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Daily briefing: Tensions with two neighbours, metro hubs will soon be buzzing, and more

Written by Leela Prasad
, Liu Chuen Chen
| New Delhi |

Updated: May 21, 2020 9:19:12 am

A look at the top news today, May 21, 2020.

Dear Reader,

Our skies will soon be buzzing with activity again as the Ministry of Home Affairs amended its lockdown 4.0 guidelines to allow domestic air travel from May 25. Several countries with low Covid-19 caseloads have already been preparing the ground for a travel bubble. In India, however, connecting cities would be a challenge considering most of them are in red zones and airlines may not find it viable to fly between green zones given the weak demand.

Not one to be left behind, the Railways is also increasing its passenger train operations from June 1. The list of 100 trains include seventeen Jan Shatabdis, five Durontos and a number of traditionally popular mail and express trains to various parts of India. However, tickets can only be booked online, leaving passengers at the mercy of the IRCTC website.

There is no Doklam-like standoff yet but officials in New Delhi described the situation at Sino-Indian border as “delicately poised” and “very sensitive”. The Indian Express has learnt that there has been movement of troops to eastern Ladakh following the continuing objections of the Chinese to the construction of a road, well within Indian territory.

Tension with another neighbour, over another road, has deepened. The Nepal Prime Minister has released a new map of the country which included parts of Indian territory. New Delhi’s response: “This unilateral act is not based on historical facts and evidence.”

Cyclone Amphan left behind a trail of destruction on Wednesday, with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee describing the event as a bigger disaster than the Covid-19 outbreak after at least 10 people were killed. Met officials say it would take 5 to 6 hours for the cyclone to pass over Bengal and the rains are expected to continue till Friday.

Royal Bank Professor of Economics at the University of British Columbia Amartya Lahiri and former RBI governor Urjit Patel emphasise the need forubiquitous testing for Covid-19, which they say, will likely be a worldwide phenomenon over the next year or two.

Even though Maharashtra accounts for about a third of all COVID cases in India,there appears to be a silver lining: Epidemiologists say that while the number of cases is rising, the growth rate has slowed. The death rate among the infected too has been declining.

With the lockdown now getting extended up to May 31 and the possibility of further extension not ruled out in some key states, the RBI may have to extend the moratorium on loan repayments by another three months to August 31, bankers and analysts say.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was asked in this Indian Express interview if the government should revise the target of doubling of farmers’ income by 2022 to a later year.

Champion long jumper Anju Bobby George remembers a beloved figure at the Sports Authority of India, Bangalore who passed away last week. The 55-year-old cook at the institution’s mess had tested Covid positive post his death.

🔊 In today’s Three Things podcast,  Abantika Ghosh talks about when can a vaccine against COVID-19 realistically be made and the risks we run by rushing to make one.

Until tomorrow,

Leela Prasad G and Liu Chuen Chen

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