There are two aspects to 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 Fifth Edition we are covering the following news:

1. Coronavirus Lockdown a threat for many animals, Not a Blessing!
2. What happens when Power goes down and rises sharply?
3. Lockdown pushes daily wagers, migrant workers into penury
4. RBI announces measures to fight recession
5. RBI’s 3-month Moratorium a boon to all borrowers?
6. COVID-19 gives rise to the need for Robots

By Ankita, Divyansh and Mehak

Coronavirus Lockdown a Threat for Many Animals, Not a Blessing!

Vegetation slowly reclaims cities, while deer and foxes roam the streets. Probably the closest we’ll ever get to this scenario without a Hollywood apocalypse, is happening right now in locked-down metropolises across the world due to COVID-19 pandemic. But while one might think a world without people would be great for animals, whether a species suffers or benefits from our absence depends on how dependent they are on human conservation efforts or upkeep of their habitat.

  1. In Africa, where a Massive Ecotourism industry funds conservation effort, tourism accounts for 16 percent of employment; protected lands cover over a quarter of the regions total area. But nearly overnight, those tourism industries have declined, and will likely stay shuttered through September at least. With them go the salaries for the security guards who protect animals from poachers. Facing massive unemployment, people in the tourism industry may themselves turn to poaching to feed their families. “The concern is that we’re going to lose the last 10 years of good conservation work—and an increase in animal numbers—quickly because of this.” Fear the locals.
  2. Not being able to go to the lab, too, is hobbling conservation work. Island conservation often requires genetic analyses to determine if, say, two kinds of birds are genetically distinct, or if they’re actually the same species. If they’re the same, a conservation group might repopulate an island with birds transported from another island.
  3. A similar problem is about to confront island habitats around the world that also depend on human conservation efforts. When humans arrived on islands, they brought with them invasive menaces like rats, which can wreak havoc on native species that often aren’t adapted to dealing with mammals. Ground-nesting seabirds, for instance, are particularly vulnerable to rats hungry for eggs.

Wildlife conservation efforts are often urgent, and rely on seasonal timing. But if the pandemic ends up lasting 18 months or longer, as experts are now warning, that might be much longer than the animals can wait.

What happens when power demand goes down — and rises sharply?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s on Friday appealed to Indians to switch off lights for nine minutes on April 5 and light diyas or candles, mobile flashes, etc. With the country facing unprecedented 21-day shutdown till April 14, PM’s clarion call is said to be a unifying activity to bring together the nation in solidarity to showcase unified efforts in fighting the pandemic on COVID-19.

In a bid to show the unity of 1.3 billion people of the country, PM Modi on Friday asked Indians to switch off the lights in their homes and light candles, diyas or the mobile flashlight for nine minutes at 9pm on April 5. This was the second such show of unity the Prime Minister has urged for.

During janta curfew, PM Modi asked people to clap and clank utensils in their homes as a show of support to the frontline workers. Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nine-minute call for shutting down of lights has created fear of ‘grid shutdown’, that’s clearly unlikely. The reason being :

  1. Household demand is a fraction of India’s total power demand. Indian’s peak power demand, at best, is about 170 GW. However, due to lockdown, the demand has fallen by more than 20 per cent and it currently hovers around 120-130 GW. Of this, household barely comprises 10-12 per cent. Officials believe a sudden drop and rise after nine-minute shutdown won’t cause disruption as it’s already prepared to manage up to 15 GW fluctuation.
  2. According to the power ministry data, the maximum power demand in the country stood at 1,25,817 MW on April 2, 2020, almost 20 per cent lower than April 2, 2019 of 1,68,326 MW. The POSOCO, which has centres in every state, will be keeping an eye on the grid on April 5.
  3. To ensure steady availability of power, hydro and gas run power stations have been asked to be readily available. Unlike coal, solar and wind stations, hydro and gas can be switched off and on instantly.

India’s grid is connected as a wide area synchronous grid nominally running at 50 Hz. The permissible range of the frequency band is 49.95-50.05 Hz, as per CERC. The Union Government regulates grid frequency through national and regional load dispatch centres. States regulate intra-grids through State Load Despatch Center (SLDC).

Lockdown pushes daily wagers, migrant workers into penury

Images of hundreds of thousands of Indian migrant workers from several states trudging for miles and miles on highways have been flooding newspapers and television screens for days. The tragic exodus was triggered by the 21-day lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The journey has been fatal for some. Some migrants have died — at least 22, though the actual count may be much higher.

This plight if migrant workers are a big concern for the nation primarily because:

  1. Most of these poor migrants are daily wage workers who are now out of work as businesses and establishments have shut down. In the absence of money and jobs, and bereft of any food, savings, or shelter in large cities, they are desperate to reach their villages. Even after the lockdown ends, their mismanaged return to cities is got to hamper bring infrastructural tasks like construction for instance.
  2. Railway and bus services suspended amid the lockdown, there were few options other than simply packing up and trying to walk the often-vast distance back home. Many are being sent back from the borders by lathi-wielding cops for violating social distancing norms amid the lockdown. Some have even been sprayed by a toxic bleach disinfectant used to clean buses. With harvest season nearby, the demand of these workers is even more and many farmers with big lands are worried about harvesting activites without the help of these workers.
  3. Migrants – starved of funds and food – don’t care about terms like “social distancing” and “lockdown.” Social distancing doesn’t work without social security. Gathering in masses increases the risk of spread of virus. With no ray of hope and a sense of insecurity running amongst the masses, they are rushing back to their villages, even on foot, is their only option. What is even worse is that most of these workers are either not registered or are completely cut off from organized structure making them void of whatever little economic and food related support the government is providing.

The Economic Survey of India 2017 estimates that inter-state migration in India was close to 9 million annually between 2011 and 2016, while the 2011 census pegged the total number of internal migrants in the country (accounting for inter- and intra-state movement) at a staggering 139 million, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.

RBI announces measures to fight recession

The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled business and the International Monetary Fund has already declared a recession. To deal with the economy fallout amidst COVID-19 RBI announced a few measures to help banks, borrowers, businesses and investors in order to mitigate the economic losses and risks. Have a look at what were these and what will their impact:

  1. Extension of Realisation Period Of Export Proceeds: For exports made up to or on July 31, RBI extended the deadline for realisation and repatriation period of export proceeds to 15 months from 9 months at present. This will enable exporters to realise their receipts, especially from Covid-19 affected countries, within the extended period and provide greater flexibility to exporters to negotiate future contracts with buyers abroad, RBI said in a release on Wednesday
  2. Reduced Repo Rate: RBI has cut repo rate by whopping 75 basis points, cutting it down to 4.4%. The repo rate has fallen to the lowest ever. Repo rate is the rate at which the Reserve Bank of India lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. The reverse repo rate is the rate at which RBI borrows funds from commercial banks which has been 90 basis points. This will help in increasing credit capacity of the banks in this financial crisis as people will face cash crunch.
  3. Reduced Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR): Cash reserve ratio reduced for all banks by 100 basis points to 3 per cent for one year. Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) is the percentage of a bank’s total deposit that is mandated by the Reserve Bank of India to be maintained with the latter in the form of liquid cash. To pump funds into the system, RBI has lowered CRR. It will increase the loanable funds with the banks. The banks will thus be able to extend a large number of loans to businesses and industry for different investment purposes. It will also increase the overall supply of money in the economy.
  4. Three-Month loan Moratorium: RBI has allowed banks and other lending institutions to extend the repayment schedule and moratorium by three months to avoid large NPAs and reduce risk weights. All lending institutions to allow a moratorium up to three months for all loans outstanding as at March 1, 2020
  1. Reduced Trading hours for forex and money markets: The RBI has also revised the timing for money markets instruments from 10 am-2 pm. This will help to ensure that market participants maintain adequate checks and supervisory controls while optimizing thin resources and ensuring safety of personnel. It will control thinning out of activity and thus increasing market liquidity and reduce volatility of financial prices. Specially after 2pm the market thins thus cutting it at that hour is a valid point.

These measures taken by the RBI are expected to increase liquidity in the market bring down the cost of capital to fight the global recession. These steps would make a difference and help in credit creation and using the limited resources optimally.

RBI’s 3-month Moratorium a boon to all borrowers?

Considering the impact on the livelihood of millions of individuals both salaried and self-employed the Reserve Bank of India’s has made an announcement that – All commercial banks, including housing finance companies, have been allowed to give a moratorium of 3 months on the monthly instalments in respect of all term loans outstanding as on March 1, 2020. While this doesn’t mean a loan waiver but a repayment holiday rather. As per RBI, repayment of credit card dues can also be deferred under the moratorium mechanism. The announcement gave a huge relief to term loan borrowers. Here are a few things that might make the picture clearer:

  1. This moratorium is at option of the bank. The bank can choose if it wants to give it to the borrower or not. The final authority lies with the respective banks
  2. Usually when a borrower is unable to pay an instalment of any loan it negatively impacts the credit score. However, under this special provision of 3 months by the RBI, the credit score will not be affected if you avail it. The borrowers background is irrelevant here to the CIBIL or other credit bureaus
  3. While this option does give an opportunity to postpone payment your EMI’s for 3 months on the downside, the customers will have to pay a small price if they want to be sheltered by this immediate relief. the tenure will be extended and they will end up paying a hefty sum as interest accrued on the outstanding loan principal.Extra charges and interest on delayed payments will also becharged
  4. Instalments will include payments falling due from March 1, 2020 in the form of principal and/or interest components, bullet repayments, Equated Monthly instalments; credit card dues.
  5. If it is beneficial for the borrower or not is subjective, depending on the situation of different borrowers. People who can repay the monthly instalments should not avail this, to prevent any extra charges. This is necessary for only those who are facing a financial crunch due to the ongoing economic turmoil due to the lockdown. But if you plan to avail this Moratorium, you should be ready to pay extra charges.

This definitely is a bold step during this pandemic. The relaxation will offer assistance to people who have been laid off or are facing pay cuts or small businessmen who had to shut down their businesses during this period.

COVID-19 gives rise to the need for Robots?

The covid-19 pandemic is pushing human bodies and human ingenuity to their limits. The pandemic has proved the need of robots for various services. Researches show Covid-19 could drive new developments in robotics. Like in a severe crisis like this where the world health is threatened, innovative technology really proves its worth. How exactly are robots becoming so important, let’s have a look:

  1. One of the more popular uses of Robotics has been deploying robots to disinfect facilities. Ultraviolet disinfection (UVD) is being used. Each robot is a mobile array of powerful short wavelength ultraviolet-C (UVC) lights that emit enough energy to literally shred the DNA or RNA of any microorganisms that have the misfortune of being exposed to them.
  1. Testing can he made a lot easier by using robots to do the job. Testing involves a swab deep in the nasal cavity of a patient. It exposes the frontline health care workers to danger and can be avoided by this. Researches are also been done on systems that use ultrasound imaging to identify veins in the forearm for to draw blood from the patient to check for antibodies.
  1. Another consequence of social distancing has been the spread of loneliness and boredom as people are bound to stay at home and is affecting their mental health. Social robots would provide social stimulation and interactions, in addition to providing reminders to follow treatment regimens.
  1. Due to the contagiousness of COVID-19, it’s safer to avoid human-to- human. Since robots are immune to infection, robots have stepped in the game to deliver things such medical supplies, food deliveries to quarantine patients and others. Using drones for the same also proves to be another great way.
  1. Robots can also help in continuing production without human personnel available. Not only that, robots will also be a cheap alternative in the long run as well. No wage need to be given periodically let alone the sick leaves or health insurance and any such benefits. It would just be a one-time investment.
  1. Pharmaceutical companies continue to work on a vaccine or treatments for the virus, and robotics companies have been at the forefront of providing companies with automated solutions to help speed up manual and repetitious tasks in this space.

While it is true that robots prove to be extremely beneficial in such times. However, the effect it is going to have on employment can be disastrous. Where the recession would already lead to so many lay-offs, robots will even increase the number. Covid-19 could also be a tipping point of how future organizations be operating. What effects robotics is going to have further only time will tell.

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