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Policy & Politics

Stop squabbling, save people’s lives

Fear and anxiety rule the roost but fighting the pandemic with courage is the only option.

Vijay Darda

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In the turbulent times of Covid-19, there is an acute shortage of everything. There are no beds, no oxygen, no ventilators, no medicines for treating the ever surging number of Covid-19 patients. Such a scary situation doesn’t warrant the luxury of indulging in political squabbling. There should be no blame game. The time is crucial for saving human lives. And saving lives is also in our hands to a great extent. If you are using a single mask, start using a double mask and if you have not used it, put it on immediately. Follow the guidelines. Help the government. Cooperate with the government because the government is doing what it can, but it cannot do more than this. Today every person needs to become a ‘chowkidar’.

Of course, the blame game that is going on is not in anyone’s interests. States are blaming the Centre and the Centre is blaming the states. This blame game must get over fast. We all are Indians. All of us are children of Mother India. Neither BJP nor Congress and not any other party for that matter can be greater than the nation. Everything belongs to Mother India. This is not the time to practise discrimination.

None of us had ever imagined such a difficult and sordid time in our dreams. We were told that when the epidemic like Spanish influenza and plague had spread, several villages were wiped out in many parts of the world. And today, we are seeing loved ones struggling for life. My Lokmat family is very large. Everyday news comes from my HR department that Mr so-and-so is gone or Mr XYZ is gone. This is happening every day. Similar news is coming from every part of the country. If biggies in top positions are not able to get beds, imagine the condition of the common man? The rich and powerful who have oodles of money have left the country for treatment abroad. Many have taken shelter in Maldives and Dubai. Some people have gone to the hill stations but then this kind of system is suited for a handful of super rich people. They don’t represent the bigger picture of the country. The common man who is the soul of the country is struggling with horrific tragedy.

It is good that Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to the seers and finally the Kumbh Mela concluded. Actually, this mega event should not have been allowed in the first place. Better late than never! It is estimated that about 49 lakh devotees have taken a dip in Kumbh. Thousands of devotees along with hundreds of sadhus also got infected with coronavirus. Two prominent saints lost their lives too. Now imagine if thousands of people reach different parts of the country by becoming carriers, how many will be infected? After all, it affects the administration. People who work in administration are also human beings. That is why I am saying that we should cooperate with the government. It is necessary to follow all the protocols of Covid with complete restraint and discipline, otherwise the situation will get worse. Just remember how a hue and cry was raised about the Tablighi Jamaat in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic! Remember that small sparks cause deep wounds. It is our responsibility to keep this country intact. Massive political rallies are being organised in many states where elections are going on and the Election Commission should ban them immediately. If the Election Commission is not able to prevent these rallies, the Supreme Court should take cognisance and stop them. These rallies and gatherings are just corona bombs!

As of now, the government is leaving no stone unturned to stop the spread of corona infection. There is a steady increase in the number of beds for corona patients in the country, but the question is, from where to bring doctors, nurses and paramedical staff? Certainly, lakhs of families have lost someone or the other. Hence it is but natural that people should get annoyed with the system, but we have to understand that this is not the time to fight with the doctors. It is time to boost their morale. The kind of spirit that doctors, nurses and paramedical staff have shown in the turbulent and uncertain times is commendable indeed. Doctors cannot be held responsible if there is a shortage of beds or lack of oxygen. What is the fault of the doctors? Do not forget that they are humans too.

Let me remind you that the first wave of coronavirus was fiercely confronted by India through lockdown and earlier in the year it seemed that we were winning. This bred complacency and subsequent negligence made the people to start organising weddings and celebrations which provided a fertile ground for coronavirus to flourish. It turned the tables! Taking a lesson from the first wave, the government also had to make arrangements like the US or Europe did, but we displayed utmost negligence. Today we are suffering its adverse effects. Even now, if possible, we can prevent future losses. Our ancestors had seen a worse time but they managed to get out of it. The cholera epidemic that began in Bengal in 1816, along with lakhs of Indians, also swallowed 10,000 British soldiers. Nearly 1.70 crore Indians were killed in the Spanish flu that spread in 1918.

At that time, the population of India was less than 32 crore. Science was not so advanced at that time, so deaths occurred more and it took a long time to get a vaccine. This time, many vaccines have become available in less than a year to fight the coronavirus. But don’t expect the coronavirus to end with just the vaccine! It will still take a long time for everyone in the country to get the vaccine. Even after taking both doses of the vaccine, it is not clear whether the vaccine will have to be taken every year or every six month. Therefore, avoiding corona is the best option.

We are witnessing how people are stressed, fearful and worried. Covid-19 scare is taking an emotional toll too. The resurgence of the virus has caused public anxiety. But this does not mean that we lose courage. Bear in mind that we can defeat this deadly virus only with the weapons of restraint, discipline, courage and alertness!

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

On one hand, the patients are running from pillar to post in search of medicines and hospitals with beds, oxygen and ventilators, and on the other, a disgusting round of accusations and counter accusations continues. The squabbling and blame game should end now! And yes, you too should follow the Covid-appropriate guidelines and support the government efforts. For, the government is doing everything it can, but don’t expect it to give you more than what it is dispensing now.

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Policy & Politics

GOYAL LAUNCHES ‘DGFT TRADE FACILITATION APP’ FOR PROVIDING INSTANT ACCESS TO EXPORTERS/IMPORTERS ANYTIME, ANYWHERE

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal says that the trade facilitation app is ready for Industry 4.0.

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal recently launched DGFT ‘Trade Facilitation’ Mobile Application, for promoting ease of doing business and providing quick access to information to importers/exporters.

Speaking about the app, Goyal said that in the post-covid world, tech-enabled governance will play a key role in determining India’s growth and competitiveness. He said that a Single-window approach has enabled tech transformation of service delivery in India. It has liberated last-mile beneficiary from location based constraints, and enhanced ease of doing business. He said that Progress in technology helps develop the economy and strengthen Indian firms in the competitive global market. “We desire to move towards paperless, automated processing systems, simple procedures for trade players, online data exchange between departments & digital payments & acknowledgements.”, he added

Lauding the initiative of DGFT, Goyal said that the new Trade Facilitation App is a step in the right direction as it provides easy, omni-channel access to various trade related processes and enquiries at the touch of button. He said that truly imbibing Prime Minister’s vision of Minimum Government, Maximum Governance, DGFT is standing up for businesses as a true leader with e-issuance of certificates, QR scan process to validate documents. It will reduce transaction cost and time for imports and exports related processes, and usher in transparency. He said that ‘Trade Facilitation Mobile App’ is a symbol of India’s Idea of Aatmanirbharta – Making governance easy, economical & accessible, as it symbolises shift in traditional thinking.

Shri Goyal said that Trade facilitation App is READY for Industry 4.0, as it provides

• Real-time trade policy updates, notifications, application status alert, tracking help requests

• Explore item-wise Export-Import policy & statistics, Track IEC Portfolio

• AI-based 24*7 assistance for trade queries

• DGFT services made accessible to all

• Your Trade Dashboard accessible anytime & anywhere

The Minister said that ‘Mobile’ India creates an international trade opportunities for MSMEs and Foreign players. It will enable creation of a quality conscious and cost-competitive domestic industry. Further, it will significantly contribute to export target of $1 Trillion by 2025 and GDP target of $5 Trillion. He said that for advanced App development, more inputs & ideas of all stakeholders should be invited for further refinement which will help in expediting our technological transformation. Shri Goyal also called for engagement with technology and language specialists to develop Governance Apps in various regional languages, which will support the spirit of oneness amongst our citizens.

The new Mobile App of DGFT provides the following features for ease of the exporters and importers –

• Real-time Trade Policy Updates and Event Notifications

• Your Trade Dashboard Anytime Anywhere

• Access all services offered by DGFT in App

• Explore Item-wise Export-Import Policy and Statistics

• 24×7 Virtual Assistance for Trade Related Queries

• Track your IEC Portfolio – IEC, Applications, Authorizations

• Real-time Alerts on status of applications

• Raise and track help requests in real-time

• Share Trade Notices, Public Notices easily

The App will be available on Android and iOS platforms. The App can also be downloaded from the DGFT Website (https://dgft.gov.in). It has been developed by the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), as per the directions of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

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Policy & Politics

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: CROSS-BORDER INSOLVENCY REGIME IN INDIA

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OVERVIEW: CONCEPT OF CROSS-BOUNDARY INSOLVENCY

The recent judgment on Jet Airways v SBI & Ors is a strike on the previously closed doors of the Cross Border Insolvency regime in India under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (hereinafter referred as ‘IBC’). The Indian jurisdiction has time and again questioned with respect to it’s competence in handing cross border insolvency proceedings. The advent case of Jet Airways has given Indian an eccentric window to exhibit its potential and capabilities for handling the cross border insolvency disputes. The Hon’ble National Company Law Tribunal (hereinafter referred as ‘NCLT’) has set aside a non-arbitrary order towards the disputed position of Jet Airways and recognized that the resolution of the party which has the operations and stakeholders across the globe shall have implications if parties are spread across jurisdiction. The Appellate Tribunal has also set aside the order upholding the recent cross-border protocol agreed between NCLT appointed Resolution Professional (hereinafter referred as RP) and the Dutch insolvency trustee and deciding that the Dutch trustee is equivalent and analogous to the RP. Thus, clearly stating that the trustee has a right to attend the meeting of the committee of creditors as per the provisions of the insolvency law. However, it is pertinent to highlight that the NCLT specifically pointed out a quintessential cross-swording between two emblematic concepts of universalism and territorialism. These two conceptual terms are intertwined with each other in their basic sense.

The basic idea behind adverting these two concepts was due to the undemonstrated provisions in the cross border insolvency regime in IBC and clueless reasoning and deliberate abandonment of a United Nation Commission on International Trade model law on Cross Border insolvency (‘Model Law’) by the Indian jurisdiction. The notion of cross border insolvency comes into delineation when the insolvent debtor has assets located in more than one jurisdiction or in a circumstances where some of the creditors of such debtor are not located in a jurisdiction where the insolvency proceedings has been commenced.

CROSS-BORDER REGIME: INDIAN JURISDICTION

In 2000 the aforementioned difficulty was acknowledged by the Justice V. Balakrishna Eradi Committee which called for urgency in adoption of the Model Law, partly or in whole for an effective cross border regime. Subsequently, N.L Mitra Committee report reiterated the need for adoption of the Model Law. Earlier in India, as regards to Cross Border Insolvency under the Companies Act, 1956 and the Companies Act, 2013, a court could order winding up of a foreign company limited to the extent of its assets in India. However, there were no specific statutory provisions in case an Indian company having is assets abroad was sought to be wound up. Therefore, it was done through a mutual recognition of foreign decrees as provided under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. In the absence of such recognition it was a tricky situation for the liquidator in gathering information with regards to foreign assets and disposing them under the liquidation.

Presently, Section 234 and 235 of the IBC provides the legal framework under the IBC with respect to Cross Border Insolvency and envisage entering into bilateral agreements Finalizing such bilateral treaties require time consuming negotiations and every treaty made would be distinct which will create ambiguity for foreign investors. However, the provided legal framework has not been notified yet and therefore is not into effect and any orders passed in India with respect to Cross Border Insolvency will not have any effect in a foreign country. IBC is silent on the position of a foreign creditors’ right to approach NCLT to initiate corporate insolvency proceedings. However, in the matter of Macquarie Bank Limited v. Shilpi Cable Technologies Ltd, the Hon’ble Supreme Court gave a clarity that rights of the foreign creditors are similar to the rights of the domestic creditors with respect to initiating and participating in Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process under IBC.

MODEL LAW & INDIA’S RECOMMENDATION FOR ITS ADOPTION

Model Law was recognized as a framework which was globally accepted. The Model Law got its consensus by UNCITRAL in 1997 and since then it has become as the most widely accepted framework which deals with the Cross Border Insolvency issues and therefore, around 44 countries and in total 46 jurisdictions have adopted the legislation based on the Model Law. Under the Model Law, recognition is given to both the proceedings i.e. remedies provided under the foreign proceedings as well as the remedies provided under the Domestic proceedings. Relief can be provided if the foreign proceeding is either a main or non-main proceedings. It provides coordination between the foreign and domestic insolvency proceedings by encouraging cooperation between the courts. It allows the foreign insolvency professionals and foreign creditors to participate in the domestic insolvency proceedings against the debtor. Presently, on perusal of Section 234 of IBC it is clear that there is direct access with regards to the foreign creditors has been provided under the IBC. However, with respect to the foreign insolvency professionals no such provisions have been envisaged under the IBC.

The Model Law endows basic legal framework for cooperation between the domestic and foreign courts/ insolvency professionals. In India Insolvency Law Committee in its report recommended adoption of Model Law, as it provides for a wide-ranging framework to deal with Cross Border Insolvency issues. However, few carve out were suggested by the Insolvency Law Committee in order to ensure that there is no contradiction between the current domestic insolvency framework and Model Law framework.

Further, Countries which enact the Model Law are allowed to exempt certain entities from the application of the Model Law therefore; the Committee recommended to exclude the banks and insurance company from the scope of Model Law. The rationale provided behind this exclusion was that the insolvency of those entities requires particularly prompt and circumspect action and may be subject to a special insolvency regime. Further, the Committee was of the view that Section 234 and 235 of IBC should be amended so that it is applied only to individuals and partnership firms since the content relevant to the Corporate Debtor has already been captured under the Proposed Model Law. With respect to dual regime, the Committee noted that at present the Companies Act, 2013 already contain provisions related to insolvency of foreign companies.

In the Model Law, reciprocity indicates that a domestic court will recognize and enforce a foreign court’s judgment only in the case if the foreign country has adopted an akin legislation to the domestic country. Thus on Reciprocity, the committee recommended that the Model Law may be adopted initially on a reciprocity basis which may be diluted upon reconsideration. Foreign proceedings and its relief are duly recognized under the Model Law. Relief will be provided irrespective of the fact that the proceeding is a main proceedings or non-main proceeding. Therefore, if the domestic court determines that the debtor has its centre of main interest in a foreign country; such foreign proceedings will be recognized as the main proceedings. This recognition will allow foreign representative greater powers in handling the debtor’s estate.

CONCLUSION: TWO-STEP FORWARD APPROACH

Cross Border Insolvency regime is a road talked boastfully about, but is a road not taken yet. Cross Border Insolvency, the less travelled road would make all the difference in India. It encircles three major circumstances: firstly, the debtor’s assets that are located in diverse jurisdictions and the creditors want to cover those assets for the purpose of insolvency proceedings, secondly, in safeguarding the creditors’ rights who have interest in the assets of the debtor located in the different jurisdiction, and thirdly, in cases when the insolvency proceedings have been initiated in more than one jurisdiction on the same Corporate Debtor. It is pertinent to mention that the majority of countries are yet to agree upon an amicable and a singular code or a treaty which is pivotal for bestowing and uncovering the blanket on such cases without inviting any difference of opinion or interest of the related parties.

In the era of neoliberalism, the proposed draft by the Insolvency Law Committee will empower Indian jurisdiction to deal with the matters pertaining to Indian companies having their assets overseas and vice versa. The balance in inclusion and exclusion will be a major game changer for the Indian jurisdiction. The chapter of Cross Border Insolvency under IBC is much awaited and would enable the legal framework to have effective assistance in situations of concurrent proceedings. Therefore, it is paramount for us to clean our lenses and take the road less travelled, the road which would yield our nation the benefit of lost battles in past and untimely progress in future.

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Policy & Politics

CENTRAL GOVT DECISIONS TO ENHANCE OXYGEN AVAILABILITY, DISTRIBUTION AND STORAGE INFRASTRUCTURE

Oxygen availability increased through higher production and imports, setting up of PSA plants, and procurement of oxygen concentrators; General Financial Rules relaxed to fast-track procurement of critical supplies.

Tarun Nangia

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In order to address the surge in demand for oxygen, the Central Government has undertaken key measures to increase the availability, streamline the distribution and strengthen the oxygen storage infrastructure in the country. The steps undertaken focused on the entire oxygen supply chain. These include efforts for improving oxygen production, enhancing tanker availability to optimize logistics, improving oxygen storage at the last mile, and easing norms of procurement.

Oxygen availability has been enhanced by increase in Production Capacity and production, setting up of Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Plants, import of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) from Overseas, and Procurement of Oxygen Concentrators. For enhancing tanker availability to streamline transportation, Nitrogen and Argon tankers have been converted, tankers and containers have been imported, domestic manufacturing of tankers increased, and rail and air transportation of tankers is being undertaken to reduce turn-around time. Oxygen Digital Tracking System (ODTS) has been setup of for real time monitoring, and driver availability is being enhanced with training of MHV drivers. For improving oxygen storage, number & capacity of cryogenic tankers at hospitals is being enhanced and Medical Oxygen cylinders are being procured. Relaxation of General Financial Rules (GFR) has been undertaken to enable faster procurement of critical supplies. The details regarding the measures undertaken by the Central Government on all fronts of the oxygen production, transportation, storage and infrastructure are as given hereunder.

INCREASE IN OXYGEN PRODUCTION AND CAPACITY ENHANCEMENT

Oxygen production has increased from 5700 MT/day in Aug’20 to 9,446 MT/day in May’21. The production capacity has increased from 6817 MT/ day to 7314 MT/day, and capacity utilization has gone up from 84% to 129% during this period.

Steel companies from both the public and private sectors, have stepped up efforts to meet the nation’s requirement of medical oxygen. On 4th May, 2021, the Total Liquid Medical Oxygen Production by the Steel plants was 3680.30 MT. The total LMO Supply per day was up from an average 1500-1700 MT in mid-April to 3131.84 MT on 25th April, and further to 4076.65 MT on 4th May.

Commensurate with the increase in production and demand, LMO sale in the country has also increased from about 1,300 MT/day in March’ 21 to 8,920 MT/day on 6th May. During the first wave of COVID-19, the maximum sale of 3095 MT/day of LMO was seen on 29th September, 2020. The sale of LMO grew more than five-fold from 1559 MT/day on March 31, 2021 to over 8000 MT mark by 3rd May, 2021.

OXYGEN PRODUCTION CAPACITY ENHANCEMENT PLANS

Additional capacity expansion is planned in the near future to enhance oxygen production capacity. The measures in this regard include additional 70 MT/day production expected in Karnataka; Supplies from Air Separation Unit of SME sector; Jumbo Hospitals with gaseous oxygen from refineries (11,950 beds), power plants (3,850 beds), and steel plants (8,100 beds) are being set up. Supply of oxygen for non-essential industrial purposes has been prohibited w.e.f. 22nd April, 2021, resulting in ~1,000 MT of additional oxygen availability. Additional capacity expansion of 630 MT/day is also planned by Steel sector.

1,594 PSA Plants are being established to improve Oxygen Supply near demand clusters. It includes 162 plants under PM-Cares through MoHFW sanctioned in 2020, 551 under PM-Cares through MoHFW sanctioned in March 2021, 500 under PM-Cares through DRDO sanctioned on 27 Apr 2021, about 100 by Oil and Gas companies under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and rest by States themselves. 74 of the 162 PSA plants have been installed and the rest will be installed by June’21. 1,051 additional PSA Plants sanctioned under PM Cares Fund in March & April’21 will be commissioned in the next three months in phases.

IMPORT OF LIQUID MEDICAL OXYGEN

50,000 MT of Liquid Oxygen is being imported from overseas, with orders and delivery schedule for 5,800 MT finalized. Ministry of External Affairs is actively assisting in securing sources of oxygen from abroad. To expedite the process, quotations were obtained on 21.04.21. 3 quotations have been received for 3,500 MT and approved on 21.04.21 with delivery over 3 months. In addition, 2285 MT of LMO being imported from UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and France, a part of which has already arrived.

PROCUREMENT OF OXYGEN CONCENTRATORS

Procurement of 1 lakh Oxygen Concentrators has been sanctioned under PM Cares Fund on 27.04.2021. Expression of Interest was issued on 29.04.21 and Offer has been received for 2,500 units. There has been good response to the tender floated by ONGC. Offers for 50,000 concentrators have been received from domestic manufacturers. Award for 9,800 units have been finalized with delivery schedule of 4,800 units on 15.05.21 and 5,000 units on 27.05.21. In addition, 55 bidders have expressed interest to supply 70,000 – 75,000 units of concentrators. Orders are being finalized and will be placed based on promised delivery schedule.

OXYGEN ALLOCATION PROCESS

Oxygen Allocation process has been established to equitably supply oxygen to all states in line with the demand. First oxygen allocation order issued on 15.04.21 was restricted to a few states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, etc. As the second wave of pandemic spread to other states, demand for Oxygen increased from other states. The formula of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was used to estimate Oxygen requirement for each state in line with the active cases in the state, and maximum efforts were made to align Oxygen Allocation to the estimated demand for each state. Other factors such as availability of hospital infrastructure including ICU beds were also taken into account while finalizing allocation.

Oxygen Allocation process has continuously evolved to streamline the distribution of Oxygen in the country. Oxygen allocation to States/UTs is dynamic in nature, based on requirement as per Health Ministry norms, and consultation with States/UTs, manufacturers & other stakeholders. There is a mismatch between producing and consuming states, and equity among states to be maintained. Moreover, one-third of the production is concentrated in East India, while the ~60% of demand for oxygen is in North and South India, resulting in transportation challenges. Mapping of source and destination of oxygen has been completed to optimize transportation plan in consultation with States/UTs, manufacturers & other stakeholders.

ENHANCING OXYGEN TANKER AVAILABILITY: CONVERSION & IMPORT OF TANKERS

Multiple interventions have been undertaken to improve tanker availability. Availability of Oxygen Tankers has been improved with conversion of Nitrogen & Argon Tankers & their Imports. In March 2020, the capacity of tankers was 12,480 MT and their number was 1040. Now, the capacity of tankers has gone up to 23,056 MT and their number has increased to 1681, which includes 408 converted tankers and 101 imported tankers. 408 out of the 1,105 Nitrogen and Argon Tankers have been converted into oxygen carrying tankers so far; and another 200 tankers will be converted shortly. 248 oxygen tankers are being imported, with 101 tankers imported so far and another 58 tankers to be imported in next 10 days; In addition, 100 tankers are being manufactured domestically.

Oxygen Tankers being transported by Rail and Air to reduce turnaround time

Railways are being used for long distance transport of tankers through Roll on – Roll Off service. So far, Indian Railways has delivered nearly 4200 MT of LMO in more than 268 tankers to various states across the country. 68 Oxygen Expresses have already completed their journey so far.Till the evening of 9th May, 293 MT has been offloaded in Maharashtra; 1,230 MT in UP; 271 MT in MP; 555 MT in Haryana; 123 MT in Telangana; 40 MT in Rajasthan; and 1,679 MT in Delhi.

Air-lifting of empty tankers is being done to plants to reduce the turnaround time. 282 tankers with 5505 MT capacity have been airlifted, transporting LMO in domestic routes. 75 containers with capacity 1293 MT have been imported from overseas through IAF. In addition, 1252 oxygen cylinders, 3 oxygen generation plants have been imported through IAF.

OXYGEN DIGITAL TRACKING SYSTEM

A Web and App based Oxygen Digital Tracking System (ODTS) has been launched to enable real time tracking of Oxygen movement in the country. Its objectives are effective and instantaneous communication of allocation orders to plants and dispatches from plants, and toenable real-time tracking of Oxygen movement in the country from Plants to States. It integrates with GSTN database for E-waybill based data entry, Tracking of tankers through GPS, SIM (Driver Mobile No.), FASTag, and Automated alerts from system for route deviation, unintended stoppages, delays

Besides, a Virtual Central Control Room has been established with officers from Additional / Joint secretary officers of Health, Road, Rail, Industry, Steel and from State Govt. The Control Room is monitoring Oxygen movement 24 X 7 and to resolve any issues in oxygen transportation.

TRAINING DRIVERS FOR DRIVING OXYGEN TANKERS

2,500 additional drivers are being trained to drive oxygen tankers by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Logistics Sector Skill Council (LSSC). Availability of skilled drivers is essential to ensure uninterrupted transportation of Oxygen. Since LMO Transportation is covered under Hazardous Chemicals regulations, drivers with adequate training and having HAZ Cargo license only are allowed to operate the trucks. Immediate focus is to make Training module has been developed by NSDC and LSSC in English and Hindi &20 master trainers identified. Online Refresher courses are planned for non-active drivers with training in handling HAZ chemicals. 73 locations have been identified for organizing physical training programs for drivers along with oxygen plants.

ENHANCING STORAGE OF OXYGEN: CRYOGENIC TANKS

Number of cryogenic tanks for storing oxygen at hospital has increased to 901 from 609 since March 2020. Availability of medical oxygen cylinders has increased from 4.35 Lakhs in March 2020 to 11.19 Lakh in May 21. Additional, 3.35 Lakh cylinders are being procured in line with estimated increase in demand. Orders have been placed for additional 1,27,000 cylinders on 21.04.21. DRDO is procuring 10,00,000 NRM valves under PM Cares Fund – this device will reduce wastage of oxygen by shutting out the supply during exhalation.

MEASURES TO EXPEDITE PROCUREMENT OF CRITICAL SUPPLIES

To expedite procurement of critical supplies, General Financial Rules (GFR) have been relaxed to enable expedited procurement of critical supplies for COVID Management. All restrictive provisions have been removed to enable larger participation and faster procurement. Bank Guarantees have been waived off for all procurement. 100% payment of advance has been approved for critical COVID procurement. Procurement on nomination basishas been permitted in case of constrained supply market.

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Policy & Politics

ERADICATION OF ILLITERACY THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA

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Illiteracy is one of the biggest challenges in front of our country. Numerous ways are there to overcome this very issue. Here use of social media is being focussed. As social media has access to the largest population worldwide. Besides helping the students, teachers and other professionals it is also benefitting the illiterates. The best thing of social media is its attractive outlook, which encourages and provokes the unaware and ignorant people to undergo educational programmes. Moreover the study groups on Facebook, Whatsapp, telegram, as well as study videos on YouTube, blogs and educational websites are really very helpful for the learners.

INTRODUCTION

Several factors contribute towards the development of a country such as foreign trade, political freedom, policies, technology, administration, education, economy, available resources. Along with this, literacy of any country serves as the key for its growth and progress. It becomes evident when one observes the literacy index of developed countries such as Finland, Andorra, Greenland, Vatican, which is very high. But in developing countries like India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan this index is quite low. Specifically, India holds 168th rank in literacy index as per the report of census 2011. As per the data of 2020 the literacy rate of India is 77.7%, which signifies that a lot more is to be done in this direction. Around 287 million Indians are illiterate, which is approx. 22% of total Indian population. Illiteracy is a curse to society as it results in development of demons instead of social humans. It is so because it affects the vision, perspectives and behaviour of the individuals. Illiteracy is the fundamental cause of several evils such as poverty, ignorance, lower-standard of living, unemployment, superstitions and donnish. Thus its eradication becomes the prime focus of every individual. The government of India has taken number of actions for its eradication, but sole efforts on the part of government will not suffice. Rate of illiteracy is still on its peak and this goal cannot be achieved until and unless every individual contributes toward its achievement.

There are several factors which may help to overcome the issue of illiteracy

1. Free and compulsory Education

2. Awareness Programmes

3. Increasing Level of Aspiration

4. Government Policies

5. Constitutional Provisions and

6. Use of Social Media.

This paper highlights the use of social media for eradicating illiteracy. It is an area which may resolve this problem to maximum possible extent as the number of people using social media is rising significantly. According to the digital 2021 global overview report above 53% of total world’s population uses social media.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media refers to the web based network that enables interaction over the continuously growing array of various websites. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Telegram, YouTube, Blogs are some of the examples of widely used social media platforms. These media are frequently used by the students, teachers, schools, colleges, Universities, firms, marketing professionals and others for their own purposes. These media are equally good for educational purposes. Here content can be put up in front of thousands of people at low cost. Social media platform ensures better learning as it provides the information in an attractive manner (Nick Sousanis). During Pandemic it is working in the most promising way. It is a known fact that, in coming years the education will be virtual so its use cannot be ignored in eradication of illiteracy.

POSITIVE FACETS OF USING SOCIAL MEDIA

Along with globalization social Media also owns the credit of bringing entire world at one platform. Social media has enhanced our capacity to acquire more and more knowledge. Here are some benefits of getting education using social media-

1. Acquiring and demonstrating Skills- Social media helps learners as well as the educationists in acquiring new skills to survive in this competitive world. It also provides the platform for demonstrating their talent and getting noticed by the others.

2. Acquaintance with the technologies– Social media provides the opportunity to students to develop the technological and creative skills which will certainly help them in their future perspectives and getting settled in their career.

3. Motivate youngsters– Social media is always being cursed by the elders for wasting time and providing sensuous material but as every cloud has a silver lining so the social media has. It stimulates teenagers mind towards positivity as well. Teenagers are highly influenced by the celebrities so when they suggest something to them it approaches to their heart and they started following it unquestionably. Even the thoughts and quotes full of positivity guides them for their future also.

4. Faster Information- Internet is one of the fastest sources of getting information. It helps the students, teachers, researchers and others to get quick access to the most relevant information, latest news and current affairs as well. In short it could be said that by using social media one is learning with the recent developments in the entire globe.

5. Personality Grooming– Some people find it difficult to express themselves openly in front of any audience. Social media provides them a facility to express their viewpoints in writing or sharing it through videos and images. They feel free in communicating to their feeling to new unknown people and thereafter to the known ones. Thus it leads to removal of shyness and also enhances their personality.

Negative impact of social media

Besides having number of positive aspects there are some negative impacts of using social media which can never be overlooked such as-

1. Addiction– Addiction to social media is the biggest drawback that can lead to disturbance in studies, personal lives, attention span, health issues and so many other problems. It inculcates the habit of living in isolation and gradually detaches a person from family, neighbours and society.

2. Privacy– Innocent students easily fall prey to the evilness of the unknown friends on social media. In emotional state of mind they sometime reveal some of the most sensitive and personal issues which can be used by the other people for certain illegal offence.

3. Affects learning– Use of internet is a common practice among students for searching their course materials and completing assignments. In this process to avoid boredom they seek help of social media and waste a lot of valuable time which ultimately affects their academic performance.

ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN ERADICATION OF ILLITERACY

Over a decade or so the mode of communication has been changed drastically. To connect with the students the universities and educational institutions uses social networking sites. In beginning these platforms were used to get connected with friends and family but now they are equally used for business, marketing, learning and professional networking. According to the report of Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI), 65% of total Indian population search educational content through internet. Students alone are spending approximately 6-8 hours online for searching through social media.

Now the question arise ‘How will it help in eradicating illiteracy?’ Answer to this question depends upon its ‘usage’. Almost every student above the age of 15 is using social media. But the main thing is that besides talking and socializing one should invest the time in reading different authors, useful literature, scientific inventions, laws and judgements, government policies and many more such worthwhile topics. Here one gets an opportunity to interact with eminent scholars, consult various experienced people, and share personal viewpoints without hesitation.

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM COMMONLY USED IN EDUCATION SECTOR:

Facebook: Facebook is one of the best platform for sharing thoughts, ideas, opinion and communicate with the people around the globe since 2006. As it is the most commonly used platform not only by the youngsters but also by the aged ones. It is one of the easiest social media platforms to make profile and get connected with people. Here one can find each and every aspect of information including entertainment, business, shopping, social networking as well as learning. Content posted here become available to thousands of people in one go.

Twitter: It is considered as one of the largest social media network which came into existence in 2013. Within such a limited time it has become the most expanded network in the world. It provides latest updates, pertinent news and ensures feedback. Here one gets an opportunity to get connected with the highly ranked officers, bureaucrats, administrators, sportsperson, actors and so on. This media is also helpful for educational purposes as email seems to be quite old fashioned technique to inform. Teachers as well as students can use this platform to share relevant information and links.

Instagram: Instagram was launched in 2010 with a view to share images and videos. It is one of the most widely used social media platform by the youngsters. So the esteemed institutions colleges and universities also started using it for promoting their coursework, infrastructure, campus activities and other programs. This ensures maximum access to the target group.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn was launched in 2002 and thus it is one of the earliest social media platforms, which is widely used by the professionals for promoting their work, achievements and success stories. It is also used by the students to get different opportunities such as internships, training, job offers and so on. It also serves as morale booster for the young aspiring minds.

YouTube: YouTube is a video based social media platform which was developed with a view to provide information through videos. It enables the users to access the desired content. This platform can be used by the teachers, creative professionals, educationists, institutions as well as the students to upload, share and access the content. It may also become a source of income for the people contributing their videos.

Blogs: It is a kind of web page or a website being updated regularly. Different people as well as groups may own their blog sites and get their work (articles, research work or view point regarding any issue) published. Students can access these blogs to get required information. They can also create their own blogs to share their ideas.

CONCLUSION

This article focuses on the eradication of illiteracy through social media. In today’s scenario there is a shift in the styles of teaching, the teaching fraternity is now opting the virtual mode of teaching and learning to attain best results. As it is known that a huge number of people are using social media just for the sake of entertainment and social networking. The need of hour is to channelize them towards the educational aspects of social media, where they can get educational information in an interesting way. This may lead to arousal of interest thus inspiring them to undergo formal education. The videos available on YouTube are very interesting and easy to understand, they could be the best media for illiterates.

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Policy & Politics

BE CHEERFUL TO PRODUCE ANTIBODIESBE CHEERFUL TO PRODUCE ANTIBODIES

Your body can remain healthy only if you’re mentally calm and composed even under critical conditions. It is imperative for you to keep your mind calm and composed, to keep the whole family and other people cheerful in order to deal with the present crisis. If you create laughter and happiness in life, antibodies will also develop naturally. If the mind is tense, the body cannot become strong. This is the time to relax and be happy

Vijay Darda

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Corona… corona… corona..!

M y head begins to spin hearing this word repeatedly. I’m scared! I see death and I suddenly start cursing the PM, CM and DM. I am not able to get a vaccine… I cannot get medicine… My relative is not getting an oxygen bed… My wife is not getting an ICU bed… My brother is dying… My partner has left me… My business has been destroyed… This government is incompetent… It is hopeless..!

Then what..?

Dear sir, the government is yours, so have faith. And if you don’t, what will happen, you know? It will increase negativity, further adding to the fear and anxiety. It will hamper whatever good is happening around. Yes, every individual right now is trying to keep himself or herself safe. Every one of them is struggling to be out of harm’s way. So stop worrying. The government will do whatever it can, but we will have to do something too. We will have to find the powers that are within us to survive any crisis. We will have to keep our heart and mind composed. We will have to find moments of peace. If the heart and mind will be relaxed, the body will be fit and healthy too.

Scientists say that when you are under stress and mentally disturbed, it directly affects the body mechanism making it weak. From this point of view, the most important thing is that we should seek smaller moments of happiness that can give us a lot of relief. In this way, we can give our body a favourable environment to produce antibodies naturally. I am reminded of the movie Anand. Rajesh Khanna knows that he is about to die but he tells the doctor, Zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin Babu Moshay! Jab tak zinda hun, mara nahin (life should be great, not long…) The same Rajesh Khanna says in the film Bawarchi, Kisi badi khushi ke intazaar mein hum chhoti chhoti khushiyon ke mauke kho dete hain (We lose smaller moments of happiness in anticipation of perfect happiness). That is to say, why die a little every day for fear of death?

Of course, when the circumstances are terrible, smaller moments of happiness will give you a lot of relief. Just two days back, I made a call to an old friend of mine in Gujarat. At first he responded in the typical native language. Only a close friend can use native language. You cannot speak in such a language with anyone else! After that we both laughed so much, we indulged in such a spell of light banter that the whole heart and mind got refreshed. The mood became cheerful. Today, people are locked at homes, but then you can always call a friend and share some lighter moments!

Let me give you some examples. When you come home stressed and your wife asks you, what happened? You tell her everything and then the wife says, why are you worrying? I am there! That makes you completely stress free. All of a sudden your children hug you, and you forget all the worries of the world. Suddenly, you start singing despite not knowing the lyrics. Even if you do not know the language of dance, you start to throw your legs, and then you are surprised at how much happiness it has filled you with. This is the ambience that makes your mind fit and it is obvious that it also makes your body strong.

And of course, you need to pay attention to your lifestyle. I have come to the conclusion that with the development of science, man will get caught in many complex problems and he will conduct several experiments in order to establish his rule over the world! The preservation of environmental balance will be crucial to ensure sustainability. Life will also lose balance with the imbalance of the environment. Our life, our family, our children and all the creatures and beings of nature will suffer from the waste created by science, the waste that is generated daily, and the destruction of forests, polluted water and toxic air, among many evils of modern industrial society. Just those who have been able to maintain their mental condition stable or who have good physical ability will be able to fight against these problems. Surely pranayaam, spirituality, happiness, friends and home environment are going to play an important role in keeping the mind and body healthy. And what about food? Forget that you will get fresh and poison free vegetables, grains and fruits. The greed of man and the behaviour of man towards man has started ruining mankind. Man himself is adulterating the foodstuff. Spurious medicines are also being manufactured by humans. I want to say that if you are earning money by taking advantage of someone’s helplessness, no matter what your profession is, be sure that if you are not around to enjoy, where will you bring happiness from and what will you do with your money? In fact, today the whole environment has become an enemy of humanity. There is no house that is free from medicines. These medicines are chemicals only! So it is high time you take care of yourself. If despair threatens to take hold of you, just dust it off and remember that there is a silver lining to every dark cloud. We have experienced a period of darkness and our ancestors have also sustained the darkest period. At that time, man was not so advanced in science, yet our ancestors were successful in defeating the darkness. We have a robust support of science today. We will get rid of this darkness too. Here are a few lines that are coming to my mind:

Kyon kose andhere ko, kuch fayda bhi toh nahin!

Chalo dhoondhte hain milkar, suraj ki mutthhi bhar roshni!!

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

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Policy & Politics

MAKING IT HAPPEN: SUCCESSFUL MANAGEMENT OF COVID FALLOUT

Anil Swarup

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Imparting health services to the tribal population in a District like Nandurbar (Maharashtra) is a stupendous task because of the poverty, illiteracy, remoteness, unwillingness to mix with the mainstream of the society. Mountainous terrain and the lack of proper roads in the inaccessible regions make the problems more severe. Most of the PHCs do not have enough staff, well maintained buildings and staff quarters. The number of medical personnel available are below national average.

The underlying medical conditions like Sickle Cell Anemia and weakening immune system heightens the severity of the infection and increases mortality rate. The spread of COVID-19 among the elders would have put the entire generation at risk.

There is no industry nearby in the vicinity of Nandurbar District that would have been capable of generation and supply of oxygen in the case of urgency. The District Collector, Dr. Rajendra Bharud recognized all these problems and had the foresight to make the district self-reliant not only in terms of oxygen requirement, but also other necessary preparation to fight Covid-19.

Nandurbar did not have a single liquid oxygen plant or tank before the Covid-19 outbreak last year. However, the Doctor turned Collector envisioned the Coronavirus threat of future and effects of weak health infrastructure in the district.

After steady decline in the cases in first wave as well as the assurance from Central Government regarding the vaccination programme, many district administrations dismantled their Covid-19 facilities. However, Nandurbar didn’t do it. As cases were coming down in India, Dr. Bharud kept an eye on events in America and Brazil that were facing a massive surge. He wanted to be prepared in case a similar surge took place in the District. So, District Planning and Development Council (DPDC) allotted Rs. 85 Lakhs from DPDC fund for the installation of Oxygen plant. In September 2020, the District Administration installed the first oxygen plant, which had a capacity to produce 600 liters per minute. Forecasting the surge, the District Administration went ahead to install another plant of similar capacity at District Hospital by using funds from State Disaster Relief Fund and Corporate Social Responsibility.

When the second wave hit Maharashtra, Nandurbar reported as many as 1160 cases in a span of 24 hours on 7th April 2021. The District Administration installed another plant at Shahada block in few days. At present, with the proactive effort, the total oxygen capacity in the district is 1,800 liters per minute. By adding two more plants at Navapur and Taloda with combined capacity of 1200 liters per minute, the total capacity of Oxygen generation will reach 3000 liter per minute by 20th May 2021.

Availability of funds is always a crucial component in setting up a robust healthcare structure, which includes ambulances, ventilators, beds, oxygen plants, vaccines, medicines, staff, a website, and control rooms in every block. Dr Bharud used a combination of resources, including District Planning and Development Council (DPDC) funds, State disaster relief funds, Local Bodies’ Cess and CSR to meet expenses.

Apart from erection of Oxygen Generation plants, many steps were taken by the administration to fight the pandemic. Nandurbar had to depend upon the GMC Dhule for get its swab samples tested in initial days of Covid-19 pandemic. The administration installed its own RTPCR lab with capacity of testing 2000 samples per day. Keeping in mind the second wave of Covid-19, the testing capacity was augmented with addition of second RTPCR machine of same capacity.

Schools and community halls were converted into COVID-19 centers. The administration set up 7000 beds just for isolation and 1300 beds for active treatment.

During the first wave, the district had faced a massive crunch in terms of frontline doctors. Since there are no medical colleges in the region, finding experts was a challenge. So, all local doctors were roped in and were trained to perform vital procedures of Covid-19 treatment such as intubation and monitoring oxygen levels.

The health department has to bear the burden of data management, inventory management etc. at DHC, DCHC & CCC. Hence, the teachers, staff from ITI instructors etc. have been made available for the purpose.

Considering the future demand, 27 ambulances have been arranged from CSR; 4 ambulances have been hired with the help of Nandurbar and Shahada municipal councils while 16 ambulances have been purchased from Local Cess Funds. In addition to this, two dedicated hearse vans have been made available to Municipal Council for disposal of dead body.

One of the early steps taken by the administration was creating a website and control room to help control the panic and systematically guide the citizens. This would also ensure that people were not running from pillar to post in search of beds. The website www.ndbcovidinfo.com is created and being updated real time to let the people know about bed availability, Covid-19 Test reports, ambulance status and nearest vaccination booth status etc. Due to user-friendly design of website, the complaints of citizens regarding non-availability of information have been drastically reduced.

Control rooms (24 X 7) had been established in all six talukas in the district under the supervision of Incident Commanders as well as at District Headquarter under Additional Collector. FDA officer was also made available with the control room for mitigating any shortage of medicines as well as oxygen. District Administration has provided 4 separate helpline numbers. Separate logbook is being maintained for calls received and action taken on it.

Railways has turned 21 coaches into isolation wards at the request of the State Government in Nandurbar. There are 16 beds in every coach. The isolation coaches have been covered with layered gunnies and water drip system to lower the temperature, making it suitable for the use of COVID-19 patients.

The ongoing small but effective practice of appointing nurses was started last year in Nandurbar. One nurse is appointed for 15-20 patients. These nurses have to monitor the requirement of oxygen every 2-4 hours, round the clock. They have the discretion to increase or decrease the flow depending on the patient’s need.

The district presently has 52 government and 4 private vaccination centers. Out of the 3 lakh individuals aged above 45, one lakh have already received the first dose. This is despite the lack of awareness around vaccination. Effort has been made to reach out to the target group Instead of calling people over for vaccination as a part of ‘Camp Approach’. This way, people didn’t have to travel in hilly terrains. Teachers and sarpanches were deployed to spread the word about the seriousness of the situation.

On account of improved health infrastructure, people from neighboring districts and states (including Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat), have been admitting themselves in Nandurbar. Even with this added caseload, the district has managed not only to control the positivity rate, but also slash it by 30%. The single day spike is reduced from 1200 to 300 i.e. by 75% by various active interventions at local levels.

Dr Rajendra Bharud and his committed team of officers, doctors and para-medics have demonstrated that even an unprecedented crisis, like COVID can be managed with foresight, meticulous planning and execution. They have made-it-happen. It is indeed a lesson for others.

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

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