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Coronavirus Lockdown: Will India Suffer From Supply Chaos And Fear Of Food Shortage?

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COVID-19 Lockdown: Will India Suffer From Supply Chaos And Fear Of Food Shortage?

Asia’s biggest market went silent on March 30. The Lasangaon market in the western Indian state of Maharashtra is usually buzzing with farmers and traders. However, it is mostly migrant workers who are unloading, loading and grading onions – an indispensable part of the menu of millions of Indian’s – are missing.

The market, which accounts for a third of India‘s onion produce, managed to topple for nearly a week after India imposed a rigid 21-day lockdown, and all mode of transportation to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The lockdown led to migrant workers travelling back to their village. However, farmers are able to reap the crops as the government have allowed essentials goods and services to operate. A few workers stayed back to keep the Lasangaon market running.

However, a report about a person tested positive for COVID-19 caused a halt of the market. Around 450 tonnes of onions were supposed to be transported all over India and to Mumbai port for export.

A similar situation was found in Bihar where workers are refusing to come to work to harvests. There is a lot of stigma and misinformation regarding the virus in villages where they have stopped stepping out of the houses entirely. Myths such as drinking cow urine or tea can prevent the infection is what people believe.

More than half of India’s workforce is engaged in farming, while agriculture contributes around 16 per cent to the country’s GDP. India is one of the world’s largest producers of crops like rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton, vegetables and milk. Now that stopping farm activity will not only end up harming farmers and labourers but also affect food security in the nation. The lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Effect of lockdown on farmers

India’s peak farm activity happens between April and June. This is when the winter crop – wheat, rice and pulses along with various others – is harvested and sold. Moreover, it is also when farmers begin seeding the summer rain-fed crop, including paddy, pulses, cotton and sugarcane. The lockdown has hit both the season severely.

Condition of farmers before lockdown

Even before the outbreak, Indian farmers were struggling due to low crop prices that led to a massive slowdown of rural consumption. Even in regular times, farming had become not feasible, because of which the younger generation are hesitant to choose this occupation.

The farmer’s suicide rate in India had ranged between 1.4 and 1.8 per 100,000 total population, over ten years through 2005. However, the figures in 2017 and 2018 showed an average of more than ten suicides daily. Most of the suicides have been linked to poverty, debt, a sharp rise in costs and crop failures due to pest attacks or seasonal fluctuations.

Steps taken by the government to aid farmers

Post 36 hours of the announcement of lockdown, the government had declared a relief package of Rs 1.7 lakh crores aimed at providing a safety net for those hit hardest by COVID-19. However, critics have stated that the amount is inadequate.

State governments are striving to mop up funds to procure crops. Tamil Nadu in the south is planning to loan tractors to farmers, although it’s unclear whether they will be able to operate them. It is also not clear how supply chains will not be disrupted without opening up some public transport.

How will these migrant workers be persuaded to return to the farms? How quickly will nervous buyers of the crops begin to procure at pre-lockdown levels? If consumption reduces, there will be a rise in food prices in the market, and a further fall in income for farmers.

However, there is a silver lining amidst all this chaos. For instance, there are attempts to move things on the ground level.

India has over 7,500 big wholesale farm markets and another 25,000 small weekly markets. Some of these markets have reopened, and they are trying to figure out ways to operate by following social distancing.

Additionally, the winter crop has been plentiful, with a robust food stockpile – around 60 million tonnes of food grains – and the world’s largest state-run food distribution programme.

Chance of facing a food shortage is unlikely. Nonetheless, the challenges are in supporting farmers, sharecroppers and labourers until things return to normal. Transportation of the food from farm to markets is another issue; getting food to the poor and securing the harvest for the next season, is also to be looked upon

Despite all these setbacks, farmers are in anticipation of a horizon amid the chaos.

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ओमिक्रॉन वैरिएंट के चलते भारत में स्थगित हुई अंतरराष्ट्रीय हवाई यात्रा

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Omicron | News Aur Chai | International Flight Ban

कोरोना वायरस के ओमिक्रॉन वैरिएंट के कारण भारत में पूर्व निर्धारित अंतरराष्ट्रीय विमान सेवाएं रोक दी गई हैं। सरकार की तरफ से पहले यह फैसला किया गया था कि 15 दिसंबर से अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानों को शुरू किया जाएगा। लेकिन ओमिक्रोन के खतरे को मद्दे नज़र रखते हुए अब इस फैसले को टाल दिया गया है। यानी अब भारत में 15 दिसंबर से अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानें शुरू नहीं हो पाएंगी। डायरेक्टोरेट जनरल ऑफ सिविल एविएशन की तरफ से कहा गया है कि वो अपने पूर्व के फैसले पर पुनर्विचार करेगें।

 प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी ने 27 नवंबर को ओमिक्रॉन को लेकर बैठक की थी और इसी दौरान 15 दिसंबर से अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानें शुरू करने के फैसले पर पुनर्विचार करने को कहा गया था। प्रधानमंत्री ने विदेश से आने वाले लोगों की सख्त निगरानी करने की बात भी कही थी। ओमिक्रॉन के चलते हाल ही में सिक्किम ने विदेशी यात्रियों के आने-जाने पर रोक लगा दी है।

पिछले वर्ष कोरोना के चलते एहतियातन देश में नियमित अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानें रद्द कर दी गई थी। हालांकि कुछ समय बाद कई देशों के साथ सीमित हवाई सेवा शुरू कर दी गई थी। ऐसा माना जा रहा था की इस बार क्रिसमस और नए साल की छुट्टियों के मौके पर अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानें फिर से शुरू कर दी जाएंगी लेकीन, दक्षिण अफ्रीका में पाए गए ओमिक्रॉन वैरिएंट के कारण अभी इस पर ब्रेक लगता दिख रहा है।

कई देशों में इस खतरनाक वैरिएंट को लेकर गाइडलाइंस जारी कर दी गई हैं, और इससे बचने के लिए अनेकों ऐ‍हतियात बरते जा रहे है। WHO ने इसे ‘वैरिएंट ऑफ कंसर्न’, यानि चिंताजनक घोषित किया है।

जनरल वीके सिंह ने सोमवार को कहा था कि “अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानों को फिर से शुरू करने के लिए हम पर जनता का जबरदस्त दबाव है”। हम सभी नियमों का पालन कर रहे हैं और सावधानी बरत रहे हैं। बाहर से आने वाले हर व्यक्ति का परीक्षण और जांच हवाई अड्डे पर किया जा रहा है। परिणामों को देखने के बाद ही, उन्हें अनुमति दी जा रही है।

कोरोना वायरस के नए वैरिएंट ओमिक्रॉन के खतरे को देखते हुए केंद्रीय स्वास्थ्य मंत्रालय ने भारत आने वाले अंतरराष्ट्रीय यात्रियों के लिए संशोधित दिशानिर्देश जारी किए हैं। इन दिशानिर्देशों के तहत अब यात्रियों को 14 दिन की यात्रा जानकारी और कोरोना वायरस की निगेटिव आरटी-पीसीआर जांच रिपोर्ट एयर सुविधा पोर्टल पर अपलोड करना अनिवार्य होगा। स्वास्थ्य मंत्रालय के दिशानिर्देशों के अनुसार खतरे की श्रेणी में आने वाले देशों के यात्रियों को भारत पहुंचने पर कोरोना जांच करवानी होगी और जांच का परिणाम आने तक एयरपोर्ट पर ही इंतजार करना होगा। अगर उनकी जांच निगेटिव आती है तो उन्हें सात दिन तक होम क्वारंटीन में रहना होगा और आठवें दिन फिर जांच की जाएगी। इस बार भी निगेटिव आने पर उन्हें अगले सात दिन के लिए खुद अपने स्वास्थ्य पर नजर रखने को कहा जाएगा।

कोरोना वायरस का नया वैरियंट ओमीक्रोन भारत में भी दस्तक दे चुका है। साथ ही साथ ऑस्ट्रेलिया, ऑस्ट्रिया, बेल्जियम, बोत्सवाना, ब्राजील, कनाडा, चेक गणराज्य, डेनमार्क, फ्रांस, जर्मनी, घाना, हांगकांग, आयरलैंड, इजराइल, इटली, जापान, मोजाम्बिक, नीदरलैंड, नाइजीरिया, नॉर्वे, पुर्तगाल, रीयूनियन द्वीपसमूह, सऊदी अरब, दक्षिण अफ्रीका, दक्षिण कोरिया, स्पेन, स्वीडन, स्विटजरलैंड, यूएई, ब्रिटेन और अमेरिका भी ओमीक्रोन के गिरफ्त में आ चुके हैं।

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Hypocrisy of Federalism: Reply on Oxygen Related Deaths

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Death and Oxygen COVID II News Aur Chai

On Tuesday, the Union Health Ministry reported to the Parliament that no deaths were recorded due to a lack of oxygen across the country during the second wave of the pandemic.

The officials and ministers in eight states also denied fatalities due to the lack of oxygen. Whereas reports indicate that approximately 320 patients may have died in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic due to oxygen shortage.

The report by the Union Health Ministry to the Parliament has triggered massive criticism across the country. It has also prompted some significant accusations against the Bhartiya Janata Party [BJP].

The denial of the officials and ministers of the eight states regarding the same has also triggered a major rebuttal from within their parties, accusing them of aiding the Centre in hiding oxygen-related deaths.

According to a volunteer-driven data collation effort, DataMeet, Media from across 20 states report that there were approximately 619 deaths recorded due to lack of oxygen. However, later the cause of deaths was disputed with other factors that attributed to the fatalities.

MAHARASHTRA 

The state health minister of Maharashtra, Rajesh Tope also sided with the Centre’s stand of no-oxygen-related deaths.

“As far as Maharashtra is concerned, we have never said that any death due to oxygen shortage,” he said to a local TV channel on Wednesday.

However, in April and May, the shortage of oxygen supply in the state had prompted the Chief Minister, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, to request the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to inspect the proposal of pressing the Indian Air Force to arrange additional oxygen supplies for the state.

HARYANA 

A medical board in Hisar- a region in Haryana, had openly established oxygen shortage as a cause of deaths in the region.

Additionally, after an inquiry, 22 patients succumbed to Covid due to the lack of oxygen in Haryana.

MADHYA PRADESH 

According to the reports of DataMeet, figures indicated that approximately 68 deaths took place across the state of Madhya Pradesh due to lack of oxygen.

However, Vishwas Sarang, the medical education Minister, stated, “We received at least 10-12 complaints related to deaths due to oxygen supply disruption. Medical experts found the cause of death was other medical complications, not hypoxia,”

GOA 

In Goa, between May 10- May 14, approximately 83 patients succumbed to death.

But according to Dr Shivanand Bandekar, the Dean of Goa Medical College and Hospital stated, “We can’t put this as a direct answer. People who come to GMC, they are all referred because we are a tertiary (care) center where criticality is high and most of the patients die because of Covid pneumonia where oxygen is a part of the treatment. So we cannot directly say this (disruption in the oxygen supply) is the reason why they have died,”

However, during the hearing at Goa at the time of these deaths, the state government had admitted that “some of the casualties may have taken place” due to supply disruption.

Within the same hearing, the Bombay High Court had said, “We have long passed the stage of determining whether patients are suffering from the lack of oxygen or not. The material placed before us establishes that patients are indeed suffering and even in some cases succumbing for want of the supply of oxygen, in the State of Goa.”

Officials and ministers of several states like West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh took a similar stand while siding with the Centre on their “no deaths due to Oxygen shortage” statement.

Even though various reports and data reflect a significant number of deaths due to a shortage of oxygen supply within different states, the Center and the state officials have refused to acknowledge them and have denied that these fatalities are attributed to the lack of oxygen supply.

Health Activist Amulya Nidhi from Madhya Pradesh, claims that volunteer groups from across the country have clear case studies and data that report deaths of patients across various states due to a lack of oxygen supply. “If they are so sure about it, they should allow an independent team of experts to probe the matter,” he said.

 

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Why Are people Not Taking Covid Vaccine?

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COVID Vaccine II News Aur Chai

Since the beginning of the Pandemic in 2020, all people have wanted is to find a way back to normal. A way from virtual lives to real, social lives. Being trapped at home with limited movement has been fun for no one. And yet, when a solution is finally being offered, people are hesitant to embrace it. Vaccines are the solution to once and for all immunise us against this virus, but many people fail to embrace the cure. Even though the vaccination reduces risks in exposure to the mutating variants of the Novel Coronavirus, there are people reluctant to take the possibly life-saving shot.

A vaccine race began throughout the world to curb the spread of Covid, India being one of the leaders. Immunisation is proven to be the most successful means to prevent diseases. Still, there is always hesitance that follows with the process. Many reasons cause vaccine hesitancy, but three of the main reasons are inadequate knowledge and fear of side effects, the speed of vaccine development, and rumours and myths.

The biggest fear that prevents people from taking the vaccine is a fear of side effects caused by inadequate knowledge. Many of us might show reluctance in taking the vaccine, fearing the severity of side effects. This tends to happen because most people do not understand how a vaccine works and nudges our bodies to create antibodies in our system to immunise us to the virus.

Many people reason that the side effects make them sick when they have been in perfect health for so long. They believe that it is the vaccine that makes them sick. This cannot be further from the truth. The public needs to be made aware of the workings of the vaccine to promote the vaccination drive around the world.

The other cause for hesitancy is the speed at which the vaccines have been developed. Many people believe that simply because the development speed of Covid immunising shots was quicker as compared to past viruses, corners have been cut in the process. It is essential to know that this is not true as all the procedures have been followed during the development of vaccines. None of them have been permitted for distribution without clinical trials and the approval of the FDA.

The last reason is that of rumours and myths. The rural population, a key demographic in our country, is reluctant to take the vaccine due to a lack of information provided to them. The inadequacy makes them quick to believe in rumours and myths surrounding immunisation, consequently making them reluctant to participate in the process. Reports of death post the vaccine have fanned the rumour mills in rural areas regarding the fatality of the vaccine.

Hesitancy in vaccination can also be seen in another key demographic, women. The proof for this in India is the disparity in men’s vaccination ratios which are starkly contrasting. Rumours and myths surrounding vaccines have led the population to believe that taking the jab affects fertility in women. It is essential to know that vaccinations do not cause infertility in men or women. It is this kind of rumour-mongering that causes fear in people.

Misleading tweets by prominent figures also cause vaccine hesitancy. One prime example is senior advocate Prashant Bushan, whose tweets about the efficacy and safety of covid vaccines were tagged as “misleading” by Twitter.

Tweet by Prashant Bhushan

Misinformation being spread by prominent people is another cause of reluctance in people not taking the vaccine, which must be stopped to defeat the Pandemic.

Many people who have already suffered from Coronavirus also believe that they do not need the vaccine as they are already immune to the disease. This is a falsehood that needs to be cleared as a vaccine prolongs the effectiveness of the immunisation, keeping the person safe for a more extended period.

Vaccines are preventative medicines that allow us to acquire immunity against the virus, preparing our bodies to protect us in case of exposure to the disease. While vaccination may not provide complete safety, it reduces the severity of the infection and the chances of death.

With newer and stronger variants emerging as mutations of the Coronavirus, all of us must be fully vaccinated. It is the only way to ensure the safety of ourselves and those around us. It is also the only way to make a return slowly but surely to what we knew as “normal” and stop living life as we have known for the past one and a half years.

 

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