WEDNESDAY www.thestatesman.com 30 DECEMBER 2020 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR ‘PREVIOUS GOVTS NEGLECTED INFRASTRUCTURE’ P5 WEATHER Mainly clear sky. Shallow to moderate fog in the morning. Cold wave conditions at isolated places.The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 18 and 04 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max: 94% Min:03.6°C (-3) SUN SETS 17:35 hrs MOON SETS 08:11 hrs THUMBNAILS Pierre Cardin dead: Pierre Cardin, the French designer whose famous name embossed myriad consumer products after his iconic Space Age styles shot him into the fashion stratosphere in the 1960s, has died, the French Academy of Fine Arts said Tuesday. He was 98. A licensing maverick, Cardins name embossed thousands of products from wristwatches to bed sheets, and in the brands heyday in the 1970s and 80s, goods bearing his fancy cursive signature were sold at some 100,000 outlets worldwide. The academy did not give a cause of death or say where or when Cardin died. P10 Gangster stamps: The Kanpur postal department has ordered an inquiry after stamps featuring underworld don Chhota Rajan and slain gangster Munna Bajrangi were issued by the main post office in the city, officials said on Tuesday. Twelve stamps each of Rajan and Bajrangi were printed under the 'My Stamp' scheme, which was launched by the department a few years back that allowed customers to get stamps printed with photograph of chosen subjects for special occasions. India Post in a statement said customers had violated the norms to get stamps featuring Chhota Rajan and Munna Bajrangi. VICTORY DRIVE SPURRED BY SWING KING P9 P12 India reports six cases Farmers take hard line on agenda for talks of UK virus strain PRESS TRUST OF INDIA Samples of positive/symptomatic overseas returnees to be checked NEW DELHI, 29 DECEMBER TEMPERATURE Max: 18.1°C (-2) SUN RISES 07:14 hrs MOON RISES 17:46 hrs P9 STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE Min: 47% SUGA’S WAVE OF POPULARITY WANES UNITY ONLY IF OLI ADMITS MISTAKE: MADHAV NEPAL S ix persons who returned to India from the United Kingdom have tested positive for the new mutated strain of the novel coronavirus, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday. The Ministry said that three samples were found positive for the UK variant genome of SARS-CoV-2 at NIMHANS in Bengaluru, 2 in CCMB, Hyderabad and 1 in NIV, Pune. "All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated health care facilities by respective state governments.Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for cotravellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on," the ministry said in a statement. Among the UK-returnees found with the new strain is a 47-year-old woman who had managed to give the slip to authorities in New Delhi after returning to India on 21 December and had reached Andhra Pradesh by train before being picked up, but the state health authorities said none of her contacts have been found infected. The health ministry noted that from 25 November to 23 December midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from UK. All these passengers are being tracked and subjected to RTPCR tests. So far only 114 have been found positive. “These positive samples have been sent to 10 NEW DELHI, 29 DECEMBER Lowest daily case load since June-end UK flight bar likely to be extended STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 29 DECEMBER NEW DELHI, 29 DECEMBER India on Monday reported 16,432 fresh Covid-19 infections, the lowest daily number it has recorded in the past six months, while a net decline of 8,720 cases has been recorded in the total active cases within the same period. The total number of confirmed cases in the countryhasreached1,02,24,303, while 252 deaths in the last 24 hours took the toll due to the pandemic to 1,48,153. In the last 24 hours, 24,900 people have recovered, taking the number of recoveries to 98,07,569. There are 2,68,581 active cases. The recovery rate stands at 95.83 per cent while the case fatality rate is 1.45 per cent. Delhi sees 703 cases, 28 deaths: Delhi today recorded 703 Covid-19 positive cases following 84,889 tests, according to the Delhi government’s latest health INSACOG (Indian SARSCoV-2 Genomics Consortium) labs for genome sequencing," added the statement. According to the Union health ministry's guidance document on genomic sequencing, samples of all international passengers who arrived in India from December 9 to 22 and tested positive for Covid-19 will be subjected to genome sequencing as part of the Centre's strategy to detect the mutated coronavirus bulletin. The national capital’s Covid caseload thus rose to 6,24,118, the health bulletin said. The positivity rate stood at 0.83 per cent against yesterday's 0.98 (SEE P2) per cent. India is likely to extend the suspension of passenger flights to and from the United Kingdom to check the spread of the new strain of coronavirus, aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said Tuesday. The ministry had last week suspended all flights between the two countries from December 23 to December 31 over the mutated variant of the virus which is more contagious. “I foresee a slight extension of temporary suspension of India-UK flights,” the minister told a press conference here on Tuesday. “In a day or two, we will find out if any additional steps need to be taken, or when we can start easing the current temporary suspension,” PTI he said. strain that has emerged in the United Kingdom recently. Others will be followed up by the state and district surveillance officers, and will be tested as per ICMR guidelines, even if asymptomatic, between fifth and 10th day of arrival. The presence of the new UK variant of the coronavirus has already been reported by Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore so far. Meanwhile, the government said that Covid-19 vaccines will work against new variants of the virus and there is no evidence that current vaccines will fail to protect against the SARSCoV-2 mutants reported from the UK or South Africa. Addressing a press conference, Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan also said so far it has not been found that the new variant increases the severity of the disease. 1,02,24,303 2,68,581 16,432 24,900 1,48,153 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. TUESDAY 29 DECEMBER 2020 The Centre and the protesting farmer unions will resume stalled talks on Wednesday with the latter sticking to their hardline position that the parleys will only be on the modalities of repealing the three new agri laws and giving a legal guarantee on the MSP among other issues. Ahead of the crucial sixth round of talks after a three-week hiatus, Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal on Tuesday met senior BJP leader and home minister Amit Shah. Sources said they discussed and finalised the government's position for the meeting. Tomar, the minister for agriculture, and Goyal, the minister for food and consumer affairs, and MoS commerce and industry Som Parkash have been representing the Centre at the talks with the farmers. Tomar on Monday said he is hopeful of an early solution to the impasse. The Centre on Monday invited the 40 protesting farmer unions for the next round of talks on December 30 on all relevant issues to find a “logical solution” with “open mind” to the prolonged impasse over the three new agri laws that was enacted in September. But in its letter on Tuesday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella organisation which represents the farmer unions, said the modalities for repealing the three contentious laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) must be part of the agenda. The Morcha further said Farmers at a protest dharna against the new farm laws at SNS Delhi’s Ghazipur border on Tuesday. the agenda should also include amendments to be made and notified in the Commission for the Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020 to exclude farmers from its penal provisions. Through the letter, the Morcha also formally accepted the government's invitation for the dialogue. The letter also stated that withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 to protect the interests of farmers should also be part of the agenda. The fifth round of talks was held on December 5, while the sixth round originally scheduled for December 9 was called off after an informal meeting of home minister Shah with some union leaders failed to reach any breakthrough. The government had, however, followed up Shah's meeting with a draft proposal sent to the unions in which it had suggested 78 amendments to the new laws and written assurance on the MSP procurement system. It has ruled out a repeal of the three agri laws. LAC row: India, China military Women cops just 10 pc of police force commanders to meet soon STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 29 DECEMBER STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 29 DECEMBER India is hopeful that the ninth meeting of senior military commanders of India and China would be held soon to discuss the roadmap for disengagement and de-escalation of troops at eastern Ladakh so as to restore peace and tranquillity along the LAC. At the same, however, the armed forces have ruled out lowering their guard at the LAC, given China's belligerent attitude. Official sources said China appeared serious about the disengagement process at the last meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs between the two countries held on 18 December. Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary (East Asia) had led the Indian team, which also included defence personnel, at the meeting. Sources said the delay in scheduling the meeting of the senior commanders could be due to the fact that the reins of PLA's Western Theatre Command, the largest of the five Theatre Commands which manages the border with India and the sensitive regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, were recently handed over to Gen Zhang Xudong following the retirement of his predecessor Gen Zhao Zongqi. Gen Zhang K’taka LC dy chairman found dead on rail track, suicide suspected PRESS TRUST OF INDIA BENGALURU, 29 DECEMBER Karnataka Legislative Council Deputy Chairman S L Dharme Gowda was found dead on a rail track in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka in the early hours of Tuesday, with police sources claiming he died by suicide. The body was found on a rail track near Gunasagara in Kadur taluk, they said. Dharme Gowda, 64, who was an MLC from JD(S), is survived by his wife, son and a daughter. His brother, S L Bhoje Gowda, is also an MLC. According to sources, Gowda had left his farm- house at Sakharayapattana in a private car on Monday evening. He had reportedly asked his driver to stay at a distance and went alone on the pretext of talking to someone, the sources said, adding that a suicide note has been recovered. Gowda was at the centre of the high drama in the legislative council on December 15, which saw BJP-JD(S) and Congress members hurling abuse and pushing each other over a row pertaining to a no-confidence motion against chairman K Pratapachandra Shetty. During the ruckus, Gowda, who was on the chairman's seat, was pulled down by some Congress legislators. was among the four officers promoted to the rank of General by President Xi Jinping. Gen Zhang is said to be currently occupied with military familiarisation and troop deployments on the Indian border since he has never served in the area in the past. Once he has completed his operational briefings about the situation along the LAC, China should be in a position to schedule the meeting of senior military commanders. All previous eight rounds of talks between the top military commanders have been long-drawn affairs, given the complex issues involved in the border stand-off that began in April-May. The latest “Data on Police Organisations” as on 1st January 2020, released by the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D), today shows women constitute just 10.30 per cent of the total 20,91,488-strong police force in the country. The total sanctioned police force for all states and Union Territories, including armed police, is 26,23,225 and there are 5,31,737 vacancies. The percentage increase of woman police over the previous year is 16.05 per cent. The total number of women police in the country is 2,15,504. The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) which include the BSF, CRPF, CISF, ITBP, Sashastra Seema Bal and others, have just 29,249 women ~ 2.98 per cent of the CAPF strength of 9,82,391. The sanctioned strength for CAPF is 11,09,511. Admitting the necessity for more women in police because of increasing crime against women, the statistical report said that “Availability of adequate number of women in police is essential for reducing the vulnerabili- ty of women against crimes.” “The existingWoman Police Population Ratio is still very low. Poor representation of women in police is posing serious challenges in dealing with crimes against women and woman criminals. Therefore, it is essential that woman Police personnel are visible at the cutting edge level,” the report said. At the national level, the actual strength of Woman Police in departments like Traffic Police is 5,979, Special Branch dealing with Intelligence is 3,632, Special Police Units against Insurgency, Extremism, Terrorism etc. is 516. The Woman Population per Woman Police (WPWP) is 3,026.89. The actual strength of the civil police is the highest in Uttar Pradesh (2.07 lakh), followed by Maharashtra (1.79 lakh). The actual strength of the District Armed Reserve Police is the highest in Bihar (44,341), followed by Jharkhand (33,966). On the provision of personal protection, the report said that a total number of 19,467 Protected Persons (Ministers, MPs, MLAs, Judges, Bureaucrats, etc.) were provided with Police protection for more than six months, across the country, during 2019. The number of Police Districts affected by the terrorist/extremist problem, during the last ten years (2010-2019) shows a mixed trend. A slight decrease was noticed from 2010 to 2014 (188 to 170) and, thereafter, a slight increase from 2015-17 (172 to 188), and then again decreased in 2019 (161). Rajinikanth opts out of political entry STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE CHENNAI, 29 DECEMBER Actor Rajinikanth, in an anticlimax, announced on Tuesday he was withdrawing his decision to launch a political party and contest the upcoming assembly election in Tamil Nadu, citing his health and the Covid-19 pandemic. The move gave the Dravidian parties, AIADMK and DMK, an upper hand in Tamil Nadu politics, and the BJP which was , considered instrumental in Rajinikanth's earlier decision to enter electoral politics even after doctors advised against it, is seen as having suffered a setback. Rajinikanth, who was admitted to hospital in Hyderabad on Christmas Day after suffering from severe hypertension and exhaustion, today took to Twitter with a statement in which he announced that he could not enter politics and start a new political party, giving heartburn to his fans and Rajni Makkal Mandram members. “I regret to inform that I am unable to enter politics and start a political party (ahead of the Assembly elections due in 45 months),” he said. Rajinikanth also apologised to his fans and people who would be disappointed by his decision. “Only I know the pain behind making this announcement,” the 70 year-old actor said. While elaborating on the Covid situation at the site in Hyderabad where he was shooting for a film, Rajini said: “I see this health complication (hospitalisation) as a warning given to me by God,” Recalling his earlier announcement that he would certainly enter politics and float a new political party in January 2021 and that he would unveil his plans on the New Year’s Eve, Rajinikanth said he had ignored the doctors’ advise and went to Hyderabad for the shooting of his upcoming film Annathae, where four of the film crew members had tested positive for coronavirus. The shooting was stopped and he underwent Covid tests which returned negative. But he was hospitalised for three days as his blood pressure fluctuated unusually. Rajini, who underwent a kidney transplant a few years ago said there should not be any fluctuations in his blood pressure levels as his transplanted kidney would get severely damaged. In physical meetings, he would have to meet lakhs of people, he said, adding “I had to be hospitalised for three days after being in a group of 120 and now a new strain of coronavirus has also emerged.” “In these times of pandemic, If anything happens to my health condition while meeting the people and campaigning for the elections, those coming along with me in my political journey will have to face several problems, both mentally and economically,” he said. “Without entering electoral politics, I'll try my best to do service for the people,” he said. “I have never hesitated to speak the truth. Hence I request my fans, Tamil people to accept my decision,” he said. Rajini’s party has been in the making for three years, ever since he announced his political entry back on New Year’s Eve in 2017. However, while his fan clubs were reorganised as the Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM), considered the precursor to the party, there was no clarity on the actual party or its launch. After three years keeping his fans and foes guessing, Rajinikanth announced earlier this month that he will launch his political party in January and disclose the specifics by December 31. In a letter to the farmer unions, agriculture secretary Sanjay Aggarwal on Monday invited them for the talks at 2 pm onWednesday at Vigyan Bhavan in the national capital. The farmers had also written to the government on December 26 listing the agenda. In the latest letter, the Morcha pointed out that in its December 26 communication to the government, it had mentioned “changes” by mistake instead of “withdrawal” in the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020. Farmer unions also deferred to Thursday their proposed tractor march against the contentious agriculture laws, so that the rally does not clash with their talks with the government. Thousands of protesting farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at three Delhi border points ~Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri ~ for the past 31 days, demanding a repeal of the three farm laws and legal guarantee for MSP. India wipe the floor with Australia MELBOURNE, 29 DECEMBER Hungry for redemption, India recorded a win for the ages under an inspirational Ajinkya Rahane (photo), beating Australia by eight wickets in the second Test to level the fourmatch series 1-1 at the MCG on Tuesday. The target of 70 was never a big one but for a team that was bowled out for its all-time lowest score of 36 only 10 days back, one can't fault them if that played at the back of their minds. Shubman Gill (35 not out) and skipper Rahane (27 not out) knocked off the runs in 15.5 overs to complete the victory. This was after the quartet of Jasprit Bumrah (2/54 in 27 overs), debutant Mohammed Siraj (3/37 in 21.3 overs), Ravichandran Ashwin (2/71 in 37.1 overs) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/28 in 14 overs) showed maniacal consistency over a period of 100 overs on the flattest of decks, where extra bounce became their go-to weapon. “The talk was all about showing attitude, intent and character. One hour took the game away from us in Adelaide, but we still have a lot to learn,” Rahane said in the post-match presentation. “Really proud of all the players, credit to our debutants Gill and Siraj. The way they showed character was amazing,” Rahane said. PTI MATCH REPORT ON PAGE 12
The Statesman is one of India's oldest English newspapers. It was founded in Kolkata in 1875 and is directly descended from The Friend of India (founded 1818). The Englishman (founded 1821) was merged with The Statesman in 1934. The Delhi edition of The Statesman began publication in 1931. The Statesman Weekly is a compendium of news and views from the Kolkata and Delhi editions. Printed on airmail paper, it is popular with readers outside India. The Statesman (average weekday circulation approximately 180,000) is a leading English newspaper in West Bengal. The Sunday Statesman has a circulation of 230,000.