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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 25 April 2020

Troughs and crests in the pandemic response

  • COVID-19 has proven the ultimate stress test for governance systems globally.
  • And governments worldwide are failing, showing up for all to see how poorly prepared they were for this examination.
  • Even those governments that are likely to be rated relatively highly by scholars of public policy studying this moment later will not pass the examination unscathed.
  • Such is the virality and lethality of this pathogen that success will be measured in hundreds of lives lost, compared to the tens of thousands of fatalities experienced elsewhere.
  • Yet, the common challenges faced by all governments to fight COVID-19 must not mask the considerable variation in their performance which holds lessons from which we must learn.

Stages in the response

  • Disease outbreaks, even global pandemics, are scarcely new.
  • The playbook for dealing with them therefore is well understood and has been honed by practices and lessons gleaned from hard-fought battles.
  • Lock down society: Ideally this is done with full consideration of how to support the most vulnerable members of society.
  • Second phase: slowly to ease the burden on the economy.
  • This stage can only be safely executed if accompanied by a war-footing expansion of testing capacity.
  • Identify and isolate new infections
  • Implement contact tracing
  • Final stage: mass vaccination programme
  • Then the full rebuilding of economic and social life.
  •  What drags systems down
  • So, why have governments failed to do better?
  • And what separates successful responses from failed ones?
  • Answers lie in three main limitations of contemporary governance systems.
  • First, for all the defensive finger pointing, opportunistic politicking and xenophobic posturing, this is not a crisis that can be tackled without robust and multidimensional international cooperation between nations.
  • From the epidemiologists whose data-driven models inform policy debates about how and when to lift quarantines, to the medical community identifying more effective treatments, to the research scientists racing to find a vaccine, we are watching in real time the benefits of intellectual collaboration that does not stop at national borders.
  • But the nationalistic turn in global politics over the past two decades has reduced investment in and undermined the legitimacy of the very institutions that facilitate international partnership at the very time they are needed most.
  • Last week’s outburst by United States President Donald Trump that resulted in his demanding that the U.S. end its funding of the World Health Organization (WHO) not only endangers American lives by cutting off his own administration’s access to vital international data, but also directly affects India which receives significant funding and expertise from WHO.
  • Second, pandemic response requires a whole-ofgovernment strategy, for which political will and legitimate leadership are vital to convene and maintain.
  • Germany and Kerala provide two powerful though different examples of this in action.
  • Consider again the cautionary tale of the U.S. where some State Governors have yet to issue stay-at-home orders.
  • Third, we are seeing first hand the consequences of starving public health systems of necessary funds and resources.
  • While State Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan earlier earned plaudits for his investments in infrastructure, health expenditures are low, with the State ranking dead last in this category as in NITI Aayog’s data.

Bihar’s dystopian moments and a looming crisis

  • The Centre’s much-touted spirit of ‘cooperative federalism’ has been nothing more than a hollow promise.
  • India’s federal system is badly challenged today with partisan Governors, misplaced policies and languishing financial assistance.
  • Bihar is still waiting for the elusive ‘special status’ that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised during elections and again soon after Nitish Kumar formed the government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
  • States, including Bihar, have been in the throes of financial stress from before.
  • Bihar has had a long history of suffering because of a persisting feudal political culture that neglected efforts to create industrial capabilities and employment opportunities in the State
  • Consequently, the exodus of labour has become a new normal since the 1990s.
  • Workers: continue to be vulnerable and compelled to work without any legal protection.
  • While an MLA from the ruling party was issued a special pass to travel to Kota in Rajasthan to bring his child back from there, countless others were left to face socio-economic hardship and apathy
  • In Gaya and other parts of Bihar, children were seen eating roasted frogs.
  • What could be more pitiful than this in a country that will have food grains of over 100 million tonnes in warehouses by the end of April, and as according to the Food Corporation of India (FCI), where the annual produce is expected to be record 292 million tonnes in year 2019-20?
  • Health-care facilities at district and block levels are in pathetic shape.
  • Ram Vilas Paswan, who holds charge of Food and Public Distribution at the Centre must think of universalising the Public Distribution System.
  • As a leader from Bihar, he should think of the migrants from Bihar and elsewhere in the country, and ensure basic supplies to them even without ration cards.
  • The state of affairs in Bihar is worrisome; accordingly, policies and plans have to be prioritised.
  • Politics in the State should not defeat the aspirations of millions of Biharis who have already suffered too much.

Joining of giants

  • Facebook’s decision to invest ₹43,574 crore for a 9.9% stake in Reliance Industries Ltd.’s Jio Platforms.
  • The focus of their combined might is the India retail sector, a difficult terrain as large parts of it are still unorganised.
  • FB + JIO: seem to have both the marketplace and the payment solution sides covered.
  • JioMart: commerce marketplace, which seeks to connect local retailers with consumers.

 No 100% quota

  • Supreme Court judgement: 100% reservations of teachers belonging to Scheduled Tribes (ST) category at schools in scheduled areas is constitutionally invalid.
  • The judgment passed by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra quashed the governments order issued by the governor of Andhra Pradesh which had allowed 100% reservations.
  • The judgment was delivered through video conferring.
  • The bench also comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose imposed a Rs5 lakh cost for appeal on both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments.
  • 1992 Indira Sawnhey judgment which held that constitutionally valid reservations cannot go beyond 50%
  • Providing a relief to the appointments made under the quashed government order, the court held that the decision in the judgment would be held prospectively and not retrospectively.
  • Meaning those who have already been appointed would not be affected but henceforth no appointments shall be made in excess of the stipulated 50% reservation.
  • As the Bench noted, it could have come up with other incentives to ensure the attendance of teachers.
  • Another aspect that the court took into account was that Andhra Pradesh has a local area system of recruitment to public services.
  • The President, under Article 371D, has issued orders that a resident of a district/zone cannot apply to another district/zone for appointment.
  • Thus, the 100% quota deprived residents of the Scheduled Areas of any opportunity to apply for teaching posts.

NEWS

  • India must be self-reliant, says Modi
  • Biggest message arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic was that the country should be self-reliant and self-sufficient for the majority of its needs.
  • This was necessary if the nation faced such a crisis again, he pointed out.
  • Mr. Modi was addressing sarpanches from across the country through videoconference on Panchayati Raj Day, when he launched
  1. e-GramSwaraj: for monitoring of rural infrastructure works and e-governance
  2. Swamitva programme: which involves mapping rural housing and land holdings via technology, including drones.
  • The Swamitva programme, he said, would help rural India leverage property for institutional credit and other benefits.
  • This self-reliance should be at the village, district, state and national level in terms of our needs and our ability to satisfy them within our own country.
  • We should not look to other countries to satisfy our needs.
  • India records largest single-day spike of 1,752 cases; toll hits 723
  • Over nine lakh persons are under active COVID-19 surveillance in India, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday, as the total number of cases reached 23,452.
  • The death toll stood at 723.
  • The country registered another biggest single-day spike with over 1,752 positive COVID cases since Thursday.
  • India currently has 17,915 active cases, while 4,813 people have recovered, which puts the recovery rate at 20.57%, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said.
  • MHA: the situation in emerging and major hotspots, including Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Chennai, is serious.
  • The statement added that violations of lockdown measures reported in some parts of the country pose a serious health hazard to the public and may lead to the spread of COVID-19.
  • Joint Secretary in the MHA Punya Salila Srivastva noted that the Centre has sent five new Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) to Gujarat, Telangana and Tamil Nadu to assess the situation.

Total lockdown in 5 T.N. cities from tomorrow

  • A complete lockdown that would see the closure of shops, including grocery stores, will be enforced in Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai from 6 a.m. on Sunday to 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
  • This will be more intense than the current lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Later in the day, District Collectors of Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu and Tiruvallur announced that the complete lockdown would be imposed in certain areas of their respective districts which are adjoining the Greater Chennai Corporation for four days.
  • Meanwhile, 72 persons tested positive in the State, taking the total to 1,755. The total number of deaths stood at 22.
  • Ranil calls for regional cooperation
  • The SAARC Secretariat should play an active role in the region’s response to COVID-19, along with “someone in-charge”, according to Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
  • “I don’t know if it can be handled from Kathmandu alone. If you can, well and good. But you may need another city. It can be Bengaluru, Colombo, any city,” he said on Friday.
  • “This is a good time for a regional cooperation programme. This is a global pandemic without a global leadership. Maybe the region can’t provide leadership for all. But the first virtual meeting of SAARC leaders was good, looking at the background and the problems that are there.”
  • Uttar Pradesh to bring back migrant workers in phases
  • Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday instructed officials to prepare a working plan and come up with details, his office said in a statement after a high-level meeting.
  • Mr. Adityanath asked officials to make preparations for keeping the migrants under 14 days of quarantine in their respective districts and to sanitise and vacate shelter homes well in time.
  • CM appeals to recovered patients to donate their plasma, save lives
  • Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday termed “encouraging” the limited trial of plasma therapy on patients at a city hospital and appealed to recovered COVID-19 patients to step forward and donate their plasma to save the lives of serious patients.
  • He also said that Delhi government would ask for permission from the Centre to use plasma therapy on all serious patients based on the next trial.
  • Three deaths and 138 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Delhi on Friday, taking the toll to 53 and total number of cases to 2,514.
  • Of the total cases, 857 people have recovered and there are 1,604 active cases.
  • No plan to ease fiscal deficit targets
  • Despite the strain on government finances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no credible proposal to amend the legislation meant to control the fiscal deficit, Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission N.K. Singh said.
  • Mr. Singh said the government was currently looking to see how to ameliorate economic hardship while staying within the broad framework of the existing law.
  • While presenting the Union Budget in February, the Finance Minister had invoked the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act’s escape clause to relax the fiscal deficit target for 2020-21 by 0.5% percentage points to 3.5% of the GDP.
  • If the government wishes to increase spending further in light of the current crisis, as many economists have recommended, it may need to amend the Act.
  • The State governments have been demanding that their own 3% fiscal deficit targets be relaxed to 4% or even 5%, to give them elbow room in dealing with the impact of the lockdown.
  • Dr. Singh said that change would not be possible without fresh legislation being enacted by the States.
  • We will build ties in the neighbourhood: Taliban
  • ‘China may have known of virus in Nov. ’
  • Iran’s missile launch is of significant concern: U.K.
  • The U.K. said on Friday that an Iranian satellite launch earlier this week was of significant concern and inconsistent with a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution.
  • Question
  • Briefly explain Poona Pact of 1932.