Thursday, 20 January, 2022
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On May Day, Minister Meghwal & D Raja remember workers, Pratibha Singh on Covid patents

Today’s political, economic & strategic punditry from Sun Weidong, Aakar Patel and more.

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Labour’s leader 

Arjun Ram Meghwal | Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

The Indian Express

On this May Day, Meghwal writes that B.R. Amedkar was a beacon for workers and that he forcefully pleaded for decent working conditions, living wages and freedom for peasants from the clutches of landlords. The union minister argues that the labour fraternity deserves a salute in the “extraordinary circumstances brought on by the Covid pandemic”. Meghwal writes that as one recalls the contribution of labourers in nation-building, one must remember the contributions of Ambedkar, with an, “an ever-increasing spirit of Shramev Jayate.”

Renew the pledge

D. Raja | General secretary, Communist Party of India

The Indian Express

Raja writes that the Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating the lives of the people due to poverty, hunger, and unemployment. Raja says the poor working class are bearing the burden of the lockdown. Raja cites the International Labour Organisation (ILO) report that says that 40 crore workers in India are at the risk of “falling deeper into poverty.” He states that the trade unions were on the frontline in India’s struggle for independence and argues we ought to observe this May Day, by helping the needy and the vulnerable.

Needed: a pandemic patent pool

Pratibha M. Singh | Judge of the Delhi High Court and was a member of the IP think tank that drafted India’s Intellectual Property Rights policy

The Hindu

Singh writes that this year’s World Intellectual Property Day wasn’t a day for celebration but an opportunity to reflect on the roles of “intellectual property (IP) in the ongoing health crisis and dedicate IP to finding a solution”. Singh says that while vaccines or medicines are the only permanent solutions to bring things back to normal, even after the drugs are approved, it will still be impossible for it to be made instantly available across the world. She explains that continuous dialogues need to take place between innovators, manufacturers and supply chains in order to make the product available for the world.

Viruses don’t respect borders. Come together

Sun Weidong | Chinese Ambassador to India

Hindustan Times

As the world fights against an invisible enemy that knows no borders and has claimed lives across the globe, Weidong argues that this is no time for finger-pointing or scapegoating but instead for countries to come together as “solidarity and cooperation [are] the most powerful weapons against the disease”. He lists out all that China has done since the outbreak was first recorded there, including a “centralised and efficient comment system and thorough lockdown measures” within its borders and helping out the UN and WHO in the international community. He concludes by stating, “China is willing to work together with India to win this battle, safeguard global and regional public health security, and contribute to greater care for our common homeland.”

Faith and freedom

Aakar Patel | Heads Amnesty India

Business Standard

Addressing India’s history of religious intolerance that began in 2004 when it appeared on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom after then Prime Minister Vajpayee failed to condemn the 2002 Godhra riots, Appearing in the list for 2020 as well, with five dozen mentions, he says that with CAA, Article 370 and more, India has grown intolerant. Patel notes that if changes aren’t made soon enough, India will most likely figure in next year’s list as well which “will give leverage to the activists and Indian civil society over a government that has thus far been dismissive and contemptuous of them and their work.”

COVID-19 lockdown: Urgent need to decongest megacities

Amaresh Dubey | Professor, JNU

Shivakar Tiwari | PhD scholar, JNU

Financial Express

The authors write that with economic activities coming to a halt in the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation of the entire community of workers remains unprecedented. In metro cities, the situation is alarming as migrants engaged in the informal sector have undergone loss of livelihood and are living with their families in cramped spaces. Apart from the worry of food, unhygienic conditions like sharing toilets, fetching water from the same source, result in vulnerability to ailments.

They argue that slums must be decongested by arranging travel of migrants to their homes without losing time.

Today’s Editorials

The Indian Express: The newspaper welcomes the Union Home Ministry’s order allowing inter-state travel to the migrant workers although this could pose new challenges, writes Express. However, that is a responsibility for the respective governments to address — not a burden to be shouldered by the returning workers alone, the daily comments.

Hindustan Times: On actor Rishi Kapoor’s death, HT states that even though he belonged to a film family, he stood apart. It is truly a testament to his acting prowess that Kapoor so quickly outgrew his identity as the Kapoor grandson. The actor has left behind an incredible body of work spanning close to five decades and will always stand alone, writes HT.

With inputs from Unnati Sharma

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