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India’s Lockdown Diary, Day 53: Battling ‘asur’ Covid-19 with divine forces; taking to e-learning and more


By: Express Web Desk | Chennai, New Delhi |

Updated: May 16, 2020 9:03:51 pm


India's Lockdown Diary, Day 53: Children of migrant labourers are screened at the Guru Nanak Dev Stadium in Ludhiana before boarding Shramik Special trains to return to Gonda in Uttar Pradesh. (Express Photo: Gurmeet Singh)

The number of positive Covid-19 cases in India rose to 83,187 on Saturday, with 1,217 fresh infections reported in the last 24 hours. Among these, 53,035 were active cases. The death toll in the country touched 2,752, while the number of patients treated and discharged rose to 30,152.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the fourth tranche of the Rs. 20 lakh crore economic package under the “Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant)” campaign on Saturday. Her announcement included structural reforms to eight sectors — coal, minerals, defence production, airspace management, airports, MRO, power distribution companies in UTs, space, and atomic energy.

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India is set to the enter the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown in two days, on May 18. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had the guidelines in this phase would be new and different. India’s lockdown, which has now completed 53 days, was first imposed for 21 days on March 25 after which it was extended on April 15 and on May 4.

Here is a curated list of some interesting stories from across India on Day 53:

Samagra Shiksha – J&K government promotes e-learning

The Jammu and Kashmir government has initiated various measures under its Samagra Shiksha programme to grant students access to education through technological interventions and other viable means during the Covid-19 lockdown.

According to an official statement, free laptops are being distributed among resource rooms and braille tactile readers to the visually impaired. The government has also started a career portal for students.

TASMAC, Tamil Nadu, Liquor Store Liquor shops reopen in Tamil Nadu leading to long queues in the hot sun. (Express Photo: Srinivas K)

Teenage shooter contributes a part of earnings to struggling athletes

Shivam Thakur, a 17-year-old shooter who competes in 10 metre air pistol, said Saturday he had contributed 60 per cent of his earnings to athletes struggling to survive due to the pandemic.

Thakur, who has been selected to represent India in the next Youth Asian Games in July, the European Youth Games in September and the World Youth Games in Portugal towards the end of the year, earns about Rs. 5 lakh a year through his scholarship and funding programmes.

“I have decided to give away 60 per cent of whatever I have earned so far through various platforms to athletes struggling in their battle against the pandemic. I think everyone should come forward and contribute whatever they can to help the country stop the disease from spreading further and affecting more people”, he said, reported news agency PTI.

Priests request reopening of temples to combat ‘asur’ Covid-19

An all-India organisation of priests Saturday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reopen temples and pilgrimage centres to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The priests claimed the disease was an ‘asur’ (demon) that can only be killed by divine forces.

“If all temples, shrines and pilgrimage centres are reopened, the coronavirus cannot do any harm (kuch nahi bigad sakta hay)”, Akhil Bhartiya Tirth Purohit Mahasabha national president Mahesh Pathak said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

He also said the closure of temples had adversely impacted the economic condition of priests and demanded special financial package for them.

HRD Minister launches first set of research books on coronavirus

Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank e-launched a series of seven books on studies related to the novel coronavirus under the title, ‘Psycho-social Impact of Pandemic and Lockdown and How to Cope’. The books will be available at the National Book Trust (NBT), India.

This is the first series under which seven books were launched. Seven such series are being compiled under ‘Corona Studies Series’ by NBT India, where each book will be based on research on the virus. Illustrators have also been roped in for each book.

A picture of a church tweeted by the Mizoram Chief Minister. (Twitter/@ZoramthangaCM)

Following a request by the state government, churches in Mizoram have agreed for their premises to be used as quarantine facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic. “This pertains to most church halls available with the bigger churches,” said state Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, adding that the decision was taken keeping in mind the large number of residents coming back to the state.

“Since May 4, around 2,000 people have returned, and we are expecting another 10,000 to return in the next few weeks,” he said. On Friday, 833 passengers de-boarded a special ‘shramik’ train coming from Chennai. As per rules, all the passengers entering the state via these trains will need to undergo institutional quarantine for 14 days.

For a few days now, a video of a journalist’s interaction with a group of migrant labourers has gone viral. This is because, in the middle of the interview, the journalist is seen taking off his shoes and offering it to a worker who is barefoot.

BBC journalist Salman Ravi was interviewing migrants who were trekking from Punjab to Madhya Pradesh. In the video, the labourers reveal that they have been walking for six days. They also claimed that they were beaten by the police while attempting to cross state borders.

People who came across the video praised the journalist for his gesture.

(With inputs from PTI)

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