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Monday, May 25, 2020

Daily briefing: Nirmala Sitharaman interview, increase in Chinese patrol boats, and more

From signs of fresh trouble between Indian and Chinese troops near LAC to social distancing during Cyclone Amphan, here are the top stories from today's Indian Express print edition.

Written by Leela Prasad | New Delhi | Updated: May 20, 2020 9:36:46 am
india lockdown, india coronavirus, india covid-19, india lockdown migrants, arvind subramaniam, aurangabad train accident, US coronavirus A look at the top news today, May 20, 2020.

Dear Readers,

A major chunk of last week’s news coverage was spent on the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package that was released in five tranches, and the level of criticism it attracted as the fiscal burden was, in fact, 1.1 per cent of GDP. When this came up in an interview with The Indian Express, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said her ministry has not “hid anything from the public”. She also spoke about deficit monetisation and how her job doesn’t end with these announcements.

* It appears the Chinese Army isn’t so keen on maintaining social distancing near Pangong Tso, a lake in eastern Ladakh. It was only two weeks ago that Indian and Chinese troops came to blows and IAF fighter jets took to the air. Now, the Chinese have stepped up patrols and deployed more boats on the lake. In New Delhi, however, Army officers maintained that the incidents are “typical LAC activity”.

* An experimental vaccine by a US biotech company has shown promising results, albeit in eight patients. But why the announcement has sent the US stock markets soaring is because it also showed no major safety worries. We take a look at what the vaccine is composed of and how it works, what the trials showed, and what are the many stages that remain.

* With the lockdown putting a squeeze on revenues, many banks and start-ups are learning that occupying prime real estate in cities is turning out to be a drain on their crumbling resources. Take the case of private-sector lender IndusInd Bank. They have recently vacated one of its prominently-located leased office spaces in Mumbai.

* The migrants exodus is beginning to show in Mumbai’s densely packed slum areas. Rows and rows of houses, sometimes entire lanes, have been emptied out in Dharavi, Mandala, Shivaji Nagar, Shastri Nagar, and Malvani. Unofficial estimates peg the number of working class Mumbaikars who have left the city since the imposition of the lockdown — either on foot or hitching rides or aboard buses and the Railways’ special Shramik trains — at 6 to 8 lakh.

* Odisha has twin challenges at hand – a cyclone and a pandemic. As cyclone Amphan heads towards West Bengal and several districts of Odisha are on alert, senior officials in Odisha said a key challenge was that many structures to be used as evacuation centres are currently functioning as quarantine facilities.

* The International Cricket Council’s diktat on using only sweat and not saliva — an age-old method to shine the ball — is inconsequential. Despite the ban on saliva in place, the virus can continue to travel through an asymptomatic infected player. And though the virus does not spread through perspiration (sweat), items touched by many people (ball etc.) could pose a risk.

* Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev May 15 column in IE has exposed his lack of understanding of the Left, communism, democracy, social inequalities, citizenship, liberty, suffering, freedom, power structures and oppression, writes musician TM Krishna.

Until tomorrow,

Leela Prasad G

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