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Monday, November 23, 2020

Daily briefing: Punjab farm fires send smog signal to Delhi; Territory row snowballs into violence at Mizo-Assam border

We are covering the territory dispute between Assam and Mizoram, ed-tech companies raising substantial funds in the last six months and rise in farm fires in Punjab.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | October 19, 2020 8:46:40 am
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Good morning,

The Big Story

The Covid-19 epidemic may have peaked sometime in the middle of September, when the active cases touched 10.7 lakh, according to the key findings of a government-appointed committee of scientists. And by February 2021, the total number of people who have been infected with the virus at some point in time would not exceed 106 lakh (1 crore 6 lakh).

Kerala, which was seen as a model state for controlling covid spread, “paid the price for its gross negligence” during the week-long festivities to mark Onam in the end of August, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said, while warning people to avoid large gathering during the upcoming festival season.

From The Front Page

Even with the threat of a heavy fine hanging over them, farmers in Punjab continue to set their fields on fire to get them ready for the next crop. The extent of the practice is such that satellite images of stubble-burning showed the most farm fires in four years this season. But there is hope in the action taken by panchayats. 

A day after Union Minister Amit Shah said the demand for President’s rule in West Bengal by BJP workers was just, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying it is “high time” she kept her “constitutional oath”.

With demand for online education soaring in the backdrop of Covid, ed-tech companies have attracted significant funding from private equity and venture capitalist investors over the last six months. As the bulk of the funds raised have gone into marketing or inorganic expansion, one of the companies was said to be in the race for the title sponsorship of IPL this season.

A Covid Test: An entrance exam being held for recruitment to the BSF and CISF near Srinagar on Sunday. [Shuaib Masoodi]

Decision 2020

With the country reeling under Covid impact, a close Nitish Kumar aide, Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha, says that the chief minister has averted a bigger economic crisis. “About 22 lakh migrants were given Rs 1,000 each. People trust that when the CM talks about skilling, it will happen,” he says.

In the coming Bihar polls, where the BJP is seen as positioning itself to win more seats than its ally the JD(U), the party has left as many as 11 seats for the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP). The reason for the BJP’s accommodation of the political greenhorn is the votes the VIP commands.

Must Read

A territory dispute between residents of border districts in Assam and Mizoram on Saturday turned violent after several temporary shops and huts were burnt down in the area. With four people injured in the incident, officials from the two sides are scheduled to hold talks today.

Exclusive: While explaining his three-phase Covid-19 vaccination process, former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani says: “Our challenge is we don’t have an adult vaccination system at all. We will have to build it from scratch.” 

While the search for the vaccine continues, residents of an Ahmedabad locality lament that their mood has been dampened ahead of the festive season as the “Ravan waley”, have not come this year. Breaking a tradition of 35 years, the family of the biggest effigy-makers from Agra is not coming to Ahmedabad this time.

Stubble on fire near Amritsar on Saturday [Rana Simranjit Singh]

ICYMI

  • Five Naxals, including four woman cadres, were killed during a major encounter with Gadchiroli police on Sunday. 
  • The NCB has arrested a 30-year-old South African national, the brother of actor Arjun Rampal’s partner Gabriella Demetriades, in connection with a drug case. 
  • In a scathing attack on the government, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday said that Indian democracy was passing through its “most difficult phase”.
  • Stan Swamy, the 83-year old Jesuit priest arrested by the NIA in the Elgaar Parishad case, approached a special court last week seeking interim bail on medical grounds.
  • BJD MP Chandrani Murmu has accused a journalist of allegedly circulating a morphed video of her when she was contesting the general election.

And Finally

The resumption of Badminton has been hardly smooth after withdrawals forced organisers of Thomas Uber Cup to postpone it till 2021. But the Denmark Open that ended yesterday eased the terms of consented confinement a tad, unlike the safety bubbles in other sports. So shuttlers could step out and grab a meal or hop off to a nearby grocery store, if the organisers deemed it safe.

Delhi Confidential: Amid the poll campaign in Bihar, the BJP is stepping up its activities in West Bengal, which goes to polls next year. 

In today’s episode of Three Things Podcast, we discuss what a report said about Pakistan’s compliance with a financial watchdog’s requirements against terror funding and money laundering.

Until tomorrow,

Leela Prasad and Liu Chuen Chen

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