata Medical College and Hospital.
The Gynaecology Department at the hospital was aware that the patients were COVID-19 positive, but were themselves tested for the disease only a week later. Such delays are dangerous.
Doctors complain that the Standard Operating Procedure for COVID-19 death certification has not been followed.
As more healthcare workers test positive, their calls for testing much more are stonewalled.
Authorities, they say, have “no intention” of doing enough tests.
There are many questions, but no answers.
Confirmed cases cross 20,000; nearly 4,000 people recover
Attacks on health workers to attract up to 7 years in prison
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, making acts of violence against medical staff a cognisable and non-bailable offence and to provide compensation for injury to healthcare personnel or for damage or loss to property.
Migrant workers give a gift of warm colours
Quarantined labourers help community in Rajasthan with free repairs to school
Facebook buys ₹43,574 cr. stake in Jio Platforms
Cabinet approves ₹15,000-cr. package
The funds will be used in three phases, with ₹7,774 crore for immediate use and the rest for medium-term support, that is one to four years, the statement said.
101 arrested in Palghar lynching case
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Wednesday made public the list of 101 accused arrested in the Palghar mob lynching of three persons, including two sadhus.
The Minister, while declaring the list, categorically said that none of the arrested accused was Muslim and once again appealed to everyone not to communalise the incident.
Death toll in Gujarat increases to 103
Mumbai case load rises to 3,683
Maharashtra to ramp up fight after Centre’s report
Taking cognisance of a Central report that has projected a staggering spike in COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday directed officials to ramp up the State’s response accordingly.