Alert: India Coronavirus Update

April 24, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

Today [April 24], the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an order to all States/UTs, to allow opening of all shops registered under Shops & Establishment Act of respective States/ UTs, including shops in residential complexes, neighborhood & standalone shops. It would be mandatory for all permitted shops to open only with 50% strength of workers, ensure compulsory wearing of masks and strict adherence to social distancing norms. It is important to note that these relaxations in lockdown restrictions would not applicable in hotspots/containment zones. See announcement here.

The MHA has also clarified certain misplaced apprehensions of Industry Associations regarding legal liability on company CEOs, if employees are found COVID-19 positive.  The notification also clarifies that the consolidated revised guidelines do not curtail the exemptions that had already been provided earlier unless the exempted activity falls within a containment zone. Therefore, no fresh approvals are required for industries already permitted to operate prior to April 15.  See announcement here.

The Home Secretary has written to all Chief Secretaries and Administrators to ensure adequate security is provided to healthcare professionals, medical staff & frontline workers to prevent violence against them. See notification here.

EDUCATION:

Ministry of Human Resource Development has e-launched VidyaDaan 2.0 program for inviting e-learning content contributions. The program has been launched due to the increasing requirement for e-learning content for students (both school and higher education) especially in the backdrop of situation arising out of Covid- 19 and also due to the urgent need to integrate digital education with schooling to augment learning. See notification here.

Non-Government Stakeholders in Action

  • Adobe is implementing a number of customer-friendly programs intended to provide continued access to its products as the COVID-19 situation develops. Learn more about the program’s here.
  • RenewPower has committed INR 20 crores to INR 20 Crores to COVID-19 relief in India. They have also distributed dry ration in more than 140 villages around ReNew Power sites, covering the following states: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka
  • Google India provides features across its products to indicate the locations of hundreds of food and night shelters set up by the government across the country, accessible through Google Maps, Search, and Google Assistant.
  • YouTube has launched a Coronavirus News Shelf on the YouTube Homepage, which provides the latest news from authoritative media outlets regarding the outbreak.
  • PhRMA: New report shows nearly 260 vaccines in development, including dozens for COVID-19. See report here.

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

April 20, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

The Central Government has constituted six inter-ministerial teams to make assessment of the pandemic and help state efforts to fight and contain spread of COVID-19. The inter-ministerial teams are for West Bengal and Maharashtra and one each for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to make assessments on the compliance and implementation of lockdown measures; supply of essential commodities, social distancing, and preparedness of the health infrastructure. The notice can be found here.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has put out a clarification stating that the sale of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies shall remain prohibited during the lockdown. However, e-commerce companies will continue to operate for essential goods as had been allowed earlier. See notification here.

TRAVEL: It has been decided to extend the period of providing the following consular services to foreign nationals, presently stranded in India: Regular visa, e-visa or stay stipulation, of foreign nationals who have been stranded in India because of spread of COVID-19 and whose visas have expired or would be expiring during the period from February 1 to May 3, would be extended until midnight of 03.05.2020 on ‘Gratis’ basis, after making online application by the foreigner. See notification here.

UPDATES FROM STATES:

Several States have announced partial relaxation for essential activities like construction, courier services etc. But these activities are not applicable to containment zones. 

States that will continue lockdown without any relaxation:

Delhi : On Sunday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that there will be no relaxation in the lockdown as the number of cases continues to rise in the State.  CM also added that the state government will review its decision on April 27th, 2020. See press release here and official tweet here.

Telangana: The cabinet on 19th April, 2020 has decided to extend the lockdown in the state till May 7th, 2020. The state has also decided not to given any relaxation during this period. Additionally,  restaurant e-commerce players like Zomato and Swiggy are also not allowed to operate during this period.   

Punjab: The Punjab government also decided to strictly adhere to lockdown till May 3 without giving any relaxation. 

States that have announced ease in lockdown:

Maharashtra: The state government has issued guidelines for limited relaxation of restrictions from April 20 till May 3 for industrial and commercial activities. These relaxations are not applicable to containment zones and are subject to safety precautionary measures. See press release here.

Kerala: All 14 districts in Kerala will be divided into four zones for implementing the lockdown curbs Green, Orange A, Orange B, and Red. The government has also decided to use the ‘odd & even’ formula for vehicular movement with exemptions for vehicles driven by women. See press release here.

Karnataka: The Karnataka government has announced partial relaxation from April 21 for traffic movements which will include two-wheelers. Construction activities will also be allowed except in red zones.

Haryana: The state has decided to resume economic activities in a phased manner. Few industries that do not come under the containment zones will be allowed to operate. Establishments will have to procure a pass from the government portal SARAL to operate. See press release here

Andhra Pradesh: The Andhra Pradesh government has issued guidelines for the operation of certain industries, both government and private, involved in manufacture of 25 essential items duly following health guidelines and social distancing norms. See press release here

Non-Government Stakeholders in Action

  • Emerson has shifted manufacturing capacity in a key facility to accelerate production of printed circuit boards for ultrasonic welding equipment critical to manufacturing N95 face masks that protect healthcare workers. See Emerson’s response to COVID-19 here.
  • Learning science company McGraw-Hill is supporting faculty, teachers and students as they transition to online delivery of courses during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information and support, click here
  • Uber Provides UberMedic Service To Assist Healthcare Providers in India. See press release here.
  • AWS is working with EdTech companies to provide infrastructure for education ministries, colleges, and schools in India and around the world to quickly deploy remote-learning platforms. Read about the efforts here.
  • HLL Lifecare Ltd., a Government of India enterprise, has floated a global tender for procurement of medical supplies related to COVID-19. The link for the tender is here.

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

April 15, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

Prime Minister Modi in his address to the nation on April 14 announced that the lockdown measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in India, would have to be extended until May 3, 2020. See press release here and text of the Prime Minister’s address to the nation. Order to extend lockdown measures is at this link.

With a view to managing the pandemic, every district of the country has been divided into zones: Hotspot districts, Non-Hotspot districts with reported cases, and Green zone districts. Special teams have been setup to trace all contacts as well as conduct house to house surveys. See press release here.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued consolidated revised guidelines for the extension of the lockdown. The revised guidelines allow for certain relaxation for agriculture, fisheries and select industrial activities after 20 April. The guidelines also allow for movement of all goods inter and intra state. All facilities in the supply chain of essential goods including e-commerce operators are allowed to be run without any restriction on working and closing hours.There will be no air, rail or inter-state travel till May 3. See press release here.  

Travel: All domestic and international scheduled airline operations in India shall remain suspended until 11:59pm, May 3, 2020. See link here.

The Embassy of India has issued the following advisory for Indian students in the United States who maybe impacted campus closures, classes moving online, program cancellations, or travel restrictions. See link.

Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has issued a Circular regarding launch of electronic communication of Bill of entry and gate pass in PDF form. This step is aimed at reduction of interface between the Customs authorities and the importers/Customs Brokers and also do away with the requirement of taking bulky printouts from the Service Centre or maintenance of voluminous physical dockets in the Customs Houses. Please access the circular here.

Non-Government Stakeholders in Action

  • ETS is offering Indian test takers the advantage of a convenient and flexible way to take the TOEFL iBT test and GRE General Test from home during this unprecedented time, so that they can continue on their educational journeys. See link here
  • Mahindra will retool Auburn Hills plant, make COVID-19 medical supplies. Additionally, Mahindra is distributing free meals to those workers in Oakland County after an employee who owns food trucks offered his assistance. See press release here.
  • Bloom Energy is pivoting its skilled manufacturing teams to refurbish ventilators. They are already on track to restore over 1,000 ventilators to assist in this crisis. Link on their work here.
  • Chart Industries has ramped up production to manufacture essential tanks for medical grade oxygen- an essential equipment in the fight against COVID19. See more at the link.

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

April 10, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

Today, [April 10], in view of the ongoing festivals, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed all States/UTs to ensure strict compliance of lockdown measures to fight COVID-19 and not allow any social/religious gathering/procession. See press release here.

The Punjab government also announced it would extend the coronavirus lockdown till May 1, becoming the second state after Odisha to do so, amid rising number of coronavirus cases due to community transmission. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a 5th Addendum to exempt Operations of Marine Fishing/Aquaculture Industry and its Workers from Lockdown Restrictions to fight COVID-19. See press release here.

Non-Government Stakeholders in Action

  • United is working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Link to press release here.
  • PepsiCo India commits over 5 million meals and 25,000 COVID-19 testing kits. See press release here.
  • SAP has made significant long term investments in business continuity programs and has granted open access to their technologies. In light of this, SAP is holding a webinar on ‘Supply Chain disruption is a reality. Let’s deal with it, together’ on April 16, 2020 from 3.30 PM to 4.15 PM IST. Please click here for any further information on the same and to register.
  • Johns Hopkins experts offer best practices for protecting your health, the health of others, and preventing the spread of coronavirus. Link to all resources here.
  • ITC has launched new sanitizer under the Savlon brand to tackle COVID-19. See report here.

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

April 7, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

On April 4, the Central Government has directed state governments to facilitate smooth movement of truck drivers and laborers to reach their workplace to ensure intra and inter-state movement of essential food and groceries during the lockdown period. 

In a letter to State Chief Secretaries, Consumer Affairs Secretary Pawan Kumar Agarwal asked them to designate a nodal officer who will coordinate with state police to ensure hassle free movement of supplies. The designated officer will also issue authorization letters to companies and organizations having nationwide supply of essential goods.

Stating that several companies have reported difficulties in getting labor for their operations, Mr Agarwal said, the local administration should be advised to facilitate help ensuring availability of labour in factories, warehouses and transportation and distribution operations of essential food and groceries. He also mentioned that the Consumer Affairs Ministry has developed an e-pass system. See the full order here and suggestive list of companies here.

The Government of Tamil Nadu has also added a further clarification of a list of industries to continuous process industries whose operations are allowed to continue. See the order here.

Lastly, the Government of India has eased export curbs on 24 pharma ingredients and medicines. See notification here.

Wishing you and your families good health. 

-Team USISPF 

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum 

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

March 31, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

Today, Finance Minster Nirmala Sitharaman along with G20 finance ministers and central bankers participated in a virtual meeting to discuss the economic impact of the global pandemic, coordinate efforts to combat the situation, and discuss next steps in the G20 action plan. Read the G20 press release hereFinance Minister Sitharaman’s remarks here, and remarks by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva’s remarks here.

Additionally, the Finance Ministry issued an ordinance today, providing relaxation of certain laws to ease compliance burden. The ordinance provides for extension of various time limits under the Taxation and Benami Acts. See press release here.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has clarified that company’s contributions to the PM CARES Fund over and above the minimum prescribed corporate social responsibility (CSR) spends can be offset against their CSR obligations of subsequent years. See notice here.

Action Required: In the wake of this pandemic, many of our member companies are doing tremendous work to help the Government of India. Please share your social initiatives and ongoing support for communities in India during this pandemic at [email protected]

Wishing you and your families good health. 

-Team USISPF

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum 

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

March 29, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

Today, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued additional guidelines on the movement of essential goods and services issued on March 24 and March 25, stating that transportation of all goods will now be allowed without the distinction of “essential and non-essential”. [See notification here]

Additionally, per recent directives by the Government of India, states and union territories will have to ensure safety for migrant workers by ensuring arrangement of shelters, and employers are requested to pay their workers with no wage deductions due to the lockdown. See consolidated notice here.

Wishing you all good health in these unprecedented circumstances.

-Team USISPF 

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum 

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

March 27, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

This morning [March 27], RBI Governor, Shaktikanta Das addressed the media, announcing measures to safeguard the Indian economy from the impact of the pandemic by way of:

  • Expanding liquidity in the system to ensure that financial markets and institutions are able to function normally in the face of COVID-related dislocations;
  • Reinforcing monetary transmission so that bank credit flows on easier terms are sustained to those who have been affected by the pandemic;
  • Easing financial stress caused by COVID-19 disruptions by relaxing repayment pressures and improving access to working capital; and
  • Improving the functioning of markets in view of the high volatility experienced with the onset and spread of the pandemic.

See press release here. Please reach out to Nelson Chaudhuri for further details on the new provisions. 

Additionally, since yesterday, the Ministry of Home Affairs has now included several other categories of essential goods and services, related to agricultural operations, exempted under the Disaster Management Act. See addendum here.

Wishing you all good health!

-Team USISPF

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum 

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

March 26, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

This morning [March 26], India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled Rs 1.7 lakh-crore fiscal stimulus package to help low income and migrant workers tackle the economic fallout arising from the COVID-19 outbreak by providing direct cash transfers and food-security related measures. See press release here. Prime Minister Modi also led a virtual G20 leaders’ summit to forge a globally coordinated response against COVID-19. See press release here.

Action required: We would like to showcase efforts being undertaken by our members companies to help governments in India, United States, and across the world combat COVID-19. Please share your efforts with us at [email protected]

We are tracking some of the recent orders and notifications issued by the Government of India for your reference:

  • Ministry of Home Affairs has issued standard operating procedures for maintaining supply of essential goods and services during the lockdown. See guidelines here.

Wishing you all good health!

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum 

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

March 25, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

Following the announcement of a 21 day nationwide lockdown in India, a high level meeting of Group of Ministers was held in New Delhi today [March 25] to discuss prevention and management of COVID-19, actions being taken by states, strengthening capacity of states with adequate resources while also ensuring essential services remain open. See press release here.

Additionally, we continue to track some of the recent orders and notifications issued by the Government of India for your reference:

  • India launches official COVID-19 tracker to provide real time updates on the evolving health situation. See link here.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a notification to extend the regular visa and e-visa of those foreigners who are currently in India and unable to leave the country due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, until April 15, stating that “Regular visa, e-visa or stay stipulation of all foreign nationals which have expired or would be expiring during the period from March 13 (midnight) to April 15 (midnight) would be extended till midnight of April 14 on ‘Gratis’ basis after making online application by the foreigner.
  • List of essential services that will remain open during the 21 day lockdown period are listed here. Addendum to the guidelines issued are here.
  • Online delivery services have been in exempted as essential services in Gurugram. See order here.

Should you require any further assistance as it relates to your business operation, travel advisories, or advocacy with state governments please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum