Every Monday to Saturday, The Dispatch brings to you a selection of Editorials from leading newspapers across the country
Law as weapon
“Misuse of Epidemic Diseases Act by government must stop. Else, court must step in to protect citizens’ freedoms,” reads the editorial of The Indian Express. It further reads “A dharna in Agra over the movement of buses to ferry migrant labour led to the arrest of the Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu and two of his party colleagues — all three subsequently got bail. Amongst the laws weaponised by the UP police to detain the Opposition leaders is a late-19th century statute, The Epidemic Diseases Act. Drafted by the colonial state in 1897 “to take special measures and prescribe regulations” for “the better prevention of the dangerous epidemic diseases”, the law has been summoned in the past to deal with outbreaks of cholera, swine flu and dengue. But its heavy-handed and arbitrary use, or misuse, during the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is new.” read full editorial here.
Fudge and fix: stimulus package
“If it’s transparency that the govt wants, it should start by shining a torch on its own numbers,” reads the Editorial of The Telegraph. It further reads “The most damning condemnation of the Narendra Modi government’s faux stimulus package to combat the withering effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Indian economy has come from Goldman Sachs, which claims that it has thrown far less money at the problem than the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government did during the 2009 global financial crisis. The government and analysts will quibble over the figures but the consensus is building around a stimulus size of 10 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. The number-crunching exercise is, however, muddied by the debate over how much of this is attributable to government spending: the range varies between a little over 1 per cent of GDP and Goldman Sachs’s far more charitable estimate of 3.84 per cent. The Centre has put the size of the stimulus at Rs 20.97 trillion,” read full editorial here.
A hole in the whole: On health sector woes
“Health care services cannot be allowed to be overwhelmed by the pandemic,” reads the editorial of The Hindu. It further reads “Mathematically, the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, neither more nor less. But the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the parts and overwhelmed the whole. The lockdown, as it was conceived originally, was meant to be, at best, a stopgap arrangement that would help nations tide over the crisis caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But as the days rolled on, and the lockdown moved on from phase to phase, it has caused a paralysis in general health care. As sparse health care resources in most parts of the country have been channelled towards the COVID-19 effort, the numbers have risen, but normal health care services have been in suspended animation for just under two months now. Staff running several national health programmes, and State health missions, besides health care workers from tertiary hospitals down to the primary health centres, have been diverted to buttress public health efforts in the COVID-19 battle. And the epidemic still rages on, with thousands of people testing positive every day and the number of cases coursing past the 1 lakh mark. Lockdowns have been partially lifted in some areas and in others, a mere semblance of normalcy has returned. As conditional movement has been allowed, people travelling across States bring positive cases to States or districts that have remained case-free for a while now,” read full editorial here
“India poised to play key role in course correction,” read the editorial of The Tribune. It further reads “The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been receiving more brickbats than bouquets for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The UN health body finds itself caught in the crossfire between superpowers China and the US. China has called on the international community to increase political and financial support to the WHO, while the US has threatened to permanently freeze the flow of funds and pull out of the organisation if it fails to demonstrate its ‘independence’ from China in a month. Even as the number of coronavirus cases has crossed 50 lakh globally and the death toll is above 3.25 lakh, about 130 countries, including India, have endorsed a resolution to probe the origin of the virus and carry out an ‘impartial, independent and comprehensive’ evaluation of the global response to the Covid outbreak. A free and fair inquiry is needed to ascertain the truth and fix accountability for the crisis that has engulfed the world,” read full editorial here
Cash relief is crucial, finance minister didn’t acknowledge that
“Exactly 90 years ago, India and also the rest of the world was brought to their knees by the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was marked by a sudden fall in prices, a crash of demand and also a shortage of money with people. Now, the world is witnessing a similar phenomenon, albeit caused by humankind locking itself at home to keep away the highly infectious coronavirus.
In fact, according to US-based investment bank Goldman Sachs, the Indian economy is expected to contract nearly 45 per cent in the first quarter — which is worse than the economic mayhem witnessed in the 1930s in India. It expects a washout of the financial year 2020-21, with the size of Indian economy shrinking by five per cent — a loss of $160 billion (Rs 12 lakh crore) worth output by a conservative estimate. The economic devastation caused by the 2020 coronavirus shock in India could be greater and much widespread because a significantly larger population of the country is dependent on formal economic activity than that of 1930s India. The government was the only entity that had the wherewithal to backstop the impact,” read full editorial here.
“Counter-insurgency strategies need to be re-tailored to minimize loss and harassment to civilians,” reads the Editorial of kashmir Times. It further reads “As the security forces claimed a major success by killing two top Hizb militants on Tuesday, the gutting of over a dozen houses in the crowded Nawakadal area in Srinagar’s downtown raises the pertinent concern about whether the encounter strategy, especially in congested localities, can be modified to avoid such a huge collateral damage. Some unverified reports have maintained that some of the inmates of the houses also suffered burn injuries. Videos of the gutted houses and their now homeless inmates wailing and claiming that their houses were burnt down by grenades and arson and some of them even alleged that the security personnel entered their homes before that and stole their cash, jewellery and even LPG cylinders. While allegations of theft, abjectly denied by the police, need to be verified and probed, the larger question is whether anti-militancy operations need to be conducted, adopting an effective strategy to avoid collateral damages including destruction of houses and unnecessary inconvenience to ordinary people who have nothing to do with militancy. Kashmir is littered with stories of civilians caught in the cross-firing, young boys used as human shields and damaged houses,” read full edit here
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