IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


23rd April, 2020



1. Coronavirus | Attacks on health workers to attract up to 7 years in prison


—The Union Cabinet approved the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, making acts of violence against medical staff a cognizable and non-bailable offence and to provide compensation for injury to healthcare personnel or for damage or loss to property.

—The ordinance proposes that in cases of attacks on healthcare workers, the investigation will be completed within 30 days and the final decision arrived at within one year.

—The punishment for such attacks will be 3 months to 5 years and the fine ₹50,000 to ₹2 lakh.

—In severe cases, where there are grievous injuries, the punishment will be 6 months to 7 years and the fine ₹1 lakh to ₹5 lakh.


About Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897

—It is a law, which was first enacted to tackle bubonic plague in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) in former British India. The law is meant for containment of epidemics by providing special powers that are required for the implementation of containment measures to control the spread of the disease.

— The Act has been routinely used to contain various diseases in India such as swine flu, cholera, malaria and dengue.

—In 2018, the Act was enforced as cholera began to spread in a region of Gujarat. In 2015, it was used to deal with dengue and malaria in Chandigarh and in 2009; it was invoked in Pune to combat swine flu.

—Starting in March 2020, the act is being enforced across India in order to limit the spread of corona virus disease 2019.


About IMA

— The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is a national voluntary organisation of Doctors of Modern Scientific System of Medicine in India, which looks after the interest of doctors as well as the well-being of the community at large.

—It was established in 1928 as the All India Medical Association, renamed "Indian Medical Association" in 1930. It is a society registered under the Societies Act of India.


Ordinance Making Power of President:

-Under the Constitution, the power to make laws rests with the legislature. However, in cases when Parliament is not in session, and ‘immediate action’ is needed, the President can issue an ordinance.

-An ordinance is a law, and could introduce legislative changes.

-The Supreme Court has clarified that the legislative power to issue ordinances is ‘in the nature of an emergency power’ given to the executive only ‘to meet an emergent situation’.

-After the ordinance is notified it is to be laid before Parliament within 6 weeks of its first sitting.

Parliament could either choose to pass the ordinance, disapprove it or it may lapse within the 6-week time frame.  In addition, the President may chose to withdraw the ordinance.

-Once the ordinance is laid in Parliament, the government introduces a Bill addressing the same issue. -This Bill is supposed to highlight the reasons that necessitated the issue of the Ordinance.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-attacks-on-health-workers-to-attract-up-to-7-years-in-prison/article31404910.ece


2. Coronavirus | MGR Medical University develops ‘vaccine candidate’


—In three weeks of research, the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University has developed a vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 through ‘reverse vaccinology’.

—In the first phase, the university has developed a synthetic polypeptide that could bind the viral genome, and is all set to move to the next phase of research.

---The ‘reverse vaccinology’ technique has been available for the last 10 to 15 years. We now have the facility to unwrap the entire genomic sequence

—Using ‘reverse vaccinology’, vaccinations were developed for meningococcal and staphylococcal infections all through the world.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/coronavirus-mgr-medical-university-develops-vaccine-candidate/article31410701.ece


3. Coronavirus | Union Cabinet approves ₹15,000-crore package for COVID-19 emergency response, health system preparedness


—The Union Cabinet approved a ₹15,000-crore investment package for the COVID-19 emergency response and health system preparedness.

—The funds will be used in three phases, with ₹7,774 crores being for immediate use and the rest for medium-term support, that is one to four years.

—The plan includes developing diagnostics and COVID-19-dedicated treatment facilities, centralising the procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs, strengthening the healthcare systems nationally and in States, bio-security preparedness and pandemic research.

—The network of diagnostic laboratories has been expanded and orders for 13 lakh diagnostic kits have been placed.

—Health workers, including ASHA workers, have been given insurance cover under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.


About Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016 (PMGKY)

—It is an amnesty scheme launched by the Narendra Modi led Government of India in December 2016 on the lines of the Income declaration scheme, 2016 (IDS) launched earlier in the year.

—A part of the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016, the scheme provides an opportunity to declare unaccounted wealth and black money in a confidential manner and avoid prosecution after paying a fine of 50% on the undisclosed income.

—An additional 25% of the undisclosed income is invested in the scheme, which can be refunded after four years, without any interest.

—During the 2020 corona virus pandemic in India, Finance Minister announced a ₹1.70 Lakh Crores ($24 billion) relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor.

-- ₹500 each to 19.86 crores women Jan Dhan account holders

-- LPG cylinders to be provided to 8 crores poor families for the next three months free of cost.

-- ₹1,000 for senior citizens to tide over difficulties during next three months.

—As of 11 April, ₹28,256 crores ($4 billion) were disbursed through PMGKY to nearly 32 crores beneficiaries.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-15000-crore-package-for-emergency-healthcare-system-approved/article31407284.ece


4. Coronavirus | Indian test kits must for reliability


—For reliable antibody testing kits, India will have to make its own, according to independent epidemiologists and biotechnologists.

—Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has advised all States to refrain from using rapid test kits for the next two days, after huge variations in the accuracy of results were noticed across regions.


Quick results

—Much like home-based pregnancy tests, antibody tests are valuable because they give results quickly and only needs a pinprick’s worth of blood. However, they can only detect antibodies produced by the immune system in response to the virus and this can take as many as 7-14 days to manifest.

—The PCR technology is confirmatory because it identifies the SARS COV-2 based on genes, whereas the presence of viruses has usually been detected via antibody kits by the proteins produced by the virus’s genes.


An antibody test only tells you whether a person has ever been infected by the virus. These antibodies that are produced are not necessarily specific to SARS COV-2 and could even be generated by a variety of other pathogens.


Reliability in doubt

—The ICMR’s current recommendation is to test those who show symptoms such cough, fever and breathlessness and even a sore throat.

—After quarantining for 14 days, an antibody test is to be done and if positive, the person ought to be tested by RT-PCR.

—The ICMR has underlined that tests are a surveillance tool. The utility of the test was evolving and its value was dependent on field conditions. They were not a replacement for RT-PCR tests.

—However, with the accuracy widely ranging from 5% to 71%, there are questions on whether they can reliably help indicate the spread of the infection.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/indian-test-kits-must-for-reliability/article31409576.ece


4. Amid pandemic, 1,300 pigs die of swine fever in Assam


—More than 1,300 pigs have died across five districts of eastern Assam of classical swine fever at a time when pig farmers have been hit by the COVID-19 lockdown.


Not swine flu’

—Unlike swine flu that attacks humans, classical swine fever is a viral disease that affects pigs only and requires vaccination in time. The outbreak this year has been more severe than normal and would require vaccination camps.


Piggery sector hit

—Assam has the most farmed pigs in the country according to the 20th livestock census from 2012-2019.

—Data show that the eight northeastern States with Assam at its core consume more than 65% of the 4.26-lakh metric tonnes of pork produced in the country.

—The pork market in the region is more than $1 billion. It was being sold at government-approved counters for bailing the pig farmers out of a financial crisis due to the lockdown.

—It also asked the government to make rice and pulses wastage in Food Corporation of India warehouses to be provided to livestock farmers through the public distribution system.


About Swine Fever:

-Swine fever causes fever, skin lesions, convulsions, Splenic Infarctions and usually (particularly in young animals) death within 15 days.

-The disease has acute and chronic forms, and can range from severe, with high mortality, to mild or even unapparent.

- Severe cases of the disease appear very similar to African swine fever. With low virulence strains, the only expression may be poor reproductive performance and the birth of piglets with neurologic defects such as congenital tremor


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/amid-pandemic-1300-pigs-die-of-swine-fever-in-assam/article31403558.ece




1. Assam hikes oil prices steeply despite global dip


—A litre of fuel went up by almost ₹6 in Assam despite global crude oil prices hitting rock bottom.

—The State’s Finance (Taxation) Department issued a notification modifying the rates of tax on diesel and petrol.

—A State can impose tax only on fuel and liquor.

—Accordingly, the VAT on diesel was modified to 23.66 paise in the rupee or ₹17.45 per litre, whichever is higher and that of petrol and other motor spirits to 32.66 paise in the rupee or ₹22.63 per litre, whichever is higher.

—Fuel prices in Assam have usually been higher than most of the adjoining hill States in the northeast.

—Many vehicle owners and operators in border areas, including Guwahati, buy fuel from the neighbouring States to save money.

— People in areas bordering Bhutan, where fuel is at least 25% cheaper, often avoid local fuel outlets.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assam-hikes-oil-prices-steeply-despite-global-dip/article31402923.ece


2. Facebook to buy 9.99% stake in Jio Platform for ₹43,574 crores


—Mark Zuckerberg led Facebook Inc. has agreed to buy 9.99% stake in Mukesh Ambani led Jio Platforms Limited (JPL) for ₹43,574 crores, valuing the company at ₹4.62 lakh crores pre-money enterprise value ($65.95 billion, assuming a conversion rate of ₹70 to a U.S. Dollar).

Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, is a next-generation technology company building a digital society for India by bringing together Jio’s leading digital apps, digital ecosystems and India’s first high speed connectivity platform under one umbrella.

Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, which provides connectivity platform to over 388 million subscribers, will continue to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Jio Platforms.


Largest FDI in the technology sector in India

—The partnership between Facebook and Jio is unprecedented in many ways.

—This is the largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company anywhere in the world and the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in the technology sector in India.

—The investment values Jio Platforms amongst the top five listed companies in India by market capitalization, within just three and a half years of launch of commercial services, validating Reliance Industries’ capability in incubating and building disruptive next-generation businesses, while delivering market defining shareholder value.


'India's digital Sarvodaya'

—The synergy between Jio and Facebook will help realise Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ Mission with its two ambitious goals — ‘Ease of Living’ and ‘Ease of Doing Business’ – for every single category of Indian people without exception.


Commercial partnership agreement

—Concurrent with the investment, Jio Platforms, Reliance Retail Limited (“Reliance Retail”) and WhatsApp have also entered into a commercial partnership agreement to further accelerate Reliance Retail’s New Commerce business on the JioMart platform using WhatsApp and to support small businesses on WhatsApp.

—WhatsApp already plays an important role in helping people and businesses connect in India.

—Reliance Retail’s New Commerce platform, JioMart, is being built in partnership with millions of small merchants and kirana shops to empower them to better serve the needs of Indian consumers. —The companies will work closely to ensure that consumers are able to access the nearest kiranas who can provide products and services to their homes by transacting seamlessly with JioMart using WhatsApp.


Digital India

—Jio’s vision is to enable a Digital India for 1.3 billion Indians and Indian businesses, especially small merchants, micro-businesses and farmers.

—Jio has built a world-class digital platform powered by leading technologies such as Broadband connectivity, Smart Devices, Cloud and Edge Computing, Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Augmented and Mixed Reality and Blockchain.

—Jio has created an ecosystem-comprising network, devices, applications, content, service experiences and affordable tariffs for every Indian to experience the Jio Digital Life.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/facebook-to-buy-minority-stake-in-jio-platforms-for-43574-crore/article31402119.ece


3. Lockdown hits harvest, sale of Jagtial mangoes


—The ‘Benishan’ or Banganapalli variety of the king of fruits, which is widely grown in Jagtial district, is witnessing a slump in sales due to the nationwide lockdown.

Banganapalle mangoes have been grown for over 100 years in Andhra Pradesh. The succulent Banganapalle mango has received a Geographical Indication (GI) tag, making Andhra Pradesh the proprietor of the variety known for its sweetness.

—Marketed as “Jagtial mango - Telangana” in Delhi, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Gwalior and Srinagar, the mangoes are popular for their quality, taste and long shelf life.

—However, the prevailing lockdown and the non-arrival of migrant workers from Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh for grading and packing the fruits has impacted their sale.


4. Fund-raising to get easier for stressed firms


—Markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has made it easier for listed, stricken companies to raise money from potential investors.

—SEBI has relaxed the pricing norms for preferential allotment by such companies while also exempting investors in such issuances from making open offers if they acquire a substantial stake in the listed entity.

—The regulator has proposed that preferential allotment can be done at a price that is not less than the average of the weekly high and low of the volume weighted average prices of the shares during the two weeks preceding the relevant date.


Erosion in share value

—Typically, a preferential allotment is priced on the preceding 26 weeks share price movement, which is practically difficult for stressed companies since the shares see massive erosion in their value.

—Further, the regulator has proposed that if an investor had acquired more than 25% in the company by way of preferential allotment, he will be exempted from making an open offer for further 26% shares.

—However, as a safeguard, SEBI has proposed that the allotment can only be made to entities that are not part of the promoter group and the resolutions related to the allotment and the exemption from making an open offer will have to be approved by a majority of minority shareholders.


Lock-in period

—Further, the shares allotted will have a three-year lock-in period.

—Meanwhile, for a company to qualify as a stressed entity, it should comply with at least two of the three criteria, namely default on its payment obligations for two consecutive quarters, credit rating of listed securities downgraded to D and existence of inter-creditor agreement in terms of Reserve Bank of India (Prudential Framework for Resolution of Stressed Assets) Directions 2019 dated June 7, 2019.


About SEBI

— The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulator of the securities and commodity market in India owned by the Government of India.

It was established in 1988 and given Statutory Powers on 30 January 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/fund-raising-to-get-easier-for-stressed-firms/article31409260.ece


4. TRAI invites comments on SUC review


—The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) sought comments from stakeholders on the need to take a relook at the current methodology of assessment of spectrum usage charge (SUC) payable by operators in case of sharing of airwaves.

—Currently, the SUC rate for each licensee post-sharing of spectrum increases by 0.5% of Adjusted Gross Revenue.

—In the consultation paper, TRAI noted SUC was an administrative charge, payable to the government towards the administrative cost for management of spectrum. as the TSPs (telecom service providers) are already paying SUC for the spectrum allotted to them as a percentage of AGR, the sharing of spectrum may not necessarily justify additional SUC burden on them.

—It added that the revenue earned by a TSP depends on many factors such as competition, customer profile, affordability level, cost of inputs and tariff.


About TRAI

— The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is a statutory body set up by the Government of India under section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997. It is the regulator of the telecommunications sector in India.

— It consists of a Chairperson and not more than two full-time members and not more than two part-time members. The TRAI Act was amended by an ordinance, effective from 24 January 2000, establishing a Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/trai-invites-comments-on-suc-review/article31409286.ece






1. Godavari water reaches Siddipet


—Godavari water from Kaleshwaram via Annapurna reservoir located at the border of Siddipet and Sircilla arrived at  Ranganaiksagar reservoir travelling for about 20 km — 12 km open canal and eight km tunnel. The surge pool is with a height of 65 metres, width of 110 metres and length of 30 metres.

—Water can be pumped here once the water level at Annapurna reservoir stands at 1.75 tmcft.

—The authorities are making efforts to fill 1.5-tmcft water into Ranganaiaksagar reservoir, which has a total capacity of 3 tmcft, in a phased manner. The reservoir systems would be tested during pumping.

—The project was initiated in 2009 under Pranahita-Chevella project by Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy with a capacity of 0.75 tmcft at an estimated cost of ₹2,500 crores.

—Now the project capacity was increased to 3 tmcft and the cost incurred was put at ₹3,800 crores.

—Compared with water level at Medigadda where the level is 100 metres, here the water level will be 490 metres, which means the water was lifted to 390 metres.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/godavari-water-reaches-siddipet/article31409562.ece


2. Pre-retirement judgments and post-retirement jobs


—Constitutional appointees to the Supreme Court have been guaranteed several rights in order to secure their independence.

—Chapter 4 of Part V of the Constitution deals with the Supreme Court, and Chapter 5 of Part VI deals with the High Courts.

—The salaries of judges and their age of retirement are all guaranteed in order to secure their independence. They cannot be easily removed except by way of impeachment under Articles 124(4) and 217(1) (b). They have the power to review legislation and strike it down. They can also question the acts of the executive.

—All this makes it clear that the framers of the Constitution envisaged an unambitious judiciary for which the only guiding values were the provisions of the Constitution.


The Gogoi example

—But the clear demarcation between the judiciary and executive got blurred as many judges over the years began to accept posts offered by the government. A few years ago, a former Chief Justice of India (CJI) was made a Governor by the ruling BJP government.

—Now, we have the case of a former CJI, Ranjan Gogoi, being nominated by the President to the Rajya Sabha and taking oath as Member of Parliament.

—During his tenure as CJI, Justice Gogoi presided over important cases such as Ayodhya and Rafale where all the decisions went in favour of the government.

—This gave rise to the impression that his nomination was a reward for these ‘favours’. Thus his appointment — and that too within a few months of his retirement — not only raised eyebrows but came in for severe condemnation from varied quarters.

—People are fast losing confidence in the so-called independent judiciary.

—Gogoi’s view that membership of the Rajya Sabha was not a job but a service, and that once the President nominated him the call of duty required him to accept it, only created the impression that the judiciary is pliant.

—A bare reading of Article 80(3) of the Constitution only envisages the President to nominate “persons having special knowledge… in literature, science, art and social service” as members to the Rajya Sabha. It is difficult to imagine that the Constitution-makers had in mind a retired CJI when framing this provision.


Time to enact a law

—Therefore, appointments of persons who have held constitutional office will undermine the very constitutional values of impartiality in the dispensation of justice.

—It will also go against the clear demarcation of separation of powers.

—If post-retirement appointments are going to undermine confidence in the judiciary and in constitutional democracy, it is time to have a law in place either by way of a constitutional amendment or a parliamentary enactment barring such appointments.

—This is the only way to secure the confidence of the people and prevent post-retirement appointments. Judges can be compensated by being given their last drawn salary as pension.

—Also, the age of retirement for judges can be increased by a year or two.

—This will undo the damage caused by post-retirement jobs. It is important to remember that judges are constitutional servants, not government servants.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/pre-retirement-judgments-and-post-retirement-jobs/article31408953.ece


3. Coronavirus | Foreign attendees at Tablighi Jamaat congregation under ED lens


—The Enforcement Directorate is probing the financial transactions related to over 2,000 foreign nationals who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin here this March.

—The government has blacklisted about 1,000 such foreign nationals, while the police have issued lookout circulars against close to 1,900.


e-visa loopholes

—There is no system of verification of e-visa applications, which directly go to the server and are processed automatically.

—The applicants have to provide correct information about only three things: name, date of birth and place of birth, which are already mentioned in their passports, said the official.

—This exposes the failure in devising a due-diligence process in issuing e-visas. There are specific missionaries visa rules for Tablighi works. All such applications have to be referred to the Union Home Ministry along with the relevant details of applicants.

—Applications of Pakistani nationals and those of Pakistani origin have to be referred to the Home Ministry. No tourist visa is granted to Pakistani passport holder, while applications from those of Pakistani origin are also referred.

—Prior reference to the Home Ministry is also made in case the employment visa applications by the nationals of Afghanistan, China and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin, and business visa applications by the nationals of Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan and those of Pakistani origin.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/foreign-attendees-at-tablighi-jamaat-congregation-under-ed-lens/article31409378.ece


4. Centre cuts non-urea fertilizer subsidy


—The Centre has cut the subsidy for non-urea fertilizers this year to ₹22,186 crores. That is about 3% lower than the ₹22,875 crores which was the estimated expenditure on the nutrient based subsidies in 2019-20.

—The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs decided to reduce the subsidy for nitrogen-based fertilizers to ₹18.78 per kg, for phosphorous-based fertilizers to ₹14.88 per kg, and set the subsidy for potash-based fertilizers at ₹10.11 per kg, according to an official statement.

— And while the subsidy for sulphur-based fertilisers had been raised last year to ₹ 3.56 per kg, from ₹2.72 per kg, this year it has been slashed to just ₹2.37 per kg.

—The CCEA also approved the inclusion of a complex fertilizer, ammonium phosphate, under the nutrient-based subsidy scheme.

The scheme was set up in 2010 to ensure the availability of phosphatic and potassic fertilizers to farmers at an affordable price, as the retail prices of such non-urea fertilisers are decontrolled and set by manufacturers.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-cuts-non-urea-fertilizer-subsidy/article31409104.ece


5. Centre, State can fix sugarcane price, says Supreme Court


—A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that both the Central and State governments have the power to fix the price of sugarcane under the Concurrent List of the Constitution.

—The advised or remunerative price shall always be higher than the minimum price in accordance with the provisions of the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966, issued under Section 16 of the Uttar Pradesh Sugarcane (Regulation of Supply and Purchase) Act, 1953.

—The Sugarcane (Control) Order of 1966 confers power upon the State government to fix the remunerative/advised price at which sugarcane can be bought or sold, which shall always be higher than the minimum price fixed by the Central government.

—It is only when the advised price fixed by the State government is lower than the minimum price fixed by the Central government, the provisions of the Central enactments will prevail and the minimum price fixed by the Central government will prevail.

—The case revolved around a petition by the Western Uttar Pradesh Sugar Mills Association questioning whether the State government had the power to fix a minimum price when a similar price had already been set by a Central legislation.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-state-can-fix-sugarcane-price-says-supreme-court/article31409007.ece


4. No 100% quota for tribal teachers: Supreme Court


—A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held it unconstitutional to provide 100% reservation for tribal teachers in schools located in Scheduled Areas across the country.

—It is an obnoxious idea that tribals only should teach the tribals. When there are other local residents, why they cannot teach is not understandable. The action defies logic and is arbitrary. Merit cannot be denied in toto by providing reservation.


Sawhney judgment

—The court held that 100% reservation is discriminatory and impermissible. The opportunity of public employment is not the prerogative of few.

—A 100% reservation to the Scheduled Tribes has deprived Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes also of their due representation. The court referred to the Indira Sawhney judgment, which caps reservation at 50%.

—The case stemmed from a legal challenge to January 10, 2000 order issued by the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh Bench providing 100% reservation to the Scheduled Tribe candidates, out of whom 33.1/3% shall be women, for the post of teachers in schools located in the Scheduled Areas of the State. The court said the 2000 notification was “unreasonable and arbitrary”.

—The court noted the 2000 notification was a “misadventure” the erstwhile State had embarked on to save an identical one issued in 1986. The 2000 notification was given retrospective effect to bring to life to its predecessor of 1986.

—The court said it would not set aside the teachers’ appointments as long as Telangana and Andhra do not try, for a third time, to bring a similar notification in the future.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-100-quota-for-tribal-teachers-supreme-court/article31409071.ece


5. Coronavirus lockdown leaves Bihar’s litchi growers in the lurch


—The prolonged lockdown to contain the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic has put Bihar’s more than 45,000 litchi farmers in a bind as they stare at imminent losses amounting to almost ₹1,000 crores this year.

—Bihar, especially Muzaffarpur district, accounts for almost 40% of the total litchi production in the country.

  • Bihar's Shahi litchi has got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag and has become an exclusive brand in the national and international market. The Shahi litchi, is famous for its sweet, juicy, unique flavour and aroma, is mostly grown in Muzaffarpur and neighbouring districts including East Champaran, Vaishali, Samastipur and Begusarai.




1. Analysis | Trump has taken his administration’s war on immigration to the next level


—With his decision to suspend issuance of green cards for at least 60 days, U.S. President Donald Trump has taken his administration’s war on immigration to the next level.


What does the suspension mean?

—The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump had considered stopping new immigrant visas, but backed off in the face of protests from businesses.

—Now, the order would not impact immigrants already living in the U.S. or those who come on temporary visas for work or travel, including H1B visa holders and temporary farm workers.

—American citizens will still be able to bring their spouses and children to the U.S., but the relatives of the current green card holders or those who want to apply for green cards based on a job offer would be blocked for the time period, according to administration officials.

—Between October 2018 and October 2019, the U.S. had issued about 5, 77,000 green cards.


Rationale behind the decision

—According to President Trump, the decision is needed to protect American jobs.

—Administration officials painted the move as a healthcare emergency step.


Political calculations

—The administration has already restricted immigration to the U.S. in the wake of the pandemic.

—It has barred travel to the U.S. from China and much of Europe and sealed off the land borders with Canada and Mexico for non-essential travel.

—In March, the State Department suspended visa processing at its Consulates and Embassies overseas, which has practically brought issuance of new visas to a halt.

—Illegal immigrants being apprehended on the country’s southern border are being sent back.

—The administration has also announced visa sanctions on countries that do not take back their citizens being deported from the U.S.

—With the new move, Mr. Trump has not only tightened his immigration policy but also sent a the boldest message yet to his support base that the President is committed to crack down on both legal and illegal immigration, a hot issue among the conservative and right-wing voters.

—It also gels with Mr. Trump’s strategy of building counter-narratives to the mounting criticisms of his administration’s handling of the virus crisis.

—The U.S. has the most number of confirmed infections — 8, 26,250 cases so far and rising. The country has also seen at least 45,150 deaths.

—Mr. Trump faces criticism for failing in moving fast in containing the outbreak in the early days and mobilising resources to fight its spread.

— But Mr. Trump has rebuffed such criticism and blamed China and WHO for the crisis. He first called the virus “Chinese virus” and then suspended funding for the WHO. He attacked the “stay at home” orders issued by State Governors and even endorsed protests organised by his supporters to end the restrictions in States.

—Now, by suspending immigration, he is back to his favourite agenda in an election year in the midst of the severest economic crisis in decades.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/analysis-trump-has-taken-his-administrations-war-on-immigration-to-the-next-level/article31407597.ece