YK MYK UNEMPLOYMENT: GOVT HAS NO CLUE ON HOW TO DEAL WITH CRISIS SUNDAY EVENING SHOW: INDIAN WOMEN IN ASIAN BOXING FINALS OPINION SPORTS Morning India Rs. 3 KOLKATA SUNDAY, 30 MAY, 2021 PG-8, YEAR—8, ISSUE—15 (RNI NO: WBENG/ 2014 / 56803) WEATHER TODAY Mamata defends decision to skip Modi's cyclone review meeting MAX 31 C MIN 23 C MI NEWS SERVICE Rainfall may occur. AT A GLANCE ‘INDIAN TROOPS ON HIGH ALERT AT LAC, KEEPING EYE ON CHINESE ACTIVITIES’ NEW DELHI: The chief of Indian Army, M.M. Naravane, said here on Friday that the troops are on high alert at Line of Actual Control (LAC), keeping a close watch on the activities of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The army chief also pointed that India wants the status quo ante of April 2020 to be restored. Naravane stated that India has made it clear to China that de-escalation will only be considered once disengagement is completed to the mutual satisfaction of both sides. GOM SET UP TO EXAMINE GST CONCESSIONS ON COVID RELIEF MATERIAL NEW DELHI: In pursuance to the revision of GST Council at its meeting, the government on Saturday constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to examine the issue of GST concessions and exemption to Covid relief material. The eightmember GoM will have Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma as it convenor. It will submit a report on the matter by June 8. The GoM shall examine the need for concessions/exemption. PG 7 CORONA METER INDIA TOTAL CASES: 2,77,52,709 TOTAL DEATH: 3,22,808 WORLD TOTAL CASES: 170,217,299 TOTAL DEATH: 3,539,727 A deserted VIP Road at Lake Town, Kolkata in the evening during lockdown on Saturday. Prabir Bhattacharya Govt pension to families who lost earning member to COVID-19 NEW DELHI: The government on Saturday announced measures to help families who have lost earning member due to COVID-19, including providing pension to such families. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting on the issue and said the government stands in solidarity with such families, and efforts are being made to mitigate financial difficulties that may be faced by them, a release from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said. "To help family live a life of dignity and maintain a good standard of living, benefit of ESIC (Employees State Insurance Corporation) pension scheme for employment related death cases is being extended to even those who have died due to Covid," the A woman distributes milk and food to the needy people during a Langar Sewa, at ITO ghat in New Delhi on Saturday. ANI release said. Dependent family members of such persons will be entitled to the benefit of pension equivalent to 90 per cent of average daily wage drawn by the worker as per the existing norms. This benefit will be available retrospec- PM CARES scheme to support kids orphaned due to COVID-19 tively with effect from March 24, 2020 and for all such cases till March 24, 2022. Besides, the government has also enhanced and liberalised insurance benefits under the Employees' Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI) of Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). "Apart from all other beneficiaries, this will in particular help the families of employees who have lost their lives due to COVID," the release said. While maximum insurance benefit has been increased from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 7 lakh, the provision of minimum insurance benefit of Rs 2.5 lakh has been restored and will apply retrospectively from February 15, 2020 for the next three years, it added. INSIDE TO CREATE RS 10 LAKH CORPUS FOR EACH CHILD NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that all children who have lost both parents or guardians due to COVID-19 will be supported under the 'PM-CARES for Children' scheme. The PM CARES will contribute through a specially designed scheme to create a corpus of Rs 10 lakh for each child when he or she reaches 18 years of age. "This corpus will be used to give a monthly financial support/ stipend from 18 years of age, for the next five years to take care of his or her personal require- ments during the period of higher education and on reaching the age of 23 years, he or she will get the corpus amount as one lump-sum for personal and professional use," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said. As many as 577 children lost their parents due to the pandemic, the government sources had told ANI. The central government is constantly monitoring all these orphaned children in coordination with the state governments, they added. The Centre said it will ensure free education for children who lost their parents to COVID-19. The children will be assisted to get a loan for higher education and PM CARES will pay interest on the loan. PUBLIC HEALTHCARE IS STATE’S JOB: HC PAGE 5 KOHLI BETTER THAN DHONI PAGE 8 KOLKATA: A day after the row over cyclone Yaas review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday said she skipped the meeting taking exception to presence of the opposition leader and asked Union Government to withdraw its order recalling Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay to Delhi. She alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were trying to create problems for her Government at every step as they were yet to come to terms with the BJP's defeat in the Assembly elections. Banerjee said she was ready to touch Modi's feet if told to do so for the sake of Bengal's growth and development. "Because you (Modi and Shah) cannot digest BJP's defeat in (Bengal), you have started creating problems for us from day one. What is the fault of the Chief Secretary? "Recalling the Chief Secretary amid the COVID-19 crisis goes on to show that the Centre was indulging in political vendetta," the feisty TMC supremo asserted. Caught in the crossfire between the State Government and the Centre, the Chief Secretary attended the duty Saturday and accompanied the Chief Minister at an aerial survey of the cyclone-ravaged Purba Medinipur. "The meeting was earlier between PM-CM and later I found in the revised programme it was the big BJP party and me alone. "Why weren't the opposition leaders in Gujarat and Orissa called for meetings during the PM's visit to those States on cyclone," she questioned. "I had thought that the PM had landed in a State and we had met him as per the constitutional obligation and courtesy. But, later it spiralled into a controversy and there are several leaders of the ruling party who kept on tweeting to tarnish mine and my CS' image," Banerjee said. "If the PM asks me to touch his feet to help Bengal, I am ready to do that, but please do not insult, humiliate me like this. I have no problem. "I appeal to you to end this political vendetta, withdraw this letter (calling back CS); allow him to work for COVID-19 infected people, cyclone-affected people. We are working like a team and we want to continue that," Banerjee said at a virtual press conference. She said when everybody in her Government is fighting against COVID-19, the Central Government instead of helping them, was creating all sorts of problems for Bengal. Banerjee also questioned whether the Centre was against the Chief Secretary because he was a "Bengali". "It seems that they are only up to defaming the State Government. Why are they after Bengal? Are they doing it because our Chief Secretary is a Bengali?," she questioned. WHY WERE THERE OTHER BJP LEADERS IN PM'S MEETING: CM Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday questioned the presence of other BJP leaders in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's review meeting with her in the aftermath of cyclone Yaas. "When we reached, the meeting had started. They asked us to sit, I asked them to allow us a minute to submit the report. The SPG (Special Protection Group) told us that meeting will be after one hour. I saw empty chairs in the conference room. I was told that the meeting was between the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister. But why were there other BJP leaders?" the Chief Minister told reporters here. Banerjee's remarks come against the backdrop of BJP leader and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari attending the Prime Miniter's review meeting in Paschim Medinipur on Friday. Besides Adhikari, Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Debashree Chowdhury were also present in the meeting. BENGAL LOGS 12,193 FRESH COVID-19 CASES MI News Service, Kolkata: Bengal registered a total of 12,193 fresh COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the State Government informed. With this, the cumulative count of cases of the infection in the State reached 13,43,442. The State also saw 19,396 recoveries and 145 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the total tally to 12,18,516 and 15,120 respectively. Currently, the State has as many as 1,09,806 active COVID-19 cases. Bengal, at present, has a positivity rate of 10.98 per cent. REMDESIVIR OUTPUT JUMPS 10 TIMES Govt halts central allocation to states NEW DELHI: As the production of Remdesivir was ramped up ten times from 33,000 vials per day to 3.5 lakh, the Central government on Saturday decided to discontinue the central allocation of Remdesivir vials to states. Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mansukh Mandaviya, made the announcement and also directed the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Agency and Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) to continuously monitor the availability of Remdesivir in the country. The Minister informed that the production of Remdesivir was ramped up ten times from 33,000 vials per day on April 11 this year to 3,50,000 vials per day on Saturday. He said that the Central government has also increased the number of plants producing Remdesivir from 20 to 60 within a month. "Now the country has enough Remdesivir as the supply is much more than the demand." The Central government has decided to procure 50 lakh vials of Remdesivir to maintain it as a strategic reserve for emergency requirement, the Minister added. During the peak of the second wave of the pandemic in April, there was an acute shortage of Remdesivir across the country. The drug which is only to be used in severe Covid-19 cases was hoarded and black-marketed. Second wave to stunt rural demand, impact overall growth HOWEVER, A NORMAL MONSOON WILL BE A PALLIATIVE OVER THE REMAINDER OF THE YEAR: ICRA ECONOMIST NEW DELHI: Covid's second wave is expected to stunt rural demand, consequently, marginally dampening India's 2021 growth prospects. According to economy observers, heavy impact of pandemic in rural areas as well as rise in healthcare and other associated costs will slow down rural demand. Significantly, this will impact sectors ranging from two-wheelers, tractors, cement and consumer durables amongst others. "Agricultural production will remain robust but rural consumption may get impacted due to spread of Covid," India Ratings' Principal Economist Sunil Kumar Sinha told IANS. As of now, India suffers from a massive spike in Covid-19 infections. The latest spike has brought in record number of patients, thereby, impeding healthcare infrastructure's ability to deal with the surge. Consequently, the situation has forced state governments to implement local lockdowns and travel restrictions which have started to slowdown economic activity. "Rural demand may be dented given the high health expenses related to Covid-19," said Aditi Nayar, Chief Economist at ICRA. "However, a normal monsoon will be a palliative over the remainder of the year." In terms of growth impact from a slower rural demand, Emkay's Lead Economist Madhavi Arora said factors such as better adapted firms and poli- cy response, stable financial conditions, vaccine drive, pent-up demand release and robust global growth spillovers create growth buffers. "Assuming Covid-II peaks in May'21 and restrictions ease by Q2FY22, we mark down our FY22 GDP forecast to 9.9 per cent from 11 per cent earlier, with a further downward bias." Besides, any impact on agricultural production will flare-up inflation dashing hopes of any policy easing as well as credit growth of the sector. However, healthy monsoon season as well as the declining trend of second wave especially before the sowing season will arrest the fall in rural demand. "India is likely to receive normal south west monsoon seasonal rainfall as predicted by IMD which raises the prospects of good harvests. However, the IN TERMS OF GROWTH IMPACT FROM A SLOWER RURAL DEMAND, EMKAY'S LEAD ECONOMIST MADHAVI ARORA SAID FACTORS SUCH AS BETTER ADAPTED FIRMS AND POLICY RESPONSE, STABLE FINANCIAL CONDITIONS, VACCINE DRIVE, PENT-UP DEMAND RELEASE AND ROBUST GLOBAL GROWTH SPILLOVERS CREATE GROWTH BUFFERS. spread of the Covid-19 to the rural areas is a cause of greater concern," said Arun Singh, Global Chief Economist, Dun & Bradstreet. "The poor state of rural health infrastructure and the influx of migrant labourers owing to various restrictions in urban areas could possibly offset a larger share of the gains from the good agriculture output." According to Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer, Acuite Ratings & Research: "There is a forecast of a timely and adequate monsoon in the current year which we expect will help to maintain healthy agricultural growth in FY22. While the spread of Covid 2.0 in rural areas may impact the agricultural sector, the extent will depend on the duration of the pandemic wave." "If the pandemic intensity continues in the sowing season in June-July, there may be a potential impact on the Kharif crop but it is difficult to ascertain that at this stage."