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Greetings from the Embassy of India in Washington DC!
Welcome to the April 20, 2020, edition of our newsletter, bringing you important policy and high-impact news about India.
I hope you find it useful.

-- Shambhu Hakki, First Secretary (Political & Press, Information and Culture)
Key Policy Decisions
India Announces Extension of Lockdown Until 3 May 2020 to Combat COVID-19
On Tuesday, April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of India’s Coronavirus lockdown until May 3, 2020. The previous 21-day lockdown ended on April 14th. Addressing the Nation about combating the spread of COVID-19, the Prime Minister said the decision to extend the lockdown was made after consulting medical professionals and state and local officials. He requested that citizens remain vigilant and adhere to social distancing guidance. The Prime Minister also suggested that the Government may reduce certain restrictions in low-risk areas by April 20, 2020.
India Removes Export Curbs on Active Pharma Ingredients (APIs) and Medicines
The Government of India has eased export restrictions on certain pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines. Additionally, India will license paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in appropriate quantities to its neighboring countries, and to nations that have been particularly effected by the pandemic.
Government Grants Exemptions From Import Duties on Certain Medical Products
The Finance Ministry has exempted import duties and health cess on health products including ventilators, PPEs, test kits and face masks until September 2020. Previously, these items attracted a 7.5% basic customs duty.
Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India Issues Simple Guidelines for Controlling Spread of COVID-19 in Densely Populated Areas
The Office of Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India issued simple guidelines, with precautions and measures, for controlling the spread of COVID-19 in densely populated areas. These guidelines relate to areas where toilets, washing or bathing facilities are shared. The key goal of the proposed measures is to emphasize sanitation and hygienic practices and suggest key interventions that can greatly help in controlling the spread of the disease. The guidelines can be found here.
Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) Answers Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Corporate Social Responsibility
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has published a set of Frequently Asked Questions in response to an increase in questions regarding the eligibility of Corporate Social Responsibility expenditure related to COVID-19.
USCIS Response to COVID-19
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its guidelines and response to COVID-19. DHS acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic could create immigration-related challenges and has outlined options for those facing immigration-related difficulties. Some options outlined by USCIS are available here.
 India's Ministry of Science and Technology Presents Efforts to Combat COVID-19
India's Ministry of Science and Technology is working hard to uncover new antiviral medicines, vaccines and affordable diagnostics. The Ministry of Science and Technology sub-organization, Vigyan Prasar, has compiled the highlights of the Ministry's work battling COVID-19. The document, titled "Science and Technology on COVID-19 in India," will prove to be an invaluable resource for scientists, researchers, and scholars seeking to aid in the fight against COVID-19.
India Calls for Stable Oil Market With Affordable Prices
At the recent G20 Extraordinary Energy Ministers’ Meeting, Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Sh Dharmendra Pradhan advocated for a stable oil market, emphasizing that India was, and will continue to be, the global energy demand center. The main focus of the G20 Energy Ministers was on the ways and means to ensure stable energy markets, which have been affected due to decrease in demand as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
High-Impact News
Hydroxychloroquine Consignment From India Arrives at US' Newark Airport
A consignment of hydroxychloroquine, a drug touted by U.S. President Trump to combat COVID-19, from India arrived in the United States on Saturday. "Supporting our partners in the fight against COVID-19. Consignment of hydroxychloroquine from India arrived at Newark airport today," India's Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu tweeted. The arrival of the potential drug to combat coronavirus was graciously received by the United States.
An article by Prime Minister- “ Life in the era of COVID-19”
“As the world battles COVID-19, India’s energetic and innovative youth can show the way in ensuring healthier and prosperous future.”
-Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
COVID-19 Lockdown in India: Activities allowed from April 20
While continuing with the lockdown till May 3, 2020, the Government of India has announced relaxations, allowing activities in agriculture; IT; e-commerce; food processing; manufacturing units in Special Economic Zones; pharma & health manufacturing units; industries outside city limits; construction activities etc. Earlier, exemptions had been given to seaports and railways for cargo movement, and inter-state movement of goods/cargo for inland and exports.
Seven Steps Against the Pandemic: PM Modi
Prime Minister exhorted the citizens to follow seven steps in their fight against the pandemic:

1.   Take special care of the elderly, especially those who have chronic disease.
2.   Adhere to the Lockdown and Social Distancing guidlines; use homemade face-covers and masks without fail.
3.   Follow the instructions issued by AYUSH ministry to enhance immunity.
4.   Download the Arogya Setu Mobile App to help prevent the spread of corona infection. Inspire others to download the app as well.
5.   Take care of poor families; to fulfil their food requirements.
6.   Be compassionate towards workers. Do not deprive them of their livelihood.
7.   Respect India’s Corona Warriors – our doctors and nurses, sanitation workers and police force.
Pharmaceutical Players Join Hands to Ensure Smooth Production
The pharmaceutical industry in India is pulling out all the stops to ensure that the production of medicines, essential in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, does not falter. In an unprecedented move, all major companies have come together to help one another by sharing resources and knowledge.
Indian Pharmaceutical Industry Producing Enough Essential Medicines to Meet Both Domestic And External Demand 
The Indian pharmaceutical industry is producing enough stocks of essential medicines, including Hydroxychloroquine, to meet both domestic and international demand. The production and transportation is being ensured throughout the country by the Department of Pharmaceuticals with the help of State/UT administrations.
IUSSTF Boosts Indo-US Virtual Networks to Address COVID 19 Challenges
The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), has invited Proposals for ‘COVID-19 Indo-U.S. Virtual Networks’ that would allow Indian and U.S. scientists and engineers currently engaged in COVID-related research to carry out joint research activities through a virtual mechanism, leveraging existing infrastructure and funding. Proposals that convincingly demonstrate the benefits and value of the Indo-U.S. partnership to advance research and address critical challenges related to COVID-19 are encouraged.
Google Unveils Maps, Search and Youtube Features in India to Help People Combat Coronavirus
Google has launched a website dedicated to coronavirus updates in India and tweaked its search engine and YouTube to prominently display authoritative information and locally relevant details about the pandemic from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Google is also showing more than 1,500 food and night shelters in about three dozen cities in India on Google Maps and Search to guide people in need. People can also find these locations by also asking Google Assistant about “food shelters,” for instance, in English and Hindi.
30 companies to manufacture ‘counter Covid-19 products'
At least 30 companies will manufacture a range of ‘counter Covid-19' products with technology provided by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). These are non-medicine products, such as ventilators, sanitisers, PPE, face shield and isolation shelters.
Government of India Launches Aarogya Setu App
The Government launched a mobile app called Aarogya Setu which will help people identify the risk of getting affected by COVID-19. The app, built through public private partnership, "assesses themselves the risk for their catching the Corona Virus infection. It will calculate this based on their interaction with others, using cutting edge Bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence," an official statement said.
India dials up medical diplomacy, sends 85 mn HCQ tablets, paracetemol to 108 countries

India has dialled up its  medical diplomacy , sending loads of medicines to  100-plus countries  over the last two weeks to help them fight the  Covid-19 pandemic . A top government official told Hindustan Times that India is supplying nearly 85 million hydroxychloroquine tablets and close to 500 million paracetamol tablets to the 108 countries.

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