Dear Reader,

As the cases of COVID-19 rise relentlessly, our grantees look at the challenges and issues it has raised and the disruptions and inequities it has created.

DTE reports on Punjab’s lateral thinking in providing employment during the lockdown and at the same time saving the state from becoming a desert. IndiaSpend dwells on the distress of non-Covid patients facing a huge rise in the cost of medicines, to the point of being forced to endanger their own lives. And, Live Law focuses on the Supreme Court’s suo motu cognizance of the indignities shown to the bodies of the COVID-19 fatalities.

These are stories that our grantees covered in the last week. We bring you a selection of the best of their offering. Read on.

Sunil Rajshekhar

For a collection of previous issues, click here.

COVID-19: Punjab’s pond cleaning project gathers pace

What do you do if your land is in danger of turning into a desert and your citizens have been deserted by the employers? You do what Punjab did. It provided one million man-days of work through MGNREGA to those who had lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 lockdown and assigned them the task of reviving the traditional ponds in the state for irrigation. The unemployed were provided a means of livelihood when all looked lost and the state is on the verge of reversing the trend that threatened to turn it into a “desert in 25 years”, DTE reports.

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How Healthcare Became Unaffordable For Non-COVID Patients During The Pandemic

IndiaSpend investigates the other side of COVID-19. With the healthcare system largely repurposed and focused on dealing with the pandemic, those with other chronic issues – severe genetic disorders, for instance, are finding the going tough. They are coping with the twin issues of severely restricted hospital access and the soaring prices of medicines. So costly and unaffordable have the medicines become that they have resorted to the most dangerous and desperate of recourses – stop taking them.

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Mishandling Of COVID-19 Affected Dead Bodies (Right to Life & Right to Die with Dignity)

The Supreme Court has taken a suo motu cognizance of a former Union Law Minister’s letter on the undignified and callous manner that the bodies of Coronavirus fatalities were being treated. The letter asserted that disrespect shown to the dead amounts to a “grave infraction of the citizen’s right” to a decent burial or cremation, enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution. A three-judge bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan issued notices to the states to explain why the guidelines on the matter have not been followed, Live Law reports.

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COVID-19 and Digital Futures: Is India Prepared to Build an Inclusive Way Forward?

Technology-based solutions in the form of online classes and ‘work from home’ have been touted as the solution to the severe restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, is India ready? Will the yawning gap between the digital haves and have-nots increase the social and economic distance between those who are connected and those who are not? Will technology rather than being an enabler for the larger society become an instrument of exclusion, and inadvertently increase inequities? EPW dwells into these critical questions.

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Indian scientists find COVID gene in wastewater — a breakthrough in tracking virus outbreak

The Print reports that a breakthrough in real-time surveillance of COVID-19 in the country has been discovered by Indian scientists. A study led by scientists in IIT Gandhinagar has for the first time detected genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater, which will enable waste-water based epidemiology (WBE). India joins a select list of countries with this prowess, which will enable administrators and policy makers to upgrade surveillance and target responses.

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More from the grantees
लॉकडाउन की वजह से उत्तर प्रदेश में बढे बाल विवाह के मामले
Khabar Lahariya reports on how poverty and unemployment on account of lockdown has led to an increase in child marriages in the rural parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Why Chennai’s COVID-19 Cases Are Sky High
The Lede speaks with experts and the administrators to explain why COVID--19 cases continue to increase sharply in Chennai. Prompting the state to enforce further lockdowns.
Delhi overwhelmed with rising COVID cases; non-COVID patients left in a lurch
Suno India speaks with a public healthcare researcher in Delhi to understand what the state government can do to help non-Covid patients and patients who opt to get treated by private healthcare providers.
The Geopolitics of a COVID-19 Vaccine
The policy analysts at the Takshashila Institution explain how the geopolitics of the COVID-19 vaccine is comparable with ICBMs or the Manhattan project which gives countries a strategic advantage.
Amid COVID, Centre’s conflicting guidelines were disastrous for India’s eye-donation programme
Unclear and conflicting guidelines by the Union health ministry and affiliate agencies have brought India’s eye-donation programme to a complete halt during the lockdown, reports The Caravan.
70 सालों में ये कैसा भारत बना, जहां कोरोना इलाज का रेट देखकर ही मर जाएं मरीज
Janjwar dwells on how India’s health infrastructure continues to fail the poor of India during the pandemic, seven decades after independence.
Invest in the most vulnerable to tide over COVID-19 crisis
The callousness with which the private employers have treated their employees point to a heartless system. Only when the state invests in its most vulnerable, will a just and equitable society be established, asserts Down To Earth.
ടിക്കറ്റും യാത്രയുമില്ല; ഇത് 'പച്ചക്കറി ബസ്'
Azhimukham reports on a tour operator's initiative in helping his 40-odd employees without work for over three months following the lockdown. The owner transformed his bus into a mobile vegetable shop, manned by his employees, providing them with alternate employment.
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