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Govt to use Rs 3,100 cr from PM-CARES for ventilators, migrants” welfare

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Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi, May 13 : The Centre allocated Rs 3,100 crore from the PM CARES (Prime Minister”s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations) Fund on Wednesday evening to fight against COVID-19.

The bulk of it, Rs 2,000 crore, will be spent to buy ventilators, while a significant Rs 1,000 crore is being earmarked for the migrant labourers. As much as Rs 100 crore is kept for supporting vaccine development.

To ramp up the health infrastructure, as much as 50,000 ”Made in India” ventilators will be purchased from PM CARES Fund at a cost of about Rs 2,000 crore. These ventilators will be provided to government-run COVID hospitals in all states and Union Territories for better treatment of critical COVID-19 cases.

Also to address one of the most pressing humanitarian crisis of our time, a lump-sum assistance of total Rs 1,000 crore from the Fund is earmarked for the welfare of the migrant labourers. The money will be given to different states and UTs. The money is meant to strengthen districts” efforts in providing accommodation facilities, making food arrangements, providing medical treatment and making transportation arrangements of the migrants.

But which state will get how much? “State/UT-wise funds will be released on the weightage of (a) population of the state/UT as per 2011 Census — 50% weightage (b) Number of positive COVID-19 cases as on date — 40% weightage and (c) equal share (10% weightage) for all states/UTs to ensure basic minimum sum for all states.

“The fund will be released to the District Collector/District Magistrate/Municipal Commissioner through the State Disaster Relief Commissioner of the States/UTs concerned,” said a government statement.

Meanwhile, Rs 100 crore is kept for developing a vaccine for COVID-19. Indian academia, start-ups and industry have come together in cutting-edge vaccine design and development an the money is meant to support their research and development. However, it will be utilized under the supervision of the Principal Scientific Advisor.

The PM-CARES was formed on March 27 this year, three days into the lockdown, and is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Other ex-officio members of the trust are Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

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Modi Government Sometimes Blames God, Sometimes People, But Not Its ‘Misrule’: Rahul Gandhi

“The blind arrogance of the Modi government sometimes blames god, sometimes people for the plight of the country, but not its own misrule and wrong policies.”

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday attacked the Centre over Union Minister Harsh Vardhan’s remarks that people’s “irresponsible behaviour” has resulted in a surge in Covid-19 spread, saying the Modi government’s “blind arrogance” sometimes blames god, sometimes people, but not its own “misrule”.

Gandhi’s attack on the government came a day after Health Minister Vardhan, while replying to a special discussion on the coronavirus pandemic in Lok Sabha, said that there is a surge in the spread of Covid-19 in the country due to societal “irresponsible behaviour”.

Tagging a media report on Vardhan’s remarks, Gandhi tweeted, “The blind arrogance of the Modi government sometimes blames god, sometimes people for the plight of the country, but not its own misrule and wrong policies.”

“How many more ‘Act Of Modi’ will the country bear?” he said in the tweet in Hindi.

Gandhi has been critical of the government over the handling of the Covid-19 crisis and accused it of failing to tackle the situation. The government has dismissed all such claims in the past.

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Government failed to curb COVID-19: Shashi Tharoor

He highlights the failure of the government to curb COVID-19, adding that government’s ₹20,000 crore package inspired little confidence.

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Shashi Tharoor in Lok Sabha
Senior Congress Leader and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor (File Picture)

New Delhi: As Lok Sabha discusses COVID-19 situation, Shashi Tharoor shares WHO data to state that India has the highest number of daily Infections and deaths in the world.

Government did not listen to Rahul Gandhi’s warning. Instead it was more interested in toppling the government in Madhya Pradesh.

He highlights the failure of the government to curb COVID-19, adding that government’s ₹20,000 crore package inspired little confidence.

He states that there was minimal effort by government to reach out and consult other stakeholders, particularly state governments in opposition.

The Opposition MP also spoke about the danger faced by students while giving exams and thanked the healthcare workers for their services.

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Covid-19 joblessness pushing youths to extremist groups in Northeast

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

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Unemployment Rate in India

India’s Covid-19 pandemic lockdown is now giving headaches to the national security agencies. Youth, left jobless during the pandemic, are reported to be joining the banned rebel groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and other such, in droves.

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

The emerging scenario is threatening to upset the delicate balance achieved through years of hard work by the Indian security and intelligence officers, according to senior executives in the national security establishment, who requested to stay unnamed, citing government service rules.

The Arakan Army (AA) — which seeks an independent homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state — has received the fresh cache of Chinese weapons and is known to be one of the key suppliers of arms and ammunition to the rebel groups in Northeast India.

In addition, the AA opposes India’s Kaladan Multi Modal Project, which provides states like Mizoram — a landlocked province — an outlet to the sea through the Sittwe port in Myanmar, officials said. Interestingly the AA has not opposed the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Security agencies have told the government that insurgent groups active along the Indo-Myanmar border find easy recruits among youth left unemployed by Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

“The successful induction of the Chinese-made weapons by the AA will have an impact on the security situation in India’s Northeastern states, as much of these weapons are finding their way to some of the dormant militant groups of the Northeast,” the official said.

“The new weapons provide firepower to the northeastern groups whose ranks are increasing as youth left jobless by the pandemic are signing for militant groups.”

Strengthened by new recruits and rearmed, the Khaplang faction National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) — a banned militant group of Northeast based out of Myanmar — is gathering along the Indo-Myanmar Border in areas such as Mon to plan and execute attacks against the Indian security forces.

In 2016, the NSCN (K) killed 18 soldiers of the Indian Army, forcing India to launch cross border strikes on the militant hideouts taking refuge in Myanmar.

Worryingly, for India, peace talks with the Naga rebel groups have failed despite efforts of the Narendra Modi government.

Agencies have warned that groups like the People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK) had recruited 15 fresh cadres in Assam. “There was recruitment of 10-15 cadres by the Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger in the outfit,” the source said.

Further, United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) had recruited 15-20 youths in the outfit from Meghalaya.

In Tripura, intelligence input indicates that extremist Parimal Debbrama of National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) is trying to revive his group and some newly recruited members of the outfit had completed their basic training in a hideout of Khagrachari District of Bangladesh.

“These cadres are planning to infiltrate into India for operations,” the source further added.

Intelligence agencies also stated that the India-Myanmar border remained susceptible to threat due to the presence of insurgent groups.

“Many insurgents groups are camping in Myanmar and trying to infiltrate through Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Mon District of Nagaland and Charaideo district of Assam,” the source said.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])

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COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.