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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Daily Briefing: Tata frontrunner in Air India bid; Aggressive testing behind Mizoram’s Covid-19 surge

Gross Goods and Services Tax revenue collections in September — for sales in August — rose to a five-month high of Rs 1,17,010 crore, up 22.5 per cent year-on-year.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
October 2, 2021 8:04:02 am
A look at the top news today, October 2, 2021.

Good morning,

Only in the Express 

The Tata Group has emerged as the frontrunner to acquire Air India, as the government looks to close one of its most ambitious disinvestment projects, multiple sources told The Indian Express. Even as the government is yet to formally approve Tata’s winning bid, people with direct knowledge of the matter said the Mumbai-based conglomerate has placed the highest bid — over Rs 5,000 crore more than SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh, who participated in his individual capacity in the bidding process.

In Chennai, a woman recalls that she was drawing the kolam (rangoli) at her doorstep the morning of September 17 when she was distracted by the presence of “too many people” in the flat opposite hers. Hours later, she would come to know that the people she thought were guests of her neighbours Machavaram Sudhakar and wife Govindaraju Durga Purna Vaisali, were officials from Central agencies on the trail of one of India’s biggest heroin hauls. The couple are under arrest since a firm registered in Vaisali’s name, Aashi Trading Company, was found to be the intended recipient of nearly 3,000 kg of heroin worth Rs 21,000 crore, originating in Afghanistan.

As Covid-19 seems to be on the wane in the rest of the country, the small hill state of Mizoram is not only reporting a disproportionately large number of cases, but also the highest prevalence amongst children. Last week, it recorded its highest single-day surge, with 1,846 cases — the third highest count in the country that day. The State Nodal officer of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme has, however, said the surge could be attributed to “aggressive” testing and reporting of infections in Mizoram, as well as contact tracing. 

From the Front Page 

The Supreme Court has come down heavily on farmer outfits blocking roads and highways around Delhi in their protests against the three farm laws enacted by the Centre, saying they were “strangulating the entire city”. On a petition by a farmers’ body seeking permission to hold a satyagraha at Jantar Mantar, the Bench said: “On the one hand you have been strangulating the entire city and blocking highways, and now you want to come inside the city.”

Gross Goods and Services Tax revenue collections in September — for sales in August — rose to a five-month high of Rs 1,17,010 crore, up 22.5 per cent year-on-year, according to latest data. Also, monthly collections have continued to improve due to a pickup in economic activity, alongside increased compliance by vendors of bigger companies. This is expected to improve going ahead due to the festive season.

With barely 10 days to go for the “grand rally” by AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Varanasi to launch the Congress poll campaign in UP, the party is facing an exodus of key state leaders, many of whom are making a beeline for the Samajwadi Party (SP). The party’s prominent Bundelkhand leaders and former MLAs, Gayadeen Anuragi and Vinod Chaturvedi, joined SP along with Manoj Tiwari from Mahoba. These exits come a day after the party’s former MLA and leading minority face in western UP, Imran Masood, said SP was the only option to defeat the BJP.

Must Read 

Neeraj Chopra’s historic gold at the Tokyo Olympics in August has triggered a javelin surge at the grassroots. Popular sports academies are clocking a rush of new enrollments and retailers, too, are riding the wave by shipping in more equipment. In a bid to give the sport an extra push, the Athletics Federation of India announced that each state unit will hold an annual javelin competition every August 7, the day Chopra won gold at the Olympics. 

Four decades after its creation, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) ceased to exist on Friday. The armed forces had often raised concerns about the delay in production by various ordnance factories under the OFB. The quality of OFB-produced equipment has also raised alarm from time to time. Now, its 41 ordnance factories — the first of which is more than 300 years old — have become part of seven new defence public sector undertakings created by the government. 

More than 8.5 lakh applicants were left in the lurch after Maharashtra’s health department recruitment exams were called off at the last moment because of a goof-up over exam centres and hall tickets. Who was blamed for the mishap? Well, fingers are being pointed at Nysa Communications, the agency contracted to conduct the exams. Interestingly, the agency was denied a tender by the government last December on allegations that it was blacklisted, before being awarded the contract two months later in February.

And Finally 

Paes-Bhupathi. A generation has grown up with the two names, entwined, and embedded in GK textbooks to UPSC examination question papers. But to many, the names might be more familiar in the context of the spats and barbs. The documentary series ‘Break Point’ details Indian tennis’ greatest partnership and gives you a glimpse of their complicated legacy. Read our review. 

Delhi Confidential: Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has directed his ministry to dispose of e-waste and condemned furniture this month as part of a special Swachhta Abhiyan. The drive, though, is not confined only to cleanliness. Mandaviya has also directed the ministry to dispose of long-pending files, and weeding out old records.

Until tomorrow, 
Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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