India coronavirus dispatch: Fiscal empowerment of the country's states

Topics Swiggy | healthcare | Coronavirus

Migrant workers board crowded buses to their respective villages, amid a nationwide lockdown, in Ghaziabad on Sunday. Photo: PTI
Here is a roundup of important coronavirus-related articles from across Indian publications. From a change in migrant policy, to Indians stuck abroad, and asymptomatic Covid-19 patients – read about these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Citizens Under Lockdown

A cry for help from Indians stuck abroad: The lockdown across India is scheduled to be eased on May 3. Already, some states have started opening up certain sectors of the economy. But there is no clarity on when domestic or international flights will resume, or when there will be steps to bring back Indians who are stuck abroad. What happens to them?

Swiggy could shut many of its cloud kitchens, lay off over 500 workers as sales slump: Online food delivery platform Swiggy is likely to shut around half of its cloud kitchens and lay off 500 to 900 employees, mainly contractual workers, in this division.

No food, no cash, no jobs – why Surat migrant workers long for home: Migrant workers in Surat, stranded due to the nationwide lockdown, have been coming out on the streets to protest. Their demand is to get food or to return home. Not just in Surat, protests have broken out in many big cities where hundreds of migrant labourers have been longing to go home.


The key strategy is fiscal empowerment of states: The war on Covid-19 can be effectively won only when states are armed with enough resources to meet the crisis. on why this is the time to fiscally empower states to wage the Covid-19 war and trust them to spend on protecting lives and livelihoods, and to initiate an economic recovery.

A change in migrant policy: The state needs to think out of the box in delivering relief packages. It could work out a strategy to address immediate distress conditions and simultaneously initiate long-term measures to bring structural changes in the policy towards migrants and the informal sector.

Minimise democracy, maximise interfaith distance, maintain aloofness from poor — these may be the new normal: As the country reels from the second instalment of lockdown, it may be worthwhile to look at the critical areas where the lockdown has been successful — and what that success means. The normal of the future would be based on three successful narratives of the past four weeks. The first is to do with the nature of our democracy, the second with our own social distancing project, and the third with the class chasm.

Managing Covid-19

India takes eight days to travel from 10,000 cases to 20,000: At least 52 deaths have been reported from across states, the highest India has seen in a single day since the start of the outbreak.

A large proportion of Covid-19 patients are asymptomatic: While many states have managed to control the spread and are working on improving containment measures, recent findings have officials and the public equally concerned – a large proportion of asymptomatic individuals are testing positive for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

Understanding Covid-19

A Nobel laureate said the new coronavirus was made in a lab. He’s wrong: Pandemics are fraught with misinformation, they also make for an important time to communicate good science, double-check suspicious comments, refuse to accept claims without good reason, and not amplify pseudoscience without suitable qualification.

US report says hydroxychloroquine has no benefit for Covid-19 patients: The plan to use hydroxychloroquine for treating Covid-19 patients in the US has received a setback with more deaths being reported among those who were given the much-touted anti-malarial drug, according to a report. Another report, however, suggests that there was insufficient clinical data to either recommend or oppose the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating those infected with the deadly coronavirus.

How a Covid-19 carrier infected 9 diners at a restaurant in China: In a recent paper, Chinese researchers have talked about an incident at a restaurant in Guangzhou, China, where one coronavirus-positive diner passed on the infection to nine more people dining there, but not to others. Apart from droplet transmission, researchers suspect that larger respiratory droplets suspended in the air could have infected the diners aided by the airflow of the air conditioner.

Labour migration, jobs and society in the age of the pandemic: Ironically, all that India is doing to contain the virus is choking the economy. And the worst hit are solopreneurs — daily-wage earners and workers in industries like manufacturing, retail, travel and others services-related sectors. What makes it worse still is that while solopreneurs power the economic engine, the jobs most solopreneurs engage with – unlike their peers who work at India Inc – cannot be accomplished digitally using tools like Zoom or Slack. This is because their work requires their feet to be on the ground and sleeves rolled up.

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