After painfully negotiating numerous hurdles during the first wave that peaked in mid-September last year, India appears to have learnt little as a more ferocious second wave is ravaging the country. Precious time was wasted before critical facilities began to be scaled up to meet the demands of the second wave that is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, leading to health-care facilities being overwhelmed; the number of deaths shows a sharp growth of 10.2%. A mad scramble for hospital beds, oxygen, medicines, vaccines and even a quick funeral are witnessed in many cities. If the mindless rush for convalescent plasma and hydroxychloroquine even in the absence of any evidence of benefit was seen last year, there is now hysteria to get remdesivir for hospitalised patients, leading to drug shortages. Though a small trial did show that the drug shortened the time to recovery, the World Health Organization’s large Solidarity trial found no evidence of its benefit in reducing mortality,

The U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel’s reported decision to allow fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s extradition to India, three years after state-owned Punjab National Bank admitted it had been defrauded to the tune of over ₹14,000 crore, serves as a reminder of the urgent need to address the banking system’s vulnerability to fraud. India’s lenders have had to contend not only with a sizeable share of sour loans but also a growing number and cumulative value of frauds. The RBI noted in its latest Annual Report, in August last year, that the total number of cases of fraud (minimum size of ₹1 lakh) at banks and financial institutions rose 28% by volume and surged 159%, or more than 2.5 times, by value to ₹1.85-lakh crore in the 12 months ended March 31, 2020. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may have likely slowed the cognisance of frauds since then, the trend from the preceding years is deeply troubling from multiple perspectives. With frauds mainly occurring in the loan portfolio,
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