This survey report provides information obtained through media analysis, regarding the news trends across major publications in the country. This survey report will pay particular attention to the news trends in the first quarter of FY2021-22 when the country was reeling under heavy pandemics. These observations do have limitations that will be noted and are based on a total number of stories categorised by different sectors. Not only India, but the entire world is experiencing a devastating wave of COVID-19. The spread of COVID-19 in India was initially characterized by fewer cases and lower case fatality rates compared with numbers in many developed countries, primarily due to a stringent lockdown and a demographic dividend. However, economic constraints forced a staggering lockdown exit strategy, resulting in a spike in COVID-19 cases. This factor, coupled with low spending on health as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), created mayhem because of inadequate numbers of hospital beds and ventilators and a lack of medical personnel, especially in the public health sector. Nevertheless, technological advances, supported by a strong research base, helped contain the damage resulting from the pandemic. In the first ten days of May, India’s reported count of COVID-19 deaths was nearly 40,000, roughly accounting for a third of deaths worldwide during this period. The media ecosystem continues to be challenging this year – and that was before the pandemic. To inform the citizens during these uncertain times, newsrooms and media houses across the country have made pandemic coverage a priority. While there is an abundance of news to be reported on the global pandemic, the esteemed media houses of the country pointed out several other news trends to keep people educated and aware.
THE INDIAN MEDIA
“FREE PRESS IS ESSENTIAL TO FREE SOCIETY”
The Indian Media Industry is one of the world’s most diverse and vibrant in addition to being largely free and fair. The Indian media landscape has changed significantly over the last decade. With the advancement in technology, the Indian media industry has been burgeoning like never before and expanded its reach, in terms of the number of outlets, whether in television, radio, print or digital.
At this hour of the global pandemic, media has successfully played the role of a watchdog of the government functionaries and has also aided in participatory communication in raising major issues faced by the citizens of the country. Several media platforms across the country kept providing credible news and information to the citizens of the country when they most needed it without letting fear affect them amid COVID-19. The onset of the global pandemic and the ensuing lockdown has dealt a severe blow to the Indian economy. It is being reported that the Indian Media & Entertainment sector, which saw a contraction of around 24 per cent at Rs 1.38 lakh crore in the pandemic-struck 2020, is expected to log growth this year and double its revenue to Rs 2.68 lakh crore by 2025.
Print newspapers in India have been seeing a significant surge in revenue, making it the largest global market for the industry. The most popular daily in the country is “The Times of India” which had the highest average readership in 2017. India’s print industry is to be able to retain its audiences through digital platforms, while still maintaining enough advertising and subscription revenue to continue different editions.
TREND ANALYSIS OF COVID-19 OUTBREAK IN INDIA
More than 15 countries including the US, Russia, France and the United Kingdom rushed critical emergency use equipment to enable India to counter the COVID-19’s deadly second wave. Ministry of External Affairs announced that several countries are sending hundreds of oxygen concentrators, respirators and large quantities of liquid oxygen to help India at this hour of the pandemic. The Delhi High Court announced that it will take up court proceedings through the virtual mode from April 9 to April 23. India became the first country in the world to report over 4 lakh new cases on April 30, 2021. It was being speculated that the COVID-19 wave that plunged India into the world’s biggest health crisis has the potential to worsen in the coming weeks, with some research models projecting that the death toll could more than double from current levels. Several states of the country introduced lockdowns, although Prime Minister Narendra Modi resisted a national effort after one imposed by the Central government last year fueled a humanitarian crisis with migrant workers fleeing the cities on foot and in some cases bringing the virus with them. A devastating second wave of coronavirus in India has seen hospitals and crematoriums overwhelmed and widespread shortages of oxygen and medicines. Hospitals across India are also experiencing oxygen shortages, with some forced to put up signs warning of a lack of supplies. War of words erupted between the Central government and several state governments such as Delhi & Maharashtra government over oxygen supply.
Fitch group company (India Ratings) said “the second wave of COVID-19 infections will be less disruptive than the first wave for the business environment as corporates are better prepared”. But it was being reported that smaller businesses including micro, small and medium enterprises are laying off more employees as demand and sales have plummeted due to localised lockdowns implemented by the state governments. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, recently said that “the unemployment rate in the country has touched a four-month high as over 70 lakh jobs have been impacted.” Amid the concerns regarding the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in the national capital, the Delhi government recently stated that “the vaccination of the 18-44 age group remained suspended for the fifth consecutive day” and further informed that there is no COVAXIN stock available for any age group.
AAP MLA Atishi said, “Delhi has already shut 235 of the 368 inoculation centres for this category due to a shortage of vaccines.” Few other states including Maharashtra suspended vaccination for the 18-44 age group, citing a shortage of doses. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, cases of Mucormycosis (Black Fungus) have emerged in patients who were in the recovery phase of the disease. Hundreds of corpses were also found floating in the Ganga river or buried in the sand of its banks in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, fearing they were COVID-19 infected.
Prime Minister during his latest address to the nation said "The Centre is taking back total control of vaccination now, will be implemented in next two weeks. The Centre will give free vaccines to states for all above 18. From 21 June, the Centre will provide free vaccines to states." Prime Minister also announced free ration for the poor under Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana till Diwali.
As the second wave of coronavirus in the country continues to slow down, several states have started easing the strict restrictions which were imposed to check the spread of the deadly virus. Delhi resumed the Metro train services with a 50 per cent seating capacity.
Malls, markets and market complexes were allowed to open between 10 am to 8 pm on an odd-even basis in accordance with their shop numbers. Private offices also opened up with 50 per cent manpower. In Uttar Pradesh, the curfew continues to remain in districts that have more than 600 actives cases. With states unlocking across the country and the Delta variant still around, health experts are continuously stressing the need to re-open with a robust vaccination strategy and COVID appropriate behaviour.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DGCA) has granted its nod to Indian pharmaceutical giant Cipla to import Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for restricted emergency use in the country. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extended the restrictions on scheduled international passenger flights to and from India extended till July 31st, 2021. DGCA also stated, “However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis.”
US President Joe Biden and House unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the devastating impact of COVID-19 in India and expressing the sense of the House of Representatives to urgently facilitate assistance. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently stated that India crossed the milestone of conducting 400 million tests for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with the last 50 million tests being conducted over the last 24 days. The United States National Institutes of Health reported that India’s first indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin is able to effectively neutralise the Alpha and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2. Read more on: https://www.iccpl.in