Energy war led crude oil prices crash in the international market
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its alliance partners failed to reach any consensus on cutting back production to levels that would enable prices to remain stable.
The U.S., as the largest oil producer today, has stayed away from the OPEC-plus arrangement, hoping that production cuts by OPEC-plus countries will help it increase its market share.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has scaled down global demand for oil.
Russia’s strategy: denying market share to American shale oil producers.
The latter rely on higher prices in the range of $50-$60 to remain profitable because of higher production costs.
At $31 per barrel, not more than five American shale oil producers can remain profitable.
Both Saudi Arabia and Russia depend heavily on oil revenues, both are also fighting to retain market share.
From a high of $147 per barrel in 2008, crude oil prices have fallen to around $24 per barrel and may even go further southwards.
India, with 80% of its energy requirements met by imports from the international market, stands to save ₹10,700 crores for every $1 drop in prices.
It will reduce transportation costs and boost demand.
Can Russia and Saudi Arabia sustain the energy war for long?
Lessons from Hubei
Success in conquering SARS-CoV-2 is best defined in terms of ensuring that there is no community spread.
The nature and scale of the effort calls for fresh thinking, as it reverses established approaches.
The Prime Minister has taken a bold political decision.
India faces an unprecedented implementation challenge and must combine the lockdown with community involvement, and technology-based interventions.
Changing public behaviour, from one defined by panic and anxiety to one characterised by acceptance will not be easy without community involvement.
Dr. Zhong Nanshan, a leading epidemiologist, emphasised a few “earlys” — early protection, early detection, early diagnosis, and early isolation.
The goal of the lockdown should not just be to keep the people indoors but to ensure that patients with symptoms are hospitalised and not just placed under home isolation, to make sure that the virus does not spread to the members of the infected individual’s family.
We need all the support we can mobilise from the healthcare workers. In Hubei, some 42,600 healthcare workers from all over China were deputed.
Among them, 19,000 were from the critical care department, which was 10% of the country’s ICU doctors.
The spread of the virus also provides important lessons, in view of the migration patterns in the country.
Around five million people left Hubei to other parts of China to celebrate the New Year just prior to the lockdown of Wuhan on January 23.
Thereafter, the number of confirmed cases doubled every three days and the numbers reached 30,000 cases in a fortnight, by February 9.
The spread peaked at 70,000 cases on February 16.
The experience of Wuhan, a city of 11 million, is relevant for our hotspots.
The city was shut down on January 23.
Residential complexes were sealed-off on February 8, and transport was put off the roads.
With intensive testing, next week, Wuhan registered over 15,000 positive cases in a single day.
In response, more than 20,000 health workers were deputed from outside, providing free testing and putting the infected people in quarantine.
Doorstep delivery of essential supplies was ensured, with residential complexes monitoring body temperatures.
A telephone-based app reported the vitals.
Four weeks after the lockdown, the number of new cases drastically dropped.
This is an optimum strategy for our hotspots.
The media, especially local media, should be encouraged to highlight successful and replicable community action to build public confidence.
District Control Room numbers for each local area to communicate all concerns must be widely announced, including by the health workers and NGOs.
Infectious disease is in the Concurrent List and the Government of India has invoked the National Disaster Management Act, devolving the national duty onto District Magistrates.
While the Army and the police forces are ‘deployed’, the District Magistrate has to identify, bring together the needed resources and ‘improvise’.
They would require real-time sharing of emerging good practices by the Central Government, and even hand-holding, to avoid a demonetisation like outcome.
Beyond the blame game
Tablighi Jamaat: More than 400 people showing symptoms have been hospitalised in Delhi alone and nearly 240 have tested positive; at least 10 have died.
The spectre of large-scale community spread by a few hundred attendees from different States cannot be ruled out.
WHO had called COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11.
The organisers should have been very much aware that a similar congregation organised by them in Malaysia in end-February led to a spike in cases there and the attendees had carried the virus to other countries.
What prevented the State government from following the Centre’s March 6 advice to States to avoid or postpone mass gatherings till the pandemic was contained?
Both South Korea and Singapore have demonstrated how meticulous tracing of contacts of a church event, isolation and aggressive testing helped prevent the highly infectious virus from spreading widely in the community.
Ideally, the remaining period of the shutdown should be used to expand the testing to at least limited community level to find every suspected case linked to the attendee.
Still no bullseye, in volume and value
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in the period between 2009-13 and 2014-18, Indian defence imports fell even as exports increased.
Broadly, two factors appear to be driving this shift.
‘Make in India’ initiative, as part of which a number of components from Indian private and public sector enterprises have been prioritised by the government.
The second set of factors is extraneous to India in the form of delays in supplying equipment by vendors and the outright cancellation of contracts by the Indian government or at least a diminution of existing contracts.
Under the Narendra Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) lays out the terms, regulations and requirements for defence acquisitions as well as the measures necessary for building India’s defence industry.
According to government of India data for the financial year 2018-19, the three armed services for their combined capital and revenue expenditures sourced 54% of their defence equipment from Indian industry.
SIPRI: Among arms producers, India has four companies among the top 100 biggest arms producers of the world.
Explaining falling imports: Indian defence acquisitions have also fallen due to the cancellation of big-ticket items.
Export trends: Indeed, the period between 2012 and 2019 saw Indian defence exports experiencing a considerable jump sourced from Indian public and private sector enterprises.
In the last two fiscal years, 2017-18 and 2018-19, exports have witnessed a surge from ₹7,500 crore to ₹11,000 crore, representing a 40% increase in exports.
From a volume and value standpoint, Indian defence exports, while showing a promising upward trend, still remain uncompetitive globally.
Su-57 stealth Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft
T-90 battle tanks
Su-30 combat aircraft
Submarines from France
Thinking national, acting local
National planning, by whatever name it is called (Planning Commission or NITI Aayog), has failed to produce all-round development of India’s economy so far.
An all-round plan for recovery from the pandemic is required.
Any planning institution in a federal and democratic system faces two basic challenges when it comes to performing a long-term role — a constitutional challenge, and the challenge of competence.
The fundamental issues a national plan must address, such as the condition of the environment, the shape of the economy, and pace of human development, need consistent action over decades.
Short-termism in policymaking is a weakness of electoral democracies everywhere.
Debates have begun amongst economists about the inefficacy of long-term planning in India and the performance of NITI Aayog.
Planning is weak when planners do not have the powers to allocate money for national priorities.
In India’s constitutional structure, elected governments in the States are accountable to the people.
They are expected to improve human development, create infrastructure, and make it easy to do business in the State.
States who were becoming self-sufficient in their resources questioned the value they were getting from their interactions with the Planning Commission.
Whether a planning institution allocates money, or advises others how to, it must have the necessary competence.
A national planning institution must guide all-round progress.
It must assist in achieving not just faster GDP growth, but also more socially inclusive, and more environmentally sustainable growth.
For this, it needs a good model in which societal and environmental forces are within the model. It must be a systems reformer, not fund allocator.
And a force for persuasion, not control centre.
Because its role must be to promote local systems solutions to national problems.
110 new cases from Delhi event in T.N.
Tamil Nadu’s tally of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases crossed the 200-mark on Wednesday. With 110 more persons who attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference at Nizamuddin in Delhi testing positive for COVID-19 in 15 districts, the total number of cases in the State increased to 234.
India sees a sharp spike in infections
India reported three deaths and 376 new cases on Wednesday — the highest-ever single-day increase in its COVID-19 tally.
This brought the total confirmed cases to 1,637 and took the death toll to 38.
One hundred and thirty two persons have been cured/discharged from hospitals after recovery, the Union Health Ministry said at its daily press briefing.
Centre defines J&K domicile rules
The Union government has issued a notification defining “domiciles” in the new Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir for protecting jobs in the Group D category and entry-level non-gazetted posts for the domiciles.
Tuesday’s notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) makes changes to the Public Safety Act (PSA) by removing a clause that prohibited J&K residents booked under the Act to be lodged in jails outside.
The notification scraps all pension benefits such as car, driver, accommodation, phones, electricity, medical facilities and rent-free accommodation to former J&K Chief Ministers.
The order says the domiciles will be eligible “for the purposes of appointment to any post carrying a pay scale of not more than Level 4”. The Level 4 post comprises positions such as gardeners, barbers, office peons and waterman, and the highest rank in the category is that of a junior assistant.
India welcomes foreign contributions to PM-CARES
India welcomes foreign contributions to the PM-CARES fund to fight the threat posed by the novel coronavirus, a source said here on Wednesday.
The official highlighted the shortage of ventilators and personal protective equipment for medical professionals, which needs to be addressed urgently.
Home Ministry wakes up to Tabligh event
As many as 360 foreigners were deported from Delhi in 2018-19 for reportedly indulging in “missionary activities” while they were here on a tourist visa, a senior Home Ministry official has said. In 2016-17, the number of such violators stood at 120, the official said.
Currently, foreigners who participated in a Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin have come under the Home Ministry scanner, which is the nodal agency that gives permission to any foreigner to participate in any international event.
Any conference/event application is routed through an Indian mission abroad and without the Home Ministry’s permission, the event cannot happen and participants are not issued visas.
60 from Jamaat in quarantine in Kerala
‘Nearly 1,500 attended from Karnataka’
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Industry eyes manufacture of 50,000 ventilators a month
DRDO to make five-layer masks
Masks and thermal scanners among 5.38 lakh items donated
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