It took a certain amount of political courage to go in for such a comprehensive and complete lockdown as announced — and carried out — by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Only he has the political capital to demand and receive such an overwhelming response. But now over a month later, as Lockdown 2.0 is nearly over, it will take the same kind of political will to lift the lockdown. When the Prime Minister met the Chief Ministers on 28 April he put this question to them. All the CMs asked for an extension, albeit with some lifting of restrictions. But what is interesting is that the Home Ministry had already sent a circular for most of these restrictions to be lifted by 20 April. The implementation, however, was left to the discretion of the state chief ministers.
Most erred on the side of caution and didn’t implement these. Which throws up a rather curious point of order — ask any politician off record and he/she will sigh in despair and talk about the economy. But on record they will all err on the side of caution and argue in favour of Lockdown 3.0. The risks involved are far too high. It is much easier to ask for government bailout packages. But every package has a price. The bill for these grants and bailouts will have to be paid. Even before Covid-19 the Indian economy was on a downturn. The graph has only fallen steeper after that. So yes, of course, the opening up should be graded and gradual. But it has to be sooner than later. It is all very well to argue for both jaan and jahaan but what about that migrant worker and daily wage earner who has categorically stated that he will take the risk with the virus rather than living on an empty pocket. What about that MSME employer who may have enough cash reserves to meet one month’s wage cycle but hasn’t bargained for a three-month payout with no revenues?
What about the house owner who has got a three month’s moratorium on his EMIs, but knows that the bill will still have to be met eventually? For all the talk of cures, it will be a while before a vaccine is found and finds its way to India. In the meantime, can we afford to put our lives on pause and watch our jobs become redundant in exchange for the sheer pleasure of watching wildlife roam our streets, for the freaky April weather that also brings with it boulder-sized hailstorms that ruin the rabi crop which hasn’t yet been harvested because of… you got it, the lockdown. The easy answer is to push the bill towards the Prime Minister. The difficult one would be for the CMs to pick up the tab and take the hardest decision of them all: work with the stakeholders (both industry and individuals have to be involved) and prepare for life in the times of corona. We have to move on, with or without a cure, but with mask and gloves on.
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NEWS BROADCASTERS FEDERATION TO AMALGAMATE WITH ARTBI
The News Broadcasters Federation on Friday, decided to amalgamate with the Association of Regional Television Broadcasters of India (ARTBI), making NBF the largest body representing the business interests and editorial freedom of news television broadcasters in India.
“The amalgamation of ARTBI makes NBF beyond doubt the largest pan India broadcasters’ body, more than twice as large as another existing broadcasters association. With this significant scale NBF will set new news standards and highest self-regulation and editorial standards,” said Arnab Goswami, President, News Broadcasters Federation.
The decision on the proposal to amalgamate ARTBI was ratified at the NBF Governing Board meeting on Friday, June 18, 2021. The amalgamation is the first-ever coming together of two industry bodies in the news broadcasting sector, under a single umbrella to help news broadcasters be independent and successful. The amalgamation is crucial as it would help regional news channels and their digital platforms to understand and comply with regulatory requirements.
The huge step aims to strengthen the industry by building the Federation more democratic, diverse, and united in spirit, in the best interest of the news broadcasting industry and the public at large.
“We are happy with the merger of India’s first recognized Association of Regional Television Broadcasters of India with NBF. Now the time is there for the consolidation where we must consolidate NBF and ARTBI put together so we formed the largest body and can do much better for all stakeholders involved,” said Kartikeya Sharma, Founder, Association of Regional Television Broadcasters of India
10% of Haryana’s police force infected by Covid-19 virus, 47 cops succumbbed
Amid the harrowing second wave of the Covid-19, the state government of Haryana continues to put its best to tackle the disease and to some extent, the efforts have proved fruitful as the state is witnessing a multifold decrease in new cases and death toll. Police personnel along with medical staff and sanitation workers are leaving no stone unturned to deal with the pandemic. But amid the battle against the Covid-19 outbreak, the disease has affected the police personnel adversely. There are nearly 60 thousand employees in the police department— including junior and senior officials. The virus has hit more than 10 per cent of the total staff of the department which is a matter of serious concern.
The statistics made available by the department revealed that as many as 6540 police personnel tested positive so far which is more than 10 percent of the total staff.
47 police personnel have lost their lives while performing their duties on the frontlines amid the second wave of the pandemic. Apart from this, 102 candidates are still Covid-19 positive and under treatment in different hospitals. Understanding the pain of families of deceased, the state government already had declared to provide financial assistance of Rs 30 lakh to them and same is under process.
“The state government is committed to helping out the families of those police personnel who lost their life battling with corona,” said Manohar Lal, the Chief Minister of Haryana. The police department brought us laurels by performing their duties its full accountability in fight with corona, he added.
LADAKH’S CORONAVIRUS DEATH TOLL CROSSES 200
According to the health officials of UT of Ladakh, the daily Covid-19 positive cases have dropped to 348 in Leh and 134 in Kargil, and 77 more patients have recovered from the illness during the last 24 hours.
These details were given by the officials on Friday while media reported that the death toll has crossed 200. Nevertheless, the fatality rates, sources said, have dropped.
Leh town and the adjacent villages are trying to come to terms with the second wave of the pandemic as it has badly impacted not only daily life but also the economy of the region.
During summers, Leh and adjacent areas of UT of Ladakh used to witness a lot of foreign tourists and due to the Covid-19 restrictions— though lifted now, to some extent— the economic activities are very subdued.
The officials said that the industry will hopefully see some tourist trickle in July and August, though the local tour operators are very apprehensive about the bookings.
The total number of positive cases recorded till Friday in Leh according to official figures is 16,254 and 3,450, in Kargil district respectively.
PUNJAB GOVT TO SEEK $210 MILLION LOAN FROM WORLD BANK
The Punjab government will seek $ 210 million loan from World Bank/Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for the canal-based water supply project for Amritsar and Ludhiana under the Punjab Municipal Service Improvement Project (PMSIP).
The decision to seek the loan was taken on Friday by the state cabinet at a virtual meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. The cabinet authorised the Chief Minister to take any decision to meet the objectives of the project and to ensure successful & timely implementation of various activities proposed by the World Bank/AIIB.
The proposed project investment is expected to cost around US$ 300 million, of which the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) will finance 70 percent and the Punjab government 30 percent.
The Cabinet was informed that the present water supply system to the residents of Ludhiana and Amritsar towns is through deep bore tube-wells installed at different sites. However, with time, the groundwater level is depleting causing the tube-wells to need frequent replacement. Also, the discharge in the tube-wells gets reduced, as a result of which residents often complain of getting insufficient water for drinking purpose.
To overcome this problem, it has now been decided to shift to canal-based water supply in these two towns with the assistance of the World Bank/AIIB by seeking a loan of US$M 210. The work for canal-based water supply for Amritsar town has already been awarded, whereas a request for proposal for Ludhiana town is being floated. The implementation period for this project shall be three years after the award of work.
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