Important Rulings on Migrant Workers and the Coronavirus Dead
News briefs compiled by Suresh Jaura*
TORONTO | NEW DELHI (IDN) – Indian news media have been reporting on a wide range of events and ongoing developments, including on the economy becoming “self-reliant” – an age-old but not yet achieved objective – without having an alternative national economic policy. Also, the often tabooed issue of mental health has come up in the aftermath of the rising Hindi filmstar Sushant Singh Rajput. This edition of news briefs focuses on several other equally important topics such as putting an end to racism and showing concern about the dead killed by the Coronavirus.
Supreme Court rejects plea to change India’s name to ‘Bharat’
India’s Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking the Centre to amend the constitution and replace the word ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’. According to reports, the petitioner wanted to get over the “colonial” name and use “Bharat” as a sense of pride, reported WION on June 3.
The Supreme Court asked the petitioner to send a written copy of his plea to concerned ministries that will decide representation appropriately.
The Delhi-based petitioner said the time is ripe to recognise the country by its original name rather than its “English” name. The plea revolves around Article 1 will ensure “the citizens of this country to get over the colonial past.”
The plea read: “The removal of the English name, though appears symbolic, will instil a sense of pride in our nationality, especially for the future generations. In fact, replacing India with Bharat would justify the hard-fought freedom achieved by our ancestors.”
Hospitals not showing due concern to dead bodies says Supreme Court
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court while hearing the lapses in proper treatment of COVID-19 patients rapped the state governments for its lack of “care and concern” shown to dead bodies. “Dead bodies are being put like this, what is this going on?’ Justice Shah asked the states, reported WION News with ANI inputs on June 12.
India’s top court said that the government hospitals aren’t giving due care and concern to the bodies with the patients’ families not even informed about the deaths. In some cases, families haven’t been able to attend the last rites, India’s highest court said.
India’s apex court issued notices to state governments including Delhi and the capital’s LNJP hospital seeking a reply on the matter. The court asked the Chief Secretaries of states to look into the situation of a patient management system and submit a status report.
Supreme Court directs Centre, state governments to transport migrant workers back to home states in 15 days
The Supreme Court directed the Centre and state governments to send all the migrant workers to their native places within 15 days and formulate employment schemes after conducting their skill mapping to rehabilitate them
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah also directed the Centre to provide additional trains within 24 hours of states making the demand for sending the migrant workers back to their native places, PTI reported in WION News on June 9.
The top court also directed authorities to consider withdrawing all cases against migrant workers for alleged violation of lockdown norms under the Disaster Management Act.
Chennai-bizman flies his workers back home to Varanasi, leaves them speechless
When the whole world says ‘desperate times desperate measures’, there are a few among us who go the extra mile to care for others, while making them feel safe and happy. The noble initiative of a Chennai-based entrepreneur to fly seven of his migrant workers back home is winning hearts. The group of workers have not only been flown home at his expense, but they were also paid their salaries during the lockdown, despite the business being closed owing to the situation, Sidharth wrote in a report from New Delhi for WION on June 2.
Jain Packers and Movers in Chennai was badly hit after the pan-India lockdown was imposed in late March and their work came to a standstill. But the company has been supporting their staff (mostly… But the company has been supporting their staff (mostly unskilled labourers) throughout the lockdown.
Resist the Super Emergency! Indian Democracy Matters!
25 June 2020 will mark the 45th anniversary of the infamous Emergency imposed on India. On this day, we call upon all Indian citizens to launch a peaceful, non-violent nationwide movement to fight against the SUPER EMERGENCY the country is being subjected to today, says an Appeal issued by Indian Democracy Matters!, quoted in CounterCurrents on June 10.
This can only be done through upholding the Indian Constitution, contributions to nation-building, organizing resistance to all violations of fundamental rights and ensuring the dignity of poor and marginalized citizens.
For the last five years India, under the regime of Narendra Modi, has been going through, what many have called ‘the Silent or Undeclared Emergency’. However, the situation, in reality, is much worse than what happened almost half a century ago.
India’s forex reserves jump cross half-a-trillion mark for the first time
The country’s foreign exchange reserves crossed the half-a-trillion mark for the first time after it surged by massive $8.22 billion in the week ended June 5, according to the latest data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), reported PTI in WION News on June 12.
The reserves rose to $501.70 billion in the reporting week helped by a whopping rise in foreign currency assets (FCA). In the previous week ended May 29, the reserves had increased by $3.44 billion to $493.48 billion.
In the week ended June 5, FCA, which is a major component of the overall reserves, rose $8.42 billion to $463.63 billion.
Invisible millions made visible by Coronavirus… Reform, or else
The deep resentfulness and disaffection in the streets is precisely because of failure of governance over the decades, and policies and projects which inflict economic violence on the poor. The post-lockdown quantum jump in the unmitigated suffering of over 60% of Indians, may well be the tipping point for countrywide climactic chaos.
This can be pre-empted either by severe emergency-type government clampdown using police/military and jailing dissenters or by reforming the intent and direction of governance towards benefitting People, not business corporations. The latter method would be taken by any leader who has the necessary understanding and the good of the nation and its people at heart, wrote Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere in CounterCurrents on June 12.
In urban life, the hard physical, often demeaning and life-threatening work (cleaning out sewage manholes/drains or handling stinking garbage) is done by the lowest-paid workers. These occupations are vital for urban life. For example, if urban garbage (thousands of tonnes per day in a big city) is not cleared regularly, life becomes unbearable and lays urbanites open to disease or epidemic.
These workers are people who came from rural areas of distant states or the same state to seek work and earn a livelihood. They comprise 80% of India’s workforce, are in the “unorganized sector” and hence unprotected by laws. They are the cogs of urban life and industry, insignificant in themselves, but vital for survival of urban life and industry.
Indian universities slip in world rankings; IIT Bombay tops India’s list
Universities worldwide are every year ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings (WUR), revealing which world’s best 1,000 universities. The ranking reveals a slip in the ranking of Indian universities this year, reported WION News on June 11.
The list, which had 25 Indian universities last year, saw names of 21 universities this year, out of which at least 10 fall under Indian Government’s Institution of Eminence (IoE) scheme. The experts believe there is a lot of talent in the country, but the students are not getting proper attention due to a high number of students and limited faculty.
Millions India too who “can’t breathe”
The world is rocked by protests against racism and discrimination and in the line of fire are symbols of racism. Black Lives Matter protesters are turning their attention to memorials around the UK to demolish that celebrate the country’s imperialist past, WION reported on June 11.
The toppling of a statue is not just a revolt against history. It is also the making of history and history is exactly what is being written right now. The world is rising against racism and attacking everything that stands for racism.
“I can’t breathe…”. These were the last words of forty-six-year-old black African American George Floyd. He uttered them when he was being strangled to death by the white American police. His “crime” was his accidental birth in a community that is not a white race, wrote Abhay Kumar in CounterCurrents on June 4.
India is still living with the symbols of this dark era, 72 years after independence. The Victoria memorial still celebrates the queen of England. This is the right time for India to bid goodbye to every symbol of racism and oppression.
Similarly, Dalits, Adivasis, lower castes and minority Muslims get strangled in India. Their “crime” is their accidental birth outside twice-born castes. American society does not only strangle George Floyd. Indian society has been, for centuries, strangling George Floyds. The non-Brahmins in India are socially, culturally and economically discriminated.
That is why when Floyd uttered “I can’t breathe”, these words did not sound strange to us. Millions of lower castes and Muslim minority are similarly gasping in pain. They too are uttering the same words in different languages.
Lockdown, Printing Notes & Demand
When the lockdown is lifted, a package of interest waiver and deferring of loan repayment for businesses will be needed for them to restart. The RBI and the government will need to rethink their strategy since money by itself is not a resource, wrote Dr Arun Kumar in CounterCurrents on June 6,
The lockdown is slowly being lifted. Still, most businesses, except those producing essentials, are not able to get to work at full capacity. The sharp and unprecedented decline in the Purchasing Managers’ Index, both for manufacturing (to 27.4) and services (to 5.4), confirms the worst fears. The result is large-scale unemployment as CMIE data suggests, especially among unorganised workers who have no security of tenure, low incomes and little savings. No wonder they are migrating in hordes back to the villages under trying circumstances.
Delhi’s Yamuna river sparkles again as factory waste reduces amid lockdown
The industrial discharge which was going into the Yamuna actually stopped and that, for sure, has reduced the pollution, says a Reuters report in WION News on June 5.
The sparkle has returned to the Yamuna river flowing through India’s capital of New Delhi, residents say, after decades of filthy and stinking waters, matted with garbage and polluted with toxic effluent from the industry.
In a feat that eluded years of government cleanliness efforts, a nationwide lockdown against the coronavirus has brought about the transformation of a river many Hindus consider holy, with a halt in industrial activity since late in March.
Sanjay Gir, a 55-year-old Hindu monk who spends his time on the riverbank, said he could not remember when he had last seen the river so clean.
Moody’s downgrades India’s ratings, warns of stress in the financial sector
The rating agency Moody’s downgraded India’s ratings from Baa2 to Baa3, citing that the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t the primary factor playing into consideration, WION reported from New Delhi on June 1.
The agency said that the period of slower growth could trigger problems for the policymaking institutions, with financial sector susceptible to increased debt and pressure
“Measures to improve India’s fiscal strength, which were at the heart of the government’s policy framework a few years ago, have underwhelmed,” the ratings agency claimed in a statement.
As anti-China sentiments grow, over 1 million downloads ‘Remove China Apps’
At a time, when the sentiment is growing in India to boycott China-made products over tensions in Indo-China border and Beijing’s mishandling of coronavirus, a new app has gone viral that claims to remove Chinese apps, reported WION on June 1.
‘Remove China Apps’ is available on Google Play Store and currently leading the chart of its top free apps. The app was launched on May 17 and has been downloaded by over 10 million users.
Describing itself as an application being developed for “educational purposes”, the app claims to scan and find other installed Chinese applications in the phone. “Our objective is to develop world-class products in India,” the description of the app on the Play Store says. [IDN-InDepthNews – 17 June 2020]
Photo and credit: The Supreme Court of India.
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