WEDNESDAY www.thestatesman.com 21 APRIL 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR CHANGE IN HAVANA RAJNATH TO ARMED FORCES: HELP STATES TO TACKLE COVID CRISIS P5 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky with possibility of very light rain/drizzle. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 33 and 19 degrees Celsius respectively. US AMBASSADOR IN MOSCOW HEADS HOME FOR CONSULTATIONS P6 P10 Lockdown should be last resort, Modi urges states RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY PM thanks health workers and urges people to follow Covid-19 protocols Max: 68% SNS & PTI Min: 32% TEMPERATURE Max: 33.8°C (-4) SUN RISES 05:49 hrs MOON RISES 12: 44 hrs Min: 19.5°C (-2) SUN SETS 18:50 hrs MOON SETS 02:44 hrs THUMBNAILS Deserted roads with few cars and buses on first day of a week-long curfew in the Capital on Tuesday. SNS Lockdown in Chandigarh today: Amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, the Chandigarh administration on Tuesday announced a one-day lockdown in the city on Ram Navami on Wednesday. The decision was taken by UT Chandigarh Administrator V P Singh Badnore, said an official spokesperson. The Punjab government on Monday had announced to clamp lockdown in Mohali on Wednesday to avoid gathering of people.” Press Freedom: While India has not slipped further on the World Press Freedom Index 2021 published by the international journalism notfor profit body, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), however, it continues to be counted among the countries classified “bad” for journalism and is termed as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their jobs properly. The latest index released on Tuesday ranks 180 countries, topped, yet again, by Norway followed by Finland. T he country is again faced with a big battle against Covid-19 and conditions will improve with the decisions taken in recent days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday and stressed that lockdown should be the last option. In his address to the nation, Modi said the people were undergoing suffering but “we need to fight it out with all our might” and expressed confidence that the coronavirus will be defeated with the combined efforts of the people. “I want to thank our doctors and all our healthcare workers for working non-stop in this fight against Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. Modi noted that the pharma sector was working relentlessly to meet all Covid-19 challenges, including vaccine development and supply. The Prime Minister said that the shortage of oxygen cylinders has come across as a major problem and said all stakeholders were working collectively to meet this challenge. The situation is different from last year when there was no Covid vaccine in the country or infrastructure to produce PPE kits and other muchneeded medical goods, he noted. He said lockdown should be the last option and focus should be on micro-containment. PRESS TRUST OF INDIA “If we all follow Covid19 protocols, there’ll be no need to impose lockdowns,” Modi said. He urged people to take the vaccine. Earlier today, the PM urged vaccine manufacturers to continuously scale up their production capacity to inoculate all Indians expediently. Interacting with vaccine manufacturers from across the country, Modi said the private sector will play an even more active role in the vaccination drive in the coming days and which will require better coordination between hospitals and industry. He also assured all possible support and smooth approval process for the vaccine candidates which are currently under trial phase. The health infrastructure of our private sector has played a big role in the country’s fight against Covid-19, he said. According to a statement from the PMO, Modi noted that the government has now allowed the vaccination for every adult starting from 1 May as it believes in the manufacturers' ability of vaccine makers. The prime minister credited the manufacturers for developing and producing vaccines in a record time and noted SC stays HC order on UP ‘lockdown’ PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 20 APRIL The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the Allahabad High Court order directing the Uttar Pradesh government to impose strict restrictions till 26 April in five cities amid the resurgent virus. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde passed the order after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for UP said the state has taken sev, eral steps to contain the spread of coronavirus but to lockdown five cities by a judicial order may not be the right approach. Mehta argued that the HC order will create immense administrative difficulties. In these circumstances, there shall be an interim stay on the order of the high court, SC said. The apex court said the plea would come up for hearing after two weeks. The HC had directed the UP government to impose strict restrictions till 26 April in five cities-Allahabad, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur Nagar and Gorakhpur-but stopped short of calling it a “complete lockdown”. It also noted Mehta’s argument that directions given by the HC is as rigorous as a lockdown though the HC has observed that these are nowhere close to a complete lockdown. The bench initially said that the state shall report to the HC within a week about the steps it has taken and steps which it proposes to take in view of the pandemic. However, Mehta said that the state can apprise the apex court about it. Mehta said that the high court had passed order after taking suo motu cognisance. In its petition filed in the apex court, the state government has said, the high court has completely failed to appreciate that while passing the direction of the nature as quoted above the HC has effectively encroached upon the executive domain and has passed a mandamus which is incapable of being executed at the present stage, and if executed, is capable of creating panic, fear and law and order situation in the state. It said the modalities which need to be worked upon before imposing a lockdown or curfew essentially fall within the domain of executive. The plea said there was no empirical data before the HC to compel it to arrive at a conclusion that lockdown/total curfew for a week was the only way to combat a steep rise in cases. MUMBAI, 20 APRIL The Maharashtra Cabinet favours a “strict lockdown” to curb the pandemic and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is likely to make an announcement in this regard on Wednesday, a senior minister said here. The Cabinet on Tuesday decided to cancel class 10 exam of the state board which was scheduled to be held by April end. It also sanctioned measures to increase the availability of oxygen including utilisation of oxygen produced by power plants, health minister Rajesh Tope said. “All the Cabinet ministers expressed views in favour of a strict lockdown to minimise the spread of Covid-19. Ministers come from all corners of the state, so it also indicates that the entire state needs this measure,” Tope said. that the vaccines developed are the cheapest, with India undertaking the world’s largest inoculation programme. He also appreciated the efforts and studies being conducted by Indian scientists in the development of new vaccines. Modi said the biggest strengths of the Indian P12 Ban industrial use of oxygen now to ease scarcity: HC SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 20 APRIL ‘Strict lockdown’ likely in Maha today NEW DELHI, 20 APRIL WHEN KNIGHTS RUN AROUND IN CIRCLES Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday tweeted that he has tested Covid-19 positive with mild symptoms. “Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray could make an official announcement about more stringent measures tomorrow,” Tope added. “The class 12 exam will certainly be held,” Tope said. On oxygen availability, he said the state was “managing with 1,550 MT of oxygen” per day at present. “The state has been allowed to get 300 MT of oxygen from other states. The Centre can allot us another 300 MT, but we can not get more than 2,000 MT, overall,” he said. The Cabinet also decided to purchase a minimum of 200 oxygen concentrator machines for each of 36 districts, he informed. PWD minister Shinde said oxygen-carrying tankers will be given the status of ambulance to facilitate their smooth and speedy movement. ‘Mission Covid Suraksha’, and created an end-to-end vaccine development ecosystem. The government ensured that all the vaccine manufacturers not only get all possible help and logistic support, but also the process of vaccine approval is speedy and scientific,” Modi said. Vaccine manufacturers thanked him for the government’s decision of allowing vaccination for everyone above 18years, the statement said. vaccine industry are its ‘Samarthya, Sansadhan and Seva Bhaav’ (capability, resource and spirit of service). He said throughout the process of developing and manufacturing vaccines, the country has constantly worked with the spirit of public-private partnership under the 60 hour-long statewide weekend curfew in UP In a Cabinet meeting today chaired by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the government, decided to impose a weekend curfew from Friday evening to Monday morning (60 hours) and also keep all non-essential activities suspended in all districts of the state having 500 or more active cases. A fine of Rs 1,000 will be levied from people not wearing a mask or face cover in UP and repeat offenders will be charged Rs 10,000, according to an official order. A fine of Rs 500 will be imposed for spitting in public places, the order stated. The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said that economic interests can not override human lives and suggested some reduction in steel and petroleum production to divert oxygen to Covid-19 patients. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said if the lockdown continues then everything would come to a halt and therefore, what would be the need for steel, petrol and diesel during such a situation. The court asked the Centre why it was waiting till 22 April to ban industrial use of oxygen. “Shortage is now.You haveto do it (ban) now. Look into taking some oxygen from steel and petroleum industries. They have big pockets and big lobbies, but tell them if they haveto cut production, then they can cut production. Lives have to be saved,” the bench said. The court cited the example of a central government counsel whose father was admitted in hospital and was on oxygen support, but due its scarcity, oxygen was being provided at a reduced pressure to him to conserve it. “Can you ask him to hold on till 22 April,” the court asked. It said if nothing was done, then “we are heading for a bigger disaster”.“We might end up losing nearly a crore of people. Are we willing to accept that,” the bench said. The observations by the bench came after perusing the Centre’s affidavit which said there was presently no gap in oxygen supply to Delhi and that industrial use of oxygen was banned with effect from 22 April. India's active cases breach 20Lmark: India’s registered 2,59,170 new Covid-19 cases in a span of 24 hours, taking the total tally Leaders’ consensus to maintain peace at borders can’t be ‘swept under carpet’, India tells China STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 20 APRIL Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri has said that the tendency to sweep the situation at the Sino-Indian border under the carpet and characterise it as just a minor issue and a matter of perspective was inadvisable. Such a tendency could only take the two countries further away from a sustained solution to present difficulties and deeper into an unfulfilling stalemate. It would tantamount to running away from the problem and in a direction opposite to that where the promise of a closer development partnership lay, Misra said at an online event between the Indian Council ofWorld Affairs (ICWA) and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) which was also addressed by Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong, among others. “Maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas is an essential basis for the development of the bilateral relationship. There is a need for respecting each others’ concerns and sensitivities,” he said. Misri said both India and China agree that they should stick to the consensus between the top leaders of the two countries. However, he pointed out that equally significant consensus has been reached between the two leaders in the past as well, on the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity, and it was important to stick to that consensus as well. He said the impact on public opinion in India has been particularly strong due to the violation of peace and tranquillity at the LAC. In a multipolar world, no country could set the agenda by itself without prior agreement and consultation, and then expect everyone else to come on board. No single country could expect a discussion to focus only on issues of its own interest while ignoring those raised or reflected by others. And no country should imagine that it has sole control over the narrative about a relationship or its actual course, he said. “The sooner this is understood, the sooner we can move towards a real and reformed multilateralism,” he added. Mamata slams Centre’s new vaccine policy Cyber agency asks Indian FB users to enhance account privacy STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 20 APRIL PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI/KOLKATA, 20 APRIL West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hitting out at the Centre’s new vaccine policy and terming it “hollow, without substance and a regrettable show” of evasion of responsibility. The Centre on Monday announced that everyone above 18 years will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccine from 1 May.“I am informed that the central government has announced the much-delayed universal vaccine policy on 19th April, 2021, which appears to be hollow, without substance and a regrettable show of evasion of responsibility by the central government,” CM said in the letter. The country’s cyber security agency CERT-In has advised Facebook users to strengthen their account privacy settings after a recent global ‘data scraping’ incident in the social media platform affected about 61 lakh Indians. “As the Facebook platform evolves and grows, parts of your account could be public. Data could also be collected and shared in ways you don’t know about,” the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team or CERT-In said in a public advisory issued on Monday. “It has been reported that globally there has been a large scale leakage of Facebook profile information. The exposed information includes email addresses, profile ID, full TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION SUGGESTED Large-scale available in mulFB stated the leakage of profile tiple cyber crim- feature was information changed in inal forums for includes emails, free. Sept profile ID, full 2019. CERT-In name, job occupation, phone claimed that numbers and ‘data scraping’ hapbirth date. pened by FB data of esti- using “conmated 61L Indi- tact ans has been importer” made publicly feature of FB. name, job occupation, phone numbers and birth date. “According to Facebook, the scraped information does not include financial information, health information or passwords, however information from more than 450 million unique Facebook profiles globally, including approx- imately 61 lakh Indian individuals, has been made publicly available in multiple cyber criminal forums for free,” the advisory said while explaining the breach. A cyber security expert had spoken about this online leak earlier this month, which was acknowledged by the company, stating that “this is old data that was previously reported on in 2019. We found and fixed this issue in August 2019”. The CERT-In said that Facebookhas claimed that this ‘data scraping’ happened by using the “contact importer” feature of the platform, which allows users to find other users by using their phone numbers. “Facebook stated that this feature was changed in September 2019, following the discovery that threat actors were abusing the feature. “However, while Facebook modified the feature in 2019 to thwart this kind of abuse, the phone numbers of 450 million global users had already been harvested by malicious actors, along with other identifying information on users,” it said. Dejargonising the term ‘data scraping’, the advisory said it refers to the process of using automated software or scripts to harvest public information from sites, such as any information users make publicly available in their profiles like names, city, occupation, among others. “Cyber criminals may scrape data from sites for a variety of purposes, including spamming, information gathering and social engineering attacks. “They can also sell scrapped data for a profit to other cyber criminals, marketing companies or call centres,” it said. The advisory, while asking users of this popular social media platform to follow good cyber hygiene practices, also said that Facebook has advised individuals to “make sure that their privacy settings reflect what information they want to share publicly and who they want to be able to look them by phone number”. Facebook, it added, has also recommended account holders to enable two-factor authentication. It also recommended that users can consider changing their profile settings to “private” or “friends” only as data scrapers can use “public” information of an individual to “match and combine with data from other breaches to access even more of their personal information and accounts”. It also asked users to adjust their settings to who can find and contact them on Facebook and consider whether to set them all to “friends” or stricter for stronger security. 1,53,21,089 20,31,977 2,59,170 1,54,761 1,80,530 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. TUESDAY 20 APRIL 2021 Delhi’s highest-ever surge: 28,395 cases, 277 deaths NEW DELHI, 20 APRIL Convulsed by an unprecedented, ferocious Covid wave, Delhi today recorded 28,395 fresh coronavirus cases ~ its highest-ever single-day tally ~ and 277 deaths ~ also its highest-ever single-day Covid fatality count ~ according to the Delhi government’s latest health bulletin. The city’s Covid positivity rate soared to 32.82 per cent. SNS (SEE P2) to 1,53,21,089 as active cases surpassed the 20-lakh mark, according to the Union health ministry data onTuesday.The death toll increased to 1,80,530 with a record 1,761 new fatalities,the data at 8 am showed.The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,31,08,582, the data stated. ICSE cancels class 10 board exams, class 12 stays ‘deferred’ NEW DELHI, 20 APRIL The ICSE class 10 board exams have been cancelled in view of the worsening Covid-19 situation and the option for students to appear later has been withdrawn, board secretary Gerry Arathoon said on Tuesday. Last week, the board had postponed both class 10 and 12 exams. The Council for The Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) had announced that class 10 students will get an option to either write the exams later or get evaluated on the basis of an alternative criteria. “Given the present worsening situation of the Covid19 pandemic in the country, the CICSE has decided to cancel the class 10 examination. The option for students announced earlier, stands withdrawn. The safety and well-being of our students and teaching faculty is of topmost priority and paramount importance,” said Arathoon. “We are committed to devise a fair and unbiased criterion for declaring class 10 results. The criterion as well as the date of declaration fo results will be announced later,” he said. The CISCE has advised schools to begin the admission process for class 11, if not already started. “In addition, schools should prepare a schedule to begin online classes for the class 11 students at the earliest,” Arathoon said, adding that the status of class 12 exams remains same. Last week, the CBSE had cancelled its class 10 board exams and deferred the class PTI 12 board exams.
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.