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Over six-month quarantine could lead to global depression: Experts

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The ongoing coronavirus crisis could lead to global depression as countries across are world are resorting to lockdowns to combat the deadly viral infection, according to an expert.

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 43,000 lives worldwide, 30,000 in Europe alone, since it emerged in China’s Wuhan city in December last. The virus has infected over 870,000 people globally, prompting the United Nations to describe it as humanity’s worst crisis since World War II.

To halt the spread of COVID-19, countries across the world have implemented lockdowns, forcing people stay indoors. As industries shut down for undetermined periods and entire workforces are forced to stay home, scenes of economic desperation and unrest are emerging across the globe.

“If the quarantine lasts more than six months then we are looking at economic depression,” said David Meyer, Associate Professor of Security and Global Studies at the American University in the Emirates (AUE).

He said following the coronavirus crisis, the advantages of China’s low-cost labour will now have to be looked into in the context of security.

Meyer, who is also the Programme Director of Master of Arts in Diplomacy at AUE’s College of Security and Global Studies, was addressing an online symposium organised by Abu Dhabi-based think tank TRENDS Research and Advisory on Wednesday.

Experts at the symposium, ‘Confronting the Challenges of COVID-19: A New Global Outlook’, highlighted the ongoing struggle between forces of globalisation and protectionism, while emphasising on the need for a collective response to the COVID-19 challenge.

They discussed the lessons learned from the pandemic and the growing need for a concerted and a collective approach to tackle the challenge.

Besides looking into the adequacy of the medical response, they also underlined the geostrategic and economic fallout of this public health crisis which threatens to derail the global economy.

Gulfaraz Khan, Professor of Viral Pathology and Chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University, said the scientific community is united against COVID-19 at one end of the spectrum but a lack of preparedness has also been exposed.

Khan pointed out that the world failed to identify the threat early.

“We had approximately a month to look at the outbreak even though the disease was spreading. The majority of the world’s cases happened after February so we need to learn lessons as a global community. It is absolutely essential to do our best in research and development to prevent another global pandemic from killing so many people,” he said.

Khan ruled out the possibility of a vaccine coming out soon.

“It could take 12-18 months if you add the time needed in mass production and in making it available around the world,” he said.

Hussein Ibish, Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said it is not yet clear whether parochialism will triumph over populism in the aftermath of this crisis.

“There is a discourse emerging from Europe that may not reflect the ground reality. There seems to be an adrenaline rush for insularity and parochialism promoted by populism which is not helping,” he said.

Ibish said, “It is very remarkable that China is using the pandemic to promote its system and its international brand and leadership.”

Sharing China’s experience of the coronavirus, Yong Wang, Director of the Centre for International Political Economy at Peking University, said China did the right thing by taking very tough measures such as locking down Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus.

“Chinese scientists shared genetic sequencing, which helped in data compilation and intelligence gathering to tackle the virus. The pandemic is under control in China and factories and companies are opening now. However, the government is still applying a very cautious approach,” he said.

Maurizio Barbeschi, Adviser to the Executive Director, World Health Emergencies (WHE) Programme at the World Health Organisation said it is not just the peak of the pandemic, but also the bumps and re-entry to normalcy will have to be managed.

“Even vaccines may have to be handled with extreme care for not creating groups of haves and have-nots,” he said.

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Protesting farmer unions reject govt proposal to put farm laws on hold for 1.5 years

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The protesting farmer unions on Thursday rejected the government’s proposal to put the three contentious farm laws on hold for 18 months and set up a committee to discuss the laws.

 The central government had put forth the proposal at the tenth round of talks held on Wednesday with the 40 farmers unions’ representatives. The farmers had not given any immediate reply to the proposal saying that they would hold internal discussions first.

 In the internal discussion of Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the members decided that they wanted a full repeal of the three farm laws and a legislation for minimum support price (MSP) for which the farmers have been protesting at the Delhi borders for 58 days.

 The protesting farmers who have been at the Delhi borders since November 26 have said that the tractor march parade planned on 26 January, Republic Day, will progress as planned. There has been no headway in the talks between the Delhi Police and the farmers’ unions over the march as the farmers have stuck to their demand of holding the march on Delhi’s Outer Ring Road.

 The Centre had approached the Supreme Court to stop the tractor rally saying that the rally on Republic Day will ‘embarrass the nation.’ The Court declined to intervene in the matter saying that it is for the Delhi Police to get into the act.

 The farmers have assured that their rally will not clash with the Republic Day parade to be held at Rajpath. The farmers have also said that their movement is a ‘people’s movement’ and similar rallies will be held in many other states.

 The Supreme Court had put the three farm laws on hold ‘till further order’ and named a committee to discuss the issues.

 The farmers have rejected the committee and to take part in these discussions saying that all the four members of the committee have been in support of the farm laws. One member of the committee, Bhupinder Singh Mann, president of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) had recused himself from the committee.

source: The Statesman

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Joe Biden to propose 8-year citizenship path for immigrants

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US President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on Day One of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the country without legal status, a massive reversal from the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies.

The legislation puts Biden on track to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of President Donald Trump’s restrictive policies and mass deportations.

It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years, but it fails to include the traditional trade-off of enhanced border security favoured by many Republicans, making passage in a narrowly divided Congress in doubt.

Expected to run hundreds of pages, the bill is set to be introduced after Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the legislation and granted anonymity to discuss it.

As a candidate, Biden called Trump’s actions on immigration an unrelenting assault on American values and said he would undo the damage while continuing to maintain border enforcement.

Under the legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other basic requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization, if they decide to pursue citizenship.

For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements.

The bill is not as comprehensive as the last major immigration overhaul proposed when Biden was vice president during the Obama administration.

For example, it does not include a robust border security element, but rather calls for coming up with strategies. Nor does it create any new guest worker or other visa programs.

It does address some of the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States, and provides grants for workforce development and English language learning.

Biden is expected to take swift executive actions to reverse other Trump immigration actions, including an end to the prohibition on arrivals from several predominantly Muslim countries.

During the Democratic primary, Biden consistently named immigration action as one of his day one priorities, pointing to the range of executive powers he could invoke to reverse Trump’s policies.

Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and enough other GOP senators to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades.

That kind of major win even if it involves compromise could be critical as Biden looks for legislative victories in a closely divided Congress, where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities that involve rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending.

As a candidate, Biden went so far as to say the Obama administration went too far in its aggressive deportations.

source: The statesman

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Centre-farmers’ standoff will resolve through dialogues: Vice Prez

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Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday said that the current standoff between the protesting farmers and the Centre will resolve only through dialogues.

“We cannot forget the farmers’ efforts in increasing the food production even during the Covid times,” Naidu said while speaking at an awards ceremony jointly organised by Rythu Nestham and Muppavarapu Foundation at the Swarna Bharat Trust in Hyderabad.

He also added that he sees the possibility of a certain meeting ground.

“Restriction-free marketing of farm produce has been a long-standing demand. One country and one food zone has been the demand for a long time. The development of the country is closely tied to farmer’s progress,” Naidu said.

Comparing the farmers’ compassion with that of a mother, he said: “It is the duty of everybody to support the farmers.”

The Vice President lauded the farmers for rendering a great service to the nation during the pandemic by pro3ducing record food grains despite hardship.

He also appreciated the efforts shown by the doctors, sanitation workers, police and media personnel during the pandemic.

“Both the Centre and state governments should work as ‘Team India’ in addressing the needs of the farmers. Apart from ensuring remunerative prices, the farmers should be provided with timely and affordable credit.

“There was also a need to increase the cold storage facilities and the godowns at all levels. As a matter-of-fact, every tehsil must have a cold storage facility,” Naidu added.

Vice President pointed out that the people of India always accorded a very high status to agriculture and this was the reason why our festivals and rituals are closely associated with agriculture.

Referring to a FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) report which cautioned about the food crisis in the coming times, Naidu asserted saying, “If we support our farmers, India would not only be food secure, but would also be able to feed the world.”

Naidu emphasised for a change in perspective towards agriculture among the public and urged the youth to become proactive partners in promoting farming.

Earlier in the day, Naidu interacted with the youth undergoing training at the Swarna Bharat Trust and advised them to maintain discipline, eat healthy food and always remain fit. He said that the youth in India were highly talented and their skills need to be upgraded through regular training.

source: The statesman

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