US President Donald Trump at his press briefing in New Delhi Tuesday
File photo of US President Donald Trump | Representational image | PTI
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Mainstream newspapers Friday morning lead with the Supreme Court directing states to pay the fares of migrant workers, and the rising tensions along LAC between India and China.

An exclusive report in The Indian Express notes that China has been deploying additional artillery along the border.

Grim news on the pink papers continue, with Mint predicting very dreary numbers for future growth of Indian economy.


 

The Supreme Court’s order on the migrant crisis covers a major part of The Indian Express’ front page today. The paper’s lead, ‘Migrants don’t have to pay to go home, ensure they get food on the way: SC’ notes that the top court “directed that states share the bus or train fare of the stranded migrants returning home”.

An accompanying three-column report notes sharp words used by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre in the case, against those seeking to “intervene” in the matter. He called them “prophets of doom who only spread negativity”.

An exclusive report ‘Not far from the LAC…’ suggests that things are not de-escalating between India and China along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. According to the report, China “has deployed towed artillery and mechanised elements on their side of the LAC opposite the Galwan valley”.

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An analytical report (‘Glimmer in Covid surge’) strikes an optimistic note. It says that “statewise data shows that…Covid patients requiring critical care, their share, even in high-burden states….remains low. So is the demand for ventilators”. But before we take a sigh of relief, the ‘Explained’ box explains that critical care infrastructure is low outside urban areas which means “pressure will grow on hospitals in cities as numbers rise”.

The front page features a quirky cartoon by EP Unny on US President Donald Trump’s mediation offer Thursday, suggesting a “middleman only doubles the distance”.


 

The Hindu has a different set of priorities than Express. News about the tensions along the LAC is the lead story here while the top court’s remarks on migrant workers is relegated to the second half (which is not visible here).

In ‘Working with China to resolve LAC issue peacefully, says MEA’, the paper notes New Delhi’s decision to decline President Trump’s mediation offer and “said the matter was being discussed bilaterally”. Sounds familiar? It’s the same stance India took when Trump previously offered to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

A statistical report with an infographic, ‘Centre reviews situation in 13 regions hit hard by virus’, notes the number of tests conducted daily from six high-alert states. The graph indicates that despite a higher caseload Gujarat is conducting few tests and the number of tests conducted in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh are also comparatively low.

In some bad news that turned out ok, ‘Security forces avert car-bombing in Pulwama’. Security forces “defused over 40 kg of explosives” in south Kashmir after averting “a 2019 Pulwama-style car-bombing by a suicide bomber”. According to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, the explosives were fitted by Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Muhammad militants jointly.


 

The Times of India leads with some good news (‘6 local vaccine candidates…’). The report notes that “India has identified at least six local vaccine candidates with 30 groups trying to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.”

Furthermore, “Around 10 drugs are being repurposed for use in treatment of the disease and are under different stages of trials,” the report adds.

Home Minister Amit Shah’s chat with the chief minister gets little attention but holds importance (‘Shah speaks to CMs on way ahead after Lockdown 4.0’). “Amit Shah’s discussions with chief ministers are likely to shape the Centre’s anticoronavirus strategy in the days ahead,” notes Hindu. 

Another report (‘Govt fobs off Trump, says no room for 3rd party on China issue’) on Trump’s mediation offer says, “India made it clear there was no room for any third party in bilateral issues with China and stressed that it was ‘fully engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve the issue’ of Chinese incursions in Ladakh,” the report notes.


 

And the seesaw continues with Hindustan Times leading with the Supreme Court’s decision regarding migrant workers. ‘SC: Migrants can’t be made to pay for travel’ notes that “the court also remarked that no state can refuse to take back migrant workers”.

Delhi recording over 1,000 cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours makes for a grim second lead (‘Capital logs 1,024 fresh cases, count crosses 16k’). The report notes, “The national capital has breached a key threshold that officials identified back in March as the trigger for health care preparations to be bolstered further.”

The anchor report (‘Pvt vehicle use may rise, Metro and bus usage to dip: Study’) sheds light on an interesting study which delves into how before the lockdown “as much as 37% of Delhi’s commuter traffic was carried by the Metro, 28% commuters made use of personal vehicles and 7% commuters used public buses.” However in the coming few months, “ridership of Delhi Metro is expected to fall from 37% to 16%.”


 

Like HT and Express, The Tribune also leads with the SC orders on migrant workers not being charged with train fare. “Those migrant workers who are found walking on the highways or roads shall be immediately taken care of by the state/UT’s concerned and shall be  provided transport to the destination and all facilities,” the paper quotes SC as saying.

On the rising India-China tensions, the paper notes —‘No change, troops in Ladakh continue to hold positions’. “The Chinese continue to make military style bunkers and trenches. Military trucks are there by dozens. Even a warehouse is coming up,” the paper notes.

The anchor story (‘At 7k/acre, labour rates more than double in Punjab’) is an interesting read. “From online payments in their accounts back home to permanent residencies, Punjab farmers are doing all to lure farmhands,” notes the report. The farmers are also offering liquor, rations and mobile recharges to encourage migrant workers to come back to work.


 

Mint leads with some exceptionally bad news. In ‘India Set For Deepest Recession Yet’, it predicts India “will face its worst recession in 40 years, contracting by at least 5% this fiscal”.

It notes the various predictions by rating agencies regarding contraction of the Indian economy — S&P Global Ratings forecasted 5 per cent, UBS went with 5.8 per cent and earlier, Crisil, Fitch Ratings and Goldman Sachs projected 5 per cent in FY21. If these numbers aren’t stark, Goldman Sachs predicts that with a strict lockdown and ‘tepid fiscal support’, GDP may contract by 45% in the June quarter alone.

Perhaps the report accompanying the lead is supposed to offer some respite. In ‘RBI may allow relaxation for MSME loans’, the paper indicates the central bank is considering “scrapping the risk weight on loans given by banks to…[MSMEs] under the government’s Rs. 3 trillion loan guarantee scheme”.

First Facebook, maybe Microsoft and now Abu Dhabi — Reliance Jio Platforms appears to be the belle of foreign investments. In ‘UAE fund eyes Jio stake’, the daily reports: “Abu Dhabi-based sovereign fund manager Mubadala Investment Co. is in talks for a potential investment of about $1 billion” in Jio.


 

Business Standard leads with news on Google likely to buy a 5 per cent stake in Vodafone Idea “owned by Vodafone Plc of the UK and Aditya Birla Group”. This comes a month after the tech giant’s “biggest rival” Facebook, cut a minority stake deal in Jio Platforms for Rs 43,574 crore.

The other lead, ‘Ambani, Adani stocks rise…’, proves that the rich get richer even during a pandemic. It notes that the six leading business promoters including Mukesh Ambani and Bharti Adani have “outperformed” the entire broad market substantially by “clocking 30 per cent plus gains”.

For some perspective, “Their group market capitalisation [is] rising faster than the 23 per cent gain for the entire universe of companies listed on the BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange).”

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