A man cross an empty highway road on February 3 in Wuhan, Hubei province
Representational image of Wuhan, Hubei province | Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Image
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Impasse caused by pandemic offers room to rethink board exams, find alternatives

Disha Nawani | Professor & dean, School of Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

The Indian Express 

Nawani writes that it took a Covid-19 pandemic to disrupt the class 10 and 12 board examinations — “an indispensable annual ritual of the Indian school system.” Nawani says board exams are a part of the  “painful collective memory” for not just the school going children but also for their parents and teachers. It is associated with fear and anxiety as performance is linked to rewards and penalty, and that the stakes are high with no second chances. We need to “examine and understand the resilience of the board exams” and diminish the fears and anxieties of students.

Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification, Prasoon Joshi | Ravi Choudhary | PTI

The real common man

Prasoon Joshi | Writer, poet & chairman, CBFC

The Indian Express

Joshi writes that the plight of domestic help. Joshi talks about the class differences, and says that we are still stuck in the middle where neither do we share an emotional bond with our househelps nor do we have a professional approach to their services. He argues that we need to work out a system that is fair and respectable, starting with the monthly salary that is more than the household’s dining-out expenses, paying premiums for accident insurance, medical check-up, loan and an annual holiday.

MPLADS, its suspension, and why it must go

Jagdeep S. Chhokar | Former Professor, Dean & Director In-charge of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

The Hindu

Chhokar argues that even though the decision of the government to suspend the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is a good first step, it must be completely abolished. Chhokar gives five reasons. The scheme gave an executive function to legislators, its implementation was faulty, there are wide variations in utilisation with some MPs not utilizing it at all.

Covid-19: A call to save the planet

Valmik Thapar | Conservationist

Hindustan Times

Thapar squarely blames China for its irresponsibility towards nature. Pointing out its role in the tiger crisis that enveloped India in the 90s and a similar decline in Africa’s wildlife, Thapar notes that China has hardly ever been concerned by these factors as a global economic power. This disdain and disrespect towards nature is at the bottom of the current Covid crisis. Thapar notes that India too does not pay enough attention to its nature and wildlife, the reason why “India is in dire straits, the economy a mess and life disrupted is because of how we deal with the natural world and its myriad species.”

The pandemic isn’t changing everything …. It is just speeding up trends that were already underway

Ruchir Sharma | Global investor and author

The Times of India 

Sharma argues that the coronavirus has accelerated an already existing trend of the world turning inwards “largely in reaction to the global financial crisis of 2008”. The spirit of globalisation was fading before the pandemic and countries and its nationalists wanted nothing more than what has unfolded now. Supply lines are being rethought to ensure everything stays within borders, immigration laws are being revisited and there is the rise of a virtual economy. Sharma says, “Trends that might have taken five or ten years to play out have unfolded in as many weeks, and all point in the same direction.”

India has a jobs bloodbath as unemployment rate shoots up to 27.1% 

Mahesh Vyas | Managing director & CEO, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy P Ltd

Business Standard

Vyas considers what the lockdown has done to employment rates in India. On 3 May, when the extended lockdown was scheduled to end, the unemployment rate stood at 27.1 percent, the highest it has ever been. As jobs in sectors such as small traders and wage labourers continue to drop, salaried employees too face an uncertain future. While a lockdown like this hurts the daily wagers the most, an extension of it does not spare even large entrepreneurs. With an increase in agriculture labour, Vyas notes, “When jobs evaporate in other sectors, people go back to farms which seem to have an infinite capacity to absorb labour; but that is mostly disguised unemployment.”

Covid-19 testing rates do not match mortality rates

K Srinath Reddy and Surabhi Pandey | Authors are with the Public Health Foundation of India

Financial Express

Reddy and Pandey write that testing rates and mortality rates in any region have no relationship and there is no correlation to suggest that high testing rates are associated with lower mortality. The writers argue that testing is only one of the components of public health response needed to fight Covid-19.  Others are contact tracing, physical distancing, masks and hand hygiene — the last three remain the most “effective shield against virus dissemination” as the lockdown gets over, given the challenges of asymptomatic infected persons and false test results.

The writers state that to project testing “as the acid test of a health system’s response is misleading” if the goal is to reduce the number of deaths.

Today’s Editorials

The Times of India: The Handwara encounter in Kashmir shows that Pakistan’s terror factories continue to operate despite the Covid-19 pandemic, comments TOI. It’s likely that Pakistan is trying to take advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak when India is trying to control the pandemic.

The Hindu: The daily comments that the central government’s Aarogya Setu app falls short of established legal standards for the protection of privacy. The government has no power to make the app’s use compulsory without legislative authorisation, it says. Even though the government is doing everything possible to keep the spread of the virus under control, it would be well-advised to heed privacy concerns raised by the Opposition that the app may become a permanent mass surveillance instrument.

With inputs from Unnati Sharma

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