World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa, present the Africa Climate Business Plan at COP21. They are joined by Jamal Saghir, Ali Bongo Ondimba, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, Macky Sall and Patrice Trovoada. Credit: World Bank

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa, present the Africa Climate Business Plan at COP21. They are joined by Jamal Saghir, Ali Bongo Ondimba, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, Macky Sall and Patrice Trovoada. Credit: World Bank - Photo: 2020

Spanning India and the U.S. Amid COVD-19 Crisis and Beyond

News briefs compiled by Suresh Jaura*

TORONTO | NEW DELHI (IDN) – The U.S. on May 19 included the India unit of Huawei along with its other foreign subsidiaries in its Entity List, as part of efforts to prevent the Chinese telecom company from doing business in America.

The Trump administration in recent months has increased its action against Huawei, preventing it from doing business in the U.S., as it believes the company known for its technological advancement in 5G is being used by the Chinese leadership in Beijing to serve their interest.

Huawei and its non-US affiliates have been added to the Entity List because they pose a significant risk of involvement in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States, said a notification issued in the Federal Register on May 19. Read Article

India pushes for building broadband infra, digital skills in LDCs

India has made a case for capacity building of developing and least-developed countries in areas like digital skills and broadband infrastructure, under the World Trade Organization (WTO), rather than negotiating binding rules on e-commerce as coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift to a digital economy.

In a special virtual meeting of the WTO’s General Council on COVID-19 trade-related measures on May 15, India stated that there is a digital divide between developed and developing countries.

Almost half of the world’s population does not have access to high-speed broadband and is deprived of the access to virtual platforms, tele-medicine, distance education and e-payments, it said. Read Article

COVID-19 Induced Lockdown and Migrant Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has engulfed the world, has betrayed the informal sector migrant labour stranded all over the country. The dreams which were nurtured by the pull factors exerted by the ‘city lights’, were further fuelled in the wake of ‘Jandhan‘, which heralded a new chapter in the lives of the poor – with bank accounts and money in it.

The ‘urban dreams’ were perhaps taking shape in their decision to move to the cities and towns for livelihoods. But, alas! The novel coronavirus, in connivance with the lacklustre governance, shattered their elusive dreams.

Like in many developing countries, in India, too, around 81% of workers are in the informal sector or work in small and medium enterprises (ILO, 2020). Workers are employed through contractors on a project basis, with no social security benefits; payment of gratuity, compensation for an injury, death, maternity benefit, provident fund, health insurance and others like insurance against periods of unemployment (Coggin, 2018). Read Article

COVID-19 could push 120 million people into poverty in India

Following the COVID-19-induced economic disruptions, up to 135 million jobs could be lost and 120 million people might be pushed back into poverty in India, all of which will have a hit on consumer income, spending and savings, reported news agency PTI quoting a report.

According to a new report by international management consulting firm Arthur D Little, the worst of COVID-19’s impact will be felt by India’s most vulnerable in terms of job loss, poverty increase and reduced per-capita income, which in turn will result in a steep decline in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the PTI report added.

“Given the continued rise of COVID-19 cases, we believe that a W-shaped recovery is the most likely scenario for India. This implies a GDP contraction of 10.8 per cent in FY 2020-21 and GDP growth of 0.8 per cent in FY 2021-22,” the report said. Read Article

The Great Indian Middle Class – An Unadulterated Observation

In the movie Annie Hall directed by Woody Allen, there is a dialogue which goes something like this: “I would never wanna belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” The essence of the dialogue invokes deep philosophical understanding. However, I shall not go into the depths of this meaning in an article which revolves around deciphering the entity called Indian middle class.

Let me clarify from the outset that this article does not pertain to any economic or political question. So, for the time being, we can shed off the pedantic glances of an old professor eager to question the nuances of existentialism. It is merely a Sociological explanation bordering on psychology attempting to address the enigma popularly known as Indian middle class. Before we begin, the reason for starting the article with a movie dialogue is because I, too, am a curious and sometimes enthusiastic member of this class.

Once again, this must not be interpreted to be a universal account of the entire middle class. Rather it is an analysis of the analysis that the middle class is struggling to give a name, to its perceived collective sense of guilt amalgamated with frustration and apathy. Read Article

Nationwide lockdown extended till May 31 to contain the spread of coronavirus

The ongoing countrywide lockdown has been extended till May 31, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) announced on May 17.

The NDMA said lockdown measures need to be implemented for a further period of 14 days in the country to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 2,872, and the number of total positive cases climbed to 90,927 Sunday morning. Read Article

All scheduled commercial passenger flights suspended till May 31 midnight

Hours after the Modi government announced an extension of the coronavirus lockdown, Indian aviation regulator DGCA said all scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended till May 31 midnight.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said: “foreign and domestic airlines shall be suitably informed about the opening of their operations whether international to or from India or domestic, respectively, in due course”.

All commercial passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 25, when the lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Read Article

Workers of India, You’ve Everything to Lose Including Your Wages and Labour Rights

Under cover of COVID-19, eight states in India have scuttled labour laws. Under these new laws, the states have increased the working hours from 8 to 12 hours in violation of the Factories Act. Trade Union Act itself is suspended in UP. A joint statement of ten unions in India has called for a nationwide protest on this issue on May 22, 2020.

In May 1886, tens of thousands of workers throughout the United States of America came out on the street to demand 8-hour working day. 8 hour working day became a norm later, not just in America, but also all over the world. Ironically, 134 years later in India, in May 2020, this law which working-class struggled for across the globe is getting dismantled.

It began with UP which suspended significant labour laws and introduced a draconian ordinance called Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption for Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020, after eight states including Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and Punjab increased the working hours from 8 to 12 hours in violation of the Factories Act, under cover of COVID-19. Trade Union Act itself is suspended in UP. The worst scene, in this case, today is the removal of trade union rights apart from curbing all other rights. Read Article

Another Corona Warrior: Media

On March 22, 2020, to show gratitude to doctors, paramedics, police officers and sanitation workers, lakhs of people came on their balcony to emote their sentiments. They were seen beating in cacophony whatever utensil they found suitable. PM Modi gave this clarion call (as some liked to call it).

All kudos to the intention of the PM, however, what got missed is this celebration is another supremely important corona warrior: Media. Media, as an independent entity, has played a critical role in the last few weeks. From the D.O.s to the DON’Ts, from the areas under serious threat to the location of corona testing centres, from speeches of P.M.s to C.M.s, stories from the highway to stories of gali-muhalla, from the cities with international cafes to the villages and towns without dhabhas, it was the media that informed and awakened us about all the hip-hop. Read Article

India-A Decaying Civilization

The multicultural heritage of the country is slowly losing a common ground that used to hold different ethnic communities together. The harmony that once existed between different communities regardless of the religious differences has been torn apart.

India has ever been the land of peace and harmony. It has been a heaven for co-existence, brotherhood and religious tolerance.

The country managed to sustain secular values in the face of striking, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. The government is well-known for a vibrant democracy, independent judiciary, rich literature, secular ethos and cultural diversity. Historians, poets and travelogue writers have frequently praised this ancient land of mystic majesty.

The American born poet T. S Eliot calls India as the land of “Shantih (Peace)”. He saw hope and re-generation in the Indian culture amidst the barbarism and disillusionment of the modern West. Similarly, the German poet Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, in his collection of lyric poems, West-Eastern Diwan, expresses disdain towards the spiritual bankruptcy of the West and believes that the East is the seat of spiritual power. India best represented the spirit of Eastern culture. Read Article

Modi’s India Is For Moulding a New World Order

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fifth address on Covid-19, of around 1500 words and 30 minutes, May 12, was focused on a call for  ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, a campaign for self-reliant India, and a stimulus package worth Rs 20 lakh crore (10 % of GDP). Underlying his speech, however, there was a message of the global role of India, and turning crisis into opportunity.

Underlying his speech, however, there was a message of the global role of India, and turning crisis into opportunity. Referring to the situation of the world in crisis,  before and after Covid-19, he said :

Today, we must strengthen our resolve …When we look at these two periods from India’s perspective, it seems that the 21st century is the century for India. This is not our dream, rather a responsibility for all of us.

This theme has been there and is being promoted. Though he stressed self-reliance, he qualified: “India does not advocate self-centric arrangements”; it envisaged cooperation and peace of the world. Read Article [IDN-InDepthNews – 20 May 2020]

* Publisher and Managing Director of South Asian Outlook and Indo-Canada Outlook, which have meanwhile merged with IDN.

Photo: PM Narendra Modi | Praveen Jain | ThePrint

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate. –

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