CMYK FRIDAY www.thestatesman.com 01 JANUARY 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5.00|LC* KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR PELOSI MAY HAVE TO WALK A TIGHT ROPE WILL QUIT POLITICS IF MSP IS ABOLISHED: HARYANA CM ED BEING WEAPONISED AS TOOL AGAINST OPPONENTS: MUFTI P5 P5 P10 WILLIAMSON PUTS THE BIG BOYS IN THE SHADE P12 Vaccines close to approval, regulator hints LAST LIGHT Drug standards body’s expert panel to meet today PRESS TRUST OF INDIA WEATHER NEW DELHI, 31 DECEMBER RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max. 92% TEMPERATURE Min. 36% Max: 25.6°C (N) Min: 12.8°C (-1) SUN RISES SUN SETS 06:16 hrs 17:03 hrs MOON SETS MOON RISES 07:11 hrs 18:10 hrs Next moon quarter on 06 January On the last evening of the year in Birbhum on Thursday. RAJA BHAKAT THUMBNAILS CBSE board exams from 4 May to 10 June next year PRESS TRUST OF INDIA sion in view of the COVID- NEW DELHI, DEC 31 People out and about enjoying the last day of the year 2020 in New Delhi on Thursday. SNS EPF interest rate: Retirement fund body EPFO has retained 8.5 per cent interest rate on employees' provident fund (EPF) for 2019-20 for its over six crore members as decided earlier, and also began crediting the same into their accounts on Thursday. A large number of the members of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) would be able to see their updated EPF accounts with credit of 8.5 per cent interest for 2019-20, from Friday, a P8 senior official told PTI. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will conduct board exams for classes 10 and 12 physically from May 4 to June 10 next year, Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' announced on Thursday. Practical examinations will be conducted by schools from March 1. The results of the board exams will be announced by July 15, he added. Usually, practical exams are conducted in January and written exams begin in February and conclude in March. However, the exams are being delayed this ses- 19 pandemic. “The board exams for classes 10 and 12 will be conducted from May 4 to June 10. Schools will be allowed to conduct practical exams from March 1. Date sheet for both the classes will be issued soon. The result will be declared by July 15,” Pokhriyal announced. Several schools have already conducted pre-board exams online to keep the students prepared. The CBSE had earlier this month announced that board exams in 2021 will be conducted in written mode and not online. Schools across the country were closed in March to contain the spread of Covid-19. They were partially reopened in some states from October 15. However, a few states have decided to keep them closed in view of a spike in the number of infections. The board exams this year had to be postponed mid-way in March due to the pandemic. They were later cancelled and the results announced on the basis of an alternative assessment scheme. Four HC chief justices transferred, four judges elevated as high court chief justice PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 31 DECEMBER Four high court chief justices, including Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari (photograph) of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, were transferred on Thursday, the law ministry said. Four judges were also elevated as high court chief justices. The Supreme Court collegium had recently recommended to the government the transfer of four chief justices of high courts and elevation of some judges as chief justices of high courts. Justice Maheshwari has been transferred to Sikkim High Court as its new chief justice in place of Justice Arup Kumar Goswami. Justice Goswami will be the new chief justice of the Andhra ndia is likely to have a Covid-19 vaccine in the New Year, Drug Controller General of India V G Somani hinted on Thursday. Speaking at a webinar organised by the Department of Biotechnology, Somani talked about the efforts made by the Department of Biotechnology and said vaccine candidates have got funding. “...and probably we will have a very happy New Year with something in hand. That's what I can hint at,” Somnai said. An expert panel in the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) will meet on Friday, the first day of the year, to further deliberate on the matter to consider emergency use authorisation applications by Serum Institute of India (SII) for the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine and Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin'. The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on Covid19 on Wednesday deliberated and analysed the addi- I Fog/Mist in the morning, mainly clear sky later. Temperature likely to in the range of 25-12 degree Celsius. Pradesh High Court. The SC collegium had recommended transfer of Justice Maheshwari to the Sikkim High Court, weeks after Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had complained to the Chief Justice of India about the state's top judiciary. In an unprecedented move, Reddy had on October 6 written to CJI S A Bobde alleging that the state high court was being used to “destabilise and topple” his government. Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan, the Telangana High Court chief justice, has been shifted as the chief justice of the Uttarakhand High Court. Justice Mohammad Rafiq, chief justice of the Orissa High Court, will be the new chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. Justice S Muralidhar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has been elevated as the chief justice of the Orissa High Court. Justice Muralidhar's previous transfer from Delhi High Court close to midnight of February 26 had created a controversy as the notification came on the day a bench headed by him had pulled up Delhi Police for failing to register FIRs against three BJP leaders for their alleged hate speeches which purportedly led to violence in northeast Delhi. Delhi High Court's Justice Hima Kohli has been elevated as the chief justice of the Telangana High Court. Justice Pankaj Mithal of Allahabad High Court has been made the chief justice of the high court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Justice Sanjib Banerjee, a judge of Calcutta High Court, has been appointed as the new chief justice of the Madras High Court. Another Calcutta High Court judge, Justice Joymalya Bagchi, has been transferred to the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Justice Rajesh Bindal, a judge of the Jammu and Kashmir HC, has been posted to Calcutta High Court. New Year’s Eve: Night curfew in many cities NEW DELHI, 31 DECEMBER The Covid-19 pandemic cast a shadow over New Year's eve celebrations on Thursday as night curfew was imposed in several cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, with many people preferring to stay in their homes on the occasion. The Delhi government imposed night curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on December 31 and January 1 to avoid large gatherings due to Covid-19 and its highly transmissible UK strain. The night curfew will be imposed from 11 p.m. on December 31 to 6 a.m. on January 1, and again from 11 p.m. on January 1 to 6 a.m. on January 2, said an order issued on Wednesday. The Maharashtra government also put in place a night curfew between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m, prohibiting gathering of five or more persons in view of the pandemic. The new year festivities in Bengaluru will also be lacklustre this year following the prohibitory orders imposed by the city police. Chennai will also see virtually no public celebrations as the government has already banned such festivities in restaurants, hotels, clubs and resorts, including beach resorts, on Thursday and Friday. No night curfew was imposed in Kolkata, but the government said it was taking precautions to ensure no large gatherings took place. PTI Details on Page 5 21.8K new Covid cases; 25 with mutated strain SNS & PTI NEW DELHI/KOLKATA, 31 DECEMBER India’s Covid-19 caseload increased to 1,02,66,674 with 21,822 new infections being reported in a day, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 98.60 lakh, according to Union health ministry data updated on Thursday. The death toll increased to 1,48,738 with 299 new fatalities. There are 2,57,656 active coronavirus infections in the country, making up 2.51 per cent of the total caseload. A total of 25 people in the country have tested positive for the new UK variant genome of SARS-CoV2 so far, the health ministry said. These include the 20 who were found with the mutated strain on Tuesday and Wednesday. Among the new five cases, the mutated strain was detected in four at the National Institute of Virology, Pune and one new No New Year celebrations for protesting farmers PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 31 DECEMBER Thousands of farmers protesting at the Singhu border for over a month now will ring in the NewYear sans any celebrations. “There is no New Year for us until the government accepts our demands,” said Harjinder Singh from Punjab's Ropar, who has been camping at the Delhi-Haryana border since November 25. In the last round of talks on Wednesday, the government addressed the farmers' concerns over the increasing power tariff and penalties for stubble burning, but that wasn't good enough news to celebrate yet, said the farmers. Among the issues that continue to remain unresolved are the revocation of the new farm laws and a legal guarantee Farmers during the protest against the new farm laws at Delhi’s Ghazipur border on Thursday. SNS of the minimum support price for their crops. “Both the demands that they have agreed to were not laws yet. Their impact was yet to be felt. And we went to the government with the demands with clarity. They cannot pick and choose what suits them. They have to listen to all our demands,” said Harmesh Singh, a farmer from Punjab's Hoshiarpur. “If the government wants to see our strength, we will show them. People like us who are used to living in 'kothis' (bungalows) are now sleeping on the road.We have been protesting peacefully for a month, we can keep protesting for a year too,” added Bhupinder Singh, also from Hoshiarpur. Most farmers this year will be welcoming the New Year away from their families, but they are not complaining. “Yes, we have a family back home and we are missing them, but this is also our family. All these farmers are our brothers, and uncles,” said Harjinder. Gurpreet Hayer from Jalandhar and Pratap Singh from Bhatinda have decided to do 'sewa' in the New Year as they had done in the past. Gurpreet said he will be working with Gursikh Sewa Society to put up a “turban langar” for all the farmers on Friday. “We will celebrate the New Year by doing sewa. There are many farmers who don't know how to tie a turban, or don't have a fresh turban. We will give them that,” he said. Pratap said he would pay a visit to the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara here on the first day of the year. “Every New Year we go to pay our respects at gurudwara and do sewa at langar. This year too, I will do the same here,” he said. Among the bare minimum celebrations, the Working People's Charter has called upon people from across the country to usher in the New Year with the farmers. “These laws are not just antifarmer but also anti-poor. And we want all the people who go out to celebrate New Year CMYK tional data and information submitted by the SII and Bharat Biotech. SII, Bharat Biotech and Pfizer have applied to the DCGI seeking emergency use authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccine candidates and are awaiting approval. Somani said the approval process was fasttracked in view of the pandemic by quickly processing all applications, allowing parallel phase 1 and 2 trials without waiting for complete data. For restricted emergency use authorisation, he said, “There are certain parameters that if we get limited data or partial data of reasonable safety and efficacy, we will allow that vaccine to come into the to come and celebrate with the farmers, with the aim of demanding social justice for them. There will be bonfire, good conversations and songs of revolution,” said Nirmal Agni from Working People's Charter. Farmers have been protesting at Delhi borders against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the central government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country. 1,02,66,674 2,57,656 21,822 26,139 1,48,738 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. THURSDAY 31 DEC 2020 case was sequenced at theInstitute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi. Bengal today registered 1,170 fresh Covid cases and 29 deaths due to the virus, taking the case count to 5,52,063 and the death toll to 9,712. There are 11,985 active cases in the state. immunisation programme into the market.” “As such, there is no compromise at all in the safety, efficacy and quality except for accepting the partial data for emergency use authorisation,” he said. Six vaccines are at various stages of clinical trials, of which four are being indigenously developed. The clinical trials by Bharat Biotech are in phase 3, while the one which is being developed by Zydus Cadila is in phase 2 clinical trial. SII is also conducting phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the OxfordAstrazeneca vaccine. Similarly, Dr Reddy's Laboratories is conducting phase 2 and 3 clinical trials for Russian vaccine Sputnik V. Vaccine dry run across states on 2nd NEW DELHI, 31 DECEMBER A dry run for Covid-19 vaccination will be conducted by all state and union territory administrations on 2 January to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges, the Centre said. The activity is proposed to be conducted in all state capitals in at least 3 session sites. Some states will also include districts that are situated in difficult terrain/have poor logistical support, while Maharashtra and Kerala are likely to schedule the dry run in major cities other than their capital, the Union health ministry said. “The objective of the dry run for Covid-19 vaccine introduction is to assess operational feasibility in the use of Co-WIN application in field environment, to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges and guide way forward prior to actual implementation,” the health PTI ministry said. Kerala Assembly passes resolution against farm laws STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE THIRUVANANTHAPURAM 31 DECEMBER A special session of the Kerala Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution urging the Union government to withdraw the three contentious farm laws passed by Parliament. The resolution was passed unanimously with the Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) supporting it. In a rare gesture, not only the legislators of the ruling CPI(M)-headed LDF and Congress-led UDF but the lone BJP , member in the 140-member state Assembly, O Rajagopal, did not the resolution against the Centre, saying “it is the democratic spirit.”However, Mr Rajagopal opposed some of the references in the resolu- tion, which was presented in a nearly two-hour-long special session convened in compliance with Covid protocols. Though Mr Rajagopal spoke against the resolution in the Assembly, the resolution was passed unanimously, triggering reports that the MLA has voted in support of the resolution, which he later denied he did. Moving the resolution at the Assembly, chief minister PinarayiVijayan said the country is now witnessing one of the most iconic protests ever by farmers in its history.The Centre had presented and passed the three agriculture laws in Parliament at a time when the agriculture sector was facing a severe crisis, Mr Vijayan said. Details on Page 4
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.