As front pages carry photographs of “serpentine” queues and social distancing norms being violated outside liquor shops Monday, The Tribune notes how the Punjab government has hit upon a way to solve the problem — allow home delivery of liquor.
Pink papers note a new challenge for the Indian economy: Shortage of workers, liquidity crunch and logistical hurdles. The Economic Times predicts US firm Silver Lake’s stake sale in Reliance Jio Platforms just after Facebook’s is an indication that there will be an initial share sale for Jio in about two years.
The Times Of India’s lead story is on the easing of restrictions in Delhi: ‘First Day: Tepid Show, But Liquor Flows’ has two stories: The first says ‘Most domestic helpers give work a miss…’, noting that in most areas RWAs gave domestic workers a miss and did not allow them to come.
Not at liquor stores where there was a surge of clients. In ‘Delhi slaps 70% cess on alcohol after a day of chaos at outlets’, the paper explains that “a day that began with Delhi’s people eagerly welcoming the reopening of liquor outlets gradually turned into chaos at overcrowded shops…’’ This led the Kejriwal government to impose a 70 per cent ‘special `corona fee’ on all liquor from Tuesday.
While politics plays out on migrant workers being reportedly charged for their train fare back home, ‘From Thursday, India to evacuate lakhs stuck abroad…’. TOI reports, “In the biggest exercise of its kind in recent memory, India will begin bringing back lakhs of its citizens stranded abroad from Thursday… in a phased manner on non-schedule flights and naval ships.’’ On the priority list is UAE, “where about 2 lakh people have registered with the local missions to return from Dubai and Abu Dhabi alone”.
The lead story in The Indian Express is a special report from Mumbai: ‘Coronavirus epicentre Maharashtra freezes all development spend for a year, no new hiring’. Express writes that the state “worst-hit” by Covid-19 declared “a freeze on new capital works till March next year”. The state also imposed a 67 per cent cut in development (scheme) spend for 2020-21. According to sources, “This is the deepest ever cut in expenditure since the state was formed in 1960”, reports Express.
Moving east, the Centre-Bengal standoff continues: In ‘Highest death rate, low testing, number mismatch…’, The paper reports, that the Inter-Ministerial Central Team that had visited Kolkata, Howrah and other districts “said that at 12.8 per cent, the state has the highest mortality rate…’’ It also accused it of low testing, weak surveillance and discrepancies in reporting cases, says Express.
In another report, ‘After nudge, how Bengal tightened…’ says that following the visit of the central team, there’s “an unmistakable change..” in the Mamata government’s approach: It has tightened measures on the ground, enforced the lockdown in containments zones, given hospitals a free hand in treatment and increased testing.
First note that the flap is back in the Hindustan Times. And in what is a welcome sight to the media, advertising appears to be making a comeback — there’s a half page advertisement on Page 1.
The newspaper reports on the ‘Bustle and chaos…’ of easing restrictions and the flouting of social distancing norms at liquor shops in its lead.
HT also notes, ‘Monday sees a sharp rise: 3,861 new cases’. This is the second time in the last three days that the nationwide tally registered “a record spike”.
The Hindu’s lead says ‘Confusion prevails over who will foot migrants’ train fare’. This after Congress president Sonia Gandhi Monday “asked the party’s State units to bear the cost of rail travel of migrant workers and the Railways said the ‘sending States’ needed to pay for sending people home on the ‘Shramik Specials’.”
The Centre then said it would bear 85 per cent of the costs and the states 15 per cent, observes Hindu: “The government clarification was seen as damage control coming as it did after the Congress announcement.”
And in an analytical piece, Hindu finds, ‘States with high swine flu rate record most COVID-19 cases’. It says Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Tamil Nadu — account for “about 70% of India’s confirmed COVID-19 cases’’ and data from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), indicates that these are “also States that consistently accounted for the bulk of swine flu cases, or seasonal influenza (H1N1) since 2015…’’
There’s also a report on a city with recurring migrant protests: In ‘Migrants take to Surat streets in protest’, Hindu reports that hundreds of workers on the streets demanded they be allowed to return to home. “The mob went berserk and clashed with policemen,” it adds.
The New Indian Express leads with the grim news of 527 new coronavirus cases and one death in Tamil Nadu.“Koyambedu market (in Chennai) continues to be the major source for spurt in cases” and “several traders told NIE that social distancing was never implemented…[making] it a disaster in the making from day 1”, it reports.
And as cases pile up, “Government hospitals [in Chennai] are fast running out of beds”. The daily’s second lead notes that patients have been moved to other “Covid-care facilities” at private colleges and Chennai Trade Center.
A short report ‘India to try Remdesivir, can’t make it for now’ notes India has received 1,000 doses of antiviral drug Remdesivir but domestic production hinges on the “patent route chosen by US drugmaker Gilead”. This, “despite Indian scientists achieving synthesis of Key Starting Materials (KSMs) of Remdesivir”, adds the report.
As the migrant worker crisis mounts, Tribune’s second lead ‘Pb stares at crisis…’ notes that Ludhiana may face a major labour shortage with 4.66 lakh workers keen to go home. “Industrialists say the exodus will lead to multiple problems, pushing the production cost”, it adds.
And in a small item,, ‘Punjab okays home delivery of liquor’, Tribune notes that Punjab government’s attempts to boost liquor sales has led to it allowing home delivery in order to offset Rs.500 crore in excise duty loss.
Like New Indian Express, Mint’s front page features a collage of pictures titled “IN HIGH SPIRITS” that says it all.
In its lead, “India Opens To Business, Cautiously”, the paper says a new challenge looms as the factories and industries begin to reopen after over a month of inactivity — “shortage of workers and logistical hurdles”.
Amid hopes of regaining economic momentum, comes a report that India’s manufacturing activity “plummeted to a record low in April”. A survey by IHS Markit that found the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for India “declined to 27.4 in April from 51.8 in March”.
The Economic Times leads with news on US private equity firm Silver Lake investing “Rs. 5,655.75 crore ($747 million) in Jio Platforms for a 1.15% stake”. This, after Jio’s major tie-up with Facebook two weeks ago. According to the daily, this won’t be the last stake sale. Analysts indicate “an initial share sale for the digital unit of Reliance Industries (RIL) in about two years”, it adds.
A large infographic titled “The Message in the Bottle”, notes the rush to liquor stores Monday after the country “came out of a de facto prohibition that lasted 40 days”. It notes that “only 14.6% of the population drinks. And there’s a big gender divide — 27% of men drink while only 1.6% of women do”.