COVID-19 cases in India cross 1 lakh; economic stimulus ‘hopelessly inadequate’ said Congress | The Background

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

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COVID-19 cases in India cross 1 lakh; economic stimulus ‘hopelessly inadequate’ said Congress

The Background:

The number of positive coronavirus cases reported from India stands at 1, 00,340 with the death toll reaching 3,155. Globally, 47, 69,177 are infected and the number of death is 3,16,898.

India recorded its biggest single-day increase of the Covid-19 cases today. Among the states, Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of cases, followed by Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.

A day after extending the nationwide lockdown till May 31, the Centre said states and Union Territories cannot dilute restrictions despite the relaxations in the guidelines. However, states do seem to be taking more of a lead in formulating policies.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said shopping malls will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity on a rotational basis. The state will also allow intra-district buses to ply. Karnataka too said it would allow buses and trains within the state. West Bengal has also allowed the opening of big stores and salons, and said there will be no night curfew, which may go against the Centre’s guidelines.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on May 18 announced the opening of shops in markets on an odd-even basis, and the running of buses with only 20 passengers. But he said Metro services, schools, colleges, cinema halls, and salons will remain closed.

Meanwhile, the Centre has withdrawn its earlier order of March 29, 2020, mandating employers to pay full wages to all employees even for the period during the Covid-19 lockdown, when industrial and commercial units perforce have to remain shut. The new set of guidelines issued for Lockdown 4.0 has omitted this requirement.

Industry bodies had been lobbying hard for a withdrawal of the order, in view of revenue losses due to the lockdown and the absence of any grants from the government to tide over the cash crunch. While employers heaved a sigh of relief, trade unions have slammed the decision.

Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the stimulus package announced by the government is “hopelessly inadequate” as it amounts to only Rs1.86 lakh crore, which is 0.91% of the GDP. He said the package has left several sections, including the poor, migrants, farmers, labourers, workers, small shopkeepers and the middle class high and dry.

Nearly 100 migrant workers hit the streets in Ahmedabad today, demanding that they be allowed to return to their hometowns. They were reacting to the extension of the lockdown by another two weeks. The workers reportedly pelted stones at police personnel and passing vehicles. The police used teargas to disperse the crowd. The incident took place on a road connecting the IIT-Ahmedabad campus with Vastrapur area in the city.

 

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