Court and compensation: On ex gratia to kin of COVID-19 victims

It took much persuasion by the Supreme Court and all its assertiveness to get the Union government to agree last year to pay a token compensation of ₹50,000 to the families of each of those who were claimed by COVID-19. The time has now come for the Court to assert its authority once again to ensure that neither tardiness on the part of the States nor incorrect rejection of claims deprives genuine victims of their right to the ex gratia amount. In the latest hearing, the Court had to pull up a couple of States for not disbursing the amount fast enough and express concern about the high number of rejected claims. In the backdrop of reports that there has been significant under-reporting of deaths due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Bench had passed orders some months ago to the effect that no person’s family shall be denied the benefit on the ground that the death certificate did not specify the cause of death as due to COVID-19. Early experience since the outbreak showed that

Yemen’s tragedy

The Saudi-led coalition, in which the UAE was a part, started bombing Yemen in 2015, hoping to swiftly dislodge the Houthi rebels from Sana’a and reinstate the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in the capital. Almost seven years later, the Iran-backed Houthis, who were holed up in northern Yemen and began counter-attacks with missiles and drones into Saudi Arabia, have expanded the war all the way to the Gulf coast of the UAE. Monday’s drone attacks on Abu Dhabi by the Houthis, in which two Indians and a Pakistani were killed, were a message to the Emiratis on what they are capable of. It may not be a coincidence that the attacks were carried out at a time when the UAE-backed forces have been making slow gains in Yemen’s conflict against the Houthis. But the UAE’s involvement in Yemen has had many turns. It quit the Saudi-led coalition in 2020 as the war had hit a stalemate. Since then, the Emiratis have provided tactical support to the Southern Transitional Council, a separatist

All in the fray: On new contenders in Goa polls

Seven of the 13 governments formed in Goa since 1963 have been by coalitions. In 2017, it was more a usurpation of power than the making of a defensible coalition. The BJP, which had won only 13 of the 40 Assembly seats, cobbled up a coalition with the two main regional parties, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), and two Independents to form the government under Manohar Parrikar, outsmarting the Congress that had emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats. As the State saunters to the next Assembly election, the Congress is left with only two MLAs. Most of the others have crossed over to the BJP, which discarded its original partners, the MGP and the GFP, along the way. This time, the MGP has tied up with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC), and the Vijai Sardesai-led GFP is in alliance with the Congress. The MGP at present has one and the GFP two MLAs in the Assembly. The 2022 Assembly election has been spiced up with the


Technology tangle: On 5G services and flight disruptions

Almost 11 months after the United States’ leading telecommunications companies won bids for $81 billion worth of C-band radio spectrum to roll out 5G services, the much-awaited introduction hit a major snag this week after the country’s leading airlines warned of massive flight disruptions if the wireless technology was put into operation, especially around the nation’s airports. In a compromise on the eve of the planned roll-out on January 19, AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay introduction of the new wireless service near key airports. The two major telcos’ commitments notwithstanding, several domestic and international airlines flying to the U.S. have announced major rescheduling as well as the possibility of cancellation of flights to several destinations citing warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and aircraft makers that accurate functioning of radar altimeters in some aircraft may be affected by the 5G radio frequencies. The altimeters provide information on


Inflation conundrum

While North Block mandarins seek to conjure up policy levers in the upcoming Budget to spur India’s fragmented economic recovery along, the latest official data suggest industrial output is stuttering with a meagre 1.4% growth in November. More worryingly, inflation is re-emerging as a threat — retail prices surged to a five-month high of 5.6% in December from 4.9% in November. While urban India continued to record a higher incidence of price rise at over 5.8%, inflation faced by rural consumers was at 5.36% — the steepest pace since July 2021. A dozen States clocked higher inflation than the headline 5.6% level, with half of them recording well over India’s stated inflation tolerance threshold of 6%, led by Haryana and Tamil Nadu with an over 6.6% print. While the CPI cooled month on month by about 0.35%, this was offset by low base effects that pushed up inflation in food and beverages, and higher clothing and footwear prices. The deferral of a higher GST on textiles, and softening

Bad start: on Australian Open build-up

Chance and change: on Punjab polls

Red lines: on China-Lithuania tensions

A welcome probe: On PM security breach and propaganda

Space for dreams: On ISRO’s new chief

Trust deficit: On tech platforms and news publishers

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