There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Fourteenth Edition we are covering the following news:

  1. Putin’s take on COVID-19
  2. The Supreme Court on Lockdown Wages
  3. Trump’s scrapping of healthcare benefits to transgender people explained.
  4. Why is stock market recovering even when India is facing economic slowdown
  5. Trump’s economic sanctions against ICC officials
  6. Indian IT sector may face the heat if US suspends H-1B visa

(By Gunika Vij, Shitij Goyal and Aashika Deb)

Putin’s take on COVID-19

When you go to the polling booth to cast your vote for a leader of your choice, you entrust a sense of hope in that leader, a sense of faith, that the leader you chose to lead your country in times of crisis will protect the nation and will place national interests over personal gains. But along the line, as the leader assumes more and more power, and when the sense of omnipotence houses in the mind of the leader, your ‘leader’, this line between national interest and personal interest blurs. The leader’s personal interests become the national interest and that is the idea of cynicism, being motivated purely by personal interests.

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, rescheduled the annual military parade to later this month. This is to provide the citizens an opportunity to celebrate before the constitutional referendum which allows President Putin to hold office till 2036. The timing is absolutely wrong if I may say so. COVID-19 is a pandemic, claiming innocent lives all across the globe, your GDP, size of the country, your population does not matter, your actions, and how you deal with it do. The result of such a celebration will lead to an increase in the number of cases and an increase in the number of people exposed to the virus. Any number and amount of precautions cannot and will not completely negate the risk of the virus. The virus will not treat you differently and is not politically biased. At least 12 Russian cities have said that they will not allow the parade to be held. Owing to this, President Putin’s ratings have abated to a 20 year low.

Any government, every government with a week opposition or rather with a lack of competition is a failure. Understanding that the opposition cannot do much as it forms a minority in the government, but then the most important thing that the opposition can do is bring up good leadership, question the government, at no point should those in power feel that they shall remain in power forever and any decision or action they take is justified.

The Supreme Court on Lockdown Wages

COVID-19 has taken its toll on everybody, not differentiating between rich and poor. The lockdown however has, the poor, migrant laborers have been the hardest hit. Losing their only source of income and having to move on foot for distances you and I cannot even imagine. A majority of them are daily wage workers and the only earning members in the family with many mouths to support. The only reason they are traveling on foot this far is that they would rather die in their own homes than in an unknown city.

In the midst of all this, the Supreme Court brings much-needed relief to both the laborers and their employers who are equally hard hit with no one to now run the machines and operations. The court has asked both workers and their employers to negotiate terms and come to a settlement with regards to wages and work during the COVID-19 period.

The court urged employers and employees to sort out their differences and resume work in a congenial atmosphere. The court’s order came on a batch of petitions filed by industry owners against a March 29 government notification compelling them to pay full wages to workers. The notification was rescinded on May 17, after 54 days.

Employers and workers could seek the help of Labour Department authorities and trade unions to reach a settlement. The court highlighted that the government, too, had an obligation to ensure conciliation between private employers and their workers for the smooth running of industrial establishments.

It is important that both sides understand the predicament of the other. Payment of full wages, when no income is being generated by the employer is as tough as working under no wages. Coming to a settlement and working out the differences in a congenial manner will be beneficial to both sides. It is also important that we understand that the migrant laborer is the driver of the economy and forms the base of the manufacturing sector which drives the tertiary and services sector.

section 377

Trump’s scrapping of healthcare benefits to transgender people explained.

On June 12th, 2020, amid the on-going protests in America, the Trump administration yanked the rug out from under more than a million Americans by finalizing a rule that overturns Obama-era protections for transgender people against sex discrimination in health care. The Department of Health and Human Services said it will enforce sex discrimination protections “according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”

This move, announced during the Pride month and on the four-year anniversary of a shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida, is cruel as it is pushing to further marginalize the already disadvantaged. It isn’t a whimsical decision, as Trump had first proposed it last spring, however, the timing could not be worse as America is already bleeding through its aching heart for the rights of people of colour. People have already taken to the streets amid a global pandemic and this move will further infuriate the masses.

Let’s understand the decision in more detail: Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, passed under former President Barack Obama in 2010, prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded health programs and activities; The Trump administration’s move will embolden some health care providers to turn away or deny care or coverage to patients simply because of who they are, or because they are seeking an abortion. The move is part of a broad set of policy changes that weaken safeguards for transgender people across multiple sectors, including education, employment, and housing.

People of the LGBTQ+ community have always faced discrimination, especially transgender people, who have often been turned away when seeking basic health care. However, with the Affordable Care Act, they had a decade with some relief therefore, Trump’s move is a gargantuan step backward on the moral arc of justice and on humanitarian grounds. Health care is every human’s right irrespective of gender identity.

The Human Rights Campaign has announced that it will file a lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence administration’s decision. According to a recent Human Rights Commission study, it was found that many in the LGBTQ community are uniquely vulnerable during the pandemic as they are more likely to work in highly affected industries. Keeping these facts in mind and considering the timing of the move, the public is definitely outraged however many religious extremists and conservatives who have long sought this change are clearly pleased. This decision goes to show that though the Trump administration might be heading one of the superpowers of the world, it has failed to safeguard the rights of most of its citizens. Public reaction has brought out the growing unpopularity of Trump administration and how it doesn’t fare well for him in the November elections.

The removal of protections against gender identity exceeds the administration’s authority to define sex discrimination and grossly undermines the law’s primary goal of eliminating barriers and broadly expanding access to healthcare and health education programs.

Changes the Asian Crisis brought

Why is stock market recovering even when India is facing economic slowdown?

We all know that since the beginning of this Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian economy is facing its all-time worst and there is an economic slowdown in the country but lately the stock market is recovering and even growing good.

Initially, there were around 3000 cases daily and now there are around 10,000 COVID cases daily. Due to this pandemic, all major sectors excluding one or two are badly affected, companies are struggling hard for revenues and even shutting down their factories and operations and this has lead to 3 crore people losing their jobs.

The stock market on the other hand initially faced losses largely. Sensex which was on 41,945 on January 1, 2020, came to 25,981 on March 23, 2020, but now it is recovering good and has reached 34,000 and still growing.

If we talk about one of the major reasons is that we aren’t seeing current happenings in the stock market. The results that are coming now, which are helping the stock market grow is actually of Quarter 4 of FY2019 i.e Jan-Mar 2020. Since most of the industries didn’t face much of the consequences of COVID till march, therefore the Q4 results seem to be fairly good. The main impact that we will see in the reports will be in Q1 of FY2020 i.e April-June2020. 80% of the Indian companies are affected by this and the next quarter result will display it, dragging the market low again.

Other factors that lead to the recovery of the Stock market are:- 

  • The rise in global markets

European stocks and US equity futures extended their gains as investors looked past fresh tensions between Washington and Beijing and focused on progress in relaxing lockdowns and reopening economies, Bloomberg reported. Futures on the S&P 500 Index gained 1.2 percent, Stoxx Europe 600 Index 0.8 percent and Germany’s DAX Index 1.6 percent. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.3 percent.

  • Banking stocks gain

BSE Bankex and Financials were the top sectoral gainers, rising to 7 percent. Analysts attributed institutional buying in the counter behind the rally. Banking stocks saw some institutional buying. There were a couple of foreign institutional investors (FIIs) who were continuous sellers until about 4-5 days back. That has come to an end. Now, others are finding the prices attractive.

  • Increase in coronavirus recovery rate

The number of people recovered from coronavirus disease rose to 64,426 today. Over 42 percent of the total coronavirus patients cured of the deadly disease, compared with 7.1 percent, 11.42 percent, and 26.59 percent respectively in the first three lockdowns.

Trump’s economic sanctions against ICC officials

On June 11th, 2020, the Trump administration authorized economic sanctions against officials investigating or prosecuting U.S. personnel and those of allied nations, including Israel, for possible war crimes in Afghanistan and elsewhere, without Washington’s consent. This came as an attack on the International Criminal Court because according to the White House, the International Criminal Court’s actions are an attack on the rights of the American people and threaten to infringe upon their national sovereignty. In order to place economic sanctions on these officials, the president had to declare a national emergency.

The ICC has condemned the move and dismissed the attempts at authorizing sanctions and the claims of corruption, yet unproved, as attempts to interfere with the rule of law.  An attack on the ICC also represents an attack against the interests of victims of atrocious crimes. Senior U.N. and EU officials also spoke out against Trump’s decision to authorize sanctions.

The Trump administration has repeatedly lambasted the court and previously denounced ICC as a ‘kangaroo court’ ineffective in resolving war crime disputes and even Israel’s prime minister backed U.S, action, accusing the court of fabricating “outlandish charges” against his country. Very recently, in May 2020, Trump had also threatened to pull US funding from WHO if it failed to make improvements in the pandemic situation. However, it remains to be seen whether Trump can withdraw without congressional approval.

Trump is not only sowing seeds of unpopularity in the home ground with his ineffective handling of and frankly, intentionally bigoted approach towards the protests but also in the global platform by provoking UN organizations. It seems like his antagonism towards international organizations has become a constant of his foreign policy

On the surface, this move appears solely designed to pressure lawyers into dropping the investigations, but there could also be another reason behind it: persuading ICC not to open an official probe into Israel’s policies toward the Palestinian territories, that is, the alleged war crimes by Israelis and Palestinians during the 2014 Gaza war.

The US has not just opened a unilateral fight against the global court but launched a judicial world conflict that could further harm the people that US has already mistreated by trying to thwart the access of victims to justice.

Israel has a lot at stake – someone at the minister-level including the prime minister himself could face prosecution. Whereas, in the US case, only mid-level troopers or CIA staffers are at risk. Israel has been a staunch Trump administration ally, therefore US’s action is, perhaps,  to make the ICC stop looking into Israel. This move could, however, lead to a rift between the US and many of its closest allies.

technology covid 19

Indian IT sector may face the heat if US suspends H-1B visa

The Indian information technology (IT) services industry is likely to feel the heat if the Donald Trump administration decides to go ahead with the suspension of employment visas, including the coveted H-1B visa.

The proposed suspension will bar any new H-1B holder outside America from coming to work until the suspension is lifted, though visa holders already in the country are unlikely to be affected. This ban will initially be of 60 days and could be extended as needed further.

Indian IT companies mostly use H-1B visas to transfer highly-skilled workers to the US. India has been the only country that takes 70% of the 85,000 H-1B visas applied annually, according to market reports. The visa suspension news comes at a time when the US visa rejection rates for Indian IT companies have been on an upswing, rising 24% in 2019, up from just 6% in 2015.

Suspension of H1Bs would bring a lot of services to a halt, affecting financial, travel, and other key industries. Maybe not immediately, because there are H1B visa holders in the US now and they will remain. But any projects or essential functions that are affected because of lack of talent will cause a bigger local push pack in the US.

If employment visas are suspended, large Indian IT services companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd will be forced to increase their local hiring in the US which, in turn, would eat into their margins. IT sector’s 60-70% of the expense is on the workforce of technical staff and hiring local US people would increase the rates for IT services for US citizens and companies only as in the US there is a large demand of IT sector that is being offered very cheap by TCS, Infosys, and Wipro, etc.

This move will be considered majorly for the upcoming presidential elections but this is an advantage as well as disadvantage both to the Trump administration. It’s good on their side as it will help the local citizens to get more job opportunities in the field of IT and finance and thus will ultimately help the economy and add to the vote bank but on the other hand, Indians being a significant part of the vote bank in the US would be opposed to this measure and this will shift their votes as professionals that are highly skilled and trained in India would not get jobs in the US, and also Indian IT professionals living there has a risk of being removed from the services. Hence this step will be a huge one if practically implemented on and this is why the final decision is still awaited. In this critical time of the world pandemic, when the US would need the support of every country to combat it, by doing this ban it will affect its international relations with various countries as US-based companies employ cheap people from other parts of the world.

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