Opinion

SC rocks for tipplers

| Updated on May 10, 2020 Published on May 10, 2020

 

Tipplers are grateful to the Supreme Court for not stalling — despite a plea to do so — the sale of alcohol across the country during the ongoing Covid-induced lockdown. Ever since some States started opening up the State-run alcohol outlets, it is well known that there has been huge surge in the number of people lining before such outlets. However, what is little known is that the number of online searches for ‘delivery of liquor at home’ has hit the roof.

Clearly, seeing this trend, the Delhi Government/excise department has moved fast and stolen a march over the other States by introducing an online token (e-token) service to buy liquor. The electronic tokens specify the store and timings for residents on a web link set up by the excise department.

Communication trouble?

As political leaders across the world come to the forefront to brief the media during the Covid pandemic, India is left high and dry with Joint Secretary-level bureaucrats mostly reading out handouts for the day’s briefing. Not only Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but even Health Minister Harsh Vardhan have remained conspicuous by their absence in Covid related press conferences.

Lately, Harsh Vardhan, who otherwise has not had the official mandate to brief the media, has been live telecasting web meetings with States on his social media accounts.

While the meetings last for two hours, the viewers get to see only his opening statement for a mere 10 minutes, after which the feed is cut. So much for transparency and sharing of information when it comes to Covid-19.

Politics over migrants

Congress leaders in Kerala who wanted to pay for the train tickets of migrants, as promised by their party president Sonia Gandhi, had to eat humble pie the other day. District-level party leaders, instructed by the party’s State leadership, marched enthusiastically to the collectorates, with mediapersons in tow, to hand over the cheques (each worth ₹10 lakh per district). But the Collectors refused to accept them, stating that they do not have necessary orders. This stumped the party leaders because they lost an opportunity to proclaim that they have paid for the tickets of migrants who want to go back home to their families.

A source in the know of the development, said while paying for the travel of migrants (there are nearly 20 lakh of them) would have cost several crores, even if the Railways subsidises the travel, the Congress in the State was eyeing some publicity by paying some pittance, he said.

“If they were so keen to help the migrant labourers, who stopped them from going and giving the money to them directly? All that these leaders had to do was to go to the railway stations where these migrants were queuing up to get their tickets and give them the cash, which they would happily accept,” he quipped.

Relief in sight

Over 40 days may have lapsed since the Covid-induced lockdown was announced on March 25. There is still no sign of fiscal stimulus in India, when most countries and their central banks around the world have already done two rounds of stimulus to support their economies. Buzz in the corridors of power is that a suitable time is being considered before a package of measures focussed on MSMEs could be announced.

Even MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari is quite confident that a MSME-friendly package will be announced and would become a reality.

On their part, MSMEs are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping it would see the light of the day before the month end. As they say, better late than never.

Our Delhi Bureau

Published on May 10, 2020

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