If a second wave hits, it may be devastatingly strong, especially given the fierceness of the first wave(AFP)
If a second wave hits, it may be devastatingly strong, especially given the fierceness of the first wave(AFP)

The good news on Covid-19 | HT Editorial

All parameters show that it has managed to prevent a strong second wave. But be careful
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON DEC 18, 2020 05:41 AM IST

In the past week, India has reported 27,672 new infections of the coronavirus disease a day on average. When the Covid-19 wave was at its peak in the country in mid-September, this number was 93,617 cases a day. This is a 70% drop in cases in three months, and it takes the Covid outbreak in India back to levels that were last seen in mid-July. While the Indian wave has been receding since mid-September, even as recently as October and November, there were regions such as Delhi, Kerala, West Bengal and Rajasthan that were still defying the larger trend and reporting rising cases. This is not true anymore. This is the first time numbers are receding in every major state in the country.

It gets even better in terms of testing. In the past week, 2.9% of all samples tested in India have come back positive for Covid-19 — the lowest this number (known as the positivity rate) has ever touched since the government started releasing testing figures. India’s dropping positivity rate tells us two things — first, the testing strategy currently being enforced is adequate; second, the rate of spread of the virus in the community is being brought under control. According to the World Health Organization, if the positivity rate remains 5% or below for two weeks, a region can be said to be keeping its outbreak under control and is testing adequately. India’s positivity rate has been below this threshold for 24 days now. India’s Covid-19 numbers have clearly taken a turn for the better.

But the government, and the people, can’t get carried away. Trends in Europe and the United States must serve as a strong reminder of how the situation can quickly go out of control even if the first peak is contained. And each subsequent wave abroad has been stronger than the one preceding it. So if that holds true for India, and if a second wave hits, it may be devastatingly strong, especially given the fierceness of the first wave. While the Union government has said it has started preparations to start a vaccination programme to cover close to 300 million people by the middle of next year, this is work in progress and others will remain vulnerable. India has done well but must not let down its guard.

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We can do it! Poster International Women's Day. Vector illustration with women different nationalities and cultures. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
We can do it! Poster International Women's Day. Vector illustration with women different nationalities and cultures. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Why individual freedom matters

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 09:35 AM IST
There are grave injustices that women continue to face in 21st century’s version of a patriarchal society — gender-based violence (on the internet too); lack of effective representation in political parties and in legislative bodies (despite a push for 33% reservation); falling labour force participation (though a majority work in informal sectors); and State and socio-religious control over choice of partner
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Pakistan’s Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has secured his position for the foreseeable future by securing a vote of confidence in Parliament after the shock defeat of his finance minister in recent elections to the Senate. (REUTERS)
Pakistan’s Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has secured his position for the foreseeable future by securing a vote of confidence in Parliament after the shock defeat of his finance minister in recent elections to the Senate. (REUTERS)

Imran Khan survives, but with a taint

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 09:36 AM IST
The voting in the Senate elections also indicated everything wasn’t well within Mr Khan’s house — there are whispers in Islamabad about disaffection among his party’s MPs on issues such as governance and the outsized influence of a small coterie around Mr Khan.
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To improve and also cater to several emerging needs, India’s cities need to go for city-to-city partnerships, mainstream the liveability indicators in planning and policy, develop urban planning frameworks and guidelines that have space for contextualised approaches of cities and can be adapted easily, improve citizen engagement, build capacities of ULBs to catalyse the vision of the 74th Amendment Act, 1992, and remove constraints in governance to not just improve service delivery, but also make it equitable. (Sakib Ali/HT Archive)
To improve and also cater to several emerging needs, India’s cities need to go for city-to-city partnerships, mainstream the liveability indicators in planning and policy, develop urban planning frameworks and guidelines that have space for contextualised approaches of cities and can be adapted easily, improve citizen engagement, build capacities of ULBs to catalyse the vision of the 74th Amendment Act, 1992, and remove constraints in governance to not just improve service delivery, but also make it equitable. (Sakib Ali/HT Archive)

Shaping India’s urban future

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:35 PM IST
The the Ease of Living Index (EoLI) 2020 for India’s cities reveals gaps in planning and regional disparities. Evolve a holistic strategy to improve service delivery, but also make them equitable.
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It is tempting in an electoral democracy to leverage group identities, particularly on the contested axis of religion (Samir Jana/HT Photo)
It is tempting in an electoral democracy to leverage group identities, particularly on the contested axis of religion (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

In polls, don’t disturb social harmony | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:38 PM IST
The BJP, as well as parties which claim to be secular or represent minority interests, must exercise responsibility in their campaign, for Hindu-Muslim harmony is essential for national unity
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Rejecting a petition that sought action against former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) chief minister and one of the country’s senior-most leaders, Farooq Abdullah, for his comments opposing the Centre’s changes in the erstwhile state, a two-judge Supreme Court (SC) bench on Wednesday said that dissent cannot be considered sedition (PTI)
Rejecting a petition that sought action against former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) chief minister and one of the country’s senior-most leaders, Farooq Abdullah, for his comments opposing the Centre’s changes in the erstwhile state, a two-judge Supreme Court (SC) bench on Wednesday said that dissent cannot be considered sedition (PTI)

Scrap the sedition law | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:38 PM IST
Dissent is, indeed, not sedition. Sedition, a colonial-era law, often used to implicate citizens who are exercising democratic rights of dissent, should have no space in the Constitution. Now rethink the legal framework itself.
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A range of fundamental rights enable citizens to move freely, work anywhere in the country, and be entitled to be treated with equality and without discrimination. (ANI)
A range of fundamental rights enable citizens to move freely, work anywhere in the country, and be entitled to be treated with equality and without discrimination. (ANI)

The dangers of populism

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 02:13 PM IST
Constitutionally suspect and economically unwise, reservation for locals evades the real crisis. Like the rest of India’s political class, Haryana’s leaders are evading the real crisis of jobs to offer prescriptions which may only make the problem worse.
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The party establishment has co-opted a set of G23 leaders. At the same time, the Congress leadership should recognise that its real challenge is not the dissenters, but the party’s failure to win the confidence of citizens in elections. (HTPHOTO)
The party establishment has co-opted a set of G23 leaders. At the same time, the Congress leadership should recognise that its real challenge is not the dissenters, but the party’s failure to win the confidence of citizens in elections. (HTPHOTO)

The challenge within the Congress

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 07:06 PM IST
If this rift in the Congress leads to a stronger opposition, it is good for democracy. But the challenge for the challengers is that they seem to lack the mass base outside the party and internal strength within the party to force a change in leadership.
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The SC bench would do well to rethink its approach and ensure that all such future cases are dealt with strictly within the letter and spirit of the law (File Photo)
The SC bench would do well to rethink its approach and ensure that all such future cases are dealt with strictly within the letter and spirit of the law (File Photo)

Women’s right to autonomy, justice | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 04:13 PM IST
There must be a greater effort at gender sensitisation across all levels of the judiciary to prevent such attempts to grant amnesty for violent crimes against women
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Brigade rally called by Left Front, Indian National Congress and Indian Secular Front (ISF) ahead of West Bengal Assembly Election in Kolkata. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)
Brigade rally called by Left Front, Indian National Congress and Indian Secular Front (ISF) ahead of West Bengal Assembly Election in Kolkata. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

Discrediting secularism | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 06:55 PM IST
The Left and the Congress must carefully introspect about their political choices, for allying with extreme identity-based groups on one side will not help in their aim of defeating an identity-based formation on the other side
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According to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre, as of 2020, China ranks only second to the US in having the skills to pursue cyber objectives. But where it lacks skill, it makes up for intent — earning an overall cyber power index rank of two among 30 countries. India, with low intent as well as capability, ranks 21 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
According to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre, as of 2020, China ranks only second to the US in having the skills to pursue cyber objectives. But where it lacks skill, it makes up for intent — earning an overall cyber power index rank of two among 30 countries. India, with low intent as well as capability, ranks 21 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Boosting cyber capabilities

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:08 PM IST
A report indicating a Chinese attack on critical Indian infrastructure should lead to a review. Cyber experts have long pointed out this asymmetry in capabilities between India and its adversaries and how engagement in the cyber domain is not limited to rules of real-world conflict.
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To kickstart this green housing revolution, states must adopt the Eco-Niwas Samhita Part I, an energy conservation building code for residential buildings, which was launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in 2018. This sets standards to limit heat gains (for cooling-dominated climates), limit heat loss (for heating-dominated climates), and ensure natural ventilation and daylight potential. Unfortunately, the codes are voluntary, and many states have not dovetailed them into their by-laws. (Bloomberg)
To kickstart this green housing revolution, states must adopt the Eco-Niwas Samhita Part I, an energy conservation building code for residential buildings, which was launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in 2018. This sets standards to limit heat gains (for cooling-dominated climates), limit heat loss (for heating-dominated climates), and ensure natural ventilation and daylight potential. Unfortunately, the codes are voluntary, and many states have not dovetailed them into their by-laws. (Bloomberg)

Housing must be climate-resilient

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:01 PM IST
Delhi recorded its second warmest February since 1901. To adapt to a warming world, India needs to construct buildings that are thermally comfortable; have natural daylight; and proper ventilation.
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On the basis of this, Friday’s data, anecdotal evidence, and high-frequency indicators, while it does seem likely that India’s recovery will be patchy, the overall number for 2020-21 may actually end up being a little better than -8%, or even -7.7% (PTI)
On the basis of this, Friday’s data, anecdotal evidence, and high-frequency indicators, while it does seem likely that India’s recovery will be patchy, the overall number for 2020-21 may actually end up being a little better than -8%, or even -7.7% (PTI)

Reading the numbers right | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:20 AM IST
India’s third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers, released on Friday, are interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least being the fact that while the GDP number was marginally lower than estimates, the gross value added (GVA) number was marginally higher
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The expansion of the drive, and the involvement of the private sector is a welcome move, and will help, but it is time India started thinking about opening up vaccination for all takers (Sant Arora /Hindustan Times)
The expansion of the drive, and the involvement of the private sector is a welcome move, and will help, but it is time India started thinking about opening up vaccination for all takers (Sant Arora /Hindustan Times)

Covid-19: Open up vaccination for all | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:20 AM IST
As this newspaper has repeatedly said: Approve more vaccines; make them available in the open market; and open up vaccination
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It is not unknown for even this Indian government, which has taken one of the strongest positions on Pakistan in recent decades, to engage in secret talks with the Pakistani side (ANI)
It is not unknown for even this Indian government, which has taken one of the strongest positions on Pakistan in recent decades, to engage in secret talks with the Pakistani side (ANI)

The India-Pakistan thaw | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:25 AM IST
The sudden announcement of the Indian and Pakistani armies recommitting themselves to the frayed 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) took many by surprise in New Delhi and Islamabad, especially as it came at a time when both countries have shown no signs of being able to agree on anything
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ndian governments, irrespective of their hue, have had a troubled relationship with privatisation. Much of this, on the basis of the history of privatisation, appeared to stem from a lack of belief in it. Which is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated emphasis on privatisation — a handful of times in speeches in the past few weeks — is both important and welcome. (PTI)
ndian governments, irrespective of their hue, have had a troubled relationship with privatisation. Much of this, on the basis of the history of privatisation, appeared to stem from a lack of belief in it. Which is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated emphasis on privatisation — a handful of times in speeches in the past few weeks — is both important and welcome. (PTI)

The benefits of privatisation

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:32 AM IST
It can help the State to reassign funds, monetise its assets, and improve the competitiveness of firms
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