Coronavirus India – The Eastern Link https://theeasternlink.com Connecting Regions of Asia. Thu, 22 Oct 2020 04:38:18 +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 Coronavirus India – The Eastern Link https://theeasternlink.com 32 32 Political Will Required To Solve Migrant Workers Crisis https://theeasternlink.com/political-will-required-to-solve-migrant-workers-crisis/ https://theeasternlink.com/political-will-required-to-solve-migrant-workers-crisis/#respond Fri, 15 May 2020 07:09:45 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=3762

Unlike China , Indian Citizens have certain fundamental rights. These include the one to move freely throughout the territory of India , to reside and settle in any part of India and to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation , trade or business.Government does have power to impose reasonable restrictions by law. […]

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Unlike China , Indian Citizens have certain fundamental rights. These include the one to move freely throughout the territory of India , to reside and settle in any part of India and to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation , trade or business.
Government does have power to impose reasonable restrictions by law. The epidemics has given some powers to the government to restrict movement to control  the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.
The much delayed  decision to impose Lockdown was widely welcomed., though many did not observe the rules of physical distancing . 
However , like the demonetisation , the decision was not well thought out and no home work was done to allow people to move to their place of comfort. So the Lockdown resulted in another unprecedented crisis  . Millions of jobless people got stranded far away from their homes. People travelling for treatment , business or leisure were also stranded.
This unprecedented situation demanded a quick evacuation plan which has not been put in place even after 50 days of the Lockdown.
 VANDE BHARAT is the well known initiative launched by the  government to bring back Indians stranded abroad due to the Covid-19 crisis.
 A lot of initiative and coordination is going into bringing our citizens from abroad. Nobody can have a quarrel with that. 
But it  is unfortunate  that there is no practical and efficient plan for the domestic skilled and unskilled workers living in eight  states of Bharat.  There is lot of grudge, ad-hocism even if we account for over 350 trains which would have moved over 4 lac such hapless victims.
This tends to bring into sharp focus indeed the great divide between the have and have-nots, the rich and the poor, the possessed and the dispossessed. 
While there is a surgical strike type of operation named and planned for the richer NRIs to ensure that they come back home from  5000 miles,the domestic migrants are nit so lucky. There is no  concerted plan to get them back home, even though the numbers are large and so need more efforts. 
The Aurangabad incident and the hiding inside cement mixers or inside onion sacks to be taken home just 1000 miles away are heartbreaking. It seems tge migra t worker, whose blood and sweat crafted India’s growth story, has not figured on planning boards and left to fendv for themselves.
They seem to have been been betrayed.
 Rich states like Karnataka and Gujarat would not leave them because that would leave them woefully short of labour when the lockdown opens and the poor recipient states like Bihar, Odisha would not take them as they could cause the Covid infection to spiral dangerously.
The courts seem to have diluted the concept of audi alteram partum – do not condemn the unheard – as the poor migrants were suddenly informed some 47 days ago that they cannot step outside their hutments with no future exit opportunity even though the Covid 19 patient count was merely 526 on March 25th and the migrants could have been given a few days breather to go home.
The rich states now want to treat them like bonded labour and that too without paying any wages except for some charity of free food which the self-respecting workers would wish to deny because it would be beggarly behaviour. 
A clutch of  mandatory steps are said to be required before a single migrant can think of being transported home and hence the on-going delay in fruitful efforts to help the million or more stranded in the seven widely known states of western / southern region. 
Let’s see how. An informed inquiry has revealed that the steps are as follows – 
It is the migrant heavy sender states who have to first make a district wise list of migrant labour they wish to send . The sender state has to vet  the list and the destination point to which the migrants would be sent.
 Then the  list marked with the destinations would be sent to the recipient state.
The recipient state has to consult its district machinery and the state itself as to the burden of receiving the migrants, the migrant state has to make interalia quarantine measures to contain the migrant reaching the district by transport to the quarantine spot.
The quarantine enforcing machinery has to organise the 14 days quarantine and prepare for a thorough check before release.
Then the recipient state would send consent through its nodal officer to the sender state for sending the migrants. then the migrant receiving state would petition the central government to arrange a train (typical capacity of 1200 passengers keeping physical distance norms), the receiving state would pay its share (centre says only 15%) for the ticket value of the migrants to be transported, on receipt of payment the centre will direct the Railways to arrange a train rake at the destination of collection.
The migrant passengers would be told (don’t know how) that a train is now booked for taking them home and would leave at such and such time to such and such destination – those not informed will be left behind.
 The penniless  poor migrant labour would procure a health certificate ( Coronavirus negative )by paying at least Rs 500 to a private doctor. The migrant labour would come to the platform and board the train in the presence of watchful officers.He  would reach the district of destination. The migrants would then go to the point of quarantine which could be district headquarters or village school / panchayat bhavan.
The 15 step red-tape is incredibly complicated. The Center often blames the states for not requisitioning the migrant special trains and the states are swearing at the centre for not fully cooperating. 
It appears as if we are dealing with different countries and not an Union of  States .
The political parties not in power are banging their desks that here is the money for the train and so transport the migrants without any further loss of time. 
The net result is chaos, more chaos and still more with thousands of  the migrants walking in their desperation to destinations  hundreds of miles away .
The government is lost in its bureaucracy as the ever increasing harsh summer temperatures takes a deadly toll on migrant  workets from from Mumbai, Surat , Bangalore , Delhi , Ludhiana to Basti, Bastar and Burdwan. The long march never ends.
So, what is the solution.  Actually, if there is a will, there is a way .
 The central government should in a video conference with the recipient states and sending states ( a number of whom have party affiliation or tie up) and in a no-nonsense meeting with the CMs of the states with a polite yet firm hand set out the task for the sending states and the recipient states .
 Key destinations for boarding outward journey are not many and so also the recipient districts are reasonably well known by now. No NSSO type survey or migrant labour portal is required at this stage for identification. 
The Indian Railways runs in normal times 15000 trains  a day with more than 4 crore passenger carrying capacity. What is needed now is only a pre-announced scheme of 1000 trains per day (and not the 300 odd now) for 7 to 10 days from 7 to 10 destinations from sending states to 7 to 10 destinations in receiving states with the recipient destination bus service clearly idrntifird  for the last mile linkage.
A These trains could be announced as SUMMER SPECIALS with pre-announced / fixed boarding stations. Most of all, there is no need to record the departing passengers as this can easily be done at the recipient station where there would be enough time to debrief the alighting passengers in contained areas for their onward last mile travel and quarantine requirements. 
The bureaucracy of this country is competent and capable to deliver.  it has very successfully and gracefully handled a big number  prisoners of Bangladesh war and millions of refugees in 1971 , even when the country was yet to achieve full self sufficiency in food.
Only the political will is required to put  the steel frame into action. Unfortunately that political will is now lacking. We can only look to the skies and hope that  the political masters will get the  task done without further delay , doubt or dithering. Then  all will fall into place. Let us hope better sense prevails before more Aurangabads happen.  
The working  class is a national asset, not a liability. They are the back bone of the society and the economy.  Ultimately they are the masters and have the power to make and unmake governments.  Our constitution has been adopted in their name , they pay tax to run the system.
Fortunately now they have learnt to bypass the red tape and the lathi wielding police . They are determined to walk hundreds of miles without food and sleep to join their families . They have refused to be bonded labour or majbur Girmitiya Majdoor. The soul of the Mahatma is silently guiding them to ignore unjust orders of an insensitive system , and move on  with courage . they may not have faith in the system , but they do have faith in their capacity to deal with hardships , diseases and disaster with or without government help. 
Some invisible power always guides them. they have faith on that invisible power , which created them.  But if the Almighty is to deliver, why do we have a state !
(Ramdutt Tripathi is a veteran BBC correspondent in UP, a legal consultant and runs Mediaswaraj news portal)

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Why Not Repeal Labour Laws Completely ! https://theeasternlink.com/why-not-repeal-labour-laws-completely/ https://theeasternlink.com/why-not-repeal-labour-laws-completely/#respond Wed, 13 May 2020 14:27:47 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=3737

The book Political Economy authored by Leontiev (not Leontief) starts like this: the son asks his father, “Why are you sitting idle at home?’’ His father replies, “Yesterday I produced more’’. The other side was not discovered like, “Father, why are you not coming back home?’’ and the response could have been, “Yesterday I was not allowed […]

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The book Political Economy authored by Leontiev (not Leontief) starts like this: the son asks his father, “Why are you sitting idle at home?’’ His father replies, “Yesterday I produced more’’. The other side was not discovered like, “Father, why are you not coming back home?’’ and the response could have been, “Yesterday I was not allowed to produce’’. I am sure my readers now relate the untold episode in the context of destination-locked migrant workers for 50+days.

I have reasons to believe that the Act-architecture in India is archaic since many of those were formulated during the colonial era to serve the colonial masters. Many of these Acts revolved around labour. Some of the labour laws were amended or re-formulated post-independence. Post-Corona, 2019/2020, 50+labour days lost, the governments have become anxious for labour failed to add value that could have gone partially to Government treasury through a number of means and methods.

The alert state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat have now announced that except for laws pertaining to the payment of minimum wages, following safety norms and adequate compensation for workers in case of industrial accidents, no other provisions of the labour law would apply to any new companies that wish to operate in the respective states for at least 1,200 days, and for those that have already been operational for that period. This step was allegedly needed to attract investment after the lockdown. This announcement aimed at providing opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Uttar Pradesh Model
The Government of Uttar Pradesh gave nod to the ‘Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020’ to exempt factories, business establishments and industries from the purview of all, except three labour laws for three years. The Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 has been withdrawn. Workers’ safety is blown to the winds because the provisions of the Factories Act will no longer be there.

Gujarat Model
The Government of Gujarat, though late, accelerated its entrepreneurial talent announcing land acquisition for companies to set up plants who would relocate them from China, it was reported. The Land Acquisition Act was archaic – of 1894 that was amended first time in India in 1984. The talent of Gujarat needs no introduction for out of the 2,574 large industries set up in India in the past three years (1917-2020), 734 units were set up in Gujarat alone. Gujarat banked on more entry of foreign firms and foreign direct investment, in the latter Gujarat was always a story of success.   

Assam Model
The state of Assam did not propose doing away with labour laws. The Government of Assam proposed introducing fixed-term employment to help both workers and industries, and sought to take more firms out of the ambit of laws governing factories and contract workers. The fixed-term employment was expected to save cost and time by direct hiring of contract workers, without the need to go through the contractor system. In Assam, companies will have to offer social security benefits to workers hired on fixed-term basis equal to that given to permanent workers in the same unit.

Maharashtra Model
Maharashtra is different because of its highest carrying capacity of migrant workers inter-state. Post-Corona after 50+days it started facing labour-deficit based on fixed capital-labour ratio with companies saying workers adamant to go back home. The highest number of persons affected by the deadly Corona-virus in the state caused anxiety among the migrant workers. Ghar Wapsi was felt  to see the members in families, apart from mid-May being sowing season as well as marriage season in the villages in UP and Bihar. Following the stop-go decision of the competent authority to permit the migrant workers to travel to their home states, the migrant workers felt encouraged to take the special trains to reach home. Maharashtra is yet to announce any such Acts as the others did post-Corona.

Punjab Model
Punjab became the first state post-Corona to reverse an order made earlier to hike minimum wages of workers. This reversal was felt urgent to help companies overcome the economic crises caused by 50+day lockdown. The minimum wage rates vary over states.  Employers applauded the downward flexibility in the wage rate. The Code on Wages Act, 2019 sought to protect the entire workforce with minimum wages. The applicability of state announcements needs to be examined vis-a-vis this Central Act, 2019.

Labour falls under the concurrent list of the Indian Constitution and states can make their own changes. It is being reported that some of the path-finding state governments proposed increasing the working hours in factories from a maximum of 8 hours to 12 hours per day. States such as Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana have already moved on this axis.

Trade Unions
Ten central trade unions (CTUs) considered the steps of the selected states as violation of the Rights to Freedom of Association (ILO Convention 87), Rights to Collective Bargaining (ILO Convention 98) and the norm of 8-hour working day as provided in the Core Conventions of the ILO. The CTUs may approach the ILO against suspension of labour laws and may call for nationwide agitation. Of the total 12 CTUs, the 10 CTUs that issued the joint statement were INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTU, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC. 

Some Stray thoughts

  1. Making working hours 8 to 12 means two shifts per day, instead of three. The corollary is, fewer labourers will be required per day; depending on production period, technology and market, employment of labourers will be manifest.
  2. There is no guarantee that wage rate is going to be one and a half times more when working hours per labourer get one and a half times more.
  3. Even if wage rate of less number of labourers is enhanced, that does not compensate labourers waiting outside the factory gate.
  4. The labourers inside the factory gate or outside can approach any competent authority, for law vanished for labourers.

In case the labourers go back home, they will be quarantined for 21 days by the state administration before they get to see their families, get scope to be engaged in sowing and all that. This will mean starvation for the labourers and their families.

Keep workers under pressure
Workers now stand on the axis of job-loss and wage-cut, eviction from labour colonies converting them into expendable by successful completion of 50-day lockdown. The Government of India and of the states are no less concerned for national self-reliance where definite sleeping hours need to be replenished by indefinite working hours. For a great cause, some have to sacrifice – the first sacrifice can be made by those who are capacitated to work as slaves and bonded labourers or tied labourers and unpaid/invisible/prison labourers. As a footnote, self-reliance is nothing new as a goal; it was pledged in the Fifth Five-Year plan of India 45 years back.

The anti-worker move by suspension of labour laws by some state governments went parallel to enhancing the working hours per day per labourer from 8-hour to 12-hour through executive order. This was high time for the lockdown by forced distancing facilitated this. The state governments thought labour-coercion would promote investment that precisely went against the basic determinants of investment with or without Keynes.

People believe what power believes – otherwise people will be made to believe what power believes. The question now is not if power that is already centralized will increase, the point is it has already reached the peak. It cannot dislodge itself now. People, excepting the migrant workers, are convinced that they can live a life of comfort at home – local equilibrium. Who thinks if it is low-level or captivated equilibrium? Non-migrant people also felt secure being home-locked for 50+days for Corona, the ghost, could not enter the houses of 129 crore+ population that was by no means a great achievement of power.

Under the above psychological conditions, if some lakhs of insecure workers remain insecure, how does it affect the life of the majority? Needless to mention, most of the self-engaged workers work around 10 hours a day and some work the whole day – voluntary drudgery? In case of works at piece rate, it may be clear like in brick kilns, or home-based beedi rolling that are wage-paid; also in case of waste picking by child-workers that is wage-unpaid, or women domestic workers working in two shifts per day for multiple employers, or coolies on railway platforms. The non-labourers like priests-professors obviously do not come under the purview or the MPs-MLAs and all that. After all, the labourers are not visiting Europe – so they are to be kept under pressure. The state is prepared for that. Are the labourers prepared?

Apology: I have full faith on state-wisdom and the Constitution of India.

(Bhaskar Majumder is Professor of Economics, G. B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad . This was published in Frontier weekly)

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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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Work-From-Home’s Impact Office Space Demand https://theeasternlink.com/work-from-homes-impact-office-space-demand/ https://theeasternlink.com/work-from-homes-impact-office-space-demand/#respond Mon, 27 Apr 2020 06:42:48 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=3030

Commercial real estate has been a reliable mainstay of the Indian real estate sector, remaining vibrant even while residential property remained in the doldrums. Now, the coronavirus has thrown a serious spanner into the works of this lucrative real estate segment, at least for next two quarters. To the backdrop of present-day day compulsions, more […]

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Commercial real estate has been a reliable mainstay of the Indian real estate sector, remaining vibrant even while residential property remained in the doldrums. Now, the coronavirus has thrown a serious spanner into the works of this lucrative real estate segment, at least for next two quarters.

To the backdrop of present-day day compulsions, more and more companies are discovering the viability of employees working from home (WFH) as an alternative to occupying costly office spaces. Many IT/ITeS companies and other corporates are now warming up to the notion of shifting a significant chunk of work, be it coding or non-client-facing back-office functions, out of offices and into their employees’ homes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major gamechanger, making WFH a respectable and even altruistic decision. There are at least three major benefits. First, companies can save a lot of revenue on office space occupancy. Secondly, WFH can be a major productivity enhancer as employees save the time which they would ordinarily spend on daily commutes. Thirdly and as a derivative of the second benefit, it can significantly boost employee wellbeing.

WFH is obviously not a catch-all solution – many business verticals and functions still require employees to work in an office setting. A large chunk of work needs constant monitoring and professional infrastructure which only an office setting can provide. Nevertheless, market dynamics are changing quickly now.

  • Coworking – Coworking is likely to see subdued demand over the next few quarters, but will also see the fastest revival – the pandemic pressures will eventually ease out many businesses will look to restart in these flexible workspaces. Coworking spaces are not only the most cost effective, but also offer flexibility in terms of time period of rental agreements. Coworking spaces can be rented on a monthly, day-to-day and even hourly basis. 
  • Conventional Offices – Traditional office spaces are currently a source of worry for both tenants and landlords. This is because it is difficult to visualize and plan for a post-pandemic market scenario. However, when the Government’s focus shifts back to economic growth, it will roll out business-boosting incentives that will revive the fortunes of commercial office spaces quickly.

What is certain is that commercial space requirements are in for a major upheaval, as India Inc will not hit a ‘business as usual’ equation for quite a long time. Tenants will recalibrate their space requirements, and the effective average monthly per-desk rentals at Grade A office spaces in some of the major business cities will be a central consideration.

Monthly Per-desk Rentals in India’s Major Business Centres (Coworking and Conventional Offices)

Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR)

  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in CBD (central business district) areas like South Mumbai and Bandra Kurla Complex are anywhere between INR 18,000–27,000/desk/month for coworking spaces, and between INR 24,500–30,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. All non-Grade A office spaces in CBD areas are lower by at least 15-20%.
  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in SBD (secondary business district) areas like Lower Parel, Andheri Kurla Road range anywhere between INR 12,000–18,000/desk/month for coworking spaces, and between INR 15,000–18,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. All non-Grade A office spaces in SBD areas are at least 25-35% cheaper.

New Delhi

  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in CBD areas like Connaught Place range between INR 13,000–19,000/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 20,000–25,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces in the CBD areas are at least 15-20% cheaper.
  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in SBD areas like South-East Delhi and Delhi International airport, East Delhi and North Delhi are anywhere between INR 5,000–10,000/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 10,000–20,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces in SBD areas are lower by at least 25-35%.

Bangalore

  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in CBD areas like M.G. Road, Millers Road, Vittal Mallya Road and Residency Road are anywhere between INR 7,000–15,000/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 10,000–18,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces in the CBD areas are lower by at least 15-20%.
  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in SBD areas like Koramangala, Bannerghatta, Hosur road, Electronic City etc. are anywhere between INR 3,600–8000/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 6,500–15,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces in SBD areas are lower by at least 25-35%.

Pune

  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in CBD areas like Laxmi Road, Camp, Bund Garden, Koregaon Park, Shivaji Nagar etc. are anywhere between INR 4,750–9,500/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 10,000–12,500/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces in the CBD areas are lower by at least 15-20%.
  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in SBD areas like Kalyani Nagar, Yerwada, Viman Nagar, Aundh, Baner etc. are anywhere between INR 3,600–7,200/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 8,000–9,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces in SBD areas are lower by at least 25-35%.

Chennai

  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in CBD areas like Anna Salai, Nungambakkam, RK Salai are anywhere between INR 5,700–13,300/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 7,000–15,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces in the CBD areas are lower by at least 15-20%.
  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in SBD areas like T.Nagar, Alwarpet, Kilpauk, Egmore, Chetpet, Royapettah, Kotturpuram etc. are anywhere between INR 5,400–8,600/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 7,500–10,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces in SBD areas are lower by at least 25-35%.

Hyderabad

  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in CBD areas like Gachibowli, Madhapur, Manikonda, Kondapur etc. are anywhere between INR 4,750–7,650/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 6,000–9,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces in the CBD areas are lower by at least 15-20%.
  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in SBD areas like Pocharan, Uppal etc. are anywhere between INR 3,600–6000/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 3,500–7,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces in SBD areas are lower by at least 25-35%.

Noida

  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in Noida are anywhere between INR 4,750–9,500/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 6,000–10,000/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces are lower by at least 10-20%.

Chandigarh

  • Average monthly rentals in Grade A office spaces in the city are anywhere between INR 4,750–7,600/desk/month for coworking spaces and between INR 6,000–9,500/desk/month for conventional commercial Grade A offices. Non-Grade A office spaces are lower by at least 10-20%.

Work From Home – Not A Catchall Alternative

For India Inc, the evolution of the WFH option is at least as exciting as that of coworking – if not more, considering its multiple benefits. That said, it will not work for every type of company. Most major industries have functions which require a high level of centralized supervision as well as data security which are only available in a formal office setting. As is becoming evident in this trial by fire, video conferencing technologies have very distinct limitations, too.

Most employees depend on the infrastructure provided in their offices to do their work efficiently, and also require a formal office setting to get into ‘work mode’. While WFH is not a one-size-fits-all workplace alternative, social distancing norms are likely to remain in place for a while to come and more and more companies will need to consider this option. 

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‘Corona Counter’ developed by DeepGenix Labs to fight Covid https://theeasternlink.com/news-corona-counter-developed-by-deepgenix-labs-to-fight-covid-article2891/ https://theeasternlink.com/news-corona-counter-developed-by-deepgenix-labs-to-fight-covid-article2891/#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2020 19:02:13 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2891

Pune – based DeepGenix Labs says it has developed a predictive tool that can be used effectively in the all-out war against the disease.‘Corona Counter’, the Predictive Tool developed by the Company, studies the behaviour of disease spread, DeepGenix Co founder Tarun Dutta told Easternlink.Based on algorithms, ‘Corona Counter’ predicts the number of cases likely […]

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Pune – based DeepGenix Labs says it has developed a predictive tool that can be used effectively in the all-out war against the disease.
‘Corona Counter’, the Predictive Tool developed by the Company, studies the behaviour of disease spread, DeepGenix Co founder Tarun Dutta told Easternlink.
Based on algorithms, ‘Corona Counter’ predicts the number of cases likely to be reported state wise in a week; in most cases, the accuracy is as high as 94-97% 
The Company believes such forecasts can be useful to Government and Administration to counter the spread and channelize their resources for more effective outcomes .
Dutta says the Company is working to make its model more robust by adding data from credible Govt sites to further improve accuracy of the predictions

Tarun Dutta Deepgenixlab

Q : What is the DeepGenix Model?
Dutta: The Data Scientists at DeepGenix Labs have developed a model to forecast the number of COVID-19 cases in India. It uses AI-based algorithms and predictive tools. DeepGenix’s forecast covers State-wise numbers for a day, and day-wise for the next nine days ahead.

Q: How accurate is the forecast?
Dutta : Very high. In most States, DeepGenix’s predictions are as accurate as 94-99%. Our teams are working day in and day out to make the predictions as accurate as they can be. Like any Mathematical Model, the forecast is dependent on a number of factors such. These include historical data, integration of data from as many credible sources. 
“However, we must also acknowledge that an unforeseen event or development that is against the tenet of measures to stop disease-spread can cause ‘spike’ in numbers,” Dutta said

Q: Why DeepGenix Corona Counter?
Dutta: It’s like ‘forewarned is forearmed’. The Number of cases predicted has a direct correlation with preparedness from the number of beds needed to support staff to PPEs, and everything else. 

Q : How can one access the predictions?
Dutta: One can view the reports here — https://deepgenix.com/coronacounter/statepage.html

Q: What are your expectations from the Government?
DUTTA: It is not about expectations. In this crucial time, it is our way to extend our support and expertise in the efforts to fight the menace of COVID-19. Our expert teams of Data Scientists, doctor, Programmers, and Analysts have developed this tool, with a fair degree of accuracy of predictions. We want to be a force-multiplier and work closely with the Centre and State governments and Administration in our collective fight against COVID-19.
 
Q, What is DeepGenix Labs?
Dutta: DeepGenix Labs Pvt Ltd is a  HealthTech company. DeepGenix believes people should be educated about health and wellness. Access to information about the ailment is the first step in this journey. DeepGenix is based on the fundamentals of physiology, pathology, and intra-cellular — the branch of biology that studies genes and genetic variations in organisms. We have invested years of research to develop DeepGenix, which combines “deep phenotyping” which is understanding the medical essence of a person and deep learning which is a form of artificial intelligence. We like to think of DeepGenix as an empathetic tool that will lead the user to a better understanding of what he or she is experiencing irrespective of the nature or intensity of the symptoms. The tool will ask the user a set of questions related to the symptoms and then predict an ailment based on the analysis.

Q: What is DeepGenix mobile App?
Dutta: The DeepGenix mobile application predicts the disease based on symptoms provided by the patient. It has knowledge-based intelligence, which it has made in years of research. The user has to check the correct symptoms to get higher accuracy. We also declare the level of accuracy in the application. The result is available in multiple languages. This is advised to the patients to provide lifestyle-related data such as smoke, and alcohol in order to reach more accuracy.

Q: Something more about DeepGenix App? 
Dutta: DeepGenix is not an alternative to medical expertise and we sincerely advise all our users to consult qualified doctors before arriving at any conclusions or undergoing tests suggested by our tool. As an educational tool, DeepGenix offers information on preventive actions such as changes in eating habits or lifestyle. We recommend the users to provide lifestyle data for accurate predictive information. Presently DeepGenix provides information on the categories like Liver, Pancreas, Intestines, Lungs, Heart, Kidney, Throat, Nose, Ears, Bones, Blood, Bacterial attack, Viral attack, Vitamins & Minerals deficiency, skin etc. We are also working on recommending specialist doctors to users so that they know the next step in getting healthy and fit.

Q: Does DeepGenix App cover Covid-19?
Dutta: Yes. We have recently added COVID-19 symptoms to the list of categories already listed above.

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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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Export dip spells trouble for Bengal prawn cultivators https://theeasternlink.com/export-dip-spells-trouble-for-bengal-prawn-cultivators/ https://theeasternlink.com/export-dip-spells-trouble-for-bengal-prawn-cultivators/#respond Fri, 17 Apr 2020 07:59:28 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2503

Kolkata: In Bengal, three and a half lakh people depend on prawns for two square meals a day. These are the families who earn bread and butter by farming prawns – a delicacy, which is in huge demand worldwide, and brings in over Rs 5,000 crore in exports. The lockdown has hit them hard.   The […]

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Kolkata: In Bengal, three and a half lakh people depend on prawns for two square meals a day. These are the families who earn bread and butter by farming prawns – a delicacy, which is in huge demand worldwide, and brings in over Rs 5,000 crore in exports.

The lockdown has hit them hard.  

The fish auction market at North 24 Parganas’s Haroa, 50 km north of Kolkata, is known to sell an estimated Rs 1 crore on an average day.

However, the prawns are selling dirt cheap here.

Tiger prawns that should have sold at Rs 750 per kg, was being push-sold by farmers for whatever they could get — about Rs 250 to 300 per kilo. In short, at a loss of Rs 500 per kg.

Usually, the market is packed with exporters snapping up prawns to sell to the US, Vietnam, Japan and China.

However, the lockdown has stopped the exports completely – keeping the big buyers away from the market.

The farmers say that they are unable to sell their produce amid the lockdown and urge the government to help.

“Either give us an alternative livelihood or arrange to sell our current crop of prawns. Otherwise, all of us here will die of hunger,” said Prabir Pal, a prawn farmer and the president of Haro Market Association.

“The export units in Kolkata who buy prawns are shut down because of the lockdown. Their buyers are not coming to the market and prawns are not selling,” said Jahangir Alam, secretary of Haroa fish market.

Prawns are a big buck business.

In 2018-19, three Bengal districts exported 1.3 lakh tonne for Rs 5,376 crore rupees, surpassed only by Andhra Pradesh. Prawns also directly put food in the mouth of 60,000 farmers and their families or 3.5 lakh people.

On 11th April, both the centre and Bengal issued several relaxations for aquaculture and fishing. But kickstarting the system that has been in lockdown for three weeks will take time and the prawn farmers of Bengal are in for hard times.

Zakir Mollah and Zulfikar Ali have huge prawn farms and huge loans — over 50 lakh each. They need to sell to repay. But no one is buying. And not harvesting is not an option either. This is harvest season. If not netted, the prawn will die, pollute the water, spread disease and endanger the next crop

“The dead prawns will spread virus and infection in the water and the next crop will not happen. What to do in this situation? I have a huge loan and suicide may be the only option,” said Zupfikar Ali.

Md Zakir Mollah, a fellow prawn farmer, says, “I think my whole family and I will have to die. My debtors will gherao us. All is lost.”

Courtesy – NDTV

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India’s lockdown isn’t working : Data https://theeasternlink.com/indias-lockdown-isnt-working-data/ https://theeasternlink.com/indias-lockdown-isnt-working-data/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2020 08:56:24 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2364

India is unique among the world’s major nations in having implemented a total lockdown for such a long duration in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The move crippled about 75% of the economy, according to Japanese investment bank Nomura, which has also predicted an almost 4.5% drop in GDP due to this in financial year 2021. In the […]

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India is unique among the world’s major nations in having implemented a total lockdown for such a long duration in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The move crippled about 75% of the economy, according to Japanese investment bank Nomura, which has also predicted an almost 4.5% drop in GDP due to this in financial year 2021. In the April-June quarter alone, the Indian economy would contract by 6.1%, the company has said.

Besides causing massive supply-chain disruptions, the lockdown has internally displaced millions of people.

Did it help?

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s government, which today (April 14) extended the lockdown till May 3, has argued that all this was necessary to “flatten the curve” of infections. However, the evidence it offers to back this claim is entirely unconvincing.

An external affairs ministry official, for instance, claimed on April 9 that in the absence of a lockdown, there would have been 820,000 cases by April 15, according to an internal assessment. When asked about it, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) initially said no such study existed and later clarified that the claim was made based on a “statistical extrapolation” by the ministry of health as depicted in chart 1.

The problem with this claim is that we are not told what, if any, model was used to arrive at these numbers. No such model has been made public or even talked about by government officials. As it happens, the only model that ICMR has shared publicly is not about the lockdown, but an analysis of the border screening measures India introduced relatively earlier than other countries.

So what is the right way to know if the lockdown helped?

In the absence of an official reference model in India, all we have to go on is aggregate data on total confirmed cases nationwide, which is updated every day. The chart below plots the natural logarithm of total cases on the vertical axis with the time index on the horizontal.

The interpretation is that if the curve is flat there is no growth in infections and if the curve looks like a straight line, then infections are growing at a constant proportional rate. In other words, the classic exponential curve used in epidemiology.

It shows that after a basically flat portion with low growth in new cases, India entered the exponential phase, beginning March 4 or so, as captured by the straight line in the log of confirmed cases. Note that this exponential growth kicked in several weeks in advance of the lockdown and continued up to merely two days before the initial lockdown period was to end.

An optimist might perhaps see a minuscule flattening of the curve from around March 30, but this is only a week into the lockdown. Given that the virus has a two-week incubation period, it obviously cannot be attributed to the lockdown. What is more, several states had initiated their own lockdowns in advance of the national one. Karnataka, for instance, announced one on March 13, Maharashtra on March 20.

If the lockdown had any effect, you would expect the slope of this line to flatten or bend toward the horizontal axis.

Given the significant economic and human cost suffered due to it, the lockdown must, thus, be accounted for as a failure.

Lost opportunity

The bigger problem is that a focus on the lockdown takes away from the crucial question of ramping up testing.

There is no question that testing in India remains low by global standards. India has so far conducted over 200,000 tests as compared to a million per day in the US. The tourist hotspot of Goa, which hosts visitors from all over the world and, therefore, is a likely virus hotspot, has so far carried about only a little over 400 tests for a population of 1.5 million. Yet it remains under total lockdown, reporting only seven cases and zero deaths till now.

If, on one hand, we assume that India is testing enough and its numbers are accurate, we must ask if it makes any sense at all for a state like Goa to be under lockdown. By extension, is there any compelling rationale for a national lockdown which extends to many states that have had very low incidence of the virus? Clearly, one-size-fits-all isn’t the most sensible approach.

However, if we believe that infection rates are much higher than reported, it appears India missed a golden opportunity during the lockdown to build up its medical and public health capacity.

This is to say nothing of the economic and humanitarian disaster unleashed by the surprise lockdown. Rather than deploying the state’s limited capacity—low even during normal times—to set up hospitals and clinics, and ramping up testing, it has perforce been directed towards setting up relief camps for the poor and the destitute caught in the lockdown fiasco.

Any which way you look at it, the lockdown, without an attendant public health response, has failed to live up to its billing. And yet, here we are with the lockdown being extended.

Courtesy – QZ

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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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Modi extends lockdown until May 3 https://theeasternlink.com/modi-extends-lockdown-until-may-3/ https://theeasternlink.com/modi-extends-lockdown-until-may-3/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2020 05:35:13 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=2342

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday extended the country-wide COVID-19 lockdown till May 3 next. He said the states will be closely monitored till April 20.If in some regions, it is found that the pandemic has almost no impact, some relaxations will be given after due consultation. In his address, Modi thanked the countrymen in abiding by the guidelines […]

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday extended the country-wide COVID-19 lockdown till May 3 next.

He said the states will be closely monitored till April 20.If in some regions, it is found that the pandemic has almost no impact, some relaxations will be given after due consultation.

In his address, Modi thanked the countrymen in abiding by the guidelines of the lockdown.

He said because of the lockdown, India could manage the pandemic much better than most of the developed countries.

He said India took the bold step of announcing 21-day lockdown when there were only 550 coronavirus cases.

He said, the country did not wait for the pandemic to spread to take drastic steps.

He said if India did not take a holistic and integrated efforts, the situation would have blown out of proportion.

He also said the country had to pay a heavy price as far economy is concerned, the lockdown had a telling effect on the overall health scenario.

Modi also thanked the states for their efforts in containing the deadly virus.

Earlier, in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and with the aim to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Modi had announced the 21-day nationwide lockdown on March 24 last that began from the next day.

The 21-day country-wide lockdown was scheduled to end on Tuesday midnight.

The Prime Minister last week held a meeting with all the chief ministers of the states, in which he was urged by almost all to extend the lockdown by at least 15 days.

Several states including Punjab, Odisha, Maharashtra, and West Bengal have already extended the lockdown till April 30.

Mizoram became the first north-eastern state to extend lockdown till April 30.

Meanwhile, Meghalaya went for a 48-hour curfew in capital city Shillong after the State registered the first COVID-19 case on Monday.

The COVID-19 positive patient is a 69-year-old doctor of Bethany Hospital in Shillong.

Confirming the news, Meghalaya health minister AL Hek on Monday said the doctor tested positive for the deadly COVID19 virus.

Hek said Bethany Hospital has been sealed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the country has witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases over the last one week.

The number of positive cases in the country is about to touch the 10,000 mark with over 300 deaths.

According to the ICMR, a total of 2,17,554 samples from 2,02,551 individuals have been tested in the country as of 9 pm on April 13.

Assam has recorded the maximum number of COVID-19 cases with figures touching 31.

Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura had earlier recorded one case each.

Sikkim is now the only state in the Northeast which is free from COVID-19 cases.

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