Amidst Bittersweet Ties, Delhi & Centre Join Hands to Fight Covid-19


After Supreme Court called out the Delhi government for poor handling of the Covid-19 in the capital, Home Minister Amit Shah & Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan met CM Arvind Kejriwal to provide additional assistance from the Centre to jointly fight the virus.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Long-going Tussle
The past few years have seen multiple face-offs between the central government and the Delhi state government. AAP has been a strong critic of the center on issues like CAA, NRC, Article 370, Delhi Riots, power-sharing, GST, Balakot Strikes, and Demonetization whereas Centre has called out AAP’s Odd-Even & Mohalla Clinic Schemes failures.

Apart from this, the Delhi government has been in a constant tussle with the LG who the AAP has accused of being a speed breaker in their way and a puppet of the central government. They have time and again demanded full statehood, control of Delhi Police, and control of DDA. AAP has constantly accused the central government of neglecting issues of Delhi and not providing enough support and sufficient money.

On multiple occasions the AAP was forced to bend down before the LG and not to forget the first time when AAP came in power; they held a protest outside the LG house and also resigned. Very recently after Arvind Kejriwal announced to reserve the Delhi government hospitals only for residents of Delhi; the decision was overturned by the LG. Even on the issue of Migrant laborers both the governments were seen to blame each other.

COVID-19 Bridging Gaps & reducing Indifferences
As the surge in cases continues and the situation becomes more critical with 231 containment zones in the state; the central government has now stepped in to provide additional assistance to the AAP government.

Right from the first day of lockdown, understanding the need of the hour, the Delhi government has toned down and has taken a defensive approach and is seen to be working in a coordinated manner with the center without indulging in any petty politics.

Going by the current doubling rate in Delhi, 5.5 lakh cases, and over 80,000 hospital beds are expected by the end of July, for which Delhi is not adequately prepared and thus both the state and national machinery will jointly work to combat the spread of the virus.

Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister, New Delhi

Home Minister Amit Shah has announced that Delhi will be given 500 railway coaches to address the shortage of beds for coronavirus patients. The railway coaches equipped with all facilities to fight COVID will increase 8000 beds for Delhi.

Delhi which was criticized for reducing tests will also receive help to increase the number of tests to 18,000 per day. COVID-19 tests in Delhi will be doubled in the next two days and tripled after six days. Testing will be started at every polling station in each containment zone.

The Centre will also supply the necessary resources including random test kits, oxygen cylinders, ventilators, and pulse oximeters. Contact mapping will be improved by a comprehensive health survey for every person to reduce containment zones.

The national capital now stands at the third position after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with nearly 41,000 cases so far and recorded more than 2,000 cases for a second consecutive day on June 13.

  • There are a number of myths and legends associated with the origin of the name Delhi. One of them is that the name of the city at the time of King Prithviraj was Dilpat, and that Dilpat and Dilli are probably derived from the old Hindi word Dil meaning eminence.
  • Federalism in India refers to relations between the Centre and states of the Union of India. The Constitution of India establishes the structure of the Indian government. Part XI of the Indian constitution specifies the distribution of legislative, administrative and executive powers between the union government and the States of India.
  • In India, “The Emergency” refers to a 21 month period from 1975 to 1977 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had a state of emergency declared across the country. Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 of the Constitution because of the prevailing “internal disturbance”, the Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977. The Emergency is one of the most controversial periods of independent India’s history. The words “secular” and “socialist” were added to the preamble in 1976 during the Emergency.

Medical Infra Issues Across State Lines

While battling the Covid-19 pandemic, several Indian states are also engaged in a different conflict against the insufficient medical provisions.

Crux of the Matter

Telangana’s Troubles
More than 300 doctors and surgeons from Gandhi General Hospital in Hyderabad sat on a protest against abuse faced by on-duty medics. The turmoil was initiated by the actions of the relatives of a Covid-19 patient, who allegedly assaulted the doctors after the patient’s death. In the demonstration, the protesters have demanded an increase in the number of medical staff and the provision of proper security to prevent incidents of the mentioned type.

Mumbai Reaching Its Limits
In Mumbai, out of 1,094 ICU beds across Govt and Private hospitals, 1,083 (99%) are occupied currently. A similar case exists with ventilators, as 443 (94%) out of 464 are occupied. The distressing numbers come at a time when the Maharashtra government ordered 10,000 private doctors to help the already-stretched government medical team in fighting Covid-19.

Besides a dearth of facilities, problems for low-income individuals have been compounded as several private hospitals are charging over the specified limit for Covid-19 treatment. In one such case, the Municipal Corporation ordered a private hospital in south Mumbai to return ₹1 lakh to a patient in case of inflated charges.

Delhi In Dismay
Delhi government recently launched an app to provide information regarding vacant beds and ventilators. However, several hospitals have denied admission to patients while claiming a complete absence of vacant beds at their place. In an inspection check, the LNJP hospital in Delhi claimed 0 free beds while the app displayed 1,271 beds vacant.

Across the city, several doctors have not received their salary for months. In a case from north Delhi, doctors belonging to the Kasturba Hospital have not received their salaries since March. The medics have threatened resignation if the salaries are not provided by 16 June.

Gujarat In ‘Dungeon’
Gujarat state government has received severe criticism from its High Court, particularly for the operations of the Civil Hospital of Ahmedabad. The HC called the Civil Hospital a ‘dungeon‘ in its statement and has planned for a surprise visit of the hospital by the judges.

The Civil Hospital is meant to treat patients. However, it appears that as on date, it is as good as a dungeon. May be even worse than a dungeon.

Gujarat High Court

The Gujarat HC also criticized the state for a “lack of ventilators” which has impacted the critical patients. Several ventilators were produced in Rajkot – called Dhaman-1 – are being reported inefficient as compared to the regular ones.

  • The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is a national voluntary organisation of Doctors of Modern Scientific System of Medicine in India, which looks after the interest of doctors and the well being of the community at large. With over 305,458 member doctors through more than 1,700 active local branches in India, it is the largest association of physicians and medical students in India.
  • The first person to document a surgery was the 6th Century BC Indian physician-surgeon, Sushruta. He specialized in cosmetic plastic surgery and even documented operation of open rhinoplasty. His magnum opus Suśrutasaṃhitā is one of the most important surviving ancient treatises on medicine and is considered a foundational text of both Ayurveda and surgery.
  • Al-Zahrawi, was an Arab-Andalusian physician, surgeon, and chemist. Considered to be the greatest surgeon of the Middle Ages, he has been described as the father of surgery. Al-Zahrawi’s principal work is the Kitab al-Tasrif, a thirty-volume encyclopedia of medical practices. The surgery chapter of this work was later translated into Latin, attaining popularity and becoming the standard textbook in Europe for the next five hundred years.

Covid-19 And Rate Of Transmission

Rate of transmission

With India entering the phase of unlocking the nation from the shackles of Covid lockdown, it is important to know what are statistics suggesting about India’s Covid curve. One such important measure, rate of transmission tells a defining tale of flattening of the Covid curve with an infected person infecting only one other person.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

What is Rt?
Rate of transmission (Rt) is the number of people an infected person infects. It measures the transmission potential of the disease. If Rt>1, the disease spreads rapidly, whereas if Rt<1, the disease begins to wane. Rt can be used to estimate outbreak size and devise fast-tracked responses.

R0 is the basic reproduction number of a disease in a given population at the start, assuming all are susceptible (no immunity) and no specific outbreak control measures have been taken. Rt is an extension – the time varying R number. R0 is a standard measure available in the literature. It is directly used to estimate herd immunity coverage required.

Look At Transmission Rate In Various States

  • Although the term was only introduced in the twenty-first century, social-distancing measures date back to at least the fifth century BC. The Bible contains one of the earliest known references to the practice in the Book of Leviticus, “And the leper in whom the plague is … he shall dwell alone; [outside] the camp shall his habitation be.”
  • R0, pronounced “R naught,” is a mathematical term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is. It’s also referred to as the reproduction number. As infection is transmitted to new people, it reproduces itself. R0 tells you the average number of people who will contract a contagious disease from one person with that disease. It specifically applies to a population of people who were previously free of infection and haven’t been vaccinated. For example, if a disease has an R0 of 18, a person who has the disease will transmit it to an average of 18 other people.
  • Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through vaccination or previous infections, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune. Herd immunity was recognized as a naturally occurring phenomenon in the 1930s when it was observed that after a significant number of children had become immune to measles, the number of new infections temporarily decreased, including among susceptible children.

Future Of Delivery: Drones And Alcohol

Owing to the national lockdown, social distancing, and ‘stay at home’ have become the norms. In such times, the availability of alcohol for home delivery is making strides. Moreover, there is a big step in eliminating physical contact by the use of drones for delivery.

Crux of the Matter

Alcohol Delivered
Most Indian states prohibit the home delivery of alcohol. One such example is the Bangalore based liquor store Madhuloka, which opened in 1999 and is renowned in the field. However, they have not enabled the home delivery system even in metro cities, a potential revenue booster.

After modifying the norms, Dunzo terminated the home delivery of alcohol in Karnataka state in 2018. Dunzo, which is a home delivery firm for food, medicines etc, stated that the move came in light of notice by the state Govt.

Wine Of Change
There has been an increase in the demand for alcohol after lockdown. However, the opening of liquor shops was condemned as long waiting lines were witnessed where social distancing norms were violated.

Consequently, home delivery of liquor was permitted in several states. Swiggy and Zomato have started home delivery in Jharkhand and Orissa, with the former also getting to deliver in West Bengal since 4th June.

To prevent illegal use, the companies have made a picture of valid Govt ID and selfie mandatory for age checks. Similarly, a limit on orders would be imposed to prevent excessive consumption.

Air Delivery
At a time when physical contact is discouraged to curb the virus spread, there has been further development in the drone-delivery system. Swiggy, Zomato, and Dunzo have received approval from the Indian government to test the system. The initial testing would be done in a range of 20km in an isolated approved air-space.

Across in West, there has been development in the drone-delivery by Prime Air, an initiative of Amazon. Recently, the company hired David Carbon who served as the Boeing 787’s Operations Vice President to “lead the next phase of its mission to bring 30-minute delivery by drones to customers”.

Potential Job Loss
While the drones would enhance the application of safety norms while keeping the business working, some critics have pointed to a loss of employment by the technology which was already impacted by the lockdown.

  • Prime Air is a drone delivery service currently in development by Amazon. The service uses delivery drones manufactured by unnamed entities to autonomously fly individual packages to customers within 30 minutes of ordering. The Amazon Prime Air team worked with NASA on trials using the Amazon air traffic management system.
  • The term drone was coined in reference to the early remotely-flown target aircraft used for practice firing of a battleship’s guns, and the term was first used with the 1920s Fairey Queen and 1930’s de Havilland Queen Bee target aircraft.
  • SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd., more popularly known as its trade name DJI, is a Chinese technology company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong with factories throughout the world. DJI is a world-leading manufacturer of commercial drones for aerial photography and videography. DJI is the dominant market leader in the civilian drone industry, accounting for over 70% of the world’s drone market.

ECA Amended, Agriculture Liberalised

Essential Commodities Act (ECA) amended in wake of Covid-19

The Indian government removed a few commodities from the ambit of Essential Commodities Act (ECA), 1955. The move is aimed to power the farmers by allowing them to sell the produce in the open market without restrictions at a time when the pandemic has the Indian economy in its clutches.

Crux of the Matter

What is Essential Commodities Act?
Essential Commodities Act (ECA) was enacted in 1955 at a time when the country’s agricultural production was low and India even had to import wheat. The aim of the act was to prevent black marketing and hoarding of essential agricultural and other commodities. The Act means that any commodity under its ambit can be regulated by the government. The regulation includes controlling the production, distribution, and supply of the commodity. The government may also impose stock limits on such commodities during times of natural calamities, droughts, war, or unusual price rise.

Freedom to Farmers
At a time when the economy is in the clutches of Covid-19, government has decided to remove some items from the ambit of ECA. Those excluded include:
– cereals
– pulses
– oilseeds
– edible oils
– onions
– potatoes

The move is important as farm products were restricted to be sold to registered licensees of the state government. Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) are vested with the power of creating an agricultural market and deciding its players. They also decide who the farmers sells to and who can participate in the market. Due to such immense powers and information asymmetry in the market, many experts term APMCs as a bottleneck.

However, with the removal of products from the ambit of ECA, farmers are delinked from the APMCs for selling the mentioned commodities. Farmers can now store and sell the commodities across India and even export them. They will not be taxed for selling outside APMCs.

  • In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility, and motherly relationships. The Cerealia was the major festival celebrated for the grain goddess Ceres. It was held for seven days from mid- to late April.
  • Annapurna is a massif in the Himalayas in north-central Nepal that includes one peak over 8,000 meters and thirteen peaks over 7,000 meters. The mountain is named after Annapurna, the Hindu goddess of food and nourishment, who is said to reside there. Many streams descending from the slopes of the Annapurna Massif provide water for the agricultural fields and pastures located at lower altitudes.
  • Farmcrowdy is Nigeria’s digital agriculture platform which focuses on connecting farm sponsors with real farmers in order to increase food production while promoting youth participation in agriculture. It has helped over 2,50,000 small farmers since 2016.