Today Picture

Coronavirus in Maharashtra: 55 police personnel test positive in just 24 hours; total cases now 1,328

Maharashtra remains the worst-hit state in terms of COVID-19 cases with the state reporting 35,058 cases so far.

Now, 55 police personnel of Maharashtra police have tested positive for COVID19, in the last 24 hours. With this the total number of positive cases in the police force in the state is now 1,328 according to Maharashtra police.

With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing among the state police, Armed forces are being deployed in the state. Eight companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) reached Maharashtra on Monday.

While 5 companies -- each with 120 highly-trained personnel -- will be deployed in the city from Tuesday, five others will be deployed across the state.

The CAPFs meant for Mumbai are 3 companies from the CISF, and 2 from CRPF, which will be part of 20 companies sought by the state for deployment during Ramzan-Eid and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Mumbai Police PRO, total of 5 companies of CISF and CRPF to be deployed in: Zone 1- Colaba to Marine Drive, Zone 3 - Tardeo, Nagpada, Worli to NM Joshi Marg, Zone 5 - Dharavi to Dadar, Zone 6 - Chembur to Mankhurd, and Zone 9 - Bandra to Amboli (Andheri West).

They will assist Maharashtra Police with crowd control and physical distancing measures during the lockdown 4.0 which started from Monday in the state.

The deployment will enable the Mumbai Police and police in other parts of the state to get the much-needed break from heavy dutyload for the past two months.

On Monday, with 67 police personnel tested positive for COVID-19 in Maharashtra in the last 24 hours, the total number of positive COVID-19 police personnel in the State reached 1,273 on Monday, said Maharashtra Police.

9 killed, several others injured after truck carrying migrant labourers collides with bus in Bihar

On Tuesday, at least 9 labourers were killed, several others were injured after the truck they were travelling in collided with a bus in Bihar.

The accident took place in Naugachhia, Bhagalpur district in Bihar. The truck in which the labourers were travelling, fell off the road following the collision. Rescue operation underway, reported news agency ANI.


Bihar: At least 9 labourers dead & several injured after a truck & a bus collided in Naugachhia, Bhagalpur. The truck in which the labourers were travelling, fell off the road following the collision. Rescue operation underway.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

In the meanwhile, three migrant labourers and a bus driver were killed and 22 others injured after their vehicle hit a stationary truck in Maharashtras Yavatmal district in the early hours of Tuesday.

The accident took place at Kolwan village around 3.30 am when the bus was on way from Solapur to Nagpur railway station where the labourers were supposed to board a Shramik Special train to reach their native places in Jharkhand.

On Monday, at least 12 migrant labourers were seriously injured after a bus in which they were travelling to Bihar collided with a truck coming from the opposite direction in Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar district. All the 12 migrants have sustained serious injuries and seven of them are said to be in a critical condition. They have been admitted to the Gorakhpur Medical College. The bus was ferrying the migrants to Bhagalpur in Bihar.


Lockdown 4.0: CISF and CRPF to deployed in Mumbai from today

After Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had hinted that he might seek help from the central forces to give state police a breather, on Tuesday Mumbai Police said that a total of 5 companies of CISF and CRPF will be deployed in zones 1,3,5,6 and 9 in the city from today.

According to Mumbai Police PRO, total of 5 companies of CISF and CRPF to be deployed in:

Zone 1- Colaba to Marine Drive,

Zone 3 - Tardeo, Nagpada, Worli to NM Joshi Marg,

Zone 5 - Dharavi to Dadar,

Zone 6 - Chembur to Mankhurd, and

Zone 9 - Bandra to Amboli (Andheri West).


 · 3h
#COVID19: Total 5 companies of CISF and CRPF to be deployed in zones 1,3,5,6 and 9 in Mumbai from today: Mumbai Police PRO


#COVID19: Total 5 companies of CISF and CRPF to be deployed in Zone 1-Colaba to Marine Drive, Zone3- Tardeo, Nagpada, Worli to NM Joshi Marg, Zone 5- Dharavi to Dadar, Zone 6- Chembur to Mankhurd and Zone 9- Bandra to Amboli (Andheri West), in Mumbai, from today.

8:37 PM - May 18, 2020
Twitter Ads info and privacy
60 people are talking about this
This comes days after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray while addressing the state had said that he might seek help from the central forces to give the overstretched state police a breather.

He had said that he was open to giving the personnel of the Maharashtra Police, who have been on the ground for long, some rest.

“They are also people, they get rest only when they get sick, this is cruel to them. Hence I have been thinking that we could speak to the centre to call in personnel to give the police machinery a break. We could give these people a break phase-wise, so that they could rest and come back to work,” Uddhav Thackeray said in his address to the state on May 8.

After sacking 3,700 employees over Zoom call, Uber fires 3,000 more people globally

Ride-hailing app Uber has announced to lay off nearly 3,000 more employees in the second round, along with closing or consolidating some 45 offices globally.

Last week, Uber fired nearly 3,700 employees via multiple Zoom calls. With this, 25 per cent of its global workforce is now out of job.

"We have made the incredibly difficult decision to reduce our workforce by around 3,000 people, and to reduce investments in several non-core projects," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a letter to employees on Monday.

In a regulatory filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Uber said due to lower trip volumes in its rides segment and the company's current hiring freeze, it is reducing its customer support and recruiting teams to cut down on heavy losses.

Uber is also closing or consolidating some 45 offices globally, including its Pier 70 office in San Francisco, a branch responsible for its experimental projects like self-driving cars.

Over the next 12 months, it will begin the process of moving its Asia-Pacific headquarters out of Singapore to a new location "in a market where we operate our services," according to the company.

Uber will reduce its costs by over US $1 billion a year by these actions, the company said.

"We began 2020 on an accelerated path to total company profitability. Then the coronavirus hit us with a once-in-a-generation public health and economic crisis," Khosrowshahi noted.

"If there is one silver lining regarding this crisis, it is that Eats has become an even more important resource for people at home and for restaurants," he said. "We no longer need to look far for the next enormous growth opportunity, we are sitting right on top of one."

Khosrowshahi also cautioned that the accelerating Eats business now still doesn't come close to covering the expenses. The profitability "is not going to happen overnight."

The ride-hailing major Uber reported a net loss of $2.9 billion in the first quarter of this year, even as its revenue reached $3.54 billion in Q1 2020 from $3.1 billion a year ago, a growth of 14 per cent.

In Q1 2019, Uber's net loss was $1 billion, which includes $11 million in stock-based compensation expense.

Uber has also announced it is folding its JUMP e-bike and e-scooter business into Lime.


#AtmaNirbhar Bharat and healthcare: Pushing a weak and sick India into the ICU

For policymakers and those seriously concerned about healthcare, a viewing of TedX Gateway Webinar with Dr. Zarir F Udwadia (Pulmonologist) which can be viewed here, should be made mandatory.

It sends across one message that is stark and simple – the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is not the end of the story. There will be more casualties and even more epidemics. India needs to be prepared. And this is precisely what policymakers have not focussed on. Not even in the Atma Nirbhar presentations.

There was much expectation, and need, for the government to focus on healthcare. This was on account of several reasons.

First, just look at our government hospitals. See the crowds milling around, even before the Covid-19 pandemic began. The reason for the crowds being there is obvious to anyone familiar with the India scene. Most patients are poor and cannot afford private hospitals. Moreover, many of the private hospitals are poorly equipped, but fleece the poor and the ignorant. And the crowds are huge because the government has not invested enough on healthcare.


Pakistan has more doctors and hospital beds than India has for every 1,000 people (see chart). India has become a story of exploiting the poor. These funds are invariably transferred to people from whom politicians get their votes.

Second, despite going to government hospitals, the poor often find that they have to go back to private doctors and clinics, because the government hospitals either complain about medicines not being available, or the x-ray or sonar equipment being out of order, or (shockingly) even the pathology lab not working. Look outside JJ Hospital in Mumbai and look at the innumerable cubby-holes of shops mushrooming on the side roads. These are clinics to which hospital staff send poor patients because they say the machines are not working. As a result, the average Indian spends more out of pocket on healthcare (as a percentage of income) than most people in the world (see chart).


And there is a third reason as well. In their greed to get votes, politicians have turned democracy on its head and have discovered a macabre way of winning elections. They have encouraged slums to the point when no type of social distancing will work (see chart). The number of slums, and the populations in them have been growing faster than for other sections of the population. And this is true for most states in India. Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh head this infamous list. For more on slums, you should look up the website.


The next epidemic, as Dr. Udwadia points out, may be more infectious and more deadly than the coronavirus. And yet, you have politicians abetting the growth of slums (see chart), and even promising them exemption from paying property tax forever. The death rates then will be staggering, even unstoppable. The exodus of migrants from cities, is thus understandable. Nobody wants to die in the hellhole that politicians have made of cities.

They have understood that the politicians first starve medicare, then create conditions which make medicare a desperate and crying need.

That is why a policy framework as part of Atma Nirbhar was urgently needed. There was a need to stop the growth of slums. That could be done by referring the matter to the election commission to define who should be allowed to vote and where. Ideally, a voter should be one who has a legal place of residence. Hence, a squatter who emerges from an illegal residence which he has wrongfully occupied, can be told to vote from the place he comes from, not the place he illegally occupies. He can get a work permit for the city, but not the right to vote from there. If that is not done, you might as well allow the stuffing of ballot boxes with bogus votes. But once again policymakers were blind to this need.

You also need a sensible policy framework for insurance, healthcare, and medical costs. Unless insurance is allowed to manage medicare in India, the politician – abetted by the bureaucrat – will wreck it. Insurance has the money power, the medical expertise (because it already has many health insurance companies) and can work out a sensible way of insuring pathology as well.

You need a policy to look after migrant workers as well. Remember they too are taxpayers. They might not have paid income tax, but they have paid indirect taxes on goods and services they have availed of. It is the responsibility of the government to look after them since it has also taken their money year after year. They have a right to shelter and healthcare, not the disease centres the government likes to call hospitals.

As Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson and managing director of Biocon Ltd, stated quite bluntly on Twitter, “The healthcare sector has been short-changed. No stimulus for hospitals who have to bear increased operating costs due to covid-related protocols.” In yet another tweet she said, “Most disappointed at the lack of bold measures in stimulus packages -don’t think demand will be created and consequently economic activity will be stifled. ₹20 trillion was a huge amount and it was meant to stimulate economic revival and growth."

And the irony is that in an attempt to treat Covid-19 patients, many state governments have shut hospitals for non-Covid-19 patients. This is despite the well-known fact that more people die of heart attacks, or tuberculosis or even diabetes than of Covid-19. India does not even know how to count its dead, and get them medically certified. We need policy guidelines on preventing such madness as well. At least, there will be something sensible in place when the next pandemic hits India.

Another absurdity is visible to everyone. The huge crowds milling around government hospitals actually offer India a huge opportunity. Sadly, the government has been blind to this. Begin with hospitals themselves. Most of them were made by the British, and not by the post-independence government of India. Moreover, the crowds milling around hospitals are patients that countries like Ukraine or Russia would love to have for their medical colleges. They offer a particularly good reason for government hospitals to increase the intake of medical students ten-fold at least. That would make India the global hub for medical education. Today, India makes other countries rich, by sending its students there to study medicine.

Of course, you will need good teachers as well. But good teachers come when they are picked up by merit and not because they belong to a reserved category. And for that, it is quite obvious that admission – not only for students, but also for teachers -- should strictly be on merit. If India can insist that cricket teams should only have meritorious batsmen, bowlers and fieldsmen, why should that not apply to medical seats and teachers as well ()?

Why should cricket be exempted from reservations and an even more critical function like saving lives be hobbled by reservations? If the government wants, it could offer backward communities additional coaching to compete in the entrance exams. It could offer them financial packages to set up their own clinics. But don’t destroy the quality of doctors, or teachers, just to win votes. And don’t try to artificially ramp up the numbers of doctors, by creating short terms bridge courses to convert homeopaths and paramedics into full-fledged doctors. As mentioned earlier, if short term bridge courses are the right way to go, why not have such courses for converting clerks into IAS officers!

Thus, countries like Ukraine and Russia offer medical education courses when they don’t have enough patients. Half the medical student’s understanding comes from dealing with patients and diagnosing them, day after day. In India, there are horror stories of how patients are paid to come to private hospitals (which also offer medical courses) to demonstrate to education inspectors that medical students do have access to patients. When the inspectors go, so do the ‘patients’. India has a strategic advantage in having so many patients. It should never have created a situation where students go overseas, spend overseas, create jobs overseas, because of little effective capacity building in this country itself.

This is where Atma Nirbhar ought to have spelt out policy – like short-term incentives for convert unviable hotels into hospitals, and long terms incentives for government hospitals to augment intake capacity for medical students. That is the way to prevent children dying, both from conventional killer-diseases and even the coronavirus epidemic.

There is a lot that could have been done. That vision and policy initiative was sorely needed. That is where vision and administrative capability matter. Unfortunately, neither was visible in the much hyped AtmaNirbharBharat.

That is a terrible tragedy.

The author is consulting editor with FPJ

Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus: Will India ever be Aatma Nirbhar Bharat when it comes to education?

Except for lip service to online education (Technology driven Systems - Online Education during COVID-19, on page 6 of the fifth document released as part of the Atma Nirbhar darbari sessions), there is just no mention of education and health care anywhere.


The government in its attempt to present a razzle-dazzle show of what it plans doing for the country and its people, failed to include the very pillars which make a country self-reliant or atma nirbhar. Those two pillars are education and health.

Do bear in mind that India has one of the poorest investments in education and health. That is why its ranking on the World Bank’s Human Capital Index is the lowest in this region. The only country with a ranking that is lower than India is Pakistan. So has India’s benchmark stopped being that of a world power, but its western neighbour? This is not what Atma Nirbhar was meant to be.

Even before Covid-19 erupted on the world as a pandemic, there were enough indications that India has messed up its education strategy almost entirely. For instance, there is the Human Development Index score – again compiled by the World Bank – which shows India as being a notch above (hold your breath) CAR or Central African Republic, and Niger (see chart). What is equally interesting that India’s rankings grew by just 1.43% from 2013 to 2018. This is approximately the tenure when the present government has been in power.

New skills for new markets

Someone should have told the finance minister that there can be no self-reliance without education, especially when it comes to basic education. Look at what Pratham had to say in its latest report. It points out how, in 2018, only 44.2% of the boys in Std V could read the books meant for Std II. This score had declined from 53.1% in 2008.

This is because not enough investments are made in education, especially teachers, and infrastructure. Little attention is paid to outcomes. Thus, the quality of education is so poor in schools, that the input for colleges is terrible. And no amount of good teaching at college level can erase the rotten education provided in schools. Not surprisingly, India has a problem of unemployability, not unemployment. According to organisations like McKinsey and TCS, barely 20% of college students in India is employable. Talk to the big law firms, and they put the employability number at just 1%.

Now with millions of migrants having lost their jobs, the only way the next generation can be saved, is by providing them good education. That alone will give them the ability to learn new skills in a changing world. The jobs of tomorrow will most probably, not be the jobs of today. New skills are urgently needed to prevent India becoming a basket case. That is where investments in education become critically important.

Where is the money?


But the government spend precious little on education. Look at the figures gleaned from the Economic Survey of the government of India (see chart). India barely 3% of its GDP on education. It should be 6% at the very minimum. It is better to cut down doles. If you want India’s future ensured, begin with education.

Instead, what has India really specialized in? Its education system is so bad, and the seats for quality higher education so few, that most good students are compelled to go overseas to seek out good education. Take almost all the IAS officers. Their children are overseas – usually on scholarships, but which is money spent by someone or the other. Ditto with children of almost elected representatives.

When these numbers are aggregated, it is then that you realise that all these years India has being making other countries rich. It creates jobs for teachers and academic staff in other countries.

According to figures gleaned by FPJ, India allows almost Rs.2.25 lakh crore (over a tenth of the stated outlay for the Atma Nirbhar proposals) each year (see chart). And these are most conservative numbers, because we have assumed average expenditure per student per year at just Rs.30 lakh. It is often double this sum.


So, in five years’ time – when some of the proposals outlined in in the Atma Nirbhar documents get implemented, if at all – India will have allowed foreign countries to benefit by Rs.11.5 lakh crore. This money could have helped India tremendously.

This needs to be reversed. And this is what Atma Nirbhar should have done. If India manages its education well, it can actually earn money from providing quality education. It could learn from Bangladesh, which has already begun doing this. Almost 500 Indian students go there for medical studies.

Primary comes first

But this improvement must begin with primary schools. Else you will have the made numbers for the joint entrance examinations (JEE) for IITs and the staggering numbers for NEET as well.

Unfortunately, like Jawaharlal Nehru, politicians like talking about colleges, universities, and other institutes of learning (though without providing adequate money for running them efficiently). Like India’s first prime minister, they talk of big things, but forget the small.


Look at how India has treated its migrant workers. Even today, medical interns are paid pathetic sums, and resident doctors of government hospitals stay in places where malaria is rampant.

India forgets to pay decent sums to its police, its magistrates and even its judges – certainly not comparable with the dignity and the standard of living their peers enjoy in other countries. India’s elected representatives have thus exploited them, paid them little, and transferred those funds to areas from where they could get votes.

Look at the last chart which shows the callousness of India’s planners. Yes, they provided for 77% more schools between 2011-12 and 2017-18. But the increase in funding was just 47%. Even while it did not have money for schools, it went on to open more colleges and Universities, for which funding details could not be got. But overall, funding growth for education during this very period was 49% even though the growth in total numbers of educational institutes was a lot larger. Thus, instead of increasing funds, it reduced funds.

This is where the entire exercise of India becoming atma nirbhar or self-reliant is a cruel joke.

You cannot become atma nirbhar without first providing education, and simultaneously also providing health services.

The issue of health services shall be dealt with in another article.

The author is consulting editor with FPJ


In Indore, petrol pump owner offers fuel discount to those who have downloaded Aarogya Setu app

Even as the Centre has been trudging that extra mile to encourage people to download Aarogra Setu App and has also roped in Bollywood star Ajay Devgn, several private institutions are encouraging the aam aadmi to download the app to get offers. One of such step has been taken by a petrol pump owner Devendra Jain. Here the pump owner will shell out Re 1 per litre to the buyer if he/she can display the app on mobile phone.

Jain's 'sop' opera does not end here. If the buyers are unable to display the app, they would not be given the fuel.

Jain owns a pump in Rampura village of Neemuch district and hopes his scheme will not only encourage people, but other dealers in the town as well to push for the app.

Sharing how it all started, Jain said daily there's huge footfall at his pump. "We opt for every possible precautionary measure, including social distancing, mask, helmet and use of sanitizer and others. But, when I’d saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting people to download this app, I decided to support the cause. Moving a step ahead, we put up a huge banner at the entry of the pump asking people to get Re 1 discount on every litre if they had the app on their mobile. We also asked buyers not to enter the pump premises if they didn't have it.

“At my petrol pump, customer need to fulfil this condition as we want to keep Corona away,” Jain said.

Jain said on an average, daily 3500 litres of petrol and 6000 litres of diesel are sold at his fuel station and he is spending around Rs 9500 from his own commission.

“No matter how much I’ve to bear from my own pocket, I will continue this scheme until my country is Corona free,” Jain said with a big smile behind the mask on his face.

Even district collector Jitendra Raje appreciated Jain’s effort saying that he (Jain) has presented himself as a motivational entrepreneur.

The app communicates with nearby phones using Bluetooth and gathers their GPS location data. Once a user has downloaded the app, it asks for continuous Bluetooth access and location data.

By using the app, it is possible to keep track of all the people who came near or in contact with a person, who has been infected with the novel coronavirus.

The app also asks for information that includes questions related to a person's age, gender, name, health status and travel history. It also checks if the user belongs to any one of the exempted categories of professionals amid the lockdown period.


Social distancing goes for a toss: Here's what transpired after Uttar Pradesh sealed its borders

Lucknow: Sealed borders, massive road jams, parked trucks stuffed with people, sweltering sun, hunger, fatigue, collapsing men and women’s scenes at the borders of Uttar Pradesh were beyond imagination and description on Sunday. Please allow me to go to Sasaram in Bihar where my husband has died.

My children are sitting beside his body, Sunita, a woman migrant worker was seen crying at the Delhi-UP border on Sunday morning. Hundreds of hungry and tired workers stuck across UP borders were seen pleading before cops to allow them inside.

These jobless and moneyless workers had flocked to their home State by foot or by trucks and trolleys in the hope that their miseries would come to end once they reach home. But they could not enter UP as all borders were sealed on Saturday night to curb unrestricted inflow of labourers amid rising fear of spread of Covid19.

The Auraiya accident, in which 24 workers were killed when two trucks carrying them collided, had prompted the government to take stern measures to curb the non-passenger vehicular flow. Now, all of them are stranded at the inter-state borders leading to unrest and chaos at many places.

Extension of national lockdown till May 31 has added to their woes. UP shares borders with many states including Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, MP, and Bihar. Migrants are coming from all sides. Bihar workers want to cross UP to reach their state. Angry workers attacked vehicles in Saharanpur, burnt tyres at Mathura and protested in Kanpur and broke barriers at Jhansi.

Senior cops had to be rushed to control the situation. “There was a 20-km-long jam in Shivpuri at MP border. As the workers became restless, their trucks tried to break through the cordon. The cops, in turn, resorted to lathi charge.

Officials rushed to the spot and, yet, some vehicles managed to move inside,” a local said. Hundreds of trucks and trawlers are stuck inside UP also, as some districts like Lucknow and Unnao have suddenly decided to seal borders.

A local said, “From Unnao to Kanpur Dehat district, there was a 30-km jam, of vehicles packed with labourers. Most of them don’t have anything to eat or drink. The Jam was cleared after 3-4 hours only after arrival of police reinforcements.”

The Congress on Sunday alleged for his own petty politics the Yogi Adityanath government was not giving permission to ply 1,000 buses, which the party has arranged to ferry labourers. “Our buses are stranded at the Rajasthan border. It is not the time to play politics.

Allow us to transport them home safely,” Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress General Secretary urged CM through a video message posted on twitter. The permission wasn’t granted till filing of this report.

Special rules for India? US protests CAA but accepts only Jews, Evangelical Christians, Ukrainian Catholics and 'certain' Iraqis

An Indian-origin US lawyer has argued on Twitter that the United States’ criticism on India regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was ‘misguided’, adding that US has a version of the CAA that protects religious prosecuted groups.

Rajdeep Singh Jolly took to Twitter to say, “After further study, I believe U.S. criticism of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was misguided. The law merely reduces wait times for certain persecuted minorities seeking asylum, much like the Lautenberg Amendment under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) (sic).”

Rajdeep Singh Jolly
After further study, I believe U.S. criticism of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was misguided. The law merely reduces wait times for certain persecuted minorities seeking asylum, much like the Lautenberg Amendment under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

View image on Twitter
12:06 PM - May 17, 2020
Twitter Ads info and privacy
1,453 people are talking about this
According to Jolly, who shared a screenshot of an Amendment in the US Constitution, certain members of religious minority groups in Eurasia and the Baltics, including Jews, Evangelical Christians and Ukrainian Catholics are considered under a reduced evidentiary standard for establishing a well-founded fear of persecution.

Even Eastern Europe picked and chose the type of refugees they wanted. According to a 2015 report in Quartz, during the peak of the Syria refugee crisis, many Eastern European nations were choosing Christian refugees over Muslims. Slovakia’s interior ministry said it would be willing to take in 200 refugees, but would strongly prefer non-Muslims. ”We want to choose people who really want to start a new life in Slovakia. Slovakia as a Christian country can really help Christians from Syria to find new home in Slovakia,” a spokesperson for the ministry had said at the time.

Several human rights organisations have criticised the Narendra Modi-led administration about the CAA, saying it is ‘unconstitutional’ and a direct target at minority communities, particularly Muslims.

According to the CAA, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Parsi migrants who have illegally entered India in the past five years from Muslim-majority nations such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship. The Centre has excluded Muslims from this list as the other religions, they say, have faced prosecution I in these nations and it is India’s ‘moral obligation’ to provide them shelter. Why is the provision extended only to people of six religions, and not Muslims, and why does it apply only to people coming from these three countries?The Union government claims that people of these six faiths have faced persecution in these three Islamic countries, Muslims haven't. It is, therefore, India's moral obligation to provide them shelter.

India has witnessed nationwide protests over the CAA, with Shaheen Baug in Delhi witnessing protests for nearly a month.

5 reasons that leave many unenthused about the Atma Nirbhar schemes

The Greeks once described man as the only living creature who can stand upright, lift his face to the stars and laugh. Jackals laugh too, but they don’t walk tall and lift their heads high. Human beings want to be proud of their achievements. And you don’t really need a government to tell people to be Atma Nirbhar (self-reliant), unless it is a tacit admission that all along governments did everything to crush the self-reliance of Indians.

The current slew of announcements by the government confirms such fears.

First, India is almost down on its knees. What it needs urgently are investments – from anywhere. And as much as is possible.

For perhaps the first time in its independent history, the country may see a negative GDP growth. Part of it was on account of the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But part of the economic disaster the country faces is on account of past policies – ranging from a poorly understood and misapplied demonetisation, a badly implemented GST and a confused approach to law and order itself. Hence investors are shying away from India.

Yes there are fables being told – of how rising labour costs will send investors in China scurrying to India. But a Normura study last year showed that only 3 of 56 companies leaving China came to India . Ditto with the fairytale that the global COVID-19-triggered move to shift logistics away from China will benefit India. Some – foolishly – suggested reserving parcels of land for potential investors. But as CNBC in Indonesia pointed out out on 11 May 2020, “Indonesia won the battle over Southeast Asian countries as a main destination for the relocation of US factories. Trump decided to relocate around 27 US factories from China to Indonesia.” Nobody has moved to India, as yet. So, whom are the policy makers gulling?

Nobody wants to come to India because it is difficult to do business here (though its ranking have improved since 2017. But what has not improved is its inability to enforce contracts. (see chart).


India even changes its business rules, after investors have put in their money. Look at the way the rules of business were changed for wholesale and online trade after Walmart and Amazon entered India. Everyone knows how telecom rules were changed. And now the government wants to disrupt the payment gateway, e-wallet, credit card and debit card markets by changing more rules. Worse, India discourages companies from opting for international arbitration .

Investors enter when their investments are safe and dispute resolution is effective (sadly, the government is the main litigant in half the disputes). Allocating Rs 21 lakh crore (see chart) will not remedy this flaw. It needs integrity and political will. Else the country will experience more pain, poverty and death. Dispute resolution is obviously the key.

There are four other reasons why Atma Nirbhar does not impress many.

Take reason #2. Take the biggest allocation – for MSMEs – in Tranche 1. It allows MSMEs to borrow without collateral. This is what Indira Gandhi did in 1982 with her loan melas. Loans were given without collateral. Much of the money did not come back, as feared by prudent bankers. This will happen again. Moral: Don’t introduce schemes which tempt people to be corrupt. Instead give 2-5% of turnover as a grant to all MSMEs. The honest are then kept honest.

Third, an outlay of Rs.21 lakh crore has been announced. But half the amount relates to measures announced earlier. That, as economist Kaushik Basu has pointed out, is woefully inadequate.

Fourth, there is little audit. Normally, good governance demands that the larger the sums involved, the stronger should be the audit controls. Yet PM CARES (unlike the PM’s National disaster Relief and other funds) is not subject to CAG audit., That does not inspire confidence.

Lastly, there is little vision in the proposals. Nowhere is this more visible than in the proposals for agriculture (tranche 3). This is both surprising and immensely saddening. Agriculture remains the backbone of India where 50% of its population dwells. That is a huge purchasing power for a consumption economy. It is also a huge voting block. Moreover, as studies have shown, a rupee invested in agriculture goes a lot farther than if invested in industry. Yet there is no grand plan, no incentive for investment, no attempt to push agriculture up the value chain.

Instead the government has hobbled agriculture, especially milk, which is the most successful agricultural product. But the lack of vision and the lost opportunities in agriculture, education and healthcare will be grist for another article. The omissions are sad and horrifying.