As states begin to unlock, they face the dual challenge of supporting business and industries which are at a vulnerable stage and allaying public fear and anxiety; domestic flights see passengers down to tenth of February peak.
The Second Wave
Battling the pandemic while it completes seven years in office, the Modi government has said that all children who have lost both parents, the surviving parent, legal guardians or adoptive parents to Covid-19 will receive financial assistance under the PM-CARES for Children’s scheme.
As states begin cautiously calibrating how to unwind their lockdowns beginning June, they face a double challenge: industry and business activities are at a very vulnerable stage given the low vaccination levels among the larger, younger population and at the individual and household level, public fear and anxiety this time are deeper and have hit consumption and demand.
In just about three months since the second surge of Covid-19 hit India, the number of passengers carried by domestic airlines has dipped sharply — on May 25, about 39,000 passengers took a flight compared to the peak of about 3 lakh a day in February. The sharp plunge has even prompted the government to reduce the number of flights that airlines could operate on domestic routes.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is currently in the US to discuss Covid co-operation between the two countries, has been assured by America’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken that his country is closely monitoring India’s Covid challenge and will “respond positively to any Indian requirement”.
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Most children, who have been identified officially as Covid-19 orphans in a drive launched by the Hemant Soren government to list families of those who have lost members to the virus, are battling grief, and struggling to understand this sudden turn in their lives. While one 17-year-old child has to now take the responsibility of three younger siblings, another 14-year-old has been fighting nightmares since his mother, his only surviving parent, died.
As the second wave starts to show signs of waning in some parts of the country, P Chidambaram writes on the bigger calamity that awaits us: “There is one thing about the future that is no longer uncertain. It is about the economic condition of the people of the country. It will be worse than it should be, inequality will increase and the vast majority of the people will be poorer, deeper in debt and unhappy.”
The Maharaja of Kutch, Maharrao Pragmalji III, was laid to rest at a quiet funeral on Friday after he died of Covid-related complications early in the day. With his demise, his royal title may cease to exist as he had no children and did not name an heir apparent.
After a two-year-long digital campaign highlighting the plight of women in flood camps by Tezpur-based activist Mayuri Bhattacharjee, sanitary napkins have officially been included as part of relief material by the Assam government. Bhattacharjee’s petition on Change.org, garnered over one lakh signatures, and asked the government to build fifty women-friendly flood shelters in Assam, apart from including “pads in the list of relief items with immediate effect”.
“Ma tells me to study, but it’s hard to study for an exam which may not even happen,” says 18-year-old Guwahati resident Daisy Kalita. Her sentiments are shared by thousands of students across the country, who like her, are living under a cloud of uncertainty as their board exams continue to be pushed indefinitely due to the pandemic.
In the last weeks of April, while the rest of Delhi stood still amid a strict lockdown, deep trenches were being dug up on either side of the iconic Rajpath road leading up to the India Gate — the first signs of the Modi government’s contentious Central Vista project. With a number of landmark buildings set to be demolished, Dilli wallah share memories of cultural spaces that safeguarded a nation’s history and a democratic patch of green that opened its arms to all in a city of ambitions.
Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi
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