India coronavirus dispatch: Fall & rise in Covid-19 numbers in the country

Topics Coronavirus

A medic collects a swab sample of a migrant after arriving from Chennai via 'Shramik Special' train, during the ongoing COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, at Nehrubali in Nagaon District. Photo: PTI
Maximising labour’s share in national income, volunteers feeding India’s most vulnerable, and how the coronavirus pandemic may change work culture.  Read all this and more in this selection of pieces from across Indian publications on Covid-19.

EXPERT SPEAK 

Revive MGNREGS, resume infrastructure works, offer minimum income guarantee: The Centre’s Rs 20 trilion stimulus as a part of its Atmanirbhar Bharat Package to boost the economy “is unlikely to meet the requirements”, says Santosh Mehrotra, professor of economics and the chairperson of Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies. Read this interview here to understand why he suggests putting more cash in people’s hands, reviving MGNREGS, creating a cash transfer architecture and the states’ approach to labour laws to tackle the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown on the economy.

OPINION

Beyond minimum wages: For equitable growth, India must maximise labour’s share in national income: The suspension of labour laws by many Indian states has once again brought the politically sensitive but economically important issue of labour law reform centre stage. However, the important question around labour rights is largely ignored: for the economy to grow at its full potential, what should the share of labour income in the aggregate national income be? In other words, how much of annual national income should flow to labour and to capital to make Indian industry more globally competitive and make India an attractive investment destination? Read more here

8-hour work days, and how we got there: Over 150 years later, amid a pandemic and an economic crisis that has rendered several jobless, as state governments such as Gujarat, UP, Madhya Pradesh and others bring in "labour reforms" that, in some cases, have suspended almost all existing labour laws, the historical background of some of these laws provide a useful context. Read more here.

MANAGING COVID-19

Slowdown in some trouble spots: Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have more than 6,000 confirmed cases each and are still contributing a significant number of new cases, but there is a noticeable decline in their growth rates for the last couple of weeks. Read here

Karnataka records biggest single-day spike with 216 fresh coronavirus cases: Karnataka recorded its biggest single day spike on Saturday with over 200 new cases of Covid-19, along with a death, taking the total number of infections to 1,959 and the death toll to 42, the health department said. The state reported 216 fresh infections of coronavirus, of which 187 were returnees from neighboring Maharashtra. Read more here.

Over 150,000 migrant workers sent home in over 120 trains: The Telangana government said that over 150,000 migrant workers have been sent to their home states during the Covid-19 lockdown with the help of over 120 special trains arranged for them. This came after media reports highlighted that a large number of workers were gathering beyond the Outer Ring Road (ORR) in Hyderabad and paying truck drivers to ferry them home. Those who couldn’t afford to pay the truck drivers were setting off to their destinations on foot. Read more here.

Despite official appeal, most migrant workers staying back in Gurgaon have not been paid: A rapid survey of around 100 migrant workers who have decided to stay back in Gurgaon, now called Gurugram, has revealed that many have not been paid their wages for April, during the nationwide lockdown. Even more than the wages denied in spite of a government appeal, what concerns the labourers at this point is the fact that the industries or units they worked for earlier have not approached them to resume work. Amidst such uncertainty, and with labour unions also proving to be of little assistance, the decision to stay back has proven to be a costly one for them. Read more here

CITIZENS UNDER LOCKDOWN

The Shakkar Paara Project is a sweet group of volunteers feeding India’s most vulnerable: This group of volunteers aims at reaching people who are often invisible to the more privileged and who live where government aid hasn’t reached. They started by identifying the most vulnerable communities throughout the country with the help of ground workers from their partner NGOs, and supplied provisions to communities that found themselves out of the Public Distribution Network. 

The volunteers go door-to-door to identify families who need help and provide doorstep delivery of customised relief kits so nobody has to stand in a queue for food. Read more here.

Abused, married off and in an emotional crisis: Children bear the brunt of the lockdown.

Within two weeks of the lockdown, Childline India witnessed a 50 per cent surge in calls for protection from abuse and violence in children. The pandemic has set off a storm of child marriages, abuse and violation of children behind the closed doors in India. Read more here.

UNDERSTANDING COVID-19

Are the ICMR Antibody Kits Really as Accurate as It Claims? The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently made a welcome announcement: that it had built a testing kit to detect antibodies against the novel coronavirus in human blood samples. The kit, the agency said in its press release, was 100 per cent specific and 98 per cent sensitive. Few antibody tests anywhere in the world today boast of such accuracy. Read here to understand the reliability of ICMR’s claim and whether it means the kit will classify everyone who has never been exposed to the virus as negative. 

How the coronavirus pandemic may change work culture: As countries begin loosening restrictions and easing lockdowns, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released guidelines to allow private offices in India to operate at 100 per cent capacity, but urged people to work from home as much as possible. Not just India, several countries have released norms for employees. Read more here.


Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel