Today's Big Stories
As India preps for lockdown 4.0, country's COVID-19 cases surpass China's tally; 3 states cross 1,000-mark
The nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed 85,000 on Friday, exceeding that of China. Number of cases topped 1,000 in in Kashmir, Kerala, Karnataka and Bihar, even as indications emerged about greater relaxations in the fourth phase of the lockdown beginning Monday to contain economic costs of the pandemic. Large numbers of cases continued to get detected in big urban clusters. Maharashtra, the worst-affected state, reported 1,576 new cases to take its tally to 29,100, while its death toll rose to 1,068. Tamil Nadu crossed the 10,000 mark with 434 new cases, while Gujarat saw 340 more people testing positive to push its tally to 9,932.
Soon, central law for farmers to sell produce at ‘attractive prices', legal support will be given too
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced governance and administrative reforms meant to help farmers in selling their produce at attractive prices. A Central law will be formulated to provide adequate choices to farmers to sell produce at attractive prices, for barrier-free inter-state trade and to setup a framework for e-trading of agriculture produce. Rs 20,000 crore was allocated for fishermen through Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY). “Impetus for development of farm-gate and aggregation point, affordable and financially viable post-harvest management infraastructure will be provided," said Sitharaman. The Centre also provided Rs 10,000 crore scheme for formalisation of micro food enterprises (MSEs).
In Other News
SC on migrant workers: The Supreme Court said it was impossible for anyone to stop migrant workers from walking back to their homes and refused to direct the government to give them shelter or free transportation. The Centre informed that arrangements have been made for the migrants to return, “but some want to start walking on foot.”
Curbs in Delhi: The Kejriwal government in Delhi recommended to relax norms for offices with 50% staff in private companies and government offices. For metro trains, the government has suggested use of smart cards only and seating inside coaches to be on alternative basis.
Strategy: As India moves towards the end of the third phase of the national lockdown implemented in order to contain the spread of coronavirus, here’s how eleven states strategised to execute the fourth phase.
Playing proxies: Army Chief Gen MM Naravane said there were reasons to believe that Nepal objected to India's newly-inaugurated road linking Lipulekh Pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand at the behest of "someone else", in an apparent reference to a possible role by China on the matter
Handover: The Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, has handed over 22 insurgents to the Indian government, making it the first time that the neighbouring government has acted on India’s request to hand over leaders of the northeast insurgent groups.
Pandemic ends: Slovenia opened its borders after declaring an end to its coronavirus epidemic, despite new infections still being reported. With the rate of new infections trailing off, the government ordered borders open for all EU citizens, while non-EU citizens will have to stay in quarantine.
On Our Specials
No reform: State governments, in competition to attract foreign investment, have eased regulations vis-a-vis the two big imperatives: land and labour. The knee-jerk measures are justified on the grounds of job creation, that is, converting India's 'youth bulge' into a demographic dividend. Are labour reforms oriented towards highly competitive MNCs the best way forward for India in the wake of the pandemic? Bhavdeep Kang writes will push unionisation and worsen the agrarian crisis.
Ruling on azaan: In an important ruling on use of amplifying devices for religious purposes, the Allahabad High Court on Friday held that use of loudspeakers is not an integral part of Azaan or necessary for making azaan effective since other citizens have a right to not hear what they do not want, Utkarsh Anand reports. “The use of microphone is a practice developed by someone and not by the Prophet or his main disciples,” the Court said.