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Daily Briefing: How well is India equipped for high-altitude warfare; Kerala is facing a new migrant crisis

From India-China border talks to government's Covid-19 containment plan shifting to fatality mitigation, here are the top stories from The Indian Express print edition.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
June 23, 2020 9:02:19 am
india lockdown, india lockdown 4.0, india flights resumption, shramik trains, indian railways, coronavirus india, covid treatment, satyajit ray, p chidambaram June 23, 2020: A look at the top news today.

Dear Reader,

The Conflict

De-escalate, de-escalate, de-escalate. The death of 20 Indian soldiers at the Galwan Valley has caused some irreparable damage to Indo-Sino relations, but both sides are keen on avoiding further escalation of the situation as evident from the second marathon meeting between Corps commanders. As with the previous meeting, the agenda centered around the restoration of status quo ante on the LAC as of April.

The Galwan Valley faceoff has thrown the spotlight on high-altitude warfare and the challenges that troops face, particularly when advantageous positions on the heights are occupied by the other side. We look at how well India is equipped, what challenges soldiers face in high altitudes, among other things.

The Congress is unlikely to hold back from raising questions on the government’s handling of the Chinese incursions despite strong criticism from the BJP and several opposition parties backing the Modi government. Party leaders, sources say, believe that the Galwan Valley bloodbath can be used to counter the BJP’s jingoistic nationalism. The Congress Working Committee (CWC), which will meet today, is set to launch fresh fusillade at the government.

BJP president J P Nadda has accused the Congress of being “irresponsible” and its leaders of trying to “demoralise” the nation and the Army by raising questions on the killing of 20 soldiers in Ladakh. However, between 2004 and 2014, while sitting in opposition, the BJP had tried to corner the government several times on similar issues. An analysis of press releases issued by BJP in these years shows that it had issued almost two dozen statements on China.

The Pandemic

As Covid-19 cases continue to surge, the government has shifted the focus of its containment plan to fatality mitigation. Plans are afoot to improve the three sub-aspects of clinical management of patients: the time taken for patients to reach the hospital and the call refusal rate of ambulances; the average time the positive patient spends in the triage area before being assigned a bed; and the response of the hospitals in providing non-invasive oxygen to patients.

Swasth Alliance, a consortium of more than a 100 organisations in the healthcare and technology system, is set to launch its free teleconsultation app aimed at Covid-19 patients this week. But red flags have been raised in several quarters, with the stakeholders behind Swasth Alliance also doubling up as a part of the team building Aarogya Setu for the government.

If all goes well, we may have a Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use by November even though experts have said getting regulatory approval followed by mass production and supply chain issues may push the development into next year. We answer the question: “How close are we to a Covid-19 vaccine?”

Beyond Covid-19

In a strong indication that the Bihar polls are likely to be held on time, Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra told The Indian Express that the Law Ministry has accepted the poll body’s proposal to allow Covid-19 patients to vote through postal ballots. “We don’t want the turnout to go down… We will go the extra mile and even ensure that, if need be, a polling officer is sent to deliver the postal ballot to the Covid-positive voter and even bring it back,” he said.

Kerala is facing a new migrant crisis. With at least 3 lakh workers leaving the state amid the Covid lockdown, the pillars that propped up its economy — from construction to manufacturing and farming — are crumbling. The only hope now, say stakeholders, is that the workers will return once the pandemic subsides.

And Finally…

At Djokovic’s behest, numerous tennis players flew to the Balkans for the Adria Tour, which kicked off last week in the Serb’s hometown of Belgrade. But after four tennis players and two coaches tested positive for Covid-19 during the course of the tournament, the world No. 1 is facing criticism over minimum social distancing measures, packed venues, and player trips to night clubs and basketball courts.

 🎧 In today’s episode of Three Things Podcast, we look at the challenges for the praised Karnataka model against COVID-19, the attempt to extradite an accused in the 26/11 attacks from the US, and talks between India and China.

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