MOCKERY OF JUSTICE
- Ruling by the Sindh High Court: overturned the conviction of Omar Saeed Sheikh, and 3 others.
- Reason: for lack of evidence
- Systematic way the case has been diluted from the beginning.
- Pearl, then South Asian Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal, was abducted in Karachi in January2002.
- Many ransom demands later, a video was handed over on February 21, 2002, wherein Pearl was shown being methodically beheaded with a knife.
- Americans began to squeezePakistan
- Masood Azhar, Omar Sheikh, and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar had been released in exchange for hostages of Flight IC 814 in December 1999 into Taliban/ISI custody in Kandahar.
- Omar Sheikh ‘surrendered’ to Ijaz Shah, a former Intelligence Chief, then Home Secretary of Punjab; he is now the country’sInterior Minister.
- Even more curiously, it was after many days that Sheikh’s arrest was shown.
- The Sindh government has extendedSheikh’s detention and the provincial prosecutor has said that the High Court ruling will be appealed in the Supreme Court.
- Once the pressure eases, Sheikh and his cohorts will be let off as has happened with others before them.
- In 2015, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, who supervised the 26/11Mumbaiattacks, was released from detention, and remains free.
- Pakistan needs to be persuaded to move beyond tokenism and demonstrate a much higher order of commitment to deal with such terrorists than it has hitherto shown.
ENEMY AT THE GATES
- Kerala’sgrievanceoverKarnatakasealing its border to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Kerala High Court directed the Centre to ensure free vehicular movement for those requiring urgent medical treatment on the national highway that connects Kasaragod in Kerala to Mangaluru in Karnataka.
- Kerala High Court: denying emergency medical aid amounts to a violation of the right to life and liberty
- Supreme Court has directed the Centre to confer with the States and formulate the norms for creating a passage at Talapadi, the border.
- Kasaragod district: Many here depend on medical facilities in Mangaluru for emergencies, while others rely on inter-State movement for essential medicines to reach them.
- Karnataka’s objection: Kasaragod has Kerala’s largest number of positive cases.
- Late last month (irony) Kerala Governor promulgated the ‘Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020’
- One of its clauses says the State can seal its borders
- Interestingly, inter-Statemigration and quarantine are under the Union List, while the prevention of infectious diseases moving from one State to another is under the Concurrent List.
- States have the power to impose border restrictions, the responsibility to prevent a breakdown of inter-Staterelations over such disputes is on the Centre.
WHY EVERYONE SHOULD WEAR MASKS
- A rapid increase in cases will demand far more healthcare facilities than now available.
- Health care facilities were not created in anticipation of a pandemic and are grosslyinadequate for India to tackle the first phase.
- During a lockdown community transmission is prevented. 1. Imposing a strict lockdown for a number of weeks 2. Use of face masks all the time when outside our homes.
There are 4 reasons for the universal use of masks.
- Any infectedpersonwill not infect others because the droplets of fluids that we let out during conversations, coughing or sneezing will be blocked by the mask.
- Remember, most infectious people don’t have symptoms, or have mild symptoms, and are unaware that they are infected.
- Uninfectedpeople will have some protection from droplet infection during interactions with others.
- For those who wear eyeglasses, there is additional protection from droplets falling on the conjunctiva.
- When both parties wear masks, the probability of transmission is virtually zero.
- The mask-wearers will avoid inserting their fingertips into their nostrils or mouths.
- Viruses deposited on surfaces may be carried by hand if we touch such surfaces; if we do not touch our eyes, nostrils or mouth, this mode of transmission is prevented.
- 4. Everyone will be reminded all the time that these are abnormal days.
- In overcrowdedareas such as slums, a lockdownwill not be efficient in slowing down transmission.
- In such places, universal mask use is a simple way to slow down transmission.
- In India the wise choice would have been to ensure universal mask use in slums, bazaars, shops selling essential commodities, etc. before the lockdown.
- Taiwan and the CzechRepublic depended primarily on universal mask use and slowed down the epidemic.
- In the Czech Republic, people made their own masks.
- At the end of the day, cotton masks can be washed in soapy water and hung to dry for re-use.
COVID-19 mortality is due to threereasons.
- Virus virulence is the given and cannot be altered.
- Co-morbidity (diabetes, chronic diseases) is already prevalent.
- Then there is low-quality healthcare.
- Slowing down the epidemic by imposing a lockdown and ensuring universal mask use gives us the chance to protect people from infection and improve healthcare quality; wherever that was done, the mortality was less than 1%.
THE CRITICALITY OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
- 1970sAhmednagar, Maharashtra: a pioneering health-care initiative was led by a doctor couple.
- Observation: a significant cultural gap existed between health-care personnel such as auxiliary nurse midwives andrural and tribal beneficiaries.
- It was realised that a cadre of health workers recruited by and from within the community, and also accountable to the community, would have greater affinity with people, thus ensuring greater community participation in care delivery.
Accredited social health activist (ASHA) programme.
- The recent attack on an ASHAworker conducting a COVID-19survey.
- Tablighi Jamaat fiasco to migrants escaping quarantine and allegedly unleashing violence against the police.
- Government messaging of the coronavirus threat will alone not suffice, and that a willingness to cooperate can only be engendered from deep within the community.
- Communityengagementis a pre-requisite for risk communication, which entails effectively communicating the threat due to the virus, instillingtheright practices andetiquette, andcombating rumours and stigma.
- COVID-19 moving briskly towards slums and rural hinterlands, one should not be surprised if such incidents of non-cooperation start surfacing at a brisk pace too.
- For our anti-coronavirus campaign to be a success, community engagement has to ensue on a war-footing, much akin to the production of ventilators and masks.
- Like the Antyodaya approach, it has to embrace the remotest community stalwart who enjoys the community’s confidence and is perceived as an impartialnon-stateagent.
- But community engagement is more than just risk communication.
- It is the bedrock of community participation, the need for which will only be felt even more acutely as the epidemic worsens.
HOW TO RESTART THE ECONOMY AFTER THE LOCKDOWN
- Economically speaking, India is faced today with perhaps its greatest emergency since Independence.
- The global financial crisis in 2008-09 was a massive demand shock.
- With the right resolve and priorities, and drawing on India’s many sources of strength, it can beat this virus back, and even set the stage for a much more hopeful tomorrow.
- The 21-daylockdown is a first step, which buys India time to improve its preparedness.
- It will have to test significantly more to reduce the fog of uncertainty on where the hotspots are.
- India will have to keep some personnel and resources mobile so that they can be rushed to areas where shortages are acute.
- We should now plan for what happens after the lockdown, if the virus is not defeated.
- We should also be thinking of how we can restart certain activities in certain low infection regions with adequate precautions.
- Since manufacturers need to activate their entire supply chain to produce, they should be encouraged to plan on how the entire chain will reopen.
- India obviously needs to ensure that the poor and non-salariedlowermiddle class who are prevented from working for longer periods can survive.
- People defying the lockdown to get back to work if they cannot survive otherwise.
- Our limited fiscal resources are certainly a worry.
- Unlike the US or Europe, which can spend 10% more of GDP without fear of a ratings downgrade, we already entered this crisis with a huge fiscal deficit, and will have to spend yet more.
- A ratings downgrade coupled with a loss of investor confidence could lead to a plummeting exchange rate and a dramatic increase in long term rates in this environment, and substantial losses for our financial institutions.
- So we have to prioritise, cutting back or delaying less important expenditures, while refocussing on immediate needs.
- Many small and medium enterprises (SMEs), already weakened over the last few years, may not have the resources to survive.
- Not all can, or should, be saved givenour limited fiscal resources.
- Some are tinyhousehold operations, which will be supported by the DBTs to households.
- We need to think of innovative ways in which bigger viable ones, especially those that have considerable human and physical capital embedded in them, can be helped.
- The government could accept responsibility for the first loss in incremental bank loans made to an SME, up to the quantum of income taxes paid by the SME in the past year.
- This recognises the likely future contribution of the SME to the government exchequer, and rewards it with easier access to funds today.
- The government should also require each of its agencies and PSUs, including at the state level, to pay their bills immediately, so that private firms get valuable liquidity.
- There is much to do. The government should call on people with proven expertise and capabilities, of whom there are so many in India, to help it manage its response.
- It is said that India reforms only in crisis.
Cases doubled in 4.1 days due to Tablighi Jamaat event: govt.
- India’s death toll from COVID-19 rose to 83 on Sunday, with 11 fatalities since Saturday. The number of confirmed infections across the country stood at 3,577 cases, with 505 new cases; 274 persons have recovered, the Union Health Ministry said.
- The Ministry maintained that last month’s Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi has pushed up the doubling rate of cases in India to 4.1 days from the estimated 7.4 days.
- The maximum number of cases continued to be reported from Maharashtra at 748, with 13 fatalities in the past 24 hours. Tamil Nadu followed with 559 active cases, reporting two fatalities since Saturday.
U.P. lockdown to end in phases: Adityanath
- The lockdown imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19 will come to an end in Uttar Pradesh on April 15 but in phases, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said.
- “On April 15, once we end the lockdown, if crowds gather at once, all the efforts will go down the drain. We have to ensure that the crowding doesn’t take place. Your help and cooperation is needed in this regard,” he said.
Rapid antibody testing for hotspots first: ICMR
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said the rapid antibody-based blood test for COVID-19 will be deployed by this Wednesday in clusters and hotspots showing high incidence of confirmed cases.
- Raman R. Gangakhedkar, head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases Division of the ICMR, explained that overall testing for COVID-19 using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), a laboratory technique combining reverse transcription of RNA into DNA, is increasing and that India would be approaching full capacity soon.
- “At the same time, we are expecting delivery of rapid test kits (blood-based) for use in response to COVID-19 situation. By Wednesday, this should be up and running,” he added.
Tests, treatment free under Ayushman Bharat
- The Central government has decided to provide free testing and treatment of COVID-19 under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme.
- This, it notes, will help more than 50 crore Ayushman beneficiaries to get free testing and treatment in designated private hospitals across India.
- Confirming this, Indu Bhushan, CEO of Ayushman Bharat, said this would allow beneficiaries to get timely and standard treatment.
- Making testing and treatment available under Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY will significantly expand our capacities by including private sector hospitals and labs and mitigate the adverse impact of this catastrophic illness on the poor.
- Name the Chief of Defence Staff of India
- Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd. (IFFCO) contributed _________ to the PM-CARES Fund .
- United Arab Emirates shares its land boundary/ies with which country/ies?
- Recently, Aarogya Setu is in NEWS. What is it?