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Total reported cases cross 20 million

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A man with his bicycle on a street in the old quarters of New Delhi on April 19, 2021, as India’s capital will impose a week-long lockdown from tonight, officials said, while the megacity struggles to contain a huge surge in Covid-19 cases with hospitals running out of beds and oxygen supplies low.

Sajjad Hussain | AFP | Getty Images

India crossed 20 million reported cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday.

There were 357,229 new cases reported over a span of 24 hours, bringing the total to 20.28 million, according to health ministry data.

India’s first cases were detected in late January last year and the country’s total did not cross 10 million infections until December, according to Johns Hopkins University data. But the next 10 million cases were reported in the span of just under five months, mostly in April.

So far, at least 222,408 people have died from the disease, but that number is likely lower than the actual death toll. Media reports suggest crematoriums and burial grounds are overwhelmed with bodies of those who died from Covid-19.

“The pandemic has now entered the small towns and the villages, and we are now quite worried about how much of a devastation it will cause in those areas where the health systems are not well developed enough to provide support, when even some of the big metros are struggling with the case load on hospitals,” K. Srinath Reddy, president at the Public Health Foundation of India told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Monday.

Some states are going into lockdowns

India’s health-care system has been overwhelmed by the sharp rise in cases as it faces a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen supply and medicines to treat patients.

Public Health Foundation’s Reddy told CNBC that India needs a two-pronged approach to fight the second wave. First, efforts to vaccinate more than 1.3 billion people must continue.

India faces at least near-term vaccine shortages and just over 2% of the population has received both doses. Starting in May, India is opening vaccinations to anyone age 18 and older.

Second, India needs a “very strong” containment strategy to reduce the spread.

We had turned our back on the virus, but the virus did not turn its back on us. And now we are paying the price.

K. Srinath Reddy

president, Public Health Foundation of India

“What we need to do immediately is to cut down the transmission from person to person, by ensuring that there are no large crowds,” Reddy said, adding that India should not allow more than four people to gather in public places and areas with high positivity rates should be put into full containment mode.

He added that India needs to ensure adequate social support for people who are recovering at home from milder symptoms.

How did India get here?

India’s second wave began some time in February when cases started rising again. Before that the country reported about 10,000 infections a day, on average. April saw a steep spike in the curve, with nearly 7 million reported cases.

The Indian government is facing criticism for letting large crowds gather for religious festivals and election rallies earlier this year. Those mass gatherings likely turned into super spreader events.

Scientists say the spike in cases is also partially due to variants of the coronavirus circulating in India at the moment. That includes a local variant called B.1.617 that has multiple sub-lineages with slightly different characteristic mutations.

Reddy explained that in its desire to put the economy back on track, India ignored the looming threat of a second wave.

“I think by early January when the daily case counts, the daily death counts and the test positivity rates plummeted, widespread impression gathered ground that we had ended the pandemic forever,” he said, adding, “We had turned our back on the virus, but the virus did not turn its back on us. And now we are paying the price.”



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economist says states should decide on lockdowns

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under growing pressure to call for another nationwide lockdown in India as the overwhelmed health-care system struggles to fight a devastating second Covid-19 wave.

But one member of Modi’s economic advisory council says state governments should have the final say in social restrictions instead.

“All things considered, the current policy of leaving it to different states, to take local circumstances into account, and decide on a lockdown strategy – I think it is a better one on balance,” V. Anantha Nageswaran, part-time member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.

Calls for a national lockdown — like the one imposed last year between late-March and May — have grown louder as India’s health-care system buckles, and patients are turned away due to shortages of hospital beds, medical oxygen and medicines needed to treat the disease.

Top White House coronavirus advisor Anthony Fauci also said in an interview with ABC News on Sunday that India needs to shut down in order to break the chains of transmission.

So far, the central government has resisted calls for a lockdown, allowing states to step up their own localized restrictions, including lockdowns and curfews.

Instead, the government is focusing its efforts on delivering global aid received — including oxygen concentrators, cylinders, and generation plants as well as anti-viral drug Remdesivir — to affected areas. The country is also stepping up its vaccination campaign.

People aged 18 and over waiting to be inoculated against Covid-19 at a vaccination centre at Radha Soami Satsang grounds being run by BLK-Max hospital on May 4, 2021 in New Delhi, India.

Hindustan Times | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

Nageswaran explained that at this point, the benefits of a nationwide lockdown will not significantly outweigh the costs. He added that the surge in cases is still relatively localized in different pockets instead of at a national level.

India has reported more than 300,000 daily cases for 20 consecutive days. On Tuesday, however, the health ministry said its data showed a net decline in the total active cases over a 24-hour period for the first time in 61 days.

India’s death toll from the coronavirus is close to 250,000.

Economic growth trajectory

Last year’s national lockdown knocked India off its growth trajectory, pushing the economy into a technical recession. Prior to the second wave of infections, the economy was slowly on the mend — but economists are now predicting the recovery will be delayed in light of the current situation.

There is a growing possibility that localized lockdowns will likely continue until June or beyond, and given the current pace of vaccination, any attempt to fully reopen the economy could result in a potential third wave of infections, Kunal Kundu, India economist at investment bank Societe Generale, said in a recent note.

Kundu said the bank had a forecast of 9.5% year-on-year real GDP growth for India’s fiscal year ending in March 2022, that was below market consensus. But even that target is no longer tenable as it was based on the assumption that the economy will open up sooner due to a rapid pace of vaccination.

“With localised lockdowns until June and beyond, this adds downside risk to our existing growth forecast. We now expect real GDP to clock growth of 8.5% for the current year,” Kundu said.

He added that India’s ability to track the new variants will be key to preventing subsequent waves. For that, the country “needs to earmark more fiscal resources for genomic surveillance and vaccine research,” and ensure all temporary Covid-19 care centers are still operational, he said.

Nageswaran added that if India’s Covid-19 cases do not peak in the next two weeks, and if it drags into the next quarter, the country’s pre-pandemic level growth trajectory will be harder to achieve until the 2022-2023 financial year.

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Consultant outlines steps to meeting socially responsible targets

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With sustainable investments becoming an increasing part of the international agenda, pressure is piling on businesses to ensure they have a suitable strategy in place.

BlackRock — the world’s largest asset manager and a forerunner in sustainable investments — was last week accused of inconsistency in its ESG agenda. ESG stands for environmental, social and corporate governance, and refers to a set of standards that measure a company’s performance in areas like carbon emissions and social responsibility.

The investment firm was found to have links to an Indonesian palm oil company, which once again raised concerns around possible blind spots in the ESG investment process. But according to Singapore-based consultancy Asia Research and Engagement (ARE), there are several steps businesses can take to ensure their ESG strategy is considered and consistent.

It’s no good having a commitment for 2050 and expecting all of the change to happen in 2049.

Benjamin McCarron

founder and managing director, Asia Research and Engagement

First, businesses must set out a strong intention to “manage whatever it is that needs to be managed,” Benjamin McCarron, founder and managing director of ARE told CNBC Tuesday. That could be internal policies or external investments.

Then, leaders should set in place a time-targeted plan to meet those goals.

“It’s no good having a commitment for 2050 and expecting all of the change to happen in 2049, so there needs to be a plan which is in place and which is progressive through time,” he said.

An Acehnese worker harvests palm oil fruits at a palm oil plantation area in Kuta Makmur, North Aceh Regency.

SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

Next, they need to implement a transparent reporting system and have appropriate governance in place to ensure that reporting is adhered to.

Finally, businesses need to start now. “Don’t leave it too late,” said McCarron.

The advice comes as interest in ESG investments has been rising. In the first quarter of 2021, investments in sustainable funds hit a new high of nearly $2 trillion, marking the fourth quarter of gains, according to Morningstar.

However, investors should continue to exercise caution to ensure companies are acting in accordance with their claims. Institutional investors should engage in dialogue, exert their voting rights and implement shareholder proposals to make sure companies are meeting the set goals.

Meanwhile. it’s much easier for retail investors, said McCarron: “You can have whatever values you want. If you don’t want to own something, don’t own it.”

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Parents of exceptionally resilient and smart kids do these 7 things, says psychologist

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Humans are not all equal in every way. There are a few individuals who have achieved an unparalleled mastery in their field — and they are what I call the exceptionals. Put another way, they are the 1% of the 1% of the world’s most successful people.

Some examples include innovators like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, athletes like Michael Jordan and Serena Williams, and musicians like Mozart and Beethoven. Or they may be people you’ve never heard of who invented life-saving drugs or won Nobel Prizes by making fundamental advances in knowledge.

In my five-plus years of studying how to raise exceptional adults, I’ve found that almost all of them, at a young age, developed the skills to maximize the physical, mental and social potential available to them. In most cases, their parents had an enormous impact in creating an environment that allowed them to thrive.

Based on research and studies, here are seven things (yes, some are a little intense) that parents of exceptionally resilient and successful kids always do:

1. They push their kids to play to their strengths

Norwegian chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen showed a unique ability to patiently solve puzzles and advanced Lego structures at a very young age. Carlsen’s father thought these skills would lend themselves well to chess, and consequently introduced him to the game.

Eventually, Carlsen showed so much promise that his parents started bringing him to chess tournaments. They spotted a clear set of related skills in their son and then encouraged him to pick up an activity that played to his strengths.

Every child is born with more advanced skills in some areas over others. Your kid may have spatial strengths, like the ability to think abstractly and in multiple dimensions. Or maybe they’re gifted in math and can analyze problems logically or investigate issues scientifically.

Always be observant of your kid’s natural aptitude, and then help them build upon their innate talents.

2. They demonstrate the link between hard work and extraordinary outcomes

Parents of exceptional kids model this by devoting years of their lives to getting better at their craft — and they make sure that their kids are paying attention.

In a 2020 blog post describing his father’s work ethics, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote: “He was one of the hardest-working and most respected lawyers in Seattle, as well as a major civic leader in our region. […]. He was judicious and serious about learning.”

Gates’ father taught his kids that they had to work for accolades. So show your kids that hard work does pay off, that nothing is simply “given,” and that shortcuts won’t help them attain their goals.

3. They create a culture of striving and excellence

In 2017, a team of British researchers studied the differences between “elite” and “ultra elite” athletes. (Of course, all NBA players are elite — but then there’s Michael Jordan or LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, whose accomplishments stand out immensely compared to the others.)

The researchers found that the majority of ultra elite athletes came from environments that advocated a culture of striving. They grew up in homes where pursuing excellence and pushing the boundaries were always expected, not merely desired.

Venus and Serena Williams’ unparalleled success on the tennis court, for example, was influenced by a shared environment that was created for them to excel: Their rise to the top started with their father, Richard, who wrote a detailed 78-page plan for his daughters’ ascension to the top of the tennis world.

He set his expectations early; the sisters were not even five years old when he wrote down his process. But it eventually shaped two of the most prolific champions in tennis history.

4. They encourage self-confidence

Helping your kids build confidence makes a huge difference later on in their lives. It encourages them to dream big and prevents them from ever wanting to give up after setbacks.

Even as kids, the most exceptional individuals always believed that outstanding achievements were within their reach, and not reserved solely for the people they saw on TV or read about in the news.

When parents encourage self-confidence (instead of criticizing their kids and putting them down each time they fail at something), their kids are more likely to perform at the highest level and adopt the mindset that they will eventually rise to the top.

This kind of self-assuredness — or unwavering belief that they can be the best — is key to achieving greatness.

5. They are patient when their kids ask questions

6. They promote ‘early specialization’

Parents often face the question of whether they should take the “specialist” approach and encourage their children to specialize in an activity that they show high potential in, or take the “generalist” approach and expose them to many different things (e.g., baseball, soccer, piano, math club) to help them become well-rounded.

Most parents choose the latter, but parents of exceptional kids choose the specialist approach.

Early specialization doesn’t mean that your kid gives up doing other things, perhaps for fun or even for developing additional skills. It just means that they’ve picked the activity where they are committed to putting in the effort required to become as good as possible at it.

The parent mindset is that the earlier they encourage their kids to learn the basics of a field their kid shows promise in, the sooner they’ll progress to more advanced skills. And the sooner they develop those advanced skills, the quicker they’ll develop best-in-class skills. And the quicker they gain best-in-class skills, the more likely they are to attain a rare and elite level of proficiency.

7. They encourage competition and improvement



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