Saturday, 28 March 2020 - Imphal Times

IT News
Imphal March 28
No new cases of COVID-19 in Manipur have been detected in the last few days after a first positive case of it was detected on 24th March, according to a daily report released by Health Department, Government of Manipur.
A total of 486 individuals are placed under surveillance by contact tracing and no individual remains to be traced. The lone COVID-19 positive individual condition is now improving and showing signs of improvement, a source said.
Meanwhile, a photo widely circulated in the social media alleging to be the positive patient posing for a photo with two doctors was found to be false and was debunked by the Director of JNIMS. The alleged photo where the one in the middle is a resident doctor and she took the photo before entering COVID-19 ward, where the lone positive patient is undergoing treatment. In this regard, Cyber Crime of Manipur has taken up a case and one admin of a page was arrested in this regard, after a complaint was filed by the Director of JNIMS, said a source.
Taking in view of the seriousness of the Pandemic COVID-19, Manipur Police has beefed up precautionary measures in the state and people coming out without valid reason were made to turn back. Also, many were detained by the Police for breaking the curfew imposed in the valley area.

On the other hand, an order released by the Chief Secretary of Manipur Dr.J. Suresh Babu that wholesale markets will be allowed to open tomorrow for the retailers for procuring commodities for their retail shops. Retail shop owners can obtain the requisite permit from the respective Deputy Commissioner and vehicles required for carrying the goods should carry the original permit issued in this regard and no individual public sales are allowed, said the order.

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IT News
Imphal, March 28

Speaker’s Tribunal of the Manipur Legislative Assembly today disqualified MLA Thaonaojam Shyamkumar from the membership of State Legislative assembly for defecting his parent political party.
Th. SHyamkumar had defected from the Congress to the BJP after Assembly elections in Manipur in 2017, which he had contested as a Congress candidate. The Congress had won 28 seats in the elections and the BJP got 21. However, the BJP allied with National People’s Party to form a government, and Singh joined them. He was made the minister of forest and environment.
The Congress filed an application of disqualification against him but Khemchand did not take any action, after which a writ petition was filed. Singh was also suspended from the party for six years.
On March 18, the Supreme Court had barred Singh from entering the Legislative Assembly, and ruled that he would cease to be a minister immediately. The order was passed after the top court noted that despite its direction to the Manipur Speaker in January to decide on the 13 disqualification petitions pending against Singh within four weeks, no such decision had been taken.
“It is established beyond doubt that the respondent had voluntarily given up the membership of the Indian National Congress,” the order passed by the Speaker said on Saturday. “Hence, this tribunal came to the conclusion that the respondent had clearly violated the provision of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India and is liable to be punished as per the provision of the Constitution to uphold the dignity of democracy and the mandate of the people”.
The Congress welcomed the disqualification. “Nobody can go against our Indian Constitution,” party MLA K Meghachandra said. “Protecting the Constitution is respecting democracy. I welcome the justice delivered by the Speaker but it is too late as it has already affected the democratic rights of the people.”
Ahead of the Speaker’s decision, Singh had tendered his resignation on Thursday.

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IT News
Imphal, March 28

Unlike in Thangmeiband AC, not all people of Ward. No. 13 of Keishamthong Assembly Constituency get not even 5 kg of rice. Only those in the voter list gets 4 Kg of rice m by deducting 1 Kg which should be provided. Those who are not in the voter list have to spend hungry without food as they have not been provided the rice assured by the government. Those people who are under 18 years of age residing at the wards are supposed to live without rice at this time of crisis.

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IT News
Imphal, March 28

At a time when people are facing extraordinary situation, some MLAs of course come up with to make sure that people of his or her constituencies face no difficulties in getting food. When there are criticism over partial distribution of rice at some of the places, MLA Joykishan of Thangmeiband Assembly constituency had assured to distribute 5 kg of rice and 1 kg of Dal to each persons in Thangmeiband AC. Rice and Dal of those people who have no cards will be bear from his pocket.
The distribution of the rice will begin from April 1 from 7 am by the Thangmeiband Kendra Development Organisation (TAKDO) association with the Thangmeiband United Club (TUC).
People of Thangmeiband area can contact , 7005145937; 9774199861; 8131919299; 8787712480; 9862100990; 9383237854; 9366254260 and 7005143153.

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IT News
Imphal, March 28

Three students’ bodies of the state – the All Nga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM), Apunba Ireipakki Maheiroi Sinpanglup (AIMS) and the Democratic Students’ Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), have urged the Chief Minister of Manipur to introduce online learning for students in colleges and Universities and also drew attention on the need for introduction of teaching learning process for children.
A memorandum signed by the representatives of the three students’ bodies has been submitted to the Chief Minister today afternoon.
In the memorandum, it is stated that the University Grant Commission also advice the teachers and students to utilize the time productivity by engaging in On-line learning while maintaining social distance and staying in the confined home/hostels as we are combating Covid 19.
The memorandum showing concern about the need for continuation of teaching learning process stated that in order to improve the teaching-learning process for kids, which is specially necessary for small kids who are not attending schools as all schools are closed due to the lock-down. The proposal is not only for the specific lock-down period but should be a continuing process. For small kids . it is not only the school which can impart knowledge and skill but many including life skills are learnt from home and locality.
The memorandum also suggested to use variety of technologies including Cable TV by developing expert team.

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By: T S Haokip

“There is no economic task force; medical infrastructure is pathetic; the Government has failed to act timely,” are few of the many statements the Government is bombarded with as India fights the highly contagious Covid-19. But over time, it has become clearly visible that while we, the public scrutinized the Government’s actions and inactions and criticized the measures adopted by the Govt. to control the spread of covid-19, there are many instances which show the picture otherwise. Though the Govt. is faced with the gruelling task of steering the economy and keeping the virus at bay, it has fared exceedingly well by implementing a well balanced action plans with indomitable spirit. After all the state Governments have declared lockdowns and semi-lockdowns till 31st of March, the Prime Minister has now declared #NationalLockdown for the next 21 days starting from 25th of March 2020. As rightly said by the PM, there is no alternate options but to #StayHome and #StaySafe. Except for the medical infrastructures, which too is expected to show positive developments after the allocation of Rs. 15000 Crore, the Govt. has done most of what is possible in its hand.
Many people have rightly pointed out our inordinate delay in fighting corona virus; especially our dealings with in-bound foreign travellers- both Indians and foreigners. That concern no longer exists and we are now in a stage beyond pointing fingers and throwing accusations. The Government has made necessary advisories and has initiated social distancing and personal hygiene initiatives. What about the public? Have we done our part? For, the fight against Corona is surely not the Government’s alone. We have equal, if not greater roles to play. There are concerns raised by many people regarding the availability of essential items for the common men and also the plight of those daily-wage labourers during the lock-down. While the Government in general and state Governments in particular have assured the public of ensuring the availability of essential goods and services, the concern for labourers and wage earners will require collective efforts from the state as well as civil based organisations and ‘religious and charitable institutes’.
It is understandable the hesitation and fear to face lockdown, more so isolation and self-quarantine. But the same way we expect our Government to shut offices and schools and save stranded Indians overseas, it is obligatory on our part at the least, to quarantine ourselves- to stay home and to stay safe. Most importantly, to contained the virus in the unfortunate event of us getting the infection. Media is flooded by a story of an infected boy from Kolkata who visited many places after testing positive with covid-19. Then, there are instances of people fleeing from hospital isolation-wards. We can witness the fear and anxiety people attached with ‘isolation’.
There are lots of initiatives that can be taken, especially by the more known personalities- to not just educate people about the necessity of ‘isolation’ and ‘public distancing’ but to convey a message that,’ it is not scary and perfectly normal.’ This is a time when we look up to celebrities to be our role models. In contrast, a celebrity singer, Ms. Kanika Kapoor, who landed in India from London on the 9th of March 2020 allegedly bypassed Government’s directive of self-quarantine for a minimum 14 days for all travellers from infected nations and had even attended a party. The singer expectedly was slammed by twiterrati when she announced on 20th of March 2020 that she has tested positive for the virus. The thought of many people thus having possible chances of contacting the virus as a result of her alleged negligence is frightening. While Kanika Kapoor in her defense has claimed that she informed concerned authorities about her travels and in fact insisted herself for the test to be conducted, many people find it unacceptable for a person of her stature to disregard basic preventive norms. There will be hundreds like her who have evaded screening process for the virus and while it is only human to err, one hopes the incident teaches people, especially the celebrated personalities to be not just responsible but exemplary worth emulating by the public.
Some people mocked the Government for its just concluded ‘Janta curfew’ by saying that the fight against Corona virus will take more than just clapping and a one-day national shutdown. While that is true, what most people overlook is the fact that the initiative has aroused the much needed public -awareness about the virus, apart from acknowledging the selfless dedication and sacrifices of the healthcare workers and other essential service providers. Also, worth mentioning is the simple fact that the observance of ‘Janta Curfew’ in no ways imply that the Government’s initiative is restricted to that one day. Schools and offices remained shut; lockdowns continue to exist; social distancing and self-quarantine guideline are still in place. What is more? The Indian railways have suspended its services and all flights; both domestic and international are cancelled. In fact, it was some people, who, contrary to the purpose of the observance, defy social distancing norms and took to streets the drumming and clapping exercise. That surely is not the Government’s fault.
The fight against Coronavirus will require efforts from the public as much as from the Government. Advisories are of no use, if flaunted at will. The onus now is on the public to render all possible help to the concerned authorities. Putting the blame on the Government may be easy but we all know this fight will not be easy. This seemingly unwinnable fight does not require our herculean efforts though. A small initiative on our part, as simple as maintaining social distancing will go a long way. Honestly, that could be the only weapon, with which we can effectively control the deadly corona virus. ‘Yes, together we can’ seems the right message right now.
(The writer is author of the book HILLY DREAMS)

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Maharashtra Govt to provide shelter and food to migrant labourers

By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, March 28

The country was heading towards third phase of “Covid19”, with 873 active cases and 20 deaths, even as Maharashtra and Kerala with maximum number of positive cases were  struggling to contain infection, on Saturday. 
With the death of a 69-year-old man at Kochi Medical College, the death toll rose to 20 on Saturday. This became the first death due to “Covid 19” in Kerala. “A 69-year-old man died due to Coronavirus, at Kochi Medical College on Saturday”, Ernakulam District Medical Officer Dr NK Kuttappan tweeted. 
The death toll across the country stood as  : Maharashtra 6, Gujarat 3, Karnataka 2, Madhya Pradesh 2, Bihar 1, Delhi 1, Himachal Pradesh 1, Kerala-01. J & K 1, Punjab 1, Tamil Nadu 1 and West Bengal 1. 
In Mumbai, the death of a 85 year old senior surgeon Dr Abiden Bahrainwala, attached to private hospitals, created a flutter on Friday. He was said to had come in contact with his relatives who had returned from England. Dr Abiden Bahrainwala, passed away at P D Hinduja Hospital in South Central Mumbai. His cardiac surgeon son and his son have also tested positive. Maharashtra Health Department maintained that since the deceased was treated privately, it would come out with its finding only after “verification”. 
Dr. Vernon Desa, Director (Medical governance and clinical compliance) of “Saifee Hospital”,  where Dr. Bahrainwala, was working, in a press statement said that “ Dr. Bahrainwala underwent a CT Scan at Saifee Hospital and was diagnosed as diagnostic for “Covid19”. He was transferred to the special isolation facility at P.D Hinduja Hospital where he subsequently died”. 
With sizable addition of new cases, the countrywide tally of positive cases stood as: Maharashtra-180, Kerala—173, Karnataka-55, Rajasthan-50, Telengana-48,Gujarat-45, Uttar Pradesh-45, Delhi-39, Punjab-38, Tamil Nadu-38, Haryana-33, Madhya Pradesh-20, J & K-18, West Bengal-15, Andhra Pradesh-14, Ladakh-13, Bihar-09, Chandigarh-08, Chhattisgarh-06, Uttarakhand-05, Goa-03, Himachal Pradesh-03, Odisha-03, Andaman and Nicobar-02, Manipur-01, Mizoram-01, Puducherry-01,
 The union ministry of health stated that 873 patients (826 Indians,47 foreigners) tested positive, 78 patients were cured and 15,24,266 passengers were screened at the airports, across the country. 
In another development, the Maharashtra Government has decided to provide shelter and food under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 (as amended) to migrant labourers working on various public projects in Mumbai and elsewhere and who are struck due to lock down. 
Under the plan a mapping of migrant labourers will be done and they will be accommodated in the schools run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and other vacant public premises. There are a sizable number of workers, working on different upcoming metro rail projects in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nagpur. Since passenger train services have been cancelled, these workers are unable to return to their native places. Chief Ministers of Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and West Bengal have already requested to Maharashtra Chief Uddhav Thackeray to take care of migrant workers from their states, working in Maharashtra. The Union Home Secretary has also written to all States/Union Territories to take immediate steps for providing all adequate arrangements for the migrant workers, students who are still outside their states. 
In another development, the Maharashtra Government has began “contact tracing” campaign to find out whether any infected persons, including maid servants/ domestic helps, are residing in slums, to prevent “community transmission” of disease. There are thick pockets of slums in Mumbai, where the density of population is nearly 23,000/one square km. Most of the domestic helps reside in these slums. Recently a 68 year old maid servant, working for a 49 year old man, in a Central Mumbai apartment, was found to be infected. The man had  returned from USA on 7 March and the maid was found to be infected by 17 March. After she tested positive, she was admitted to Kasturba Hospital. Now BMC officials are having “testing” time to trace out how many people came in her contact, before she was admitted to the hospital. 
Out of estimated 2.50 crore population of Mumbai, nearly 41.3 per cent reside in slums. By and large the density of population is 73,000 per square mile. There are close to two lakh homeless people in Mumbai alone.

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IT News
Imphal, March 28

Chief Minister N Biren Singh expressed his profound gratitude to N. Dhinel Singh, Proprietor, N.D. Industries for generously donating Rs. 1,00,000 to the newly created Chief Minister’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.
N. Dhinel Singh, Proprietor, N.D. Industries producing Bisleri brand packaged drinking water handed over the cheque to N. Biren Singh in the presence of Principal Secretary (GAD) P. Vaiphei during a solemn function held at Chief Minister’s Secretariat today. N. Dhinel also assured that Bisleri would provide water free of cost to the police personnel on duty, Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Manipur Police HQ, General Administration Department, etc.  during the 21- Days lockdown to fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the State.
Chief Minister appreciated N. Dhinel Singh and other individuals and organisations who have generously donated to the Chief Minister’s COVID-19 Relief Fund till now.
The Chief Minister also expressed hope that more organisations and people would come forward to fight collectively against COVID-19.

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By Nava Thakuria

Guwahati

 

Newspapers in India face an uphill task to maintain its readership index as New Delhi declared for a complete lockdown till the middle of April because of pandemic Covid-19 outbreak in the large country. A shutdown that instantly prevented the vendors to deliver morning newspapers at their doorsteps of buyers and the rumour that the paper  itself can carry the novel corona virus forced many publishers to drastically reduce their circulation figure.

As the China originated deadly virus started smashing almost all the countries on the planet resulting in affecting over a hundred thousand people and casualties up to few thousands, Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to front to lead the fight against the deadly virus. Modi in a televised address to the billion-plus nation on 24 March 2020 declared a total shutdown to break the chain of infection so that the spreading of Covid-19 can be prevented.

As the pandemic infected over 900 Indians with nearly 20 casualties, its immediate impact was observed over the circulation of newspapers in Mumbai as the vendors ceased to work  because of Covid-19 outbreak.

Managements of all print media houses after a meeting with Brihanmumbai Vruttapatra Vikreta Sangh resolved to suspend publications till 30 March. The decision finally resulted in no newspaper day for the residents of Mumbai as well as Thane, Pune, Nagpur etc.

However, managements of The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Mid-Day etc made it clear that even though no physical editions would hit the stands on account of the new-found restrictions their newspapers would be thoroughly available in the internet. Many media houses started sharing the PDF version of complete newspaper free of cost. Acclaimed news magazine Outlook also suspended its print edition pushing its digital edition available to nurture the need of readers.

After Mumbai, it was the turn for hundred thousand residents of Bangalore, Hyderabad along with Guwahati, Imphal, Agartala, Aizawl in northeast India to miss their favourite morning newspapers as the local distributors decided to suspend their works because of the virus outbreak. Guwahati newspaper-hawkers’ association, Manipur hawkers’ association, Tripura and Mizoram based newspaper vendors separately came out with the resolution that they would not distribute the newspapers for some days.

The region witnesses the publication of over 50 morning dailies in different languages including English, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Boro, Meitei, Karbi, Khasi, Mizo, Nagamese, Nepali, etc. Few viral posts on social media indicating the newspapers as a potential career of corona virus created panic to the newspaper agents and hawkers along with other media employees. Even many apartment societies and families prevented the vendors delivering newspapers to them.

World Health Organization (WHO) has however asserted that newspapers are still safe to touch by anybody even though the corona virus can live on some surfaces for several days. The papers used in print media outlets are produced in highly automated mills and the process hardly needs human hands. Moreover, the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes Covid-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low, it added.

But reports relating to suspended publication of physical editions because of Covid-19 started pouring from different parts of the globe.

From Sylhet (Bangladesh) to Colombo (Sri Lanka), Rabat (Morocco) to Rome (Italy), Vatican City to Jordan, Oman, Yemen capitals along with American cities like Pittsburgh, Seattle, Missouri, West Virginia, Lewisburg etc witness the temporary suspension of newspaper productions. Those media outlets have already committed for entering into the digital platforms completely.

The largest democracy in the world today supports over 82,000 registered newspapers with a cumulative daily circulation of 11 crore estimated to be a Rs 32,000 crore (5 billion USD)  industry. As India has been improving its literacy rate up to 75 percent, more citizens now develop the capacity and resources to access newspapers and digital forums. More middle class Indian families now start using the internet for various activities for the first time in their lives.

Prior to declaring the 21-day nationwide lockdown to fight against Covid-19, Modi interacted with some selected media barons in the country and received suggestions from them over the issue. It is quite amazing that Modi did not organize such interactions with news media owners prior to the shocking announcement of demonetisation (2016), abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir (2019) and paving ways for the citizenship amendment act 2019.

Even Indian Union information & broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar commented, “Do not believe in the rumours. You will not get infected by reading newspapers. There is just one rule to follow — wash your hands after doing any work.” A former journalist Javadekar asserted that newspapers have tremendous credibility and those can play a constructive role in the time of crisis.

Understanding the heat of changing social engineering, various print media houses opted for boosting their presences in the digital media.

As millions of Indians now start using smart phones with internet connectivity, the media owners come to the realization that they would now prefer to get all necessary and almost free news contents from the digital platforms rather than paying for newspapers or even news channels. So the advertisers have also substantially shifted their

focus to the digital media space.

It needs not to be reminded that a newspaper in India is sold in the market at a lower price than its actual cost. The deficit (also profit) is managed by the commercial advertisers. They want a newspaper to reach more people (with a price or even without it) so that their products get necessary visibilities. Minus circulation, the advertisers would not support the newspapers anymore. So no distribution of newspapers (even it is duly published) simply means low advertisement flow for print media outlets.

The situation can emerge alarming for regional newspapers like those published from Guwahati, Imphal, Agartala, Aizawl etc, as the owners may not be able to sustain their publications for a longer period. It would directly impact the employees including thousands of  scribes in the region. A number of media bodies came out with statements against the rumour that newspapers can carry the corona virus. They also appealed to the governments to support the media houses to deal with the situation.

A host of Guwahati based media houses including Asomiya Pratidin, The Assam Tribune, Dainik Janambhumi, Niyomiya Barta, Dainik Asom,  Amar Asom, Purbanchal Prahari, Sadin, The North East Times, The Meghalaya Guardian etc made a collective statement   that there is no scientific proof for newspapers carrying the corona virus to the readers. The managements also asserted that a section of electronic and social

media outlets spread the unauthenticated news.

But countering it, many social media users put a harsh question to those media houses if  they could assure their valued readers of authenticated, credible and balanced news here after ! The world would return to normalcy fighting against Covid-19 in some day, but will the traditional media houses in the region ever get its dedicated readers back in the post-corona era, a difficult question to be answered indeed !!

 

(The author is a northeast India based media activist (and contacted at +91 8486798061)

 

 

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