With Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s suggestion to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to impose a complete ban on media advertisements by the government and Public Sectors Undertakings for two years drawing much criticism, party leaders are now wondering who crafted the letter, or who was the brain behind the suggestion. Many party leaders believe the letter was either drafted or the inputs were given by a former Union minister. This leader has in the past played a key role in drafting the party’s manifestos and common minimum programmes, but with the suggestion rubbing the media the wrong way, no one is now taking ownership for the letter. Speculation, though, has not died down.
Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan has announced an initiative to grant ex-gratia compensation for workers and officers of Food Corporation of India (FCI). Under its provisions, during the six-month period from March 24 to September 23, if anybody dies due to COVID-19 infection while on duty with FCI, regular FCI workers will get an ex-gratia of Rs 15 lakh, those on contract will be entitled to Rs 10 lakh, Category-1 officers Rs 35 lakh, Category-2 officers Rs 30 lakh and Category-3 and -4 employees Rs 25 lakh. At present, families of FCI employees are entitled to compensation in the event of death due to terrorist attack, bomb blast, mob attack or natural disaster.
Indian industry has responded to the government’s call to help it tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. As many as 300 companies from different sectors —- from biotech to pharma —- have registered with the Technology Development Board of the Department of Science and Technology. Out of these, 140 companies have rushed in with proposals — from masks with anti-viral coating and rapid diagnostic tests to AI solutions and technology to mass sanitise large spaces such as hospitals.
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