corona virus news – The Eastern Link https://theeasternlink.com Connecting Regions of Asia. Thu, 22 Oct 2020 04:44:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.2 https://theeasternlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cropped-external-link-symbol-32x32.png corona virus news – The Eastern Link https://theeasternlink.com 32 32 Rich In Two Asian Nations Enjoy Lockdown, Poor Suffer https://theeasternlink.com/rich-in-two-asian-nations-enjoy-lockdown-poor-suffer/ https://theeasternlink.com/rich-in-two-asian-nations-enjoy-lockdown-poor-suffer/#respond Thu, 07 May 2020 03:30:12 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=3469

Coronavirus can hit anyone but the lockdown it caused across nations is adversely impacting the poor even as the rich enjoy the break. Easternlink looked at Thailand and India , two countries where the economic divide is at its worst, to figure out the lockdown impact in Asia, home to about 60 percent of the world’s […]

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Coronavirus can hit anyone but the lockdown it caused across nations is adversely impacting the poor even as the rich enjoy the break. 
Easternlink looked at Thailand and India , two countries where the economic divide is at its worst, to figure out the lockdown impact in Asia, home to about 60 percent of the world’s population.
It found that while the poor queued up for food and rushed around for donations to pay for essentials, the rich were relaxing in upscale neighborhoods .

Poor migrant labourers in India want to go home.

With predictions of its economy taking the hardest hit since 2008 financial crisis, Thailand’s widening economic divide was never more glaring.

A Thailand-based businessman has resorted to delivering luxury food and drinks from the posh hotels including the Michelin-lined to the upscale Bangkok neighbourhoods and corporates. 

Concierge company, the Silver Voyage Club has retooled its services in the name of White Gloved Delivery to deliver caviars and dim sum rested carefully in packed boxes.

The service has also enlisted a butler decked in gloves in a sedan to lay the table for billionaire Bangkokians.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus lockdown, which had issued pink slips to all the sectors of the tourist-driven economy, left 22 million registering for a government cash hand-out.

Hundreds of jobless are lining up daily for food donations across Bangkok, in a grim tale of an economic contraction forecast of more than 6% this year. The figures are worst since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

According to Forbes magazine, Thailand has just 27 billionaires, with the agro-industrial conglomerate CP Group head, topping the list on a net worth of an estimated $27.3 billion.

Diving deeper than five-star delivery business, uptown millennial and stock enthusiasts in Asian countries like China and Hong Kong have smartly invested the free time into trading and improving their portfolio.

Hong Kong Exchange has also said to newspapers that trading had exceeded HK$100 billion ($12.9 billion) on 24th day of the 28 days lockdown after the Chinese New Year holiday.

So much so, that reputed investment banking firm like UBS and others are seeking to grow and expand its operation in Asia. Since clients are not travelling, they are spending most of their time discussing their investment portfolios over phone or video conference, said Amy Lo, co-head of wealth management for the Asia Pacific at UBS.

China has imposed more than two-month lockdown from the second week of January 2020 to curb the coronavirus speed which has affected around 82,883 people and has claimed more than 4,633 lives.

 India’s rich and powerful has used the the lockckdown as detox and used it as relaxing time as work from home ensured income continuity.

The salaried middle and upper class are now considering extra-curricular courses to gainfully utilize the free time , having hoarded their refrigerators with wines and month-long supply of packed food items.

On the other hand, unplanned lockdown within the four-hour notice period saw thousands of labourers walking across state borders to their villages for days, only to feed their hungry stomachs. 

The labourers’ groups also consisted of old, infants and women.

The remaining migrant workforce is thrown to wolves with no money and family. Social-distancing has taken a back seat with six to seven people sharing a room all day long.

To top it all, these labours have allegedly paid train fare of around 700 Indian rupees ($9.20) in Indian state Gujarat to travel back home after the government allowed special trains to ferry stranded workers.

Indian economy constitutes more than 80 per cent of non-agricultural employment as informal employment. This workforce mostly includes labours and daily wagers.

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No Sword, No Shield In West Bengal’s Covid Battle https://theeasternlink.com/no-sword-no-shield-in-west-bengals-covid-battle/ https://theeasternlink.com/no-sword-no-shield-in-west-bengals-covid-battle/#comments Wed, 06 May 2020 07:58:13 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=3407

Even as Covid-related deaths sharply rise in West Bengal and the Mamata Banerjee government is blamed for suppressing the true extent of the pandemic ,  a visit to a district hospital in the state’s rural outback reveals an alarming picture. The scene at the Purba Medinipur (East Midnapore) District Hospital reminds one of the Bengali adage ” Dhal […]

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Even as Covid-related deaths sharply rise in West Bengal and the Mamata Banerjee government is blamed for suppressing the true extent of the pandemic ,  a visit to a district hospital in the state’s rural outback reveals an alarming picture.

The scene at the Purba Medinipur (East Midnapore) District Hospital reminds one of the Bengali adage ” Dhal Nei , Torowal Nei , Nidhiram Sardar’ (no shield, no sword to battle with).

With 1259 Covid-positive cases and 133 deaths officially recorded so far, West Bengal not only has a higher mortality rate than most Indian states but also seems to be paying the price for playing down both the number of Covid-positive cases and even deaths.  

Before visiting Purba Medinipur district , Easternlink clicked into the district page  and found the following claims on the ‘health page’ of the district’s website :   (http://purbamedinipur.gov.in/

 “The government is paying increasing attention to integrated health, maternity and childcare in rural areas. An increasing number of coming health workers and doctors are being sent to rural health centers. Economically poorer sections of our population are very much dependent on the government health-infrastructure, which requires massive augmentation, what we need is to care in all its dimensions. The need is to strengthen the entire primary healthcare system.


” Despite infrastructural bottlenecks, Purba Medinipur holds a significant place in the state vis-à-vis health states. In a combined rank of blocks in consideration of estimated Birth Rate and female literacy rate in W.B., Purba Medinipur blocks occupy front ranking positions. Considering the fact that population served per bed in rural Purba Medinipur is 6034 persons and urban Purba Medinipur is 199. It can be said that despite various problems, the government health mechanism has served well the district.


In line with the initiatives taken by the state government, it is imperative to remove identified constraints and inadequacies of the health system with respect to manpower, infrastructure and availability of financial resources.   ” 

Encouraging by the tall claims of “front ranking positions” that the district held, Easternlink decided to check out how the main district hospital was faring in the battle against the C-Virus. The investigations revealed the following :

* The hospital does not have a single unit of the vital RT-PCR test kit. The sources said that the total lack of RT-PCR kits reveals that not sufficient tests are being carried out at the hospital. In fact, reports reaching “responsible” hospital staff say that large numbers of people in the villages of this backward district are consulting quacks or ayurvedic ‘doctors’ for treatment.

* It also does not have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE). There are some PPEs for the Coronavirus ward, but none at all for the emergency section or for paramedics or Class IV staff who attend to suspected Covid-19 patients.

* There are other problems and handicaps — results of lack of cohesion, confusion, poor planning and total unpreparedness — that doctors at the Purba Medinipur District Hospital are having to encounter. Since there are no sophisticated test kits that could come up with results almost immediately after swab samples are taken, the hospital authorities are having to send samples to different specialised research and immunology/virology institutions in Kolkata.

“When the number of positive cases began to rise across the state, the doctors were advised every two or three days to send swab samples to the National Institute for Communicable and Enteric Diseases (NICED) — formerly the Infectious Diseases Hospital — at Beleghata, followed by the School of Tropical Medicine or to R G Kar Medical College and Hospital or to SSKM Hospital,” health department sources, revealing the conditions in a state where the chief minister also holds the health portfolio.

The number of Covid-19 positive cases is on a steady rise in Bengal. While on May 3, the state 1,259 positive after only 22,915 persons were tested. In other words, there were five positive cases in every 100 tests. Till May 5, the total number of positive cases across the state stood at 1,344 where as a total of only 27,571 samples were collected and tested.

The sources said that besides the challenges posed by lack of proper test and PPE kits, doctors across several state government hospitals have to fill up a lengthy four-page proforma (issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research) in which they have to list out in detail information related to patients’ swab, tests carried out, test procedures and results among other things. Information related to the number of doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff also need to be filled up.

As for the tests, the sources said that “this is like the dengue system” — a reference to the routine government-ordained under-reporting of the mosquito-borne viral disease that occurs every year across parts of West Bengal, including Kolkata. “Since there are no testing kits, the number of positive cases in East Midnapore is relatively less,” an insider said, adding that “this helps to keep the total number of positive cases low”.

While the picture at the district hospital is dismal, conditions in others parts of East Midnapore is worse. The sources admitted that Haldia, Egra and Panshkura have thrown up far greater numbers of Covid-19 positive cases, including several among returnees from the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin in Delhi. On the other hand, there have also been cases where patients tested negative. “The state government has somehow managed to keep this issue (positive cases among Tablighi Jamaatis) under wraps,” the sources said.

Among the most “problematic” issues that West Bengal health department officials are having to reconcile with is that of large number of positive cases among paediatric patients.

“An unwritten instruction has been issued, saying that paediatric patients should not be the focus of any attention now. But several government hospitals across the state have reported a large number of Covid-19 positive among new-borns and children who are asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Their swab samples are not being collected, though they are carriers of the virus and may have infected many adults by now and will continue to do so,” a knowledgeable health department official said.  

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government claims that Purba Medinipur’s health scenario has changed dramatically in the past few years —  3 multi-super speciality hospitals, 5 fair-price medicine shops, 2 fair-price diagnostic centres, 20 SNSUs, 2 SNCUs, 6 CCUs, 6 HDUs, an increase of 100 beds at Contai Sub-divisional Hospital (from 200 to 300).

But claims are claims, realities are often different. And hospitals are mere buildings and those employed there are mere numbers unless they have the necessary facilities.

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Lockdown Extended By Two Weeks, Evacuation Of Stranded People Begins https://theeasternlink.com/lockdown-extended-by-two-weeks-evacuation-of-stranded-people-begins/ https://theeasternlink.com/lockdown-extended-by-two-weeks-evacuation-of-stranded-people-begins/#respond Fri, 01 May 2020 14:54:51 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=3225

NEW DELHI:The Centre on Friday decided to extend the ongoing lockdown by two weeks effective from May 4 and gave go ahead to the railways to evacuate stranded migrant workers by running “Shramik special trains.” In an order, the Union home ministry said the decision has been taken after a comprehensive review of the COVID-19 […]

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NEW DELHI:The Centre on Friday decided to extend the ongoing lockdown by two weeks effective from May 4 and gave go ahead to the railways to evacuate stranded migrant workers by running “Shramik special trains.”

In an order, the Union home ministry said the decision has been taken after a comprehensive review of the COVID-19 situation.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to further extend the lockdown for a period of two weeks beyond May 4, 2020, an official statement said.

A limited number of activities will remain prohibited across India, irrespective of the zone, including travel by air, rail, metro and interState movement by road; running of schools, colleges, and other educational & training/coaching institutions, the ministry said.

In red zones, outside containment zones, certain activities are prohibited in addition to those prohibited throughout India. These are: plying of cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws; taxis and cabaggregators; intra-district and inter-district plying of buses and barber shops, spas and saloons.

Earlier in the day, point-to-point train services were rolled out on request of the state government to facilitate homeward movement of millions stranded migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons.

The Union ministry in an order stated that the railways and the state government will designate nodal officer (s) for coordinating with states and union territories for evacuation of several millions people stranded across the country, desperate to go home.    

According to a railway ministry passengers will be allowed to board the train only after they are found asymptomatic of Covid-19 infection during the screening process to be done by the sending states.

The first special train started its journey from Lingampalli railway station near Hyderabad in Telangana around 5am on Friday carrying 1200 workers from Jharkhand. The destination point of the train is Hatia, near Ranchi in Jharkhand.

Another train left for Bhubanweshar in Odisha from Aluva in Kerala at 6pm.  The railway also operated four more trains—from Nasik to Lucknow, Nasik to Bhopal, Jaipur to Patna and Kota to Hatia—on May 1.

That PM Modi did not announce the extension of the lockdown personally as before but did it through a Home Ministry press release was considered significant.
” He perhaps knows this will not be popular, so he is not putting his face to it,” said Congress leader Bobbeeta Sarmah.   

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US task force says heat, humidity weaken coronavirus https://theeasternlink.com/us-task-force-says-heat-humidity-weaken-coronavirus-article-2886/ https://theeasternlink.com/us-task-force-says-heat-humidity-weaken-coronavirus-article-2886/#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2020 12:43:42 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2886 US task force says heat, humidity weaken coronavirus

NEW DELHI: Research shows that sunlight, heat and humidity could weaken the coronavirus on hard surfaces and in the air, reported U.S. News & World Report quoting a federal official of the White House coronavirus task force. The finding, if holds true, can be good news for a tropical country-like India William Bryan, the acting […]

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US task force says heat, humidity weaken coronavirus

NEW DELHI: Research shows that sunlight, heat and humidity could weaken the coronavirus on hard surfaces and in the air, reported U.S. News & World Report quoting a federal official of the White House coronavirus task force.

The finding, if holds true, can be good news for a tropical country-like India

William Bryan, the acting head of the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security was quoted by the US-based news outlet as saying “emerging results” showed that the virus within droplets of saliva survives best in indoor and dry conditions.

“Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both surfaces and in the air. We’ve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus,” Bryan was quoted as saying by the news portal.

While there are many unknown links in the COVID-19 transmission chain, we believe these trends can support practical decision making to lower the risks associated with the virus,” Bryan was further quoted as saying.

According to the news portal Bryan however added that it’s “irresponsible” to say that the summer will completely kill the virus. Instead, he said any downtick in the outbreak over the summer could be used as an “opportunity to get ahead.”

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Myanmar controls Covid , death toll at 5 https://theeasternlink.com/myanmar-controls-covid-death-toll-at-5/ https://theeasternlink.com/myanmar-controls-covid-death-toll-at-5/#respond Mon, 20 Apr 2020 07:40:08 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2647

YANGON—Myanmar reported the death of another COVID-19 patient on Saturday, taking the country’s coronavirus death toll to five while the number of infected people in the country has risen to 94. Yangon is the hardest hit region, with 76 infections and four deaths reported as of Saturday morning. The regional government on Friday ordered a […]

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YANGON—Myanmar reported the death of another COVID-19 patient on Saturday, taking the country’s coronavirus death toll to five while the number of infected people in the country has risen to 94.

Yangon is the hardest hit region, with 76 infections and four deaths reported as of Saturday morning. The regional government on Friday ordered a nighttime curfew effective Saturday.

A 78-year-old man who had been in intensive care at Yangon’s Waibargi Infectious Diseases Hospital since testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday died on Saturday morning, the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) said.

The man, who also suffered from hypertension and diabetes, was initially admitted to Yangon’s Insein Hospital on Wednesday and kept in isolation as a suspected COVID-19 patient, as he was showing symptoms of the disease.

The MOHS said on Saturday the patient died due to severe pneumonia caused by the coronavirus in combination with his two underlying diseases.

Lawmaker U Yan Shin from Yangon’s Mayangone Township told The Irrawaddy on Saturday the patient had close contact with COVID-19 patients from the same township who tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday.

Myanmar reported its first death from COVID-19 on March 31. The 69-year-old man had been undergoing treatment for stage-4 cancer and died of multiple causes including the coronavirus.

Two more COVID-19 patients died on April 8—a 47-year-old man who had been treated at Pyay General Hospital in Bago Region and a 63-year-old woman who had diabetes as an underlying illness.

On April 12, an 85-year-old COVID-19 patient with underlying hypertension, diabetes and heart disease died while in isolation at Yangon General Hospital.

As of Saturday, Myanmar had reported a total of 94 COVID-19 cases. The MOHS said two of the surviving patients are in intensive care at Waibargi Hospital, and the remainder are in stable condition.

Yangon has the country’s most serious coronavirus outbreak, with 76 COVID-19 patients and four deaths reported as of Saturday. On Friday, the Yangon regional government ordered a nighttime curfew to take effect Saturday. Residents of the region’s 44 townships except the Coco Islands are prohibited from going outdoors between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

On Thursday, the MOHS ordered a conditional nationwide ban on gatherings of more than five people to control the spread of the disease.

As an additional measure, the MOHS on Saturday issued a conditional stay-home order covering seven Yangon townships where cases have been reported: Insein, Shwephyithar, Mayangone, Bahan, Pabalden, South Oakkalar and Hlaingtharyar.

The order excludes factory workers, company staff and government employees.

Under the order, only one person from each household is allowed to go shopping. In households with health issues, people may leave in pairs to go to a clinic or hospital. People must wear masks when they go out.

People who need to go out in groups of more than two may request permission to do so from their neighborhood authorities.

Anyone who fails to follow the instructions will be subject to legal action under the Prevention and Control of Communicable Disease Law, the MOHS said.

Courtesy – Irrawaddy

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Corona a lab virus ! https://theeasternlink.com/corona-a-lab-virus/ https://theeasternlink.com/corona-a-lab-virus/#respond Sat, 18 Apr 2020 17:07:25 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2573 Corona a lab virus The Eastern Link

As the mainstream media and politicians begin to raise/admit the possibilities that the source of COVID-19 was likely a lab in Wuhan (accidentally leaked or otherwise) – something we first brought to the world’s attention in January before being mocked, censored, and chastised – it appears more actual ‘scientists’ (at least those not paid by or working for a lab in […]

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Corona a lab virus The Eastern Link

As the mainstream media and politicians begin to raise/admit the possibilities that the source of COVID-19 was likely a lab in Wuhan (accidentally leaked or otherwise) – something we first brought to the world’s attention in January before being mocked, censored, and chastised – it appears more actual ‘scientists’ (at least those not paid by or working for a lab in Wuhan) are willing to admit what we noted all along – this virus is man-made.

GilmoreHealth.com’s Robert Miller writes that contrary to the narrative that is being pushed by the mainstream that the COVID 19 virus was the result of a natural mutation and that it was transmitted to humans from bats via pangolins, Dr Luc Montagnier the man who discovered the HIV virus back in 1983 disagrees and is saying that the virus was man made.

Professor Luc Montagnier, 2008 Nobel Prize winner for Medicine, claims that SARS-CoV-2 is a manipulated virus that was accidentally released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. Chinese researchers are said to have used coronaviruses in their work to develop an AIDS vaccine. HIV DNA fragments are believed to have been found in the SARS-CoV-2 genome.

We knew that the Chinese version of how the coronavirus emerged was increasingly under attack, but here’s a thesis that tells a completely different story about the Covid-19 pandemic, which is already responsible for more than 110,000 deaths worldwide.

According to Professor Luc Montagnier, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008 for “discovering” HIV as the cause of the AIDS epidemic together with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, the SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that was manipulated and accidentally released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, in the last quarter of 2019.

According to Professor Montagnier, this laboratory, known for its work on coronaviruses, tried to use one of these viruses as a vector for HIV in the search for an AIDS vaccine!

“With my colleague, bio-mathematician Jean-Claude Perez, we carefully analyzed the description of the genome of this RNA virus,” explains Luc Montagnier, interviewed by Dr Jean-François Lemoine for the daily podcast at Pourquoi Docteur, adding that others have already explored this avenue:

Indian researchers have already tried to publish the results of the analyses that showed that this coronavirus genome contained sequences of another virus, … the HIV virus (AIDS virus), but they were forced to withdraw their findings as the pressure from the mainstream was too great.

In a challenging question Dr Jean-François Lemoine inferred that the coronavirus under investigation may have come from a patient who is otherwise infected with HIV.

“No,” says Luc Montagnier, “in order to insert an HIV sequence into this genome, molecular tools are needed, and that can only be done in a laboratory.”

According to the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine, a plausible explanation would be an accident in the Wuhan laboratory. He also added that the purpose of this work was the search for an AIDS vaccine.

The truth will eventually come out

In any case, this thesis, defended by Professor Luc Montagnier, has a positive turn. According to him, the altered elements of this virus are eliminated as it spreads:

Courtesy – Zero Hedge

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Why Rahul Gandhi’s NYAY program is relevant in Corona Times https://theeasternlink.com/why-rahul-gandhis-nyay-program-is-relevant-in-corona-times/ https://theeasternlink.com/why-rahul-gandhis-nyay-program-is-relevant-in-corona-times/#respond Fri, 17 Apr 2020 08:54:53 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2511

Rahul Gandhi’s brainchild NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) or Minimum Income Support Program which was the thrust of the Indian National Congress Party’s campaign in the last Lok Sabha elections of 2019 came back into focus in the Corona backdrop. Debates and Discussions on NYAY dominated television space that perhaps India desperately required a social security […]

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Rahul Gandhi’s brainchild NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) or Minimum Income Support Program which was the thrust of the Indian National Congress Party’s campaign in the last Lok Sabha elections of 2019 came back into focus in the Corona backdrop. Debates and Discussions on NYAY dominated television space that perhaps India desperately required a social security net for its below poverty line citizens. The serpentine flow of the village bound desperate penniless migrant workers on the highways of India in the aftermath of the sudden lockdown and the recent protest of migrant workers in Surat ( Gujarat) and Bandra ( Mumbai ) is a rude awakening for any government to pull up its socks, do a reality check on the lack of safety net for our impoverished low income daily wage earners and our unemployed population. 

What was NYAY ? 

Between 2004 and 2014 the Congress led UPA Government had managed to lift 14 crore people out of poverty and with NYAY the objective was to eliminate abject poverty by the year 2030.  NYAY would have brought into its ambit 5 crore families from among the poorest of the poor. Each family would have been guaranteed a cash transfer of Rs 72,000/- a year. The money would have been transferred to the account of a woman of the family. NYAY was planned keeping in mind the size of India’s GDP and the level of Total Expenditure (Central and State Governments) which would have made it possible to implement NYAY ‘without, in any way, affecting the goal of fiscal prudence’. A gradual implementation plan was also chalked out in phases – Design phase (3 months), Pilot and Testing phases ( 6-9months) and finally roll out which would also have been in phases. The estimated cost was planned at 1% of GDP in the first year, 2% of GDP in second year and ‘as the nominal GDP grew and families moved out of poverty the cost would decline as a proportion of GDP.’ An independent panel of eminent economists and social scientists would have supervised the NYAY program right from design to final roll out.  Had Congress won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections NYAY would have been a reality by now and could have provided the safety net for its below poverty line citizens and understandably would have been a saviour for many families amidst the Corona crisis. 

Developed countries around the world have social security measures for their citizens. The United Kingdom has the Job Seekers Allowance and Low Income Benefits. Many European countries have Family Allowance Benefits which are paid monthly. Single parents receive extended child benefits. In Denmark citizens can claim social assistance if they undergo a challenging social change like unemployment, illness or divorce due to which they are no longer capable of supporting themselves or their family. Such benefits in many European countries are given apart from the usual free education of their children, health insurance, maternity benefits, old age pensions etc. 

Just as it is the duty of any government to provide basic amenities of water, electricity and roads to its citizens so also is the responsibility of any government to provide required social security benefits to its citizens. These are not to be considered as doles but are rights of every citizen. In a highly populated country like India it is not possible to extend such benefits to all its citizens, hence it should be the goal of any political party to see that at least the underprivileged section of the population is covered with a social security net. 

The Corona challenge is a wake up call for the Government to put in place a permanent safety net for the poorest of the poor of our country. And NYAY is one such scheme that can be implemented even at this juncture. As it is many previous UPA schemes have been carried forward by the NDA Government at the Centre as governance is a continuous process. Of course one must admit that the party in power have very intelligently repackaged these with populist names over the previously slightly bureaucratic flavoured titles that would easily reside in a common man’s psyche! Nearly 32 of such UPA schemes have been repackaged and renamed. For instance, the 2013 Nirmal Bharat Abhigyan became the Swatch Bharat Mission. The 2010 Free LPG Connection to BPL Families became the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. The 2008 National Girl Child Day program became the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana. The 2011 National Manufacturing Policy became Make in India. The 2010 National Skill Development Program became Skill India and so on and so forth. 

The Government announcement of an economic package of RS 1.70 lakh crore distributing free food grain and cooking gas for three months is a temporary measure to tide over the immediate Corona virus crisis but that will not sustain for long. In these unprecedented times India desperately needs a permanent scheme like NYAY to give respite to its underprivileged population. It should not matter now that NYAY is the brainchild of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi or that it is a scheme that is close to his heart. It should not matter now that Rahul Gandhi in his 2019 campaign said ‘NYAY will restart the economy the way a key starts a car, that it will revive an economy hit hard by demonetisation.’ It should not also matter now that Rahul Gandhi was the first Indian politician to warn the Government about the Corona Threat as early on in February 12th 2020 that the “Corona Virus is an extremely serious threat to our people and our economy. My sense is the Government is not taking it seriously. Timely action is critical”. It should not matter now that Rahul Gandhi had repeated his warning of an ‘economic Tsunami’ on 12th March 2020, being the only voice of the opposition to do so. It should not matter now that he said ‘ Clapping will not help them. Today there is need for cash relief and tax sops, besides relief in repayment of loans as part of a big economic package. Take immediate steps.’ It should not matter now that Rahul Gandhi had called for more planned approach to lockdown and said that ‘ the lockdown will devastate our poor and weak. It will deliver a heavy blow to the India we love. India isn’t black and white. Our decisions have to be carefully thought through. A more nuanced and compassionate approach is required to deal with this crisis. Its still not too late.’ 

Indeed it is still not too late to implement NYAY. What matters now is a scheme like NYAY which is expedient for the daily wage earners of our country and it should be implemented fast and quick. If  serving the people of the nation is the overriding goal of any political party it should not matter who gave birth to NYAY. 


(Bobbeeta Sharma is a senior Assam Congress leader, a former actress, television producer and before that a beauty queen. She is also author of a well acclaimed book on Assamese cinema and was chairperson of the Assam Film Development Corporation)

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PM’s Address: Need Sober Assessment, Coherent Lockdown Exit Strategy https://theeasternlink.com/pms-address-need-sober-assessment-coherent-lockdown-exit-strategy/ https://theeasternlink.com/pms-address-need-sober-assessment-coherent-lockdown-exit-strategy/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2020 08:46:53 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2356

While extending the lockdown till May 3, Prime Minister Modi claimed that India has done relatively better than the advanced countries in containing the Covid 19 pandemic, which he attributed to the timely lockdown. This is certainly true with regard to the US and West European countries, but not with regard to many others, which […]

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While extending the lockdown till May 3, Prime Minister Modi claimed that India has done relatively better than the advanced countries in containing the Covid 19 pandemic, which he attributed to the timely lockdown. This is certainly true with regard to the US and West European countries, but not with regard to many others, which are comparable. With over 10K total Covid 19 cases, India already ranks 22nd among 210 affected countries; 20th in terms of total deaths. Given the sharply rising trend of new cases and deaths in India over the past week, the situation is likely to worsen further, before it gets better. 
With slightly over 2 lakh Covid 19 tests done till date, India has lagged behind countries like Russia, UAE, South Korea and Australia which have tested much more and managed to ensure a much lower death rate than India’s.
Therefore, there is absolutely no scope either for elation or complacency, with regard to India’s collective efforts against the pandemic. Moreover, lockdown and physical distancing are not cures; they need to be complemented by proactive testing, identification, isolation of the affected persons, and ensuring proper medicare without stigmatising them in any manner. 
No state should be afraid of a bell-shaped curve of daily confirmed cases; first rising for a couple of weeks only to flatten and decline subsequently; the bottomline is to ensure a low death rate. This is what Kerala has commendably achieved so far and needs to be emulated by all the other states. More widespread and effective testing is the only way ahead. Governments and opinion-makers should strive to develop an enabling scientific temperament and evolving compassionate social attitudes; abstain from spreading panic and intolerance. 
It remains to be seen whether the guidelines promised to be released by the PM tomorrow, address these concerns. Else, the government and the people will remain trapped in the lockdown with no exit in sight.  
Thankfully, PM Modi did not repeat any action call for mass stupidity today, like banging utensils or lighting candles. Some of his appeals, like the one to the Indian scientists to take up the challenge of developing Covid 19 vaccine or for the young to stand by the elderly and the poor, during this crisis hour, are indeed helpful. But the Aarogya Setu app initiative need not be oversold; there are serious concerns regarding the invasion of privacy, data security and accountability regarding such contact-tracing mobile apps which the government should address before promoting it.  
The stringent lockdown in India is helping in containing the virus, but it is coming at an enormous socio-economic cost, especially for the poor daily-wage and informal sector workers, living in the urban slums and villages. This is where the government seems to be failing abjectly, relying more on lip service rather than substantive policies. 
If the Modi government does not go for a substantive fiscal relief-cum-stimulus package amounting to not less than 10% of India’s GDP, it will face the wrath of the suffering poor as and when the lockdown ends. Austerity and fiscal fundamentalism will be met with outright resistance. 
( Prasenjit Bose is top economist , a former CPI(M) leader and leads the anti-NRC Forum)

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South Korean Scientists Map Corona Genome, Vaccine Possible Now https://theeasternlink.com/south-korean-scientists-map-corona-genome-vaccine-possible-now/ https://theeasternlink.com/south-korean-scientists-map-corona-genome-vaccine-possible-now/#respond Sat, 11 Apr 2020 06:50:46 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2193 coronavirus medicine in korea theeasternlink

South Korean scientists have produced what they describe as a “high-resolution map” of the novel coronavirus’ RNA genome, in which its genetic information is stored, paving the way for a better understanding of its characteristics and life cycle and allowing the development of vaccines and more precise tests. The research team at the Centre for RNA […]

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coronavirus medicine in korea theeasternlink

South Korean scientists have produced what they describe as a “high-resolution map” of the novel coronavirus’ RNA genome, in which its genetic information is stored, paving the way for a better understanding of its characteristics and life cycle and allowing the development of vaccines and more precise tests.

The research team at the Centre for RNA Research in Seoul’s Institute for Basic Science was led by V. Narry Kim and Chang Hyeshi. They worked in collaboration with an arm of the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), which has been leading the country’s aggressive mass testing efforts.

South Koreans don face masks, plastic gloves to vote amid Covid-19 crisis

“Our work provides a high-resolution map of Sars-CoV-2,” Kim said, using the scientific name for the novel coronavirus, in a statement issued by the institute. “This map will help understand how the virus replicates and how it escapes the human defence system.”

Kim is one of South Korea’s most prominent researchers. According to Nature magazine, in 2009, at the age of 39, she became one of the youngest winners of the Ho-Am Prize for Medicine, often considered the country’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize.

She is also a role model for young scientists, especially to women, who make up just 19 per cent of South Korea’s scientific workforce.

Professor Lee Hoanjong at the Seoul National University Children’s Hospital said the research results made it possible to predict what kinds of proteins were made by the virus, which would help in vaccine development.

Professor Lisa Ng, senior principal investigator of the government-funded Singapore Immunology Network, said the South Korean study “provides the first glimpse to understand pathogenesis [the way a disease develops] of Sars-CoV-2 infection that will allow further studies to be explored to define the mechanisms of infection and host response.”

The team’s findings, published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Cell on Thursday, shed more light on the coronavirus’ mysterious genome.

Viruses do not reproduce themselves, but contain instructions for replication that can happen when they find suitable living cells. The new coronavirus’ genome stores its recipe for reproduction in the form of a very long ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecule, which consists of about 30,000 genetic bases or letters.

When the virus enters host cells, it replicates this RNA in bulk, producing many smaller RNAs called subgenomic RNAs. Some subgenomic RNAs are used to make viral proteins that do a range of things, including suppressing the body’s immune responses to the virus.

The South Korean researchers used two complementary sequencing techniques and were able to confirm which subgenomic RNAs were translated into viral proteins. They also found dozens of previously unknown subgenomic RNAs.

“[Besides] detailing the structure of Sars-CoV-2, we also discovered numerous new RNAs and multiple unknown chemical modifications on the viral RNAs,” Kim said.

“Though it requires further investigation, these molecular events may lead to the relatively rapid evolution of coronavirus … It is unclear yet what these modifications do, but a possibility is that they may assist the virus to avoid the attack from the host.”

An understanding of all the proteins that Sars-CoV-2 makes when it enters a cell is of great importance, according to a piece in The Economist last month, as it makes each protein a “potential target for drug designers”.

“In the grip of a pandemic, though, the emphasis is on the targets that might be hit by drugs already at hand,” the article said.

In its statement, the Institute for Basic Science said the identification of the smaller RNAs made them good targets for any bid to stop the coronavirus from conquering human immune systems.

Kim said the scientists would now focus on exploring the functions of the newly discovered subgenomic RNAs and to see if the modifications they identified played a role in virus replication and immune system responses.

Previous gene-sequencing studies have shown that the coronavirus mutates in the same way as HIV, meaning its ability to bind with human cells could be up to 1,000 times stronger than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) virus, according to research by European and Chinese scientists.

Courtesy- South China Morning Post

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Gujarat fails in Covid fight https://theeasternlink.com/gujarat-fails-in-covid-fight/ https://theeasternlink.com/gujarat-fails-in-covid-fight/#respond Fri, 10 Apr 2020 12:45:19 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2155

Data updated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the evening of April 7 indicated that the fatality rate due to COVID-19 in Gujarat is the highest among all states and union territories of India. The total number of infected persons reported in Gujarat was at 165, with 13 deaths. Thus the fatality rate in […]

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Data updated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the evening of April 7 indicated that the fatality rate due to COVID-19 in Gujarat is the highest among all states and union territories of India.

The total number of infected persons reported in Gujarat was at 165, with 13 deaths. Thus the fatality rate in Gujarat is 7.88%. The fatality rate of COVID-19 in India as a whole is 2.87%.

The high fatality rate in Gujarat perhaps reflect the alarming conditions of the public health system in the state. There is a need to understand this, particularly since Gujarat has been projected as the model state in the past for India to follow.

It was only after the total lockdown was imposed throughout India that the Gujarat government started the process of reserving hospitals for treating patients with COVID-19 exclusively, procuring 156 ventilators and training its 9,000 health workers to manage ventilators. This lack of urgency reflects the poor condition of public healthcare in Gujarat.

Gujarat has a legacy of a bad public healthcare system. The four terms of Narendra Modi as chief minister of the state played an important role in creating this legacy.

Modi became the prime minister while flaunting the Gujarat Model of Development (GMD) in 2014. He had been the chief minister (CM) of Gujarat for almost 13 years between 2001 to 2014. Modi’s achievements as chief minister of Gujarat in the field of public healthcare may reflect on his healthcare policy at the Centre, and help us understand his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, Gujarat has 0.33 hospital beds per 1,000 population. There is only one state that has smaller ration – Bihar. The national average is 0.55 beds per 1,000 population. This disparity between Gujarat and the national average needs to be understood. According to the World Health Organisation, India had 0.70 hospital beds per 1,000 of population in 2011.

Gujarat was ranked 17 among the 18 largest states in India by the Reserve Banks of India in terms of social sector spending. Gujarat was spending only 31.6% of its total budgetary expenditure on the social sector.

In terms of per capita health expenditure, Gujarat’s rank slipped from fourth in 1999-2000 to 11th position in 2009-10. During the same period, Assam improved from the 12th to the third position and Uttar Pradesh from the 15th to ninth position. In 1999-2000, Gujarat was spending 4.39% of its total state expenditure on health, but by 2009-10 this came down to 0.77%.

In terms of health expenditure as a share of NSDP, Gujarat went down from 0.87% to 0.73% between 1999-00 and 2009-10, while the average of major states increased from 0.95% to 1.04% during the same period. Tamil Nadu and Assam almost doubled their expenditures during the same period. This indicates the increasing disinterest of the Gujarat government in public health services.

In 2004-05, when the United Progressive Alliance came to power in the Centre, public expenditure on health as a percentage to GDP was 0.84%. It went up to 1.41% by 2008-09 before being reduced again to 0.98% by the new National Democratic Alliance government (Modi’s first term) in 2014-15. In the current financial year (2020-21), it was set at 1.28%.

In Gujarat, Out of Pocket Expenditure on Healthcare (Hospitalisation) in government hospitals is higher than the national average and higher than even states like Bihar. This means those visiting government hospitals in Gujarat have to spend more money from their own pockets than the people in Bihar have to. In terms of per capita spending on medicine, Gujarat ranked 25th in 2009-10.

In 2001, when Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat, the state had a total of 1,001 primary health centres, 244 community health centres and 7,274 sub-centres. In 2011-12, while the number of the primary health centres and community health centres marginally increased to 1,158 and 318, the number of sub-centres remained the same. Even today the total number of primary health centres in Gujarat is less than even Bihar. The total number of public rural hospitals in Bihar is almost three times of the total number of rural public hospitals in Gujarat.

While the world is dealing with the current pandemic, countries across the globe are estimating their strengths and weaknesses, capacity and potential, and deciding on policy accordingly. It is important to identify and understand our vulnerabilities amidst this crisis. India currently has only around 7,13,986 hospital beds and 20,000 ventilators. According to an estimate, around 5 % of those infected from COVID-19 will need ventilator support.

Under these conditions, the moment the total number of infected persons in India crosses four lakh, India will not have enough ventilators for =critical patients. According to an estimate, by May 15, the total number of infected people could reach up to 22 lakh. The estimate from Indian Council of Medical Research and IndiaSim is even higher.

While the situation is scary across the countries, we have to question the model of development we have chosen and where that has left us in times of crisis. And we may have to think about a more sustainable model of development in the days ahead.

Courtesy – The Wire

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