Name the outgoing chairman of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board
Time after time
RBI reduced REPO RATE by 40 basis points (bps).
It will reduce the cost of capital and ease the financial burden on businesses.
Since the lockdown began, RBIhas shaved off 1.15%.
Repo Rate: 4%
Reverse Repo Rate: __
It reserves some leverage for the future if economic conditions deteriorate even further.
Some say that economic activity is at its nadir and there are not many investment proposals on the anvil that may benefit from the lower interest rate.
Existing borrowers will benefit.
RBI deserves a pat on the back for listening to feedback over some of its moves initiated earlier during the lockdown.
Extension of the repayment moratorium on loans is a welcome measure.
The RBI has also shown empathy byallowingaccumulated interest on working capital loans tobe converted into a term loan repayable by the end of this fiscal.
The increase in group exposure limit for banks to 30% from 25% will help large corporate borrowers.
India-Nepal: open borders and the free movement of people
“Roti-Beti”(food and marriage)relations
Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s aggressive posture on the issue.
Mr. Oli and Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, threatening to send more forces to the India-Nepal border.
For India, the Lipulekh pass has always been part of the road to Tibet, and was mentioned as one of the border passes for trade in a 1954 agreement with China, which was also reaffirmed in another trade agreement in 2015.
Since1981, when China re-opened the Kailash-Mansarovarpilgrimage route for Indians, they have also used the pass to walk into Tibet.
The road built now follows the same alignment, and would essentially cut down their travel time by three days each way.
The Nepali cabinet’s decision to adopt a new political map that claims not only Lipulekh but other areas that are in Indian territory that have been claimed by Nepal invoking the 1816 Sugauli treaty with the British, was described by India’s MEA as “artificial”, “unilateral” and “unacceptable”.
Boundary disputes are common ground for countries that have an ancient history and sharedborders.
It is unfortunate that the respective Foreign Secretaries, tasked by Prime Minister Modi and then Nepal leader Sushil Koirala in 2014 to discuss the matter, have failed to find an acceptable date for a meeting since then.
India must not delay dealing with the matter, and at a time when it already has its hands full with the pandemic and a faceoff with China in Ladakh and Sikkim.
Lower the temperature, defuse the issue
The inauguration of a road from DharchulatoLipuLekh (China border) by India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh (an event over videoconferencing on May 8) has now been followed by Nepal’s charge claiming that the stretch passes though Nepalese territory.
The conversion of the trekking route to a metalled road is a boon to both pilgrims and traders.
The controversy has given Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli an opportunity to hide his government’s incompetence and failure to meet the basic needs of the people, and to divert attention away from the rising tide of opposition from within his own party.
Nepal deployed its armedpolice at Chharung, close to Kalapani.
The Indo-TibetanBorderPolice is also located in Kalapani since it is close to the India-China border. Indian forces are not there because of Nepal.
The Sugauli Treaty
The boundary delineation has a long history.
Before the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli, the Nepalese kingdom stretched from the Sutlej river in the west to the Teesta river in the East.
Nepal lost the Anglo-NepaleseWarand the resulting Treaty limited Nepal to its present territories.
The Sugauli Treaty stated that “[t]he Rajah of Nipal [Nepal] hereby cedes to the Honourable [the] East India Company in perpetuity all the under-mentioned territories”, including “the whole of the lowlands between the Rivers Kali and Rapti.” It elaborated further that “[t]he Rajah of Nipal [Nepal] renounces for himself, his heirs, and successors, all claim to or connection with the countries lying to the west of the River Kali and engages never to have any concern with those countries or the inhabitants there of.”
The present controversy has arisen since the Nepalese contest that the tributary that joins the MahakaliriveratKalapani is not the Kali river. Nepal now contends that the Kali river lies further west to the Lipu Lekh pass.
The British used the Lipu Lekh pass for trade with Tibet and China.
The Survey of India maps since the 1870s showed the area of Lipu Lekh down to Kalapani as part of British India.
Both the Ranarulers of Nepal and the Nepalese Kings accepted the boundary and did not raise any objection with the government of India after India’s Independence.
The Nepal-IndiaTechnicalLevelJointBoundaryWorkingGroup was set up in 1981 to resolve boundary issues, to demarcate the international border, and to manage boundary pillars.
By 2007, the group completed the preparation of 182 strip maps, signed by the surveyors of the two sides, covering almost 98% of the boundary, all except the two disputed areas of Kalapani and Susta.
India has successfullyresolved far more intractable border issues with Bangladesh not so long ago, covering both the land and maritime boundaries.
The way to move forward is to formally approve the strip maps, resolve the two remaining disputes, demarcate the entireIndia-Nepalboundary, andspeedily execute the work of boundary maintenance.
Ties are unique
India’sleadership and the Indianpeople have been conscious of the self-respect and pride of the Nepalese people.
Jawaharlal Nehru wrote in The Discovery of India as also in Glimpses of World History that Nepal has been the only truly independent country of South Asia.
Nepal, in turn, has in the past responded to India’s needs as a friendly neighbour.
Its political leaders contributed to India’s struggle for freedom.
The only time since Independence that foreign troops were deployed on Indian soil was when, in 1948-49, Nepalese soldiers under the command of General Sharda Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana came to India’s northern cantonments, depleted by deployments in Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad.
There is nobody in India that wishes ill for Nepal.
For India’s Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, to charge at an interaction at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, that Nepal, at someone else’s behest, has objected to India laying a road connecting the Lipu Lekh pass, was ill-advised.
This is a matter best handled bilaterally, throughquiet diplomacy.
The more the trouble festers, those who stand to gain by deteriorating India-Nepal relations will benefit.
A milestone, a new beginning
On May 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that every Indian should be proud that Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) has crossed one crore treatments, and has had a positive impact on many lives.
The poor and vulnerablebeneficiaries of PM-JAY have been from both urbanandrurallocations in India.
Pooja Thapa, the one crore-th beneficiary, a housewife with two small children, and a husband serving in the army, is from Meghalaya, and she got her treatment in a Shillong hospital.
During her interactions with PM Modi, she thanked him and said that she underwent free surgery including free medicines, and is on the road to recovery.
PM-JAY is a giant step towards a healthy India, as it aims to make affordable, accessible healthcare a reality for all.
PM-JAY has crossed a significant milestone of one crore hospitalisations, worth over Rs. 13,412 crore, in less than 20 months since its launch on September 23, 2018.
Delivering one crore free and cashless treatments in this time period shows that there was a lotofdemand and people needed a scheme like PM-JAY.
The efforts of the doctors, nurses, healthcareworkers, para medical staff and all others associated with Ayushman Bharat, across all states, have helped in making it the largest healthcare programme in the world.
For about 53 crore poor andvulnerablebeneficiaries, testing and treatment for COVID-19 is free of cost under PM-JAY, including testing in private labs and treatment in private hospitals.
Overall, PM-JAY provides a cover of up to Rs. 5 lakh per family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation to the eligible beneficiaries.
A key design feature of PM-JAY from the beginning of the scheme is portability, which helps to ensure that a PM-JAY-eligible migrant worker can access the scheme’s services in any empanelled hospital across the country, irrespective of their state of residence.
No empanelled hospital across the country can deny treatment to any PM-JAY beneficiary.
To date, there have been more than one lakh portability cases, a high percentage of portability cases (by volume) are for tertiary care, and availed by men.
Implementing portability is extremely complex and many countries which have a health assurance scheme did not start with portability from the beginning.
The strong ITbackboneof PM-JAY was crucial to the implementation of portability from the beginning of the scheme in India.
TheNational Health Authority (NHA) has been working on new initiatives to support and supplement the Government of India’s efforts in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since April 1, 2020, more than 1,385hospitals (nearly 58 per cent are private hospitals) have been empanelled across the country out of which 75 are under express empanelment. Overall, 21,565 hospitals have been empaneled so far.
The NHA regularly keeps in touch with the relevant beneficiaries through telephone, and threecrore such calls have been made across the country already.
Further, the NHA is also supporting the government’s Arogya Setu mobileapplication. It has been making outbound calls through its call centre to people who have come in close proximity to COVID-19 positive patients, as identified through the app, and people who have reported COVID-19-like symptoms in their self-assessment.
The NHA has, already, contacted more than six lakh citizens; and facilitated more than 15,000tele-consultationswithdoctors.
In any epidemic, the response has to be a collective societal one — as seen during SARS, Ebola, H1N1.
Publicsector, privatesector, NGOs, all have to come together.
Coronavirus will be a part of our lives for a very long time. Our fight against COVID-19 is, therefore, not a sprint, it is a marathon.
Living in a post COVID-19 world will be vastly different from before, and will require vastly different public health approaches.
As we plan for the future, Indians who require secondary and tertiary care will continue to grow, and we must also leverage the promise of telemedicine for preventive health.
From a supply side, we must focus on strengthening medical and health systems, primary health care delivery and healthcare workforce — including specialist doctors and medical professionals.
Our vision is to provide more than one crore treatments every year, year-on-year, so that the poor and needy can get the best healthcare.
PM announces ₹1,000 cr. aid for Bengal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced a rehabilitation package of ₹1,000 crore for West Bengal and ₹500 crore for Odisha after an aerial survey of the devastation caused by cyclone Amphan.
“An advance assistance of ₹1,000 crore will be arranged by the government of India, so that the State government does not face any major hardship during these difficult times,” Mr. Modi said following the survey of affected areas with Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankar.
“In addition ₹2 lakh will be given from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to the family of the deceased and ₹50,000 each for the seriously injured,” Mr. Modi added.
The death toll from the cyclone rose to 80 on Friday with eight more bodies being recovered.
The number of fatalities is likely to go up as many places are still inaccessible, officials added.
A more extensive aid package is expected after the submission of the report.
India reaches out to Pak. to fight locusts
India has reached out to Pakistan to counter a locust invasion which threatens to destroy crops and undermine food security in south and southwest Asia — a region where the COVID-19 pandemic has already disrupted farming.
An official source who did not wish to be named said India had proposed a trilateral response in partnership with Pakistan and Iran to combat the desert locust wave sweeping across the Afro-Asian region.
Pak. plane with 98 on board crashes near Karachi
A passenger plane with 98 people on board crashed in a crowded neighbourhood on the edge of the Jinnah International Airport near Karachi on Friday after what appeared to be engine failure during landing.
Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar said at least five or six houses were destroyed as the domestic flight operated by the Pakistan International Airlines crashed.
Smoke billowed from the site where the flight came down, some roofs had caved in, and debris lay scattered in streets as ambulances rushed through crowds.
Maharashtra pushes India tally to record 6,510 cases
State has 2,940 new cases; country-wide toll rises by 148
Time after time
Data from State health departments show that with the addition of 6,510 cases, there have been a total 1,24,525 confirmed cases with 69,140 active infections and 51,666 recoveries country-wide.
Fatalities increased by 148, to take the total death toll to 3,720.
China seeks India’s support for legislation
In an apparent move to blunt any international backlash, China has sent demarches to India and other countries, explaining the reason for the draft legislation with a reminder that “upholding national security” in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is “purely China’s internal affair and no foreign country can interfere in this matter”.
New security law will tighten Beijing’s grip on Hong Kong
A draft legislation on national security tabled before China’s Parliament on Friday will for the first time allow Beijing to draft national security laws for Hong Kong and also operate its national security organs in the Special Administrative Region (SAR).