WEDNESDAY www.thestatesman.com 10 FEBRUARY 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR PALESTINIAN POLLS NITISH CABINET GETS 17 NEW MEMBERS P5 WEATHER Mainly clear sky. Moderate to dense fog in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 27 and 10 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max: 100% P6 P10 7 states/UTs logged no Covid deaths in 3 weeks SNS & PTI Min: 07.8°C (-1) SUN SETS 18:08 hrs MOON SETS 16:41 hrs THUMBNAILS Farmers during protest against farm laws at Singhu Border, in the Capital on Tuesday. SNS Deep Sidhu arrested: Actor-activist Deep Sidhu wanted in connection with the Red Fort violence on Republic Day has been arrested by the Delhi Police, officials said on Tuesday. The arrest was made by a team of Delhi Police’s Special Cell, said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Sanjeev Kumar Yadav. Later, Yadav said that Sidhu was arrested from Karnal Bypass at 10.40 pm on Monday, adding that he was wanted in connection with the case of instigating the crowd at the Red Fort on Republic Day. “The Crime Branch will investigate his role P3 in detail,” the DCP said. Bank strike: The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine unions, on Tuesday gave a call for a two-day strike from 15 March to protest against the proposed privatisation of two state-owned lenders. In the Union Budget presented last week, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs) as P8 part of its disinvestment plan. NEW DELHI, 9 FEBRUARY S even states and UTs have reported no new Covid-19 deaths in the last three weeks, while 15 have not registered any such fatality in the past 24 hours, the Centre said on Tuesday, underlining that from the pandemic point of view consistent gains are being made in terms of declining new cases and casualities. The Centre, however, noted that the last national sero survey findings have shown that over 70 per cent of the population is still susceptible to the disease. The seven states and UTs - Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Mizoram, Nagaland and Lakshadweep - have reported no new Covid-19 deaths in last three weeks, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said. Addressing a Press briefing, he said India was the fastest country to reach 6 million vaccination doses in 24 days. Bhushan said within the country also some states have performed well while other need to improve their vaccination coverage. New cases fall below 10k for second time The daily new Covid-19 cases fell below 10,000 for the second time this month taking India’s tally of cases to 1,08,47,304, while fresh fatalities remained below 100 for the fourth consecutiveday, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Tuesday. A total of 9,110 new infections were reported in a span of 24 hours. The death toll increased to 1,55,158 with 78 daily new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,05,48,521 pushing the national recovery rate to 97.25 per cent, while the case fatality rate stands at 1.43 per cent and active caseload remained below 2 lakh at 1,43,625 which comprise 1.32 per cent of the total caseload, the data stated. According to the ICMR, 20,25,87,752 samples have been tested up to February 8. The 78 new fatalities include 16 from Kerala, 15 from Maharashtra and 11 from Punjab. A total of 1,55,158 deaths have been reported so far including 51,325 from Maharashtra followed by 12,387 from Tamil Nadu,12,239 from Karnataka. NEW DELHI, 9 FEBRUARY Prime minister Narendra Modi broke down several times in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday while reminiscing about his close association with Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad whose term is coming to an end next week. Modi was participating in the farewell speech for Leader of Opposition Azad and three other members from Jammu and Kashmir - Nazir Ahmad Laway, Shamsher Singh Manhas, Mir Mohammad Fayaz whose terms in the Upper House are coming to an end. When he was Gujarat chief minister, Modi recalled, Azad telephoned him about a terrorist attack on a group of Gujarati tourists in Srinagar. In his poignant speech, Modi said Azad was weeping as he gave the information of the attack that killed eight persons. The PM was in tears P12 U’khand: Rescuers face uphill task due to heavy slush, debris Sustained fall in active cases in India Daily Covid-19 cases continue to manifest a downward trend, Union health ministry said on Tuesday underscoring that low number of daily cases and rising recoveries have ensured a sustained fall in active cases. India’s average daily deaths also continue to sharply decline. From a high of 211 in the second week of January, average 1,08,47,304 1,43,625 Virus unlikely to have leaked from China lab: WHO RAJU GUSAIN 9,110 DEHRADUN, 9 FEBRUARY 14,016 1,55,158 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. TUESDAY 09 FEBRUARY 2021 daily deaths have reduced to 96 in the second week of February, registering a decline of 55 per cent, it said. With a consistent rise in cumulative recoveries, India’s recovery rate has reached 97.25 per cent, one of the highest globally, the ministry highlighted. The UK, the USA, Italy, Russia, Brazil and Germany have lower recovery rate than India’s, it said. No fresh Covid death logged in Delhi: No fresh coronavirus-related death was today recorded in the national capital after a gap of over 10 months. Delhi logged 100 fresh Covid cases, with the Arvind Kejriwal government asserting that “Delhi's collective will is gradually winning over (SEE P2) the infection”. ASSOCIATED PRESS WUHAN, 9 FEBRUARY A World Health Organisation expert said Tuesday the Covid is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and most probably jumped to humans via an intermediary species. WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek made the assessment in a summation of a WHO team’s investigation into the possible origins of Covid in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first cases were reported in December 2019. The Wuhan Institute of Virology has collected extensive virus samples, leading to unproven allegations that it may have caused the original outbreak by leaking the virus into surrounding community. China has strongly denied that pos- PM misty-eyed at Ghulam Nabi farewell e STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NADAL ADVANCES IN OZ OPEN India’s recovery has reached 97.25 per cent, one of the highest globally, says Centre Min: 42% TEMPERATURE Max: 26.5°C (3) SUN RISES 07:03 hrs MOON RISES 06:53 hrs TRUMP’S SECOND IMPEACHMENT TRIAL BEGINS again, halted his speech briefly, and sipped water. Azad had called him from the airport again that night, he said. “He was worried about the victims like his own family,” Modi said, and the House reinforced him with long thumping of desks. The prime minister said, “I respect him on the basis of incidents and experience.” Azad’s calmness and humility, and a desire to do something for the nation would not let him rest, he said. Modi said whoever becomes the Leader of the Opposition after Azad would have to work hard to reach his level. Azad had suggested a meeting of party leaders, Modi said when he decided to call a meeting of floor leaders on Covid-19 which exhibited Azad’s vast experience. Azad took care of the garden of his official bungalow, Modi said, and brought a bit of Kashmir there. His bunga- low often won the first prize in competitions. In his response, Azad said that of his 41 years’ legislature experience, 28 years were in the Rajya Sabha, 10 years in the Lok Sabha and three in the state Assembly. He said the sudden deaths of Sanjay Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and the Odisha supercyclone in 1999, too, shook him, like the deaths of the Gujarat tourists the PM has alluded. Azad said the tourists were killed just as his government shifted to Srinagar from Jammu after winter. “I pray to God to end militancy and terrorism in the country as it has taken lives of many civilians and security personnel,” he said amidst thumping of desks. On Kashmiri Pandits, who had to flee the former state due to terrorism, he said all would have to make efforts for their return to their homes in the Kashmir Valley. Will issue OTT guidelines soon, says Javadekar PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 9 FEBRUARY The government will soon issue guidelines for regulation of OTT (over the top) platforms that will address issues such as sensitive content, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday. Replying to a Zero Hour mention, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said a lot of suggestions and complaints on the regulation of OTTs have been received. “Guidelines and direction are almost ready. It will be soon implemented,” he said in his brief submission. Earlier, raising the issue through a Zero Hour men- tion, Mahesh Poddar of the BJP said the content and language on OTT platforms was discriminatory and offensive. Objectional content on OTT platforms includes sexual discrimination and abusive language, he said adding that the government should, without delay, implement the Internet regulations. There are at least 40 OTT platforms, including global ones such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and HotStar (Disney Plus),and hundreds of news content websites. “It is an important issue. We get a lot of suggestions and complaints,” Javadekar said. sibility and has promoted unproven theories that virus may have originated elsewhere. Along with the institute, the WHO team that includes experts from 10 nations has visited hospitals, research institutes, a traditional market tied to the outbreak and other sites. The visit by the WHO team took months to negotiate after China only agreed to it amid massive international pressure at the World Health Assembly meeting last May, and Beijing has continued to deny calls for a strictly independent investigation. Chinese authorities have kept a tight hold on information about the possible causes of pandemic that has now inflicted more than 105 million people and killed more than 2.2 million worldwide. As hours tick by inexorably, search and rescue teams face a challenging situation in clearing slush and debris from the Tapavon tunnel, where 3035 workers are trapped, in Chamoli. The search operation is going on relentlessly and the target is to clear the debris and to reach 180 mts inside the tunnel. According to the rescue team, so far about 150 mts has been cleared and efforts are underway to remove debris from the next 30 mts. Water is gushing out of the tunnel and slippery condition is making operation arduous. The rescue team is working on different plans to establish contact with the trapped workers. Using drones for surveying the tunnel and inserting cameras using drilling machines, are some of the options. A team of ITBP is distributing ration packets in disaster affected villages. The local administration has established a temporary helipad at Lata village for relief operation. Ration kits are moved by chopper to Lata and from there the ITBP team walks to the affected villages to distribute it. Ration was distributed at Jugaju and Juwagwar villages, which are around Pioneering paws: Army using dogs to detect Covid PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 9 FEBRUARY In a first for the country, the Indian Army is using its dogs for quick detection of Covid19 to cut down time delays associated with regular diagnostic techniques. The canine members of the armed force are known for their pronounced olfactory capability and have earlier helped in explosive and narcotics detection, search and rescue operations, and other challenging tasks. Now, they have another job. Two dogs two-year-old cocker spaniel Casper and one-year-old Jaya, a chippiparai, which is an indigenous breed from Tamil Nadu have been trained to detect Covid by sniffing samples of sweat and urine, senior Army officials said. A demonstration of their skills using real samples was held today on the premises of the 48 Military Veterinary Hospital at Delhi Cantonment. Their handlers were wearing full PPE kits. Lt Col Surinder Saini, instructor at the Dog Training Facility of the Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre in Meerut, said these dogs are “pioneering canines” of not just the Army, but of entire India. “Countries like the UK, Finland, France, Russia, Germany, Lebanon, the UAE and the US have already trained dogs for detection of Covid. Dogs have been previously used abroad to detect malaria, diabetes and Parkinson's disease, but this is the first time canines have been used for medical detection in India,” he told reporters. After their training in September, the dogs were deployed at the Army’s transit camp in Delhi in November, Saini said. Great leveller: Chepauk shocker after Brisbane heroics PULAKESH MUKHOPADHYAY KOLKATA, 9 FEBRUARY The question that the honestto-goodness Mr Average Man found asking himself, and his neighbour just across the wicker fence, today, was simplicity itself: how can we pull it off against Australia in Australia and return home in glory to go belly up against England? Well, any attempted answer to that will have to reckon with the fact that if India had been wizards down under, it was not as if that they metamorphosed into muggles overnight. Even JK Rowling would perhas be incapable of that dramatic transformation. India's initial problem at Chepauk in the first Test, as Jasprit Bumrah said after day one, was that the ball had ceased to swing what with Covid - 19 - specific regulations barring the use of saliva. It is not a trifle to be laughed away. Not at all. To stop a paceman from the ages-old practice is to tell a footballer that you can’t run forward; any movement you allow yourself will have to be sideways. Or, rearwards. That sounds risible but it was an equivalent of it that cricket settled for when, purely for the sake of the game's trade and commerce in the time of the coronavirus, it legislated for safety measures that would keep the wheel rolling. Backroom mavericks think these things up - rather than wait for normality to return - and the game is left picking up the pieces. The juggernaut was quite all right in Australia, where the pitches were emphatically not the fast bowler’s graveyard. But Chepauk was. The wicket here never allowed the contest between bat and ball to be even. It was so batting-friendly to begin with that the archetypal tearaway would have been excused for pulling out after his first spell of heart-shattering disappointment and asking for his ticket home. And then India’s spinners - more Shahbaz Nadeem than Ravichandran Ashwin - permitted themselves the luxury of oodles of no-balls. That was like so many spelling mistakes in a dictionary. There probably is no tweaker in competitive cricket anywhere in the world who has not been told of the utter unacceptability of no-balls from him, given that, unlike his quick peer, he is not really required by his craft to steam fast-forward in and let the batsman have it. So when England hit up their massive first-innings total, all that India could be realistically expected to achieve was a draw. Not everyone was inclined to think similarly, though. There were stalwarts who said that the hosts too would have their season in the sun with the bat but India, in their first knock, managed only so much and, in the second, a lot less than that. Counted on to wring England’s neck, they ended up wringing their own hands. Today, with nine wickets intact, they needed 381 runs but, on a fourth-innings track, it was not destined to be a joy ride to paradise, which seemed hopelessly to recede as the journey went on. Not that it took a lot of time. The fact that a spinner and a veteran new-ball bowler took as many as seven wickets underlined the capricious wicket’s contrarian partiality the second time around. Batsmen were its betes noires now, though Virat Kohli’s batting gave the caustic critic enough reason to claim that the wicket was no minefield strewn with tripwires. India, of course, batted very, very shabbily but to say that would not be to deny that the best that they might have hoped for was a draw - on the wicket they had been given. The West Indies wowed us the other day all right and recollections of it led one farther back to a comic strip in which we had had one character telling another that we’d all die one day. “But on the other days, we won’t,” said the interlocutor. It, of course, is great when the incredible is also reality but then there is this thing about life: it tends to discourage the popular craving for miracles. 7 kms from Lata. Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat visited the disaster affected Reni village and interacted with the villagers and assured them all possible help. He instructed the district collector Chamoli that there should be no shortage of essential items in the 13 villages cut off from connectivity after the 7 February flash flood. A dozen workers of the power project were rescued from the Tapovan tunnel on Sunday. After rescue, the workers were admitted at the ITBP Hospital in Joshimath. All the rescued workers were discharged from the hospital on Tuesday. Union home minister Amit Shah today addressed the Rajya Sabha over the diaster and assured that rescue operations to save those stuck inside tunnels “is going on a war footing and all-out efforts are simultaneously being made for searching missing persons.” He said in the financial year 2020-21, Rs 1041 crore has been allocated to the Uttarakhand under the State Disaster Risk Management Fund (SDRMF)and the first installment of the central share amounting to Rs 468.50 crore has been released to the state government. UPSC civil service: Not in favour of age limit relaxation, Centre tells SC NEW DELHI, 9 FEBRUARY The Centre Tuesday told Supreme Court it is against granting one-time relaxation on age limit to UPSC civil service aspirants, including those who had exhausted their last attempt in 2020 exam amid the pandemic and would get one more chance this year provided they are not age barred, as it would be discriminatory to other candidates. The Centre told this to a Bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar which reserved its verdict on a plea which had sought one more chance in the UPSC’s civil services exam to those aspirants who could not appear in their last attempt in 2020 due to the pandemic. Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the Centre, said that initially the government was not willing to concede the extra chance and it was later done at the suggestion of the Bench. This is not the exam where you prepare at the last minutes. People prepare for years together, Raju told the bench, adding, My first offer remains. The Centre had on 5 February told SC that it was agreeable to give an extra chance as a one-time relaxation to those civil service aspirants, who had appeared in their last attempt in the 2020 exam and are otherwise not age-barred. It, however, had said no relaxation shall be granted for 2021 exam to those candidates who have not exhausted their attempts or are otherwise age-barred from appearing PTI in 2021 exam.
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