Saturday February 16, 2019

AAP accuses Congress of politicising dengue deaths

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New Delhi: The Congress party has been accused by Delhi’s ruling AAP of politicising the issue of dengue deaths. Instead of protesting, its members should have donated blood to help patients, said AAP.

“If only the Congress leaders, who have politicised the issue and protested over dengue deaths, had donated blood, it would have helped,” AAP leader Dilip Pandey said while addressing a press conference here.

He said the AAP officials have met private medical practitioners in the city to start “fever clinics”, which would provide treatment to dengue patients for free.

“This is a step to reduce the rush which is seen in government hospitals due to many dengue patients,” Pandey said.

He added that the Delhi government was also taking all possible steps for the patients, like increasing the number of beds in hospitals.

Dengue-AAP workers would also go on a door-to-door survey at homes to find out the dengue situation, he added.

The AAP leader also blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party governed civic bodies for not taking enough preventive measures such as fogging.

He said civic bodies were not doing enough in educating people about the preventive methods to avoid dengue.

Earlier during the day, Congress activists, including Congress Delhi unit chief Ajay Maken, staged a protest outside Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence.

The activists alleged that the AAP government’s inefficiency was resulting in the rising cases of dengue in the national capital.

Delhi’s civic bodies have so far confirmed only five dengue deaths and the number of cases as 1,872.

However, deaths caused by dengue have gone up to at least 16 as tracked by IANS.

(IANS)

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With The Elections Coming Up, Indian Government Promises Farmers Their Income Support

The government said the fiscal deficit this year will rise from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent due to the outlay for the income scheme for farmers.

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Farmers, India
An Indian woman helps her farmer husband irrigate a paddy field using a traditional system, on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

With an eye on wooing voters ahead of what is expected to be a tough national election, India’s Hindu nationalist government announced cash handouts of billions of dollars for poor farmers.

In the annual budget presented in parliament Friday, interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said 120 million farmers with less than two hectares of land would get an income of $85 a year.

Goyal announced that the measure, which will cost about $10.5 billion, would be implemented with immediate effect. “This will pave the way for them to earn a respectable living,” he said. “Such support will help them avoid indebtedness.”

India, Farmers
Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, center, holds a briefcase containing federal budget documents with Junior Finance ministers Shiv Pratap Shukla, center right, and Pon Radhakrishnan, left, upon their arrival at the parliament house in New Delhi, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

Farmers complain that a sharp decline in crop prices has hurt their incomes and driven millions into debt. Rural experts said they were not sure whether the measure will assuage disgruntled rural communities that have been demanding loan waivers and better prices for their produce.

The government also announced a pension scheme of about $40 a month for nearly 100 million poor workers in the country’s vast unorganized sector and tax breaks for the middle classes.

The welfare measures come as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party tries to address rising discontent in the country — there is growing anger in rural areas over falling crop prices and widespread worries that his government has failed to create jobs to meet the needs of the country’s huge young population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party recently lost elections in three heartland states, raising concerns it could struggle to win a majority in the upcoming elections. Modi had sailed to power in 2014 on the promise of creating millions of jobs.

Modi, India, Farmers
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

Although economic growth numbers have been good, lack of jobs has emerged as the biggest challenge for Modi. A report in the Business Standard newspaper says a government survey that has not been released pegs the unemployment rate at a 45-year high of 6.1 percent.

Expressing optimism that “India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity,” Goyal said that infrastructure projects such as building roads in rural areas will boost employment.

The opposition Congress Party slammed the income support of $85 a year announced for farmers as inadequate. Saying that it is not going to be transformational, senior party leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “₹6000 [6,000 rupees, or $84] in income support for farmers boils down to ₹500 [500 rupees, or $7] per month. Is that supposed to enable them to live with the honor and dignity?”

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The Congress Party is also trying to woo voters with the promise of a minimum income for the poor if it wins the upcoming general election. The BJP has dismissed the pledge as unaffordable, while economists have expressed concern that the “competitive populism” by India’s two main parties ahead of general elections could strain the country’s finances.

The government said the fiscal deficit this year will rise from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent due to the outlay for the income scheme for farmers. (VOA)