Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang

UP: Insufficient nutrition packages cause rift between anganwadis and community

Union of Anganwadi workers urges the state government to supply adequate nutrition and resolve the conflict

02 Mar 2022

Rural health
Representation Image


Uttar Pradesh Anganwadi Employees Union demanded timely and appropriate delivery of supplementary nutrition to anganwadi centres as per Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) scheme. The demand was reiterated following a conflict between workers and the people of Bulandshahr on February 28, 2022.

On Monday, anganwadi workers protested outside the district administration’s office to demand an FIR and arrest of the people who attacked employees distributing food in Kucheja village. Villagers tried to snatch the meagre rations, enraged by the little supply available. They accused the workers of hoarding ration meant for beneficiaries.

But the truth according to State President Veena Gupta is that many anganwadi centres received the supplementary ration supply after three months. She told SabrangIndia that the growing discontent among the people has begun ruining the relationship between anganwadi workers and society, as such incidents have increased across the state. “Anganwadi workers have to face the wrath of the local community due to lack of nutrition. The incidents of snatching by beneficiaries are becoming common due to low nutrition in many places in India,” said Gupta.

Under the ICDS scheme, beneficiaries, i.e., children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers receive a supplementary nutrition package as per Supreme Court orders. However, Gupta said that centres have not been receiving appropriate nutrition packages during the tenure of the Yogi Adityanath-led government. “We had to write to human rights authorities to finally avail half a kilogram of rice. Even that is very little,” she said.

Meanwhile, people are enraged that only 30 to 40 percent of the total beneficiaries receive nutrition supplies at the Anganwadi centres. As such, the union demanded that nutrition should be provided based on the number of beneficiaries.

Every district centre must also get a board to display the ration available for the determined number of beneficiaries on that day. Similarly, the government should issue a press release when it sends the ration to publicly announce how many beneficiaries will receive nutrition on that day.

Gupta said that conflicts will escalate if this is not done and the situation may go astray. For example, the angered people in Bulandhahr belonged to the Muslim community. Shortly afterwards, the incident was mistakenly dubbed as a Hindu-Muslim conflict. In reality parents were worried about feeding their children and other family dependents during an economic crisis arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Already, anganwadi workers, mid-day meal workers and ASHAs have reiterated time and again about insufficient help from the government in the form of honorariums, health-related gear and scheme-related ration. The union strongly condemned the attack on the anganwadi workers and urged employees to exercise restraint and beware of communal elements.

Related:

UP: No payment for MDM cooks on election duty?

UP: Anganwadi workers demand payment for election duties

All-India Anganwadi worker and helper strike on February 1

Midday Meal cooks struggling to put food on their own tables in UP

UP: Insufficient nutrition packages cause rift between anganwadis and community

Union of Anganwadi workers urges the state government to supply adequate nutrition and resolve the conflict

Rural health
Representation Image


Uttar Pradesh Anganwadi Employees Union demanded timely and appropriate delivery of supplementary nutrition to anganwadi centres as per Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) scheme. The demand was reiterated following a conflict between workers and the people of Bulandshahr on February 28, 2022.

On Monday, anganwadi workers protested outside the district administration’s office to demand an FIR and arrest of the people who attacked employees distributing food in Kucheja village. Villagers tried to snatch the meagre rations, enraged by the little supply available. They accused the workers of hoarding ration meant for beneficiaries.

But the truth according to State President Veena Gupta is that many anganwadi centres received the supplementary ration supply after three months. She told SabrangIndia that the growing discontent among the people has begun ruining the relationship between anganwadi workers and society, as such incidents have increased across the state. “Anganwadi workers have to face the wrath of the local community due to lack of nutrition. The incidents of snatching by beneficiaries are becoming common due to low nutrition in many places in India,” said Gupta.

Under the ICDS scheme, beneficiaries, i.e., children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers receive a supplementary nutrition package as per Supreme Court orders. However, Gupta said that centres have not been receiving appropriate nutrition packages during the tenure of the Yogi Adityanath-led government. “We had to write to human rights authorities to finally avail half a kilogram of rice. Even that is very little,” she said.

Meanwhile, people are enraged that only 30 to 40 percent of the total beneficiaries receive nutrition supplies at the Anganwadi centres. As such, the union demanded that nutrition should be provided based on the number of beneficiaries.

Every district centre must also get a board to display the ration available for the determined number of beneficiaries on that day. Similarly, the government should issue a press release when it sends the ration to publicly announce how many beneficiaries will receive nutrition on that day.

Gupta said that conflicts will escalate if this is not done and the situation may go astray. For example, the angered people in Bulandhahr belonged to the Muslim community. Shortly afterwards, the incident was mistakenly dubbed as a Hindu-Muslim conflict. In reality parents were worried about feeding their children and other family dependents during an economic crisis arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Already, anganwadi workers, mid-day meal workers and ASHAs have reiterated time and again about insufficient help from the government in the form of honorariums, health-related gear and scheme-related ration. The union strongly condemned the attack on the anganwadi workers and urged employees to exercise restraint and beware of communal elements.

Related:

UP: No payment for MDM cooks on election duty?

UP: Anganwadi workers demand payment for election duties

All-India Anganwadi worker and helper strike on February 1

Midday Meal cooks struggling to put food on their own tables in UP

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Why does the Hippocratic oath need to be replaced with Charak Shapath?

The Charak Shapath is said to contain several Hindu elements, allegedly including the requirements to "lead the life of a celibate and eat no meat"

12 Feb 2022

Hippocratic Oath
Image Courtesy:onmanorama.com

The Hippocratic oath, believed to have been written by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, is taken by newly minted doctors as part of their graduation ceremony as a guide to conduct medical practice as they begin their careers. There is the traditional version, and a modern version, both roughly mean that the doctor swears to follow a scientific ethical code and will treat patients to the best of their ability. It also states that a patient's privacy will be respected, and the larger meaning of both ancient and modern versions are words that mean that the doctor will treat everyone with equal care. 

However, there are sections among medical authorities who seem to think that the Hippocratic oath is perhaps not “Indian encough”. According to news reports, the National Medical Commission (NMC), country’s apex medical education regulator, is now discussing that the Hippocratic oath be replaced with ‘Charak shapath’. Social media users shared the minutes of NMC’s discussion with medical colleges across India circulated, “No Hippocratic Oath. During white coat ceremony (with parents) the oath will be “Maharishi Charak Shapath” present on the NMC website.”  

“This is just in discussion stages as of now; no final decision was taken in the meeting. It does not work like that there has to be a due process that needs to be followed before a decision is taken,” the Hindustan Times quoted an unnamed NMC member as saying. According to the news report, another document that had highlights of the video conference of NMC’s undergraduate medical board that was held on February 7, stated that the reason for proposing to replace the Hippocratic oath with Charak Shapath was that “Charak belonged to our motherland— oath-taking to be conducted during White Coat Ceremony in local languages/vernaculars.”

Charak Shapath is the oath mentioned in the ancient Indian medical text Charak Samhita, recognised as being authored by Acharya Charaka also known as Charaka Rishi, who is said to have also been the major force behind developing Ayurveda. 

According to a report in NDTV, the as yet unverified minutes of a meeting regarding first year medical students, for whom classes begin Monday - says "no Hippocratic Oath. During white coat ceremony... the oath will be 'Maharishi Charak Shapath'...". Students may also face "compulsory 10 days of yoga (in the) morning on (an) empty stomach".

Originally in Sanskrit, the Charak Shapath allegedly contains several Hindu elements including the requirements to "lead the life of a celibate and eat no meat,” stated the portal Encyclopedia.com. It cites that according to the oath the teacher “should instruct the disciple in the presence of the sacred fire, Brahmanas [Brahmins] and physicians.” There are other sections that state, “Thou shalt dedicate thyself to me and regard me as thy chief. Thou shalt be subject to me and conduct thyself for ever for my welfare and pleasure. Thou shalt serve and dwell with me like a son or a slave or a supplicant.”

The caregiving of a patient is also referred to as “day and night, however thou mayest be engaged, thou shalt endeavour for the relief of patients with all thy heart and soul. Thou shalt not desert or injure thy patient for the sake of thy life or thy living.” But there are also some truly disturbing elements to this shapath, such as, “No persons, who are hated by the king or who are haters of the king or who are hated by the public or who are haters of the public, shall receive treatment. Similarly, those who are extremely abnormal, wicked, and of miserable character and conduct, those who have not vindicated their honour, those who are on the point of death, and similarly women who are unattended by their husbands or guardians shall not receive treatment.”

While it is still a proposal, and no formal order in this regard has been issued, the news has created a divide in the community. However, according to Dr Mahesh Verma, a member of NMC as quoted by HT, “There is a due process that is followed before a final decision is taken on any matter. From individual boards, the matter goes to the main commission, and is discussed in great detail. The decision is based on what the majority thinks.” The news report also stated that AIIMS has already been using Charak Shapath or the modified version of the Hippocratic Oath.

In November 2014, the Ministry of Ayush was formed, for “ensuring the optimal development and propagation of the Ayush systems of healthcare.”. Ayush expands to Ayurveda, Yoga, and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy. The National Medical Commission (NMC) has been constituted by an act of Parliament known as National Medical Commission Act, 2019 which came into force on September 25, 2020. The Aim of the National Medical Commission are to:

(i) improve access to quality and affordable medical education

(ii) ensure availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals in all parts of the country

(iii) promote equitable and universal healthcare that encourages community health perspective and makes services of medical professionals accessible to all the citizens

(iv) encourages medical professionals to adopt latest medical research in their work and to contribute to research

(v) objectively assess medical institutions  periodically in a transparent manner

(vi) maintain a medical register for India; (vi) enforce high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services

(vii) have an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

Related:

In 2021, COVID Deaths Surged in Stunning Fashion in Eastern UP, Investigation Finds
UNICEF and parents worry about India’s future generations in the aftermath of Covid-19
KEM Hospital accused of atrocities against SC students

Why does the Hippocratic oath need to be replaced with Charak Shapath?

The Charak Shapath is said to contain several Hindu elements, allegedly including the requirements to "lead the life of a celibate and eat no meat"

Hippocratic Oath
Image Courtesy:onmanorama.com

The Hippocratic oath, believed to have been written by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, is taken by newly minted doctors as part of their graduation ceremony as a guide to conduct medical practice as they begin their careers. There is the traditional version, and a modern version, both roughly mean that the doctor swears to follow a scientific ethical code and will treat patients to the best of their ability. It also states that a patient's privacy will be respected, and the larger meaning of both ancient and modern versions are words that mean that the doctor will treat everyone with equal care. 

However, there are sections among medical authorities who seem to think that the Hippocratic oath is perhaps not “Indian encough”. According to news reports, the National Medical Commission (NMC), country’s apex medical education regulator, is now discussing that the Hippocratic oath be replaced with ‘Charak shapath’. Social media users shared the minutes of NMC’s discussion with medical colleges across India circulated, “No Hippocratic Oath. During white coat ceremony (with parents) the oath will be “Maharishi Charak Shapath” present on the NMC website.”  

“This is just in discussion stages as of now; no final decision was taken in the meeting. It does not work like that there has to be a due process that needs to be followed before a decision is taken,” the Hindustan Times quoted an unnamed NMC member as saying. According to the news report, another document that had highlights of the video conference of NMC’s undergraduate medical board that was held on February 7, stated that the reason for proposing to replace the Hippocratic oath with Charak Shapath was that “Charak belonged to our motherland— oath-taking to be conducted during White Coat Ceremony in local languages/vernaculars.”

Charak Shapath is the oath mentioned in the ancient Indian medical text Charak Samhita, recognised as being authored by Acharya Charaka also known as Charaka Rishi, who is said to have also been the major force behind developing Ayurveda. 

According to a report in NDTV, the as yet unverified minutes of a meeting regarding first year medical students, for whom classes begin Monday - says "no Hippocratic Oath. During white coat ceremony... the oath will be 'Maharishi Charak Shapath'...". Students may also face "compulsory 10 days of yoga (in the) morning on (an) empty stomach".

Originally in Sanskrit, the Charak Shapath allegedly contains several Hindu elements including the requirements to "lead the life of a celibate and eat no meat,” stated the portal Encyclopedia.com. It cites that according to the oath the teacher “should instruct the disciple in the presence of the sacred fire, Brahmanas [Brahmins] and physicians.” There are other sections that state, “Thou shalt dedicate thyself to me and regard me as thy chief. Thou shalt be subject to me and conduct thyself for ever for my welfare and pleasure. Thou shalt serve and dwell with me like a son or a slave or a supplicant.”

The caregiving of a patient is also referred to as “day and night, however thou mayest be engaged, thou shalt endeavour for the relief of patients with all thy heart and soul. Thou shalt not desert or injure thy patient for the sake of thy life or thy living.” But there are also some truly disturbing elements to this shapath, such as, “No persons, who are hated by the king or who are haters of the king or who are hated by the public or who are haters of the public, shall receive treatment. Similarly, those who are extremely abnormal, wicked, and of miserable character and conduct, those who have not vindicated their honour, those who are on the point of death, and similarly women who are unattended by their husbands or guardians shall not receive treatment.”

While it is still a proposal, and no formal order in this regard has been issued, the news has created a divide in the community. However, according to Dr Mahesh Verma, a member of NMC as quoted by HT, “There is a due process that is followed before a final decision is taken on any matter. From individual boards, the matter goes to the main commission, and is discussed in great detail. The decision is based on what the majority thinks.” The news report also stated that AIIMS has already been using Charak Shapath or the modified version of the Hippocratic Oath.

In November 2014, the Ministry of Ayush was formed, for “ensuring the optimal development and propagation of the Ayush systems of healthcare.”. Ayush expands to Ayurveda, Yoga, and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy. The National Medical Commission (NMC) has been constituted by an act of Parliament known as National Medical Commission Act, 2019 which came into force on September 25, 2020. The Aim of the National Medical Commission are to:

(i) improve access to quality and affordable medical education

(ii) ensure availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals in all parts of the country

(iii) promote equitable and universal healthcare that encourages community health perspective and makes services of medical professionals accessible to all the citizens

(iv) encourages medical professionals to adopt latest medical research in their work and to contribute to research

(v) objectively assess medical institutions  periodically in a transparent manner

(vi) maintain a medical register for India; (vi) enforce high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services

(vii) have an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

Related:

In 2021, COVID Deaths Surged in Stunning Fashion in Eastern UP, Investigation Finds
UNICEF and parents worry about India’s future generations in the aftermath of Covid-19
KEM Hospital accused of atrocities against SC students

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Odisha’s JSW project could cause 94 deaths a year: CREA report

The report takes a close look at the health impact of the development project while highlighting missing data in the original EIA

28 Jan 2022

EIA
Image Courtesy:businesstoday.in

Air pollutant emissions from the proposed integrated steel plant near Paradip port in Jagatsinghpur, Odisha, will cause an estimated 94 deaths per year, as per a Health Impact and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report released on January 25, 2022.

For years now, villagers in the district have been protesting the development projects proposed in their area by Indian steel company JSW Utkal Ltd. Alleging that the authorities are in cahoots with the company, the community earlier rejected the environmental clearance, as local Gram Sabhas has not been consulted.

However, CREA’s report titled Health Impacts Assessment of Integrated Steel Plant, JSW Utkal Steel Limited exposed how the report’s serious shortcomings not only falsify the actual environment impact but also serious health impact.

Health impact of JSW project

“Air pollution would also lead to a projected 180 emergency room visits due to asthma, 160 preterm births and 75,000 days of work absence per year,” wrote Sunil Dahiya and Lauri Myllyvirta in the report.

The proposed project site is 5-10 km away from an already severely polluted area of Paradeep – one of the most polluted geographies in India and classified as ‘severely polluted’ by the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI). The pollution received from there has already caused high air pollution levels at the site. This is mentioned in the original EIA report.

Yet, the EIA report claimed that the fine particles (PM10 levels) in the ambient air during project work will remain within the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) as prescribed by MoEFCC. The health assessment report said this is misleading because the prevailing PM10 levels are already higher than the prescribed standards.

Further, the emission load of the proposed plant will be about twice the fine particle emissions for the entire cluster at Paradeep and two-third sulfur dioxide (SO2). This means that the worsening air quality will result in severe health impact and extend the intensity and geographical reach of pre-existing CEPI area.

Citing this report, Lok Shakti Abhiyan President Prafulla Samantara wrote to the entire Environmental Action Committee (EAC) that the affected villages in Dhinkia Charidesh house over 22,000 people.

“[They] will be forced to bear the brunt of dangerous cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases along with scarcity of clean drinking water,” he said.

EIA shortcomings listed

Focusing on the EIA, the report said that the EIA makes a “skewed” comparison between the three-season average to daily PM10 levels. The daily PM10 standard is 100 μg/m3, whereas the annual standard is 60 μg/m3. Due to this significant difference in data points, the report said seasonal and cross-seasonal averages should be compared to annual rather than daily standards.

The EIA report also included 50 readings per station, collected across seasons to assess ambient air quality. According to the CPCB protocol, 50 or more days of monitoring in a year should be compared to the average annual concentration.

Similarly, the EIA does not account for incremental PM2.5 from the plant operation, the most harmful part of the particulate pollution. The health assessment report said data on such emissions is integral to Environment and Health Impact Assessments. Other important data points missed are accounting for mercury or any other heavy metal from the plant operation.

Dahiya and Myllyvirta also pointed out that the air pollution dispersion model in the EIA fails to account for secondary particulate formation PM2.5 formed from SO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions. This significantly underestimates the total pollution concentrations.

“These formed secondary PM2.5 make up a more significant component of the total PM2.5 emission load from any fossil fuel combustion facility. Accounting for secondary particulates make the predicted PM levels from the plant multiple times higher,” said the health report.

Additionally, Lime Kiln, Cement Plant and other combustion sources entirely omitted NOx emissions data without any explanation. Combustion of any fuel produces NOx emissions, which should be accounted for to ensure EIAs are comprehensive and nuanced.

Samantara and other activists appealed to officials to withdraw the project proposal in light of these findings. Rather than using an inadequate and fraudulent EIA, Samantara asked that fresh assessment be done instead.

“We demand an independent assessment based on understanding the comprehensive environment and health impacts of the proposed project on the surrounding areas including human settlements to be carried out before proceeding any further,” he said.

The full report may be read here:

Related:

Odisha: 3 activists arrested for speaking truth to power in fact-finding report
Dhinkia: A story of perseverance against administrative oppression
End police oppression! FIAN Int. stands with Odisha’s adivasis
Odisha Police beat up Adivasi villagers

Odisha’s JSW project could cause 94 deaths a year: CREA report

The report takes a close look at the health impact of the development project while highlighting missing data in the original EIA

EIA
Image Courtesy:businesstoday.in

Air pollutant emissions from the proposed integrated steel plant near Paradip port in Jagatsinghpur, Odisha, will cause an estimated 94 deaths per year, as per a Health Impact and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report released on January 25, 2022.

For years now, villagers in the district have been protesting the development projects proposed in their area by Indian steel company JSW Utkal Ltd. Alleging that the authorities are in cahoots with the company, the community earlier rejected the environmental clearance, as local Gram Sabhas has not been consulted.

However, CREA’s report titled Health Impacts Assessment of Integrated Steel Plant, JSW Utkal Steel Limited exposed how the report’s serious shortcomings not only falsify the actual environment impact but also serious health impact.

Health impact of JSW project

“Air pollution would also lead to a projected 180 emergency room visits due to asthma, 160 preterm births and 75,000 days of work absence per year,” wrote Sunil Dahiya and Lauri Myllyvirta in the report.

The proposed project site is 5-10 km away from an already severely polluted area of Paradeep – one of the most polluted geographies in India and classified as ‘severely polluted’ by the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI). The pollution received from there has already caused high air pollution levels at the site. This is mentioned in the original EIA report.

Yet, the EIA report claimed that the fine particles (PM10 levels) in the ambient air during project work will remain within the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) as prescribed by MoEFCC. The health assessment report said this is misleading because the prevailing PM10 levels are already higher than the prescribed standards.

Further, the emission load of the proposed plant will be about twice the fine particle emissions for the entire cluster at Paradeep and two-third sulfur dioxide (SO2). This means that the worsening air quality will result in severe health impact and extend the intensity and geographical reach of pre-existing CEPI area.

Citing this report, Lok Shakti Abhiyan President Prafulla Samantara wrote to the entire Environmental Action Committee (EAC) that the affected villages in Dhinkia Charidesh house over 22,000 people.

“[They] will be forced to bear the brunt of dangerous cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases along with scarcity of clean drinking water,” he said.

EIA shortcomings listed

Focusing on the EIA, the report said that the EIA makes a “skewed” comparison between the three-season average to daily PM10 levels. The daily PM10 standard is 100 μg/m3, whereas the annual standard is 60 μg/m3. Due to this significant difference in data points, the report said seasonal and cross-seasonal averages should be compared to annual rather than daily standards.

The EIA report also included 50 readings per station, collected across seasons to assess ambient air quality. According to the CPCB protocol, 50 or more days of monitoring in a year should be compared to the average annual concentration.

Similarly, the EIA does not account for incremental PM2.5 from the plant operation, the most harmful part of the particulate pollution. The health assessment report said data on such emissions is integral to Environment and Health Impact Assessments. Other important data points missed are accounting for mercury or any other heavy metal from the plant operation.

Dahiya and Myllyvirta also pointed out that the air pollution dispersion model in the EIA fails to account for secondary particulate formation PM2.5 formed from SO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions. This significantly underestimates the total pollution concentrations.

“These formed secondary PM2.5 make up a more significant component of the total PM2.5 emission load from any fossil fuel combustion facility. Accounting for secondary particulates make the predicted PM levels from the plant multiple times higher,” said the health report.

Additionally, Lime Kiln, Cement Plant and other combustion sources entirely omitted NOx emissions data without any explanation. Combustion of any fuel produces NOx emissions, which should be accounted for to ensure EIAs are comprehensive and nuanced.

Samantara and other activists appealed to officials to withdraw the project proposal in light of these findings. Rather than using an inadequate and fraudulent EIA, Samantara asked that fresh assessment be done instead.

“We demand an independent assessment based on understanding the comprehensive environment and health impacts of the proposed project on the surrounding areas including human settlements to be carried out before proceeding any further,” he said.

The full report may be read here:

Related:

Odisha: 3 activists arrested for speaking truth to power in fact-finding report
Dhinkia: A story of perseverance against administrative oppression
End police oppression! FIAN Int. stands with Odisha’s adivasis
Odisha Police beat up Adivasi villagers

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Mumbai: Aadhaar card mandatory for Covid self-test

According to Mayor Pednekar, the move will ensure better tracking of positive cases

15 Jan 2022

Antigent kit

Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar mandated on January 15, 2022, that all those who buy self-test Covid kits must show their Aadhaar card number to chemists. She further called upon the people to take responsibility for their self-test and report to authorities if they are Covid-positive.

“Mandating Aadhaar card number for buying the kit does away with the question of where a person bought the test and when. Manufacturers will also be similarly monitored,” she said during a media briefing.

As per official data, as many as 3,549 people tested Covid-positive out of the 1,06,987 Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) distributed in the area by January 13. However, by January 14, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) voiced a concern about Covid cases going unreported.

For this reason, the authorities have mandated registration of Aadhaar card numbers for the procurement. This may complete RAT for workers or individuals who do not have Aadhaar cards. However, Pednekar assured that the move will also prevent the illegal sale of such tests that may be “unhygienic”. On questioning, she also said that the sale of online RATs will also be monitored, although she did not elaborate the details.

Regarding Covid-19, the official said that the situation was improving with most people having to quarantine at home for seven days with mild symptoms or sans any symptoms. However, she urged people to inform authorities or upload their positive reports on the portal to ensure that proper data is maintained.

Related:

Amidst new variants, governments demand calm

Delhi: 923 new Covid cases reported in 24 hours, an 86% rise

Covid in 2022: Is India battle-ready?

Covid-19: Have we learnt anything from challenges faced in 2021?

Mumbai: Aadhaar card mandatory for Covid self-test

According to Mayor Pednekar, the move will ensure better tracking of positive cases

Antigent kit

Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar mandated on January 15, 2022, that all those who buy self-test Covid kits must show their Aadhaar card number to chemists. She further called upon the people to take responsibility for their self-test and report to authorities if they are Covid-positive.

“Mandating Aadhaar card number for buying the kit does away with the question of where a person bought the test and when. Manufacturers will also be similarly monitored,” she said during a media briefing.

As per official data, as many as 3,549 people tested Covid-positive out of the 1,06,987 Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) distributed in the area by January 13. However, by January 14, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) voiced a concern about Covid cases going unreported.

For this reason, the authorities have mandated registration of Aadhaar card numbers for the procurement. This may complete RAT for workers or individuals who do not have Aadhaar cards. However, Pednekar assured that the move will also prevent the illegal sale of such tests that may be “unhygienic”. On questioning, she also said that the sale of online RATs will also be monitored, although she did not elaborate the details.

Regarding Covid-19, the official said that the situation was improving with most people having to quarantine at home for seven days with mild symptoms or sans any symptoms. However, she urged people to inform authorities or upload their positive reports on the portal to ensure that proper data is maintained.

Related:

Amidst new variants, governments demand calm

Delhi: 923 new Covid cases reported in 24 hours, an 86% rise

Covid in 2022: Is India battle-ready?

Covid-19: Have we learnt anything from challenges faced in 2021?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Amidst new variants, governments demand calm

State governments prepare for more stringent measures to curb growing Omicron cases

04 Jan 2022

LockdownImage Courtesy:thehindu.com

Recording as many as 5,481 cases in the last 24 hours on January 4, 2022, Delhi government announced a weekend curfew in the city to address the surge in Covid-19 cases.

The weekend lockdown will begin from January 8. Apart from essential services, all government offices will remain closed while employees will work from home. Meanwhile, private offices can call only 50 percent of the workforce to the office. Delhi Metro and DTC buses will run with full capacity but commuters must wear a mask for travel.

Deputy Chief Minister Shri Manish Sisodia on Tuesday said, “Leave houses only in case of emergency or in need of essential services. On the basis of the experiences so far, experts believe that this variant is not fatal and the Delhi government is fully prepared to fight it.”

He appealed to the people to remain calm, wear a mask and follow all Covid-19 protocols. The city recorded an increasing number of Omicron cases recently. As per the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the city reported 382 Omicron cases by Tuesday. Although only 350 people are hospitalized and only 124 patients are on oxygen beds. Seven people were also reported to be on ventilators.

As per government data, 8,511 out of 9,042 hospital beds are vacant. Moreover, 4,223 out of 4,547 beds are available in dedicated Covid-care centres and 139 out of 140 beds are available in dedicated Covid-health centres. Therefore, Sisodia appealed that infected people should opt for hospitals only in case of decreasing oxygen levels.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar aired the possibility of imposing a lockdown in the city if cases keep rising. She said the need for the lockdown will be imminent if the daily cases cross the 20,000-mark. Similarly, persisting crowding is another factor to be considered for the lockdown, she said.

Already schools have been closed for classes 1 to 9 and class 11 until January 31. Mumbai police also issued an order prohibiting people from visiting beaches, open grounds, sea faces, promenades, gardens, parks, or similar public places between 5 PM and 5 AM until January 15 due to a rise in Omicron cases. Marriages whether in enclosed or open spaces can only welcome 50 persons while funerals will only allow 20 persons. Overall, Maharashtra reported the highest number of Omicron cases, 568 cases, by Tuesday.

In light of this number, the Karnataka government is also preparing for an “inescapable” third wave of the virus, reported The Times of India. Before the night curfew ends on January 7, senior officials will meet to discuss more stringent restrictions. Accordingly, sufficient oxygen supply, ICU beds, etc. is another priority for the government. It also mandated a negative RT-PCR report along with a fully vaccinated certificate to enter the state.

At the national level, India recorded over 146.70 cr vaccinations by early Tuesday morning. Nearly 1 cr doses were administered in the last 24 hours. However, out of the total figure, 42.06 lakh of these doses were administered to the 15-18 age group for the first time.

The country’s active caseload was at 1,71,830 cases – less than one percent of total cases – with a recovery rate of 98.13 percent. More than 152.96 crore vaccine doses have been provided to states and union territories with more than 19.69 cr balance and unutilized doses still available with the state and union territories, said the union ministry.

Related:

Delhi: 923 new Covid cases reported in 24 hours, an 86% rise
Covid in 2022: Is India battle-ready?
Covid-19: Have we learnt anything from challenges faced in 2021?

Amidst new variants, governments demand calm

State governments prepare for more stringent measures to curb growing Omicron cases

LockdownImage Courtesy:thehindu.com

Recording as many as 5,481 cases in the last 24 hours on January 4, 2022, Delhi government announced a weekend curfew in the city to address the surge in Covid-19 cases.

The weekend lockdown will begin from January 8. Apart from essential services, all government offices will remain closed while employees will work from home. Meanwhile, private offices can call only 50 percent of the workforce to the office. Delhi Metro and DTC buses will run with full capacity but commuters must wear a mask for travel.

Deputy Chief Minister Shri Manish Sisodia on Tuesday said, “Leave houses only in case of emergency or in need of essential services. On the basis of the experiences so far, experts believe that this variant is not fatal and the Delhi government is fully prepared to fight it.”

He appealed to the people to remain calm, wear a mask and follow all Covid-19 protocols. The city recorded an increasing number of Omicron cases recently. As per the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the city reported 382 Omicron cases by Tuesday. Although only 350 people are hospitalized and only 124 patients are on oxygen beds. Seven people were also reported to be on ventilators.

As per government data, 8,511 out of 9,042 hospital beds are vacant. Moreover, 4,223 out of 4,547 beds are available in dedicated Covid-care centres and 139 out of 140 beds are available in dedicated Covid-health centres. Therefore, Sisodia appealed that infected people should opt for hospitals only in case of decreasing oxygen levels.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar aired the possibility of imposing a lockdown in the city if cases keep rising. She said the need for the lockdown will be imminent if the daily cases cross the 20,000-mark. Similarly, persisting crowding is another factor to be considered for the lockdown, she said.

Already schools have been closed for classes 1 to 9 and class 11 until January 31. Mumbai police also issued an order prohibiting people from visiting beaches, open grounds, sea faces, promenades, gardens, parks, or similar public places between 5 PM and 5 AM until January 15 due to a rise in Omicron cases. Marriages whether in enclosed or open spaces can only welcome 50 persons while funerals will only allow 20 persons. Overall, Maharashtra reported the highest number of Omicron cases, 568 cases, by Tuesday.

In light of this number, the Karnataka government is also preparing for an “inescapable” third wave of the virus, reported The Times of India. Before the night curfew ends on January 7, senior officials will meet to discuss more stringent restrictions. Accordingly, sufficient oxygen supply, ICU beds, etc. is another priority for the government. It also mandated a negative RT-PCR report along with a fully vaccinated certificate to enter the state.

At the national level, India recorded over 146.70 cr vaccinations by early Tuesday morning. Nearly 1 cr doses were administered in the last 24 hours. However, out of the total figure, 42.06 lakh of these doses were administered to the 15-18 age group for the first time.

The country’s active caseload was at 1,71,830 cases – less than one percent of total cases – with a recovery rate of 98.13 percent. More than 152.96 crore vaccine doses have been provided to states and union territories with more than 19.69 cr balance and unutilized doses still available with the state and union territories, said the union ministry.

Related:

Delhi: 923 new Covid cases reported in 24 hours, an 86% rise
Covid in 2022: Is India battle-ready?
Covid-19: Have we learnt anything from challenges faced in 2021?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Delhi: 923 new Covid cases reported in 24 hours, an 86% rise 

This is the highest number of cases in Delhi since May 30; as many as 9,195 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours across the country 

30 Dec 2021

covid19Image: PTI

The national capital has been witnessing a steady rise in the number of Covid-19 cases over the last week. Delhi is nearing 1,000 Covid cases a day, and has so far recorded 238 Omicron cases, mostly from travellers coming from abroad. The positivity rate now climbing to 1.29 per cent, on Tuesday Delhi reported 496 new Covid-19, and 923 on Wednesday, a 86% rise in a day.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) ordered closure of schools, colleges, cinemas and gyms, as well as restricted timings for shops and limited number of passengers in public transport while announcing a “yellow alert” sounded under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Delhi government claimed it was “ready to fight Covid-19 on all fronts; have made arrangements for sufficient oxygen, medicines and beds.”

According to Delhi’s health minister Satyendar Jain, there is “no need to panic because of Omicron, but need to be careful; everyone must wear a mask and follow social distancing at all times.” Jain issued a statement on the developing citation in the national capital and stated that “if the number of corona cases increases, the Delhi government may impose additional restrictions. If the infection rate (positivity rate) remains above 1% for two days in a row, Delhi will be issued with a level two amber alert.” In an Amber Alert, all schools, colleges, parks, restaurants (except home delivery), are shut down and only essential services are exempted. The night curfew is also tightened in that case. 

While the Health Minister urged Delhiites “strictly adhere to Covid appropriate behaviour, wear masks and practise social distancing in public places,” the scenes on the city’s streets and markets show the real picture. 

Implementation of the national directives for Covid-19 management will be extended until January 31, 2022 throughout India in light of increased cases of the Variant of Concern – Omicron, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on December 27, 2021.

As per the earlier December 21 directions, every state and union territory was instructed to prescribe a normative framework for taking evidence based containment measures at the district and local level if the area reports over 10 percent positivity rate for the virus or if there is more than 40 percent hospital bed occupancy. “For the enforcement of social distancing, state/union territory governments may, as far as possible, use the provisions of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973,” said the order. The news came on the same day that NITI Aayog’s Health Index report ranked Kerala as the best performing state in terms of health.

Overall, 9,195 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours across the country as per the Union Government’s data, and the overall  Active Caseload is at 77,002. 

 

Related:

How did it go from flower showers to alleged lathicharge on doctors?

Covid in 2022: Is India battle-ready?

Covid-19: Have we learnt anything from challenges faced in 2021?

Delhi: 923 new Covid cases reported in 24 hours, an 86% rise 

This is the highest number of cases in Delhi since May 30; as many as 9,195 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours across the country 

covid19Image: PTI

The national capital has been witnessing a steady rise in the number of Covid-19 cases over the last week. Delhi is nearing 1,000 Covid cases a day, and has so far recorded 238 Omicron cases, mostly from travellers coming from abroad. The positivity rate now climbing to 1.29 per cent, on Tuesday Delhi reported 496 new Covid-19, and 923 on Wednesday, a 86% rise in a day.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) ordered closure of schools, colleges, cinemas and gyms, as well as restricted timings for shops and limited number of passengers in public transport while announcing a “yellow alert” sounded under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Delhi government claimed it was “ready to fight Covid-19 on all fronts; have made arrangements for sufficient oxygen, medicines and beds.”

According to Delhi’s health minister Satyendar Jain, there is “no need to panic because of Omicron, but need to be careful; everyone must wear a mask and follow social distancing at all times.” Jain issued a statement on the developing citation in the national capital and stated that “if the number of corona cases increases, the Delhi government may impose additional restrictions. If the infection rate (positivity rate) remains above 1% for two days in a row, Delhi will be issued with a level two amber alert.” In an Amber Alert, all schools, colleges, parks, restaurants (except home delivery), are shut down and only essential services are exempted. The night curfew is also tightened in that case. 

While the Health Minister urged Delhiites “strictly adhere to Covid appropriate behaviour, wear masks and practise social distancing in public places,” the scenes on the city’s streets and markets show the real picture. 

Implementation of the national directives for Covid-19 management will be extended until January 31, 2022 throughout India in light of increased cases of the Variant of Concern – Omicron, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on December 27, 2021.

As per the earlier December 21 directions, every state and union territory was instructed to prescribe a normative framework for taking evidence based containment measures at the district and local level if the area reports over 10 percent positivity rate for the virus or if there is more than 40 percent hospital bed occupancy. “For the enforcement of social distancing, state/union territory governments may, as far as possible, use the provisions of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973,” said the order. The news came on the same day that NITI Aayog’s Health Index report ranked Kerala as the best performing state in terms of health.

Overall, 9,195 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours across the country as per the Union Government’s data, and the overall  Active Caseload is at 77,002. 

 

Related:

How did it go from flower showers to alleged lathicharge on doctors?

Covid in 2022: Is India battle-ready?

Covid-19: Have we learnt anything from challenges faced in 2021?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Covid in 2022: Is India battle-ready?

The NITI Aayog on Monday ranked all Indian states in its Health Index report

28 Dec 2021

covid19

Implementation of the national directives for Covid-19 management will be extended until January 31, 2022 throughout India in light of increased cases of the Variant of Concern – Omicron, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on December 27, 2021.

As per the earlier December 21 directions, every state and union territory was instructed to prescribe a normative framework for taking evidence based containment measures at the district and local level if the area reports over 10 percent positivity rate for the virus or if there is more than 40 percent hospital bed occupancy.

“For the enforcement of social distancing, state/union territory governments may, as far as possible, use the provisions of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973,” said the order.

The news came on the same day that NITI Aayog’s Health Index report ranked Kerala as the best performing state in terms of health.

The Health Index

While the fourth round of the report for the year 2019-20 does not capture the impact of Covid-19 on health outcomes or any of the other indicators, it assesses the condition of state healthcare just as the global pandemic began. The fourth round of the index considers Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), proportion of pregnant women who received four or more antenatal care checkups (ANC) and level of registration of deaths as indicators.

Particularly, it showed that Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana emerged as the best three performers in larger states in terms of overall performance. Uttar Pradesh with the lowest overall reference Year (2019-20) Index Score ranked at the bottom – Rank 19 – in overall performance. However, it topped the category of incremental performance by registering the highest incremental change from the Base Year (2018-19) to Reference Year (2019-20).

To put this in context, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the top two performers in Overall Performance with the highest Reference Year (2019-20) Index Scores, ranked twelfth and eighth respectively in Incremental Performance. Meanwhile, Telangana performed well in both categories, earning the third position in both instances.

Among the smaller states, Mizoram ranked first for overall performance as well as incremental performance while union territories like Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir ranked fifth and sixth for overall performance in UTs albeit ranking first and second for incremental performance.

Among its findings, the report said that the gap between the worst and best performing states has narrowed. This along with fresh guidelines calling for the vaccination of 15-18 years age group from January 3, 2022, will hopefully bring new tidings for the healthcare sector.

Guidelines for vaccination

As per fresh guidelines, children in the 15-18 years age-group can only get the Covaxin vaccination. Health Care Workers (HCWs) and Front Line Workers (FLWs) who have already received two doses, will be given another dose of vaccine from January 10. At least 9 months (39 weeks) need to pass between the times when the second and third dose are administered. All persons aged 60 years and above with comorbidities will also avail this precautionary dose provided they were double vaccinated at least nine months ago. When the precaution dose is due, the Co-WIN system will send an SMS to eligible people.

Similarly, all those aged 15 years or more can register on the Co-WIN website online through an existing account or register by creating a new account through their mobile number.

Related:

Covid-19: Have we learnt anything from challenges faced in 2021?

Is the right to health a forgotten constitutional mandate?

SHOCKING! Modi Govt records only 327 school staff deaths due to Covid-19, 1600 dead in UP alone

No gatherings allowed for Christmas and New Year in Delhi?

Covid in 2022: Is India battle-ready?

The NITI Aayog on Monday ranked all Indian states in its Health Index report

covid19

Implementation of the national directives for Covid-19 management will be extended until January 31, 2022 throughout India in light of increased cases of the Variant of Concern – Omicron, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on December 27, 2021.

As per the earlier December 21 directions, every state and union territory was instructed to prescribe a normative framework for taking evidence based containment measures at the district and local level if the area reports over 10 percent positivity rate for the virus or if there is more than 40 percent hospital bed occupancy.

“For the enforcement of social distancing, state/union territory governments may, as far as possible, use the provisions of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973,” said the order.

The news came on the same day that NITI Aayog’s Health Index report ranked Kerala as the best performing state in terms of health.

The Health Index

While the fourth round of the report for the year 2019-20 does not capture the impact of Covid-19 on health outcomes or any of the other indicators, it assesses the condition of state healthcare just as the global pandemic began. The fourth round of the index considers Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), proportion of pregnant women who received four or more antenatal care checkups (ANC) and level of registration of deaths as indicators.

Particularly, it showed that Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana emerged as the best three performers in larger states in terms of overall performance. Uttar Pradesh with the lowest overall reference Year (2019-20) Index Score ranked at the bottom – Rank 19 – in overall performance. However, it topped the category of incremental performance by registering the highest incremental change from the Base Year (2018-19) to Reference Year (2019-20).

To put this in context, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the top two performers in Overall Performance with the highest Reference Year (2019-20) Index Scores, ranked twelfth and eighth respectively in Incremental Performance. Meanwhile, Telangana performed well in both categories, earning the third position in both instances.

Among the smaller states, Mizoram ranked first for overall performance as well as incremental performance while union territories like Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir ranked fifth and sixth for overall performance in UTs albeit ranking first and second for incremental performance.

Among its findings, the report said that the gap between the worst and best performing states has narrowed. This along with fresh guidelines calling for the vaccination of 15-18 years age group from January 3, 2022, will hopefully bring new tidings for the healthcare sector.

Guidelines for vaccination

As per fresh guidelines, children in the 15-18 years age-group can only get the Covaxin vaccination. Health Care Workers (HCWs) and Front Line Workers (FLWs) who have already received two doses, will be given another dose of vaccine from January 10. At least 9 months (39 weeks) need to pass between the times when the second and third dose are administered. All persons aged 60 years and above with comorbidities will also avail this precautionary dose provided they were double vaccinated at least nine months ago. When the precaution dose is due, the Co-WIN system will send an SMS to eligible people.

Similarly, all those aged 15 years or more can register on the Co-WIN website online through an existing account or register by creating a new account through their mobile number.

Related:

Covid-19: Have we learnt anything from challenges faced in 2021?

Is the right to health a forgotten constitutional mandate?

SHOCKING! Modi Govt records only 327 school staff deaths due to Covid-19, 1600 dead in UP alone

No gatherings allowed for Christmas and New Year in Delhi?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Covid-19: Have we learnt anything from challenges faced in 2021?

With healthcare infrastructure still in shambles and an ill-prepared administration, it is still an uphill battle for India; Omicron and other variants will only add to our woes 

23 Dec 2021

Covid19Image: Reuters/Adnan Abidi


2021 was a particularly daunting year for India’s healthcare sector. Barely recovering from the first wave of Covid-19, hospitals, medical colleges and healthcare workers reeled under the onslaught of the second wave. And the battle is far from over.

On December 14, 2021, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned all nations about the dangers of the new Omicron variant, especially warning against people’s dismissive attitude towards a so-called “milder” variant that is actually more infectious than its predecessors and spreading at a speed not seen before.

“Surely we have learnt by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril. Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems,” he said.

India has already paid the price for its complacence earlier this year, when after a significant drop in cases, people began to take a rather lackadaisical attitude towards Covid-19 protocols pertaining to hand hygiene, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. 

At present the efficacy of existing anti-Covid vaccines against new variants is still unclear, with some countries asking citizens to get booster shots. Let us take a look back at this year at key mistakes, we must strive to avoid in the coming year. 
 

January

As the first wave of Covid-19 subsided, India focused its attention on its vaccination programme that began from January 16 with two options for vaccines - Astra Zeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biocon’s Covaxin. 

However, even before that, several concerns were raised during clinical trials. It was alleged that in some cases, people were being used as guinea pigs, particularly when the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) pointed out the hasty manner in which the vaccines were made public. Prior to January 16, Bhopal Gas Tragedy survivors and other city residents alleged that they were forced into participating in the third phase of the Covaxin trial without receiving a consent form. Moreover, they were allegedly neither informed about the trial, nor were they told about side-effects. 

The first group of people to be vaccinated were healthcare and frontline workers, followed by the elderly. The vaccination was made available to younger people in stages. By January 25, India vaccinated more than 1.6 million healthcare workers. On the following day, India reported a record low of 9,100 new cases. During this month Modi even addressed the World Economic Forum's Davos Dialogue and boasted about how India successfully averted the “tsunami of Covid-19 cases”. He hailed the country for the rapidly declining cases.
 

February

The first half of the month further placated anxieties, with an average daily new case count of below 9,000 cases. According to WHO, India had recorded total of 1.10 crore cases by February 22, with only 10,584 confirmed cases on that particular date. With such favourable data, the BJP-led government at the Centre as well as some states, decided it was safe to permit holding of religious festivals like the Kumbh Mela, and event that sees lakhs of devotees congregate together at one spot. Though this is certainly dangerous as it can enable quick and easy spread of the virus, the regime had its eye on upcoming elections in key states. 

On February 25, the State of India’s Environment 2021 report said that 375 million children in India will suffer Covid-19's after-effects such as being under-weight, stunting, loss of education and work productivity.


March 

The upward trend began once again, as WHO data recorded 26,291 confirmed cases over 24 hours on March 15 and 1.13 crore confirmed cases cumulatively. Overall, 1,58,725 deaths were reported by then.

The WHO claimed that nearly 3 crore vaccine doses were administered in India halfway into the month, with the highest single day vaccination of over 20 lakh doses. However, a parliamentary panel on March 16 noted that less than one percent of the Indian population was vaccinated till date.

By March 29, India reported 1.20 crore total confirmed cases and 68,020 confirmed cases within the previous 24 hours. As many as 1,61,843 people had died in India due to Covid-19 by that date. The five states of particular concern were Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, contributing more than 54 percent of total cases. 

In reaction to this resurgence, several states jumped into action. Parts of Maharashtra declared night curfew by March 11. Later, a fire at Sunrise hospital in Mumbai on March 26 killed 10 patients, highlighting other failures of the healthcare infrastructure.

Punjab and Uttar Pradesh closed various educational institutions till March 31. However, Islamophobia shone through the latter state even during the second wave when 40 mosques in Shahjahanpur were covered with plastic sheets ahead of Holi to “maintain peace”. 

Of course, all these efforts proved futile once the Centre directed the Uttarakhand government to follow “strict Covid-19 spread prevention measures” for the upcoming Kumbh Mela instead of cancelling the event. This was a body blow to both, healthcare and secularism.


April

By April 5, India recorded over one lakh cases in 24 hours. Maharashtra government and activists called for stringent lockdown guidelines after reporting high number of Covid cases. The decision brought on the ire of many local businesses that suffered greatly during the lockdowns and demanded a long-term solution from the government.

With anxieties rising and as many as 71 vaccination centres shutting down in Mumbai alone, it would have been desirable if the Centre had worked with state governments to address concerns. Instead, BJP, Congress and other state governments engaged in an enthusiastic blame game with even Union Minister Harsh Vardhan – a public service official – criticizing the Maharashtra government and citizens for the rise in Covid-cases. Political parties continued rallies around the time of the Assembly elections and ignored Covid-19 norms while the country suffered a shortage of Remdesivir, vaccines, oxygen supply and beds.

Meanwhile, the Centre stayed mum on the massive Kumbh Mela gathering where devotees went for holy dips in large groups, abandoned their masks and then returned to states where hospitals struggled with further spread of infection. Many hospitals also faced the ire of the very families who came seeking medical help for their kin, when people could not be saved due to shortages of essential medicines, oxygen or non-availability of beds.

In Uttar Pradesh, primary school teachers were forced to engage in gram panchayat election duties that resulted in the death of 1,621 teachers and workers.

Tired of government failures and rising concerns of Covid-variants like the Bengal virus the public took matter in their own hands. Minority communities and people active on social media worked together to provide oxygen to at-home patients. But UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, saw this as the exposure of his administration’s failure to help people, and instead of improving the quality of services or arranging for adequate resources, threatened that a First Information Report (FIR) will be filed against any person asking for oxygen supply over social media. 

In other regions, farmers at protest sites provided food to migrating labourers. The Tamil Nadu government on its parts allowed the partial reopening of the Sterlite plant to address oxygen shortages.

As India moved into the next month, news reports started focusing on the unsettling fact that Covid-deaths in India were grossly under-counted. Using available data and on-ground voices, SabrangIndia covered the sorry state of affairs in cremation and burial grounds in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka among other states.
 

May 

With 3,78,075 (Day Moving Average) new cases, the WHO reported India accounted for 47 percent of new cases globally on May 5, 2021 with 2.22 lakh deaths in the country. Oxygen shortage became a concern to the point that the Supreme Court and high courts were instructing governments about distribution of medical supplies and essential drugs, and questioning the Centre about exorbitant prices. 

The apex court even asked the Centre to revisit its vaccine policy so that it withstood scrutiny of Articles 14 and 21. Meanwhile, anger against the BJP government was rising. In Uttar Pradesh, the party lost panchayat polls in Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi. In response Adityanath focused his attention on the protection of cows, providing help desks, oximeters and thermal scanners in gaushalas.

CJP Team’s ground reports in Purvanchal presented how the eastern region was struggling to survive the second wave, highlighting the callousness of the government. Around May 12, the situation worsened to a point where bodies from various states were being thrown into the Ganga river and even as some people working in Gujarat’s cow shelters were encouraging people to consume cow urine and dung.

At this point, the Centre decided to allow state governments to procure 50 percent of vaccine doses directly every month from private players. The move threw the “tika mahotsav” into complete turmoil with doses now becoming a distant possibility for the disadvantaged groups.

In light of all this, the Bombay High Court responding to a PIL, slammed the Centre about faulty ventilators that were reportedly bought with funds collected under the PM CARES Fund. The Bench also criticised officials for defending the incident in the government’s affidavit. Similarly, the Uttarakhand High Court berated the state government for its lack of planning for the second wave. The Allahabad High Court called the Covid-related deaths, “not less than genocide”. 

Among the few governments that avoided public ire was the Kerala government that decentralised its Covid-19 management, with local bodies and found novel methods of bringing down the upward trend of cases. 

As CJP had reported during this period, the State Assembly elections became the hindrance in the continued efforts of the administration to keep Covid spread in check and compelled the newly elected governments in these states to enforce a lockdown. It is noteworthy that Kerala was one of the few states, which had not faced oxygen shortage until May 2021. In the past year, Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation has made concerted efforts to set up oxygen plants and maintain the existing ASU (Air Separation Unit) plants and manufacturing plants both in public and private sectors.

Finally, life returned to some degree of normalcy by May 26 when less than 2 lakh new cases were reported for the first time in 40 days.

Summarising the second wave of Covid-19 in India, CJP reported in May 2021, that the second wave caught the Centre as well as States completely unawares. It also revealed an absence of scientific and rational understanding of a worldwide pandemic among members of the administration. Worldwide, even as other countries and societies experienced a second wave, India gloated about coming out of the pandemic. This attitude showcased the unpreparedness of governments and the callous complacency that set in due to a brief dip in cases which was not in tandem with increasing administration of vaccination doses to the maximum number of people. 
 

The road ahead

As 2021 draws to a close, one must pay heed to Dr. Ghebreysus’s warning that the battle with the virus is not over. However, it is more important for citizens to reassert their right to public health. The Supreme Court interprets the Right to Health as a part of Article 21 and thus a part of our fundamental rights.

Before the Omicron wave arrives in full force, the Centre must ensure that this time we are not crippled by a severe shortage of hospital beds, oxygen and life-saving medicines. More funds need to be allocated for India’s healthcare, especially in the rural regions. Most of all, India needs to learn from its people, who came together to help each other in times of crisis, and the regime must put aside its communal agenda and the tendency to blame and marginalise minority communities in India.

After consulting with experts, CJP volunteers agreed that one of the most important strategies to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure for people who do end up contracting the virus, is to strengthen the primary health care system. Rather than privatising healthcare, the administration should focus on strengthening primary healthcare services and improving public health infrastructure.


Sabrang Related:

Is the right to health a forgotten constitutional mandate?

We need to breathe!

Covid-19: Which Indian states tackled it effectively and how?

 

Covid-19: Have we learnt anything from challenges faced in 2021?

With healthcare infrastructure still in shambles and an ill-prepared administration, it is still an uphill battle for India; Omicron and other variants will only add to our woes 

Covid19Image: Reuters/Adnan Abidi


2021 was a particularly daunting year for India’s healthcare sector. Barely recovering from the first wave of Covid-19, hospitals, medical colleges and healthcare workers reeled under the onslaught of the second wave. And the battle is far from over.

On December 14, 2021, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned all nations about the dangers of the new Omicron variant, especially warning against people’s dismissive attitude towards a so-called “milder” variant that is actually more infectious than its predecessors and spreading at a speed not seen before.

“Surely we have learnt by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril. Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems,” he said.

India has already paid the price for its complacence earlier this year, when after a significant drop in cases, people began to take a rather lackadaisical attitude towards Covid-19 protocols pertaining to hand hygiene, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. 

At present the efficacy of existing anti-Covid vaccines against new variants is still unclear, with some countries asking citizens to get booster shots. Let us take a look back at this year at key mistakes, we must strive to avoid in the coming year. 
 

January

As the first wave of Covid-19 subsided, India focused its attention on its vaccination programme that began from January 16 with two options for vaccines - Astra Zeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biocon’s Covaxin. 

However, even before that, several concerns were raised during clinical trials. It was alleged that in some cases, people were being used as guinea pigs, particularly when the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) pointed out the hasty manner in which the vaccines were made public. Prior to January 16, Bhopal Gas Tragedy survivors and other city residents alleged that they were forced into participating in the third phase of the Covaxin trial without receiving a consent form. Moreover, they were allegedly neither informed about the trial, nor were they told about side-effects. 

The first group of people to be vaccinated were healthcare and frontline workers, followed by the elderly. The vaccination was made available to younger people in stages. By January 25, India vaccinated more than 1.6 million healthcare workers. On the following day, India reported a record low of 9,100 new cases. During this month Modi even addressed the World Economic Forum's Davos Dialogue and boasted about how India successfully averted the “tsunami of Covid-19 cases”. He hailed the country for the rapidly declining cases.
 

February

The first half of the month further placated anxieties, with an average daily new case count of below 9,000 cases. According to WHO, India had recorded total of 1.10 crore cases by February 22, with only 10,584 confirmed cases on that particular date. With such favourable data, the BJP-led government at the Centre as well as some states, decided it was safe to permit holding of religious festivals like the Kumbh Mela, and event that sees lakhs of devotees congregate together at one spot. Though this is certainly dangerous as it can enable quick and easy spread of the virus, the regime had its eye on upcoming elections in key states. 

On February 25, the State of India’s Environment 2021 report said that 375 million children in India will suffer Covid-19's after-effects such as being under-weight, stunting, loss of education and work productivity.


March 

The upward trend began once again, as WHO data recorded 26,291 confirmed cases over 24 hours on March 15 and 1.13 crore confirmed cases cumulatively. Overall, 1,58,725 deaths were reported by then.

The WHO claimed that nearly 3 crore vaccine doses were administered in India halfway into the month, with the highest single day vaccination of over 20 lakh doses. However, a parliamentary panel on March 16 noted that less than one percent of the Indian population was vaccinated till date.

By March 29, India reported 1.20 crore total confirmed cases and 68,020 confirmed cases within the previous 24 hours. As many as 1,61,843 people had died in India due to Covid-19 by that date. The five states of particular concern were Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, contributing more than 54 percent of total cases. 

In reaction to this resurgence, several states jumped into action. Parts of Maharashtra declared night curfew by March 11. Later, a fire at Sunrise hospital in Mumbai on March 26 killed 10 patients, highlighting other failures of the healthcare infrastructure.

Punjab and Uttar Pradesh closed various educational institutions till March 31. However, Islamophobia shone through the latter state even during the second wave when 40 mosques in Shahjahanpur were covered with plastic sheets ahead of Holi to “maintain peace”. 

Of course, all these efforts proved futile once the Centre directed the Uttarakhand government to follow “strict Covid-19 spread prevention measures” for the upcoming Kumbh Mela instead of cancelling the event. This was a body blow to both, healthcare and secularism.


April

By April 5, India recorded over one lakh cases in 24 hours. Maharashtra government and activists called for stringent lockdown guidelines after reporting high number of Covid cases. The decision brought on the ire of many local businesses that suffered greatly during the lockdowns and demanded a long-term solution from the government.

With anxieties rising and as many as 71 vaccination centres shutting down in Mumbai alone, it would have been desirable if the Centre had worked with state governments to address concerns. Instead, BJP, Congress and other state governments engaged in an enthusiastic blame game with even Union Minister Harsh Vardhan – a public service official – criticizing the Maharashtra government and citizens for the rise in Covid-cases. Political parties continued rallies around the time of the Assembly elections and ignored Covid-19 norms while the country suffered a shortage of Remdesivir, vaccines, oxygen supply and beds.

Meanwhile, the Centre stayed mum on the massive Kumbh Mela gathering where devotees went for holy dips in large groups, abandoned their masks and then returned to states where hospitals struggled with further spread of infection. Many hospitals also faced the ire of the very families who came seeking medical help for their kin, when people could not be saved due to shortages of essential medicines, oxygen or non-availability of beds.

In Uttar Pradesh, primary school teachers were forced to engage in gram panchayat election duties that resulted in the death of 1,621 teachers and workers.

Tired of government failures and rising concerns of Covid-variants like the Bengal virus the public took matter in their own hands. Minority communities and people active on social media worked together to provide oxygen to at-home patients. But UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, saw this as the exposure of his administration’s failure to help people, and instead of improving the quality of services or arranging for adequate resources, threatened that a First Information Report (FIR) will be filed against any person asking for oxygen supply over social media. 

In other regions, farmers at protest sites provided food to migrating labourers. The Tamil Nadu government on its parts allowed the partial reopening of the Sterlite plant to address oxygen shortages.

As India moved into the next month, news reports started focusing on the unsettling fact that Covid-deaths in India were grossly under-counted. Using available data and on-ground voices, SabrangIndia covered the sorry state of affairs in cremation and burial grounds in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka among other states.
 

May 

With 3,78,075 (Day Moving Average) new cases, the WHO reported India accounted for 47 percent of new cases globally on May 5, 2021 with 2.22 lakh deaths in the country. Oxygen shortage became a concern to the point that the Supreme Court and high courts were instructing governments about distribution of medical supplies and essential drugs, and questioning the Centre about exorbitant prices. 

The apex court even asked the Centre to revisit its vaccine policy so that it withstood scrutiny of Articles 14 and 21. Meanwhile, anger against the BJP government was rising. In Uttar Pradesh, the party lost panchayat polls in Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi. In response Adityanath focused his attention on the protection of cows, providing help desks, oximeters and thermal scanners in gaushalas.

CJP Team’s ground reports in Purvanchal presented how the eastern region was struggling to survive the second wave, highlighting the callousness of the government. Around May 12, the situation worsened to a point where bodies from various states were being thrown into the Ganga river and even as some people working in Gujarat’s cow shelters were encouraging people to consume cow urine and dung.

At this point, the Centre decided to allow state governments to procure 50 percent of vaccine doses directly every month from private players. The move threw the “tika mahotsav” into complete turmoil with doses now becoming a distant possibility for the disadvantaged groups.

In light of all this, the Bombay High Court responding to a PIL, slammed the Centre about faulty ventilators that were reportedly bought with funds collected under the PM CARES Fund. The Bench also criticised officials for defending the incident in the government’s affidavit. Similarly, the Uttarakhand High Court berated the state government for its lack of planning for the second wave. The Allahabad High Court called the Covid-related deaths, “not less than genocide”. 

Among the few governments that avoided public ire was the Kerala government that decentralised its Covid-19 management, with local bodies and found novel methods of bringing down the upward trend of cases. 

As CJP had reported during this period, the State Assembly elections became the hindrance in the continued efforts of the administration to keep Covid spread in check and compelled the newly elected governments in these states to enforce a lockdown. It is noteworthy that Kerala was one of the few states, which had not faced oxygen shortage until May 2021. In the past year, Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation has made concerted efforts to set up oxygen plants and maintain the existing ASU (Air Separation Unit) plants and manufacturing plants both in public and private sectors.

Finally, life returned to some degree of normalcy by May 26 when less than 2 lakh new cases were reported for the first time in 40 days.

Summarising the second wave of Covid-19 in India, CJP reported in May 2021, that the second wave caught the Centre as well as States completely unawares. It also revealed an absence of scientific and rational understanding of a worldwide pandemic among members of the administration. Worldwide, even as other countries and societies experienced a second wave, India gloated about coming out of the pandemic. This attitude showcased the unpreparedness of governments and the callous complacency that set in due to a brief dip in cases which was not in tandem with increasing administration of vaccination doses to the maximum number of people. 
 

The road ahead

As 2021 draws to a close, one must pay heed to Dr. Ghebreysus’s warning that the battle with the virus is not over. However, it is more important for citizens to reassert their right to public health. The Supreme Court interprets the Right to Health as a part of Article 21 and thus a part of our fundamental rights.

Before the Omicron wave arrives in full force, the Centre must ensure that this time we are not crippled by a severe shortage of hospital beds, oxygen and life-saving medicines. More funds need to be allocated for India’s healthcare, especially in the rural regions. Most of all, India needs to learn from its people, who came together to help each other in times of crisis, and the regime must put aside its communal agenda and the tendency to blame and marginalise minority communities in India.

After consulting with experts, CJP volunteers agreed that one of the most important strategies to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure for people who do end up contracting the virus, is to strengthen the primary health care system. Rather than privatising healthcare, the administration should focus on strengthening primary healthcare services and improving public health infrastructure.


Sabrang Related:

Is the right to health a forgotten constitutional mandate?

We need to breathe!

Covid-19: Which Indian states tackled it effectively and how?

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

SHOCKING! Modi Govt records only 327 school staff deaths due to Covid-19, 1600 dead in UP alone

While UP teachers’ unions claimed over 1,600 deaths, the Centre records 327 deaths nationwide

23 Dec 2021

covid19
Representation image / CNN


In a disturbing display of data discrepancy, the Education Ministry declared that only 327 teaching and non-teaching staff from centrally-funded schools due to Covid-19 none of whom died during Covid-duty. This also amounts to an underplaying of deaths caused by gross medical negligence by the state and paucity of health services including oxygen cylinders in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister of State Subhas Sarkar answered on December 22, 2021 queries regarding death of government and non-government teachers while on Covid-duty. Already, the number presented by the government dwarfs in comparison to the 1,621 deaths reported by the Uttar Pradesh Primary Teachers Association (UPPTA) during the Panchayat elections in the state.

However, to make matters worse, Sarkar said, “None of these [327 staff] teachers died during COVID duty.”

According to the Minister, the data was collected from Kendriya Vidhyalaya (KV), Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalaya (JNV) and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) but not from state-funded or private schools.

“Education is a subject in the Concurrent List of the Constitution and schools, other than those owned / funded by the central government, are under the jurisdiction of state governments,” he said.

Further, Rajya Sabha members Manoj Kumar Jha and Ajit Kumar Bhuyan asked about the Centre’s contribution in the compensation to be sent to teachers’ families. They also asked how many families whose kin died during COVID duty are eligible for compensation and the state-wise status of receipt of the same.

On both these accounts, the government response was sorely lacking. The only related information provided was that non-central schools and their functioning are under the jurisdiction of the state governments. Accordingly, there was no state-wise break-up of the 327 deaths announced by Sarkar.

Earlier, when the UPPTA listed the 1,621 deaths between April and May, the state government acknowledged only three deaths between April 12 to May 16. Such contradictions in data keep affected families from availing the Rs. 1 crore compensation demanded by the Union and directed by the Allahabad court.

In September, Sabrang India talked to families of deceased staff members who said that while the administration had increased the number of acknowledged deaths from three people, it still hadn’t sent the Covid-compensation of Rs. 30 lakh.

This despite the UPPTA sending a detailed list of deceased people, their family contact and the district where they lived in. Geographically, the following regions lost their primary teachers and staff workers: Hardoi, Lakhimpur Kheri, Lucknow, Raebareli, Sitapur, Unnao, Azamgarh, Balliya, Mau, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Kushinagar, Varanasi, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Chandoli, Ayodhya, Barabanki, Sultanpur, Amethi, Ambedkarnagar, Prayagraj, Pratapgarh, Fatehpur, Kaushambi, Kanpur, Farukhabad, Kannauj, Etawah, Auraiya, Agra, Mainpuri, Mathura, Firozabad, Muradabad, Amroha, Bijnor, Rampur, Sambhal, Mirzapur, Sonbhadra, Bhadohi, Gonda, Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Jalaun, Banda, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Bareli, Shahjahanpur, Budaun, Pilibhit, Mareth, Bagpat, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bulandshahar, Hapur, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Aligarh, Kasganj, Etah, Hathras, Basti, Siddharthnagar, Santakbir nagar. It may be noted these are districts in UP alone.

While this list may include non-teaching staff, it may be worth questioning how the Centre counted a little more than 300 deaths in centrally-funded schools all over India when UP alone talks of over 1,600 deaths.

Related:

Families of deceased UP teachers still waiting for ex-gratia payment

UP govt asks SEC to consider wider compensation for dependents of deceased polling officials

UP: 1,621 people on polling duty dead, but gov't recognises only 3!

Rs. 1 cr compensation should be given to families of polling officials who died of Covid: Allahabad HC

SHOCKING! Modi Govt records only 327 school staff deaths due to Covid-19, 1600 dead in UP alone

While UP teachers’ unions claimed over 1,600 deaths, the Centre records 327 deaths nationwide

covid19
Representation image / CNN


In a disturbing display of data discrepancy, the Education Ministry declared that only 327 teaching and non-teaching staff from centrally-funded schools due to Covid-19 none of whom died during Covid-duty. This also amounts to an underplaying of deaths caused by gross medical negligence by the state and paucity of health services including oxygen cylinders in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister of State Subhas Sarkar answered on December 22, 2021 queries regarding death of government and non-government teachers while on Covid-duty. Already, the number presented by the government dwarfs in comparison to the 1,621 deaths reported by the Uttar Pradesh Primary Teachers Association (UPPTA) during the Panchayat elections in the state.

However, to make matters worse, Sarkar said, “None of these [327 staff] teachers died during COVID duty.”

According to the Minister, the data was collected from Kendriya Vidhyalaya (KV), Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalaya (JNV) and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) but not from state-funded or private schools.

“Education is a subject in the Concurrent List of the Constitution and schools, other than those owned / funded by the central government, are under the jurisdiction of state governments,” he said.

Further, Rajya Sabha members Manoj Kumar Jha and Ajit Kumar Bhuyan asked about the Centre’s contribution in the compensation to be sent to teachers’ families. They also asked how many families whose kin died during COVID duty are eligible for compensation and the state-wise status of receipt of the same.

On both these accounts, the government response was sorely lacking. The only related information provided was that non-central schools and their functioning are under the jurisdiction of the state governments. Accordingly, there was no state-wise break-up of the 327 deaths announced by Sarkar.

Earlier, when the UPPTA listed the 1,621 deaths between April and May, the state government acknowledged only three deaths between April 12 to May 16. Such contradictions in data keep affected families from availing the Rs. 1 crore compensation demanded by the Union and directed by the Allahabad court.

In September, Sabrang India talked to families of deceased staff members who said that while the administration had increased the number of acknowledged deaths from three people, it still hadn’t sent the Covid-compensation of Rs. 30 lakh.

This despite the UPPTA sending a detailed list of deceased people, their family contact and the district where they lived in. Geographically, the following regions lost their primary teachers and staff workers: Hardoi, Lakhimpur Kheri, Lucknow, Raebareli, Sitapur, Unnao, Azamgarh, Balliya, Mau, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Kushinagar, Varanasi, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Chandoli, Ayodhya, Barabanki, Sultanpur, Amethi, Ambedkarnagar, Prayagraj, Pratapgarh, Fatehpur, Kaushambi, Kanpur, Farukhabad, Kannauj, Etawah, Auraiya, Agra, Mainpuri, Mathura, Firozabad, Muradabad, Amroha, Bijnor, Rampur, Sambhal, Mirzapur, Sonbhadra, Bhadohi, Gonda, Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Jalaun, Banda, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Bareli, Shahjahanpur, Budaun, Pilibhit, Mareth, Bagpat, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bulandshahar, Hapur, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Aligarh, Kasganj, Etah, Hathras, Basti, Siddharthnagar, Santakbir nagar. It may be noted these are districts in UP alone.

While this list may include non-teaching staff, it may be worth questioning how the Centre counted a little more than 300 deaths in centrally-funded schools all over India when UP alone talks of over 1,600 deaths.

Related:

Families of deceased UP teachers still waiting for ex-gratia payment

UP govt asks SEC to consider wider compensation for dependents of deceased polling officials

UP: 1,621 people on polling duty dead, but gov't recognises only 3!

Rs. 1 cr compensation should be given to families of polling officials who died of Covid: Allahabad HC

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

No gatherings allowed for Christmas and New Year in Delhi?

DDMA has issued an order “banning all cultural events and gatherings for Christmas and New Year celebrations in the national capital” citing “rising cases of Omicron”

22 Dec 2021

Omicron
Image Courtesy:timesnownews.com

As the world readies for Christmas and looks forward to the New Year, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has put a damper on all public celebrations. The DDMA, on Wednesday issued an order “banning all cultural events and gatherings for Christmas and New Year celebrations in the national capital”. The DDMA has cited “rising cases of Omicron variant” of Covid-19 as the reason, and instructed the District Magistrates (DM) to and Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) to “ensure that no cultural event/gatherings/congregation/take place for celebrating Christmas or New Year in NCT of Delhi." 

According to DDMA's order dated December 15, "All social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural and religious events are prohibited and no gatherings can be held.” The authority, in its latest order, stated that there had been rampant violation of Covid norms on several occasions and the necessary restrictions are not being followed. It was instructed that “all District Magistrates as well as all District DCPs shall conduct surprise checks/ raids in their respective areas and shall take strict penal action against defaulters…”

Why wait till Christmas?

However, the timing to wait till Christmas must be noted. Just a month ago, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on November 04, 2021, performed the Lakshmi Puja on Diwali at the Thyagraj Stadium along with his Cabinet colleagues. The event was telecast live and it can be seen that the CM has himself not worn a mask, nor is there ample physical distancing on the stage where the Diwali puja was held. The Delhi government had performed a similar puja last year as well for the biggest Hindu festival celebrated in India and abroad. Delhi of course has a mixed population of all religions, however the government has now chosen to organise its second Diwali puja using public funds, but put a ban on Christmas gathering when it could have issued Covid-19 appropriate instructions on the number of people allowed at Church worship at a time. Most churches have self regulated and held Mass/ or the main congregational prayer online or televised it on private broadcast television and social media channels. It will be for the second year that Christmas mass may not be held inside a church. 

The “auspicious” wedding season in north India is also ebbing after weeks of celebrations, and the DDMA has allowed restaurants, bars, and auditoriums to function at 50 percent capacity, and put a ceiling of 200 people in wedding gatherings.

According to reports, Delhi’s Omicron tally is around 57 cases at the moment, followed by Maharashtra (54), Telangana (24) and Karnataka (19). The Omicron variant of Covid-19, believed to be one of the most infectious strains of the virus, has now spread to over 70 countries across the world including South Africa, India, UK and other densely populated countries. And though this variant has not proved to be as deadly as its predecessors like the Delta variant, experts are urging people to exercise caution with many countries now asking citizens to get a third booster shot.

The DDMA has directed officials to strengthen the enforcement machinery and deploy “sufficient number of enforcement teams on field for keeping utmost vigil at public places…” Officials have been told to conduct surveys and identify areas that have the potential of becoming hotspots of Covid-19 and the Omicron variant. It also told the Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs) of various areas to enforce Covid-19 prevention methods.

“Since, wearing of mask is the most important weapon in fight against Covid-19, RWAs and MTAs should be advised not to allow their residents, shopkeepers and customers without mask in their respective areas/public places,” ordered the DDMA.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who is also the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener is hoping to be elected to power in Goa Assembly. He recently promised Goans free pilgrimages to religious sites, "If AAP comes to power, we will arrange for free darshan of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Christian brothers and sisters will be taken to Velankanni and Muslims to Ajmer Sharif. Many people also have faith in Sai Baba, and will arrange trips to Shirdi for them." 

Related:

Covid-19: Omicron poses new challenges, spreads to 77 countries
Challenges of ‘hyper-nationalism’ highlighted in Vatican’s Diwali message
AAP's Diwali Pujan - the power to presume

No gatherings allowed for Christmas and New Year in Delhi?

DDMA has issued an order “banning all cultural events and gatherings for Christmas and New Year celebrations in the national capital” citing “rising cases of Omicron”

Omicron
Image Courtesy:timesnownews.com

As the world readies for Christmas and looks forward to the New Year, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has put a damper on all public celebrations. The DDMA, on Wednesday issued an order “banning all cultural events and gatherings for Christmas and New Year celebrations in the national capital”. The DDMA has cited “rising cases of Omicron variant” of Covid-19 as the reason, and instructed the District Magistrates (DM) to and Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) to “ensure that no cultural event/gatherings/congregation/take place for celebrating Christmas or New Year in NCT of Delhi." 

According to DDMA's order dated December 15, "All social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural and religious events are prohibited and no gatherings can be held.” The authority, in its latest order, stated that there had been rampant violation of Covid norms on several occasions and the necessary restrictions are not being followed. It was instructed that “all District Magistrates as well as all District DCPs shall conduct surprise checks/ raids in their respective areas and shall take strict penal action against defaulters…”

Why wait till Christmas?

However, the timing to wait till Christmas must be noted. Just a month ago, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on November 04, 2021, performed the Lakshmi Puja on Diwali at the Thyagraj Stadium along with his Cabinet colleagues. The event was telecast live and it can be seen that the CM has himself not worn a mask, nor is there ample physical distancing on the stage where the Diwali puja was held. The Delhi government had performed a similar puja last year as well for the biggest Hindu festival celebrated in India and abroad. Delhi of course has a mixed population of all religions, however the government has now chosen to organise its second Diwali puja using public funds, but put a ban on Christmas gathering when it could have issued Covid-19 appropriate instructions on the number of people allowed at Church worship at a time. Most churches have self regulated and held Mass/ or the main congregational prayer online or televised it on private broadcast television and social media channels. It will be for the second year that Christmas mass may not be held inside a church. 

The “auspicious” wedding season in north India is also ebbing after weeks of celebrations, and the DDMA has allowed restaurants, bars, and auditoriums to function at 50 percent capacity, and put a ceiling of 200 people in wedding gatherings.

According to reports, Delhi’s Omicron tally is around 57 cases at the moment, followed by Maharashtra (54), Telangana (24) and Karnataka (19). The Omicron variant of Covid-19, believed to be one of the most infectious strains of the virus, has now spread to over 70 countries across the world including South Africa, India, UK and other densely populated countries. And though this variant has not proved to be as deadly as its predecessors like the Delta variant, experts are urging people to exercise caution with many countries now asking citizens to get a third booster shot.

The DDMA has directed officials to strengthen the enforcement machinery and deploy “sufficient number of enforcement teams on field for keeping utmost vigil at public places…” Officials have been told to conduct surveys and identify areas that have the potential of becoming hotspots of Covid-19 and the Omicron variant. It also told the Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs) of various areas to enforce Covid-19 prevention methods.

“Since, wearing of mask is the most important weapon in fight against Covid-19, RWAs and MTAs should be advised not to allow their residents, shopkeepers and customers without mask in their respective areas/public places,” ordered the DDMA.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who is also the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener is hoping to be elected to power in Goa Assembly. He recently promised Goans free pilgrimages to religious sites, "If AAP comes to power, we will arrange for free darshan of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Christian brothers and sisters will be taken to Velankanni and Muslims to Ajmer Sharif. Many people also have faith in Sai Baba, and will arrange trips to Shirdi for them." 

Related:

Covid-19: Omicron poses new challenges, spreads to 77 countries
Challenges of ‘hyper-nationalism’ highlighted in Vatican’s Diwali message
AAP's Diwali Pujan - the power to presume

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Subscribe to Health