After the announcement of Rs 20 lakh crore relief package to lift the sinking economy, especially Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), because of the coronavirus lockdown, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cynics and born-opponents began quizzing people on social media to guess the zeroes in the total amount. One of them wrote, “It doesn’t matter, after all it was Bharat that invented zero.” With so many zeros to deal with, the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, though not really a finance person, has managed to survive the test Covid-19 pandemic has posed her. The devil is, however, in actual implementation. Like the much touted Mudra Yojana loan scheme, where most lending have become “Non-Performing Assets”, the funding of MSMEs may go the same way, if it is turned into a “loan mela” to achieve the target. So, she will have to keep track of where her zeros are going.

Adhir embarrasses Congress

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, embarrassed the Congress on Monday with a tweet on the border skirmishes between Indian and Chinese troops. Warning Beijing, the MP from Behrampore, West Bengal, tweeted: “Be careful China, Indian forces know how to defang the venomous snakes like you, and entire world is watching the sinister design of yellow expansionist. I would suggest the govt to accord diplomatic recognition to Taiwan without much delay.” Congress asked him to delete the tweet immediately. On Tuesday, Congress’ foreign affairs department chairman and Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma disassociated the party from Chowdhury’s views. “The Congress recognises and values the special strategic partnership between India and China, and that Chowdhary’s views on China “are his own and do not reflect the party position.”

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON THE RISE

Because of the coronavirus lockdown, many jobless families living in jhuggi-jhopri colonies and one-room homes are witnessing domestic violence and child abuse. Women and children are at high risk. The opening of liquor shops has added more to their woes. “Several alcoholic jobless men are beating their wives and small children,” said Rani Patel, head of a noted NGO, Aarohan, which operates from south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar, a part of which was one of Delhi’s first Covid-19 hotspots. “Since there is no work in the lockdown period,” said Patel, “many women and children are becoming victims of the men’s frustration.” “The families do not have sufficient food to eat daily, and many have six-to-eight members living in one room,” Patel said. With the help of donors, Aarohan is now distributing chocolates, ice creams, yoghurts, fruit and toys to children, besides dry ration and cooked food to their parents in the slums of Malviya Nagar, Yusuf Sarai, Bhati Mines, Mangolpuri, Madanpurkhadar and other adjoining colonies.

‘DRTI must be scrapped’

A sense of insecurity and anxiety among people locked down is bringing about surprising psychological changes. The fear of being forced into self-quarantine has made some people give their neighbour’s address 50-70 metres away whenever they order doorstep delivery of food and essentials—a distance safe to avoid forced sealing of a house and adjacent buildings by the authorities in case the delivery boy tests coronavirus positive later. This practice has caught up after a pizza delivery boy in South Delhi’s Malviya Nagar tested positive and the authorities put nearly 72 homes, where he and his colleagues had made deliveries, under quarantine. After the neighbour refuses to take an “unknown” packet the delivery boy calls up the person who placed the order and then the resident comes rushing to collect the packet on the road, leaving no evidence behind for the local authorities to narrow down upon his or her identity.

TaxiBot in Bengaluru airport

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), with its partners TLD and SAS, is expanding its innovative TaxiBot operation and deployment to additional airports: In India, Bengaluru airport has chosen this system and in Netherlands, Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam airport recently started a pilot of aircraft taxiing with the TaxiBot (taxiboting) to streamline the process. The airport at Bengaluru is also testing the system. The TaxiBot, which was developed by IAI’s aviation group and TLD, is a semi-robotic vehicle, which connects to the aircraft and is controlled by the pilot. It is used to taxi the planes (taxiboting) from the airport’s gate bridge to the runway and back without turning on the jet engines. Yossi Melamed, head of IAI’s Aviation Group, told The Sunday Guardian that the process saves 85% of the fuel burned during taxiing and similar savings in greenhouse gas emissions. Additional benefits of taxiboting include 60% noise reduction and 50% reduction of damages caused by foreign objects sucked into the engines during taxiing. “The TaxiBot streamlines aircraft’s entry and exit from the terminal area saving around four minutes per departure as measure during the routine daily operation at Delhi airport,” said Melamed.

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