Mainstreams papers lead with PM Modi’s six-hour video chat with chief ministers with different points of emphasis.
Financial papers note how India Inc is slowly resuming operations and opening up offices with limited staff strength.
The Times Of India’s lead concentrates on the Prime Minister’s comments to CMs. In ‘More curbs to go, but lockdown to stay, PM hints at CMs meet’, the paper reports, “Modi hinted that a more graded relaxation of the lockdown could be on its way after May 17…’’
He laid out the two-fold challenge — to reduce the transmission rate of the disease and to increase public activity gradually.
And in a story that ought to shock you, here is the continuing plight of the migrants: In ‘Endless caravan of misery as migrants trudge home’, TOI reports, “All along the 800km, Pune-to-Bhopal stretch of the Mumbai-Agra NH, thousands upon thousands of migrant workers, children in arms, stumbling along, are stretched out in unending lines.. Exhausted people sleep on the roadside. Children cry in hunger. Mothers cast anguished glances at vehicles that won’t stop.”
The Indian Express’ lead on PM Modi’s meeting with CMs gives more expression to the latter. In ‘Wary of lifting lockdown…’, the paper misspells Bihar CM “Nitisk” Kumar but says he trashed the idea of restarting rail services and felt he should have been consulted having been a “former railways minister”.
Express says the push to give states more authority in categorising zones was led by Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh backed by BJP-ruled Haryana. Meanwhile, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal called the “district-wise formula” for zone categorisation “impractical” and suggested it be done along the lines of containment zones.
In a follow-up to the lead, there’s a report on West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee who “attacked” the Centre during the video chat, “accusing it of playing politics and unilateral decisions”. She made a pointed attack on the Home Minister by saying, “Don’t do politics, Amit Shah sahab”.
The daily’s second lead turns to J&K: ‘Balance security rights, says SC as it rejects 4G for J&K’. The box item spells out the irony of the situation. The Union Home Secretary and J&K Chief Secretary, who were challenged by petitioners, “will now be on the SC-mandated Special committee which will decide the demand for 4G restoration” in J&K, observes Express.
In some reassuring news, (‘Aarogya data only for health needs, to be deleted in 180 days’), the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology addressed data privacy concerns on the tracking app. The new protocol mandates that the app’s data “can only be used for health purposes”. What the paper did not mention is that this comes after an embarrassing incident in which French ethical hacker Robert Baptiste found flaws in the app and publicised them on Twitter.
On Modi’s meeting with the CMs, Hindustan Times focuses on the PM’s comments. In ‘PM, CMs not in favour of lifting lockdown entirely’ it dwells on what the PM saying that “India now had a good sense of the spread of the disease…’’ He urged states to prepare a road map for the next phase of the lockdown and said … “full resumption of rail travel would not be possible”.
In a separate piece, one CM had a message for Modi too: ‘DELHI CAN’T BE ALL RED: KEJRIWAL’. HT says that Kejriwal asked Modi to consider the “recategorisation of Delhi’s designated Covid-19 hotspots – keeping containment areas in the city as ‘red zones’ and declaring the rest of the city a “green zone” to restart economic activity”.
The scramble to board the first passenger trains home today, comes with a few riders: in ‘Rush for tickets, guidelines issued for passenger trains’. HT reports, “Passengers boarding special trains will have to arrive at stations at least 90 minutes before their journeys begin and are advised to carry their own food…’’
Living up to its record keeper image, The Hindu notes, ‘India adds 4,213 cases in highest single-day rise’, as it reports, “The country on Monday registered its highest spike in COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours with an addition of 4,213 cases, taking the tally to 67,152. An additional 97 deaths were reported, taking the nationwide toll to 2,206.”
It’s also the only paper to give a front page update on former prime minister Manmohan Singh. In ‘Manmohan stable, under observation’ it says sources at AIIMS say he is “stable but is being investigated to rule out causes of fever….”
Covid may be the virus, but its offshoots are just as alarming, “Policemen abuse schoolteacher for recording ‘high-handedness’”. Hindu reports, “Deepti Saraswat, a teacher at St. Felix Nursery School, wrote in her tweet that she and her doctor husband, currently posted at a COVID hospital in Aligarh, saw some policemen abusing two elderly persons on scooters on the road in front of their house.”
When the policemen saw her recording they hurled abuses, told her to come to the police station. And then deleted the video from her phone.
The Kolkata daily almost naturally, leads with the West Bengal chief minister’s comments at the meeting with PM It notes, “Mamata calls out back-seat Shah”.
The Telegraph says: “Mamata Banerjee told… Narendra Modi to his virtual face that some of his colleagues were playing politics with Bengal and went on to name Amit Shah, who was seated behind the Prime Minister, mincing no words…,” She went on to ask Modi, “why the people of Bengal were being discriminated against and accused the Centre of trying to pass the buck.”
A photograph clearly speaks a thousand words as Telegraph carries the photograph of a migrant worker breaking down on the phone while speaking to a relative.
As the number of coronavirus cases increase in the country, the Centre has a new strategy: ‘After delay, plan for surveillance’, it notes — “India’s health ministry on Monday announced a plan to look for the new coronavirus in every district every month…’’
The surveillance will test “50 pregnant women, 50 patients without respiratory symptoms and 100 healthcare workers from six government and four private hospitals every week in every district”, the paper adds.
In the Mumbai daily’s main report, ‘Attendants offered Rs 1,000 for every body they handle’, the Mirror notes that “After being embarrassed repeatedly by reports of bodies lying around unattended in its hospitals for hours and attendants being afraid of going anywhere near them, the BMC has finally found a solution to the problem – money. BMC issued a circular Monday promising Rs 1000 to every pair of attendants for each body packed, carried to the mortuary, and handed over to the concerned family.” Images of bodies at Sion Hospital have been widely circulated on social media in the last week.
In its second lead (‘India Inc Getting Back to Office Very Cautiously’), Economic Times reports that “a host of companies”, including Flipkart, Panasonic India, Whirlpool, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, are on track “to resume office for a section of staff over this week and next”.
Against the backdrop of states emphasising the need for finances during their video chat with the PM, comes some concerning news about the Centre’s borrowing plan. The report ‘Funding Costs Climb After Govt Revises Borrowing Plan Sharply’, notes that the government’s announcement of “a 50% increase in its borrowing plan for the fiscal year, raising concerns about excessive bond supply clogging the market”. And the markets have responded. The paper adds: “The benchmark gauge surged as much as 20 basis points (bps) on Monday as investors turned jittery..”
Accompanying Mint’s lead on PM Modi’s video chat with states, is a short report (‘State govts seek special financial aid’) on how states like Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal and even some from the BJP-led NDA alliance demanding a special financial package amid dwindling state funds.
Like ET, Mint notes how India’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd plans to restart production with 50 per cent workforce from today onwards — ‘Maruti aims to restart production… ’. Along with “shorter shifts at its factories and strict safety plans for office workers”, the company has also put in place a “covid-19 monitoring committee” of its own “comprising top company executives”, adds the report.