‘Rs 20000000000000’ reads The Telegraph headline this morning that reflects the mainstream newspapers focus on the Prime Minister’s speech Tuesday evening, announcing a Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package
But there’s also alarming news in The New Indian Express that coronavirus is spreading to rural India too.
Financial papers celebrate the new stimulus package with its emphasis on self reliance. But in the backdrop, industrial output fell by 16.7 per cent in the month of March, reports Business Standard.
The Times Of India’s lead, ‘PM Raises Stimulus Size To 10% Of GDP’, explains the thrust of the PM’s package saying he outlined how it would “help nurse the economy back to health and also unleash a new set of reforms focussed on land, labour, liquidity and legal frameworks that would power India’s push for self-reliance”.
Also, there will be a lockdown 4.0, people. However “contours would be very different from the rules that shaped the three national lockdowns since March 25….”
A consolation prize in these treacherous times is, ‘India’s CO2 emissions fall, a first in 4 decades’. TOI reports, “…emissions of toxic carbon dioxide have declined in the country — thanks to an economic slowdown, growth of clean energy and the ongoing lockdown. This was revealed in the latest analysis done by Lauri Myllyvirta and Sunil Dahiya of the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).”
The Indian Express describes the stimulus package as a “dosage” in its headline, and also explains, “The math: It’s 10% of GDP, but less than 5% cash outgo”.
Shifting focus to some non-Covid news, Express looks at the recent stand-off between India and China: ‘Amid tension on Ladakh LAC, IAF sent Su-30s…’ reports that the recent border clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers was the culmination of tensions brewing at the LAC for some time now. Before the clash, “Chinese helicopters came dangerously close to the Indian helicopter and the Chinese personnel on board made aggressive gestures. After the incident, two Su-30MKI of the IAF from the Leh airbase were also airborne in the area.”
In another report, ‘Vizag gas leak: FIR blames ‘some smoke with bad smell,’ names no company staff’, Express calls the FIR “telling”: “Filed at 7 am on May 7, as per police records, almost five hours after the incident, all the FIR states is that ‘some smoke came out’ of the factory, that there was a ‘bad smell’ and it was this smell that endangered life.”
Each day we read of heartbreaking individual cases of distress. Today it is, ‘Made it so far… now I’m going back with bodies of wife, kid’.
“The family had been on the road for three days — Rajan Yadav, 35, driving the auto rickshaw he had bought only six months ago, with his wife, two children and a nephew. Two relatives were trailing them on a motorcycle. Around 7 am on Tuesday, having covered 1,500 km, and with home just 200 km away, the relatives on the motorcycle decided to speed ahead. Moments later, Rajan’s autorickshaw was hit on the side by a truck.”
Hindustan Times sees the stimulus as a “boost” for “self-reliant India” and faithfully details the highlights of the PM’s speech.
In another report, ‘8k passengers in 8 trains on Day 1 of railway reboot’. The paper reminds us that “Indian Railways resumed its passenger services after a gap of nearly two months on Tuesday with eight air-conditioned trains carrying a total of 8,121 people…” to their home states.
From trains to planes: ‘No cabin baggage, inflight meals in draft rules to reopen air travel’ says HT as air travel seems on the verge of take-off, “Cabin luggage will be barred and passengers aged above 80 years not allowed on flights.. according to guidelines drafted by the government for the first phase of the restart of commercial flights/”
And, in a follow up to its earlier story, HT says IGI airport’s very own Tom Hanks finally goes back home: In ‘…German leaves terminal at last’. The paper reports, “A 40-year-old German, who lived in the transit area of Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport for 55 days as he could not fly out amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) lockdown, left for Amsterdam on Tuesday in a special relief flight after turning down offers to be taken to his home country.”
The Hindu has some news for NRIs: ‘Aarogya Setu app mandatory…’. The paper repots it is now “compulsory” for all returnees to download the Aarogya Setu app “for better contact surveillance and suitable medical intervention”.
Meanwhile, things are not looking great down south as, ‘716 new cases, eight deaths in T.N’. The paper reports, “Chennai, for the third consecutive day, added more than 500 cases to its total. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the State now stands at 8,718*.”
And, the messenger becomes the message as ‘The Hindu is India’s fastest growing English daily, fourth time in a row’.
In international news, ‘India caught in U.S.-China spat over Taiwan’s status at WHO’. The paper says India faces a dilemma: As tensions increase between the US and China over the novel coronavirus, India, set to be the next Chairperson of the World Health Organization’s decision-making executive body in May “is faced with a major choice on whether to support a U.S. move to reinstate Taiwan’s observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA) or to China’s opposition to it”.
The Telegraph is back to being its snarky best with its headline on the Rs 20 lakh crores the fiscal stimulus announced by Modi. For good measure it adds, “By the time you finish counting the zeros, hopefully Nirmala will give the details.” This is a reference to the Finance Minister’s likely detailing of the stimulus package today.
The Kolkata daily concludes the speech was ‘Swadeshi Jargon meets Nehru’. “Be vocal about local, Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorted the nation on Tuesday, falling back on a mix of Nehruvian thrust on self-reliance and the jargon usually associated with the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the economic spearhead of the Sangh parivar.”
In its lead, The New Indian Express points out that PM Modi’s proposed Rs. 20 lakh crore stimulus package is “inclusive of the RBI measures and the government’s first stimulus rolled out in March”. This means “Tuesday’s relief on a standalone basis” is a little over 6 per cent of GDP at Rs 14 lakh crore, it adds. The paper also interprets PM Modi’s push for local products as “a subtle jibe at China”.
And in a major development, “As feared, spike in new cases now from rural India”, the paper notes how coronavirus is slowly but surely inching into rural districts that were previously “untouched”. The report lists rural areas in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar that have seen a rise of positive cases.
The Tribune’s lead fleshes out PM Modi’s address Tuesday but nowhere does it mention Finance Minister Nirmal Sitharaman’s upcoming announcement that will go into the nitty gritties of the stimulus package.
And in an exclusive interview, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat told the Chandigarh daily that “the retirement age of jawans in the army, airmen in the IAF and sailors in the Navy is set to increase”.
Industries won’t be the only ones eyeing FM Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement. Mint’s lead points out that the stimulus comes “amid growing demand by states for a fiscal stimulus package and more financing options to tide over the financial crunch”. The new package will look to uplift “sections that tend to get neglected…like hawkers and street vendors”, it reports.
An interesting piece, ‘Covid sparks medical waste risks’, highlights the plight of thousands of sanitation workers. Hazardous biomedical waste like “discarded masks and gloves collected from Covid-19 containment zones” has entered garbage piles across cities, and now a major concern for civic authorities. The collection and disposal of this waste in the absence of safety protocols could “trigger a surge in caseload”, the paper warns.
In some grim news (‘Industrial output falls to record lows’), Business Standard notes that industrial output fell by 16.7 per cent in March but economists predict “the worst is yet to come”. Other than food or pharmaceuticals, there will be “nil growth” in most sectors for the month of April, says Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, CARE Ratings.
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