With the last leg of the nationwide lockdown underway, newspapers note the limited resumption of passenger trains and the central government’s identification of 15 districts with a heavy Covid caseload.
The border face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh also makes headlines.
Financial papers note that the 6 per cent decline in Indian stocks in the month of May is an indication of “more pain” to come.
The lead story in The Indian Express is ‘Fake news targeting minorities, Tablighi chief’s audio: BPRD red-flags these in its report, then pulls it down’. The paper says that a report by the Home Ministry think tank, Bureau of Police Research & Development, on “how to spot and investigate” fake news, which “red-flagged the targeting of minorities over the Covid pandemic… and mentioned the audio of the Tablighi Jamaat chief in its discussion on fake audio” —which had been reported by the Express last week, “has been pulled down within a day of being posted online”.
And the authorities are after the Express on that report. The newspapers had earlier reported that Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad’s audio clip, which suggested that he had asked the Tablighis not to follow social distancing norms, was doctored. In ‘After denying report, police summoned Express reporter’, the newspaper says, a notice by Delhi Police was sent to the Express. The paper stated that the report was based on “conversations with sources and officials aware of the probe against Maulana Saad, and that calls and a message to Special CP (Crime) Praveer Ranjan Friday for his comments before publication received no response”. Let’s see what happens next.
Still in the national capital, ‘Mismatch in Covid toll: Delhi govt admits to ‘incorrect’, late reports’. The daily reports that the Delhi government ordered all medical authorities to share numbers of dead, claiming hospitals were not sharing death summaries with the three-member death audit committee formed by the government on April 20.
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Moving south, ‘In Kerala hotspot Kasaragod, last patient is cured, leaves for home’, Express explains, “Officials in Kasaragod, the hotspot at Kerala’s northern tip that accounted for nearly 35 per cent of the state’s Covid count, with 178 of 512 cases, said Sunday that the district’s last positive patient has returned home after being cured.
The Times Of India’s lead story ‘Passenger Trains Back..’ says that in the first “cautious” step towards restoring mass transport, passenger trains will resume from Tuesday. These will connect Delhi with 15 major cities, including the big ones — Mumbai, Howrah, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Patna.
In other signs of more normalcy, ‘Economic activity step-up, easing of curbs on PM-CMs meet agenda’ Monday. TOI notes that PM Modi will talk to chief ministers on the “next steps of a graded exit from the lockdown”.
And don’t know if this is good or bad news but, ‘Amid privacy worries, Aarogya app set to enter 100m-users club’, TOI reports, “The Aarogya Setu app has emerged as the fastest to reach 50 million users and is set to enter the 100-million club…’’ The report claims the application has helped the government identify “650 hotspots across the country… and also 300 emerging hotspots…”
In non-Covid news, the big story is ‘India, China rush additional troops after Ladakh flare-up’. The daily reports, “Border tensions between India and China have flared up once again with at least two incidents of violent clashes and stone-pelting taking place between rival troops in Ladakh and Sikkim.’’ There were injuries on both sides.
The lead for all papers seems to be trains restarting tomorrow.
However, Hindustan Times, in another report has some bad and good news: ‘Biggest jump in new cases but recoveries hit 20,000’. The paper reports, “The number of people who have so far recovered after contracting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country crossed 20,000 on Sunday, with a recuperating rate of 31.2%, or about one in every three patients, even as the number of infections of Sars-CoV-2 crossed 67,000.”
And there are new advisories on reopening manufacturing units: In ‘Safety first as fresh guidelines issued…’, HT reports, “The first week in which factories reopen after the national lockdown must be used as a trial period in which safety protocols are ensured and high production targets are not set, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said in detailed guidelines issued on Sunday.”
In the anchor piece which as HT says sounds a bit like Tom Hanks from The Terminal, ‘German man living at Delhi airport since Mar 18’. HT reports, “The German national, Edgard Ziebat, was on his way from Hanoi to Istanbul on March 18, the day India cancelled all flights to and from Turkey in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Four days later, India stopped all international flights, and then, on March 25, imposed a national lockdown that is now scheduled to continue till May 17.”
The story gets even better as, “What complicated things for Ziebat is that he has a criminal record in his home country, which has refused to take custody of him because he is at a foreign location.”
Ever the record keeper, The Hindu’s lead is ‘India reports 128 more deaths, 3,277 fresh cases in 24 hours’. The paper says, “India reported 3,277 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and an additional 128 deaths, taking the total tally to 62,939 and 2,109 deaths on Sunday. During this period, 1,511 patients were discharged after treatment, which takes the total recovery rate to 30.76%, according to the data released by the Union Health Ministry.”
Hindu doesn’t think the restarting of trains is all that important, though, and pushes it to the second half of the front page.
The paper is also somewhat critical of Arvind Kejriwal as is clear in the headline: ‘Four more deaths in Delhi, CM says toll ‘very less’;. It says, “Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the number of deaths was ‘very less’ and of the 6,923 cases, only 1,476 were in hospitals. ‘Of these 1,476 cases, 91 are in ICU, 27 are on ventilator; around 75% are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms,’ he added.”
The Tribune has a detailed Page 1 report on the India-China border clash.
Its second lead, “India, China skirmishes…’ says that troops of “nuclear-armed India and China” clashed along the “un-demarcated and disputed frontier” between the two countries. The incident reportedly “erupted” at a place called ‘Finger 5’ in eastern Ladakh “where pitched battles were fought during the 1962 war”, it adds.
With one week left of the nationwide lockdown, the Centre has identified 15 Covid-hit districts “for top focus”, reports the daily. In ‘Focus on 15 districts…’, it notes that in these 15 districts — Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Pune, Indore, Thane, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Surat, Kolkata, Agra, Hyderabad and Bhopal — containment measures, contact tracing and testing will be ramped up since there is no sign of new cases abating.
Tribune is unapologetically boastful that it is the top English newspaper in North India, in a report smack-dab in the middle of its front page (The Tribune says it is ‘No.1 in North India, gains more readers’)
Mint observes cognitive dissonance between stock markets and the economy. In “Post gains, brace for equity pain”, it notes: “April was the best performing month in 11 years for Indian stocks, underscoring the growing disconnect between the stock markets and the real economy battered by the novel coronavirus pandemic”.
In other grim news, the major drop in consumption amid the lockdown is hurting “the country’s second-largest credit card company.” In the March quarter, SBI Cards and Payment Services Ltd added 851,000 new accounts — “a 10.9% decline from the previous year”.
The daily’s anchor story, ‘Filmmakers give theatres a miss’, notes a new trend in the film industry as filmmakers flock to video-streaming platforms for the release of their films. Shoojit Sircar’s Gulabo Sitabo just gave itself over to Amazon Prime Video while “Akshay Kumar-starrer Laxmmi Bomb” is likely to stream on Disney+Hotstar, it reports
The Economic Times leads with some hopeful news. In’“Second Stimulus could be Unveiled This Week’”, it says announcements are expected to come in a “staggered manner” and “a credit guarantee scheme to ease fund flows to small businesses and cash support for migrant workers” is in the works too
In other good news, Apple is eyeing India for manufacturing of iPhones. In ‘Apple may Take a Bigger Bite of India’s Manufacturing Pie’, the paper notes that the iPhone maker is considering the “possibility of shifting nearly a fifth of its production capacity from China to India”. According to experts, this means Apple could become India’s “largest exporter”.
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