COIMBATORE MONDAY JULY 20, 2020 `7.00 PAGES 28 LATE CITY EDITION 1ST QUARTER GOLD IMPORTS JUST 6% OF LAST YEAR’S Q1 SILVER IMPORTS, TOO, DROP SIGNIFICANTLY India imported gold worth $688 million (`5,160 crore) in Q1 against $11.5 billion (`86,250 cr) in the same period last year Silver imports during the April-June 2020 quarter, too, fell 45% on a yearon-year basis to $575 million. The decline in gold and silver imports has helped in narrowing the country’s trade deficit to $9.12 billion during the April-June 2020 quarter against $45.96 billion a year ago. Gold imports are important as they have a bearing on the current account deficit ■ 72% CURRENT ACCOUNT TURNS SURPLUS ■ Thanks to narrowing trade deficit, India recorded a current account surplus of $0.6 bn or 0.1% of GDP for the January-March quarter against a deficit of $4.6 bn or 0.7% of GDP in a year ago Gold imports have been recording -ve growth since December last year but demand fell drastically in the wake of Covid-19 DECLINE IN GEMS AND JEWELLERY EXPORTS IN APRIL-JUNE 2020 CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Whopping `15.5L cr loss to retail industry so far: CAIT S E S A S E N @ New Delhi BACK-to-back lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic have forced many retail businesses to down shutters and nearly 1.5 crore traders are on the verge of doing so in the absence of any support from the government, said the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). “Covid-19 has caused a huge dent in retail trade with losses crossing `15.5 lakh crore in the past 100 days. Even after 45 days from Unlock-1, there has been no clear-cut improvement,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT, which represents around seven crore traders and 40,000 trade associations. CAIT urged the government to award a package to traders to ensure their survival. The traders’ body demanded relaxation in payment of taxes, extension in repayment of bank loans without additional interest or penalty, and measures that will provide money directly in the hands of the traders. Gehlot weighing options, could seek trust vote Wants to wield whip to snuff out rebellion if HC order goes in favour of the dissidents R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi WITH the Rajasthan High Court bench slated to resume hearing on a petition filed by rebel Congress lawmakers against a batch of disqualification notices slapped on them by Speaker C P Joshi, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is learnt to be weighing options to call a short Assembly session if the court rules against the notices. According to party sources, Gehlot is looking at all options on the table, including legal, in the event of an adverse verdict. “The Rajasthan government will call an Assembly session and the Congress will issue whip to all MLAs to attend. If Sachin Pilot and his group of MLAs defy, they will be disqualified. Even if they attend but vote against or abstain when Gehlot seeks a confidence vote, they will get disqualified,” said sources. The assumption is Gehlot will sail through during the floor test even without the votes of rebels. After having stated last week he has the support of 102 lawmakers, including allies and Independ- ents but excluding rebels, the crafty chief minister roped in the two-member Bharatiya Tribal Party on Sunday, increasing his comfort level. The simple majority mark in the 200-member House is 101. The whip is meant to stamp out rebellion one way or the other. The court had on Friday deferred hearing till Monday and directed the Speaker not to take any action in the matter till Tuesday The Speaker’s no. tice was based on a disqualification petition sent to him by the par ty’s Chief Whip under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. Meanwhile, there has been no direct communication between Pilot and the party’s top leadership but intermediaries are still in play. “The central leadership wants him to stay but he is sticking to his demand to be named the chief minister while the majority of the MLAs are with Gehlot,” said a party leader. However, unlike Jyotiraditya Scindia, Pilot has not said anything against the party or its top leadership. Last week, Gehlot sacked him as deputy CM and state party unit chief. SECOND CASE OF FIRING BY NEPAL POLICE, INDIAN HURT R A J E S H K U M A R T H A K U R @ Patna A 25-year-old Indian national was shot on the shoulder by the Nepal Armed Border Force on Saturday evening near the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar’s Kishanganj district. The injured youth, identified as Jitendra Kumar Singh, was searching for his cattle along with two co-villagers when he was shot. According to sources, the youth went 300 metres into a no-man’s land inside the Nepal side of border by mistake. This is the second incident of firing by Nepal forces in recent times. On June 12, an Indian national was killed in Sitamarhi district in Bihar when he was seen sitting near a no-man’s land. 10% The retail sector’s contribution India’s gross domestic product In April, the losses stood at about `5 lakh crore and `4 lakh crore each in May and June. The losses stood at about `2.5 lakh crore in the first fortnight of July, offering a grim snapshot of the effect of the pandemic on consumer spending. “Even as the lockdown was relaxed, store footfall was only 10%. Most traders do not have deep pockets. Plus, they have several financial obligations to meet,” Khandelwal said. Retailers have also pointed out that their working capital has completely dried up leaving them even more vulnerable. Payment for goods supplied between December and March to customers on credit has been delayed due to lockdown restrictions. They are hopeful the payments will start trickling in from September. “The rule of economics describes such a situation, when input is low and the output is high, as unhealthy business eating capital. A helping hand from the government is much needed,” CAIT said. Negative outlook Recently, credit rating agency CARE Ratings gave India’s retail sector a ‘negative’ outlook saying the impact on demand due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is expected to remain muted at least for the next three four quarters TN TOPS TESTING IN COUNTRY: EPS yielding results in Chennai, where the positivity rate has plunged substantially from 31.67 per cent to 9.52 per cent. The rate has reached the single-digit mark after a gap of over two months. However, the State on Sunday recorded the highest single-day figure of 4,979 cases. As many as 78 deaths were reported. Districts in the northern and southern tip continue to witness spurt in cases, while central regions are seeing EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai AT 48,000, Tamil Nadu is performing the highest number of tests per day, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami infor med Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday morning. Modi telephoned Palaniswami to enquire about the containment measures being undertaken in the State. Intensive steps are being taken to prevent the spread of disease, the CM informed the PM. The measures seem to be new clusters being formed. With 405 new cases, Tiruvannamalai came second with respect to caseload in the State, followed by Chengalpattu (304), and Virudhunagar (265). A new cluster has sparked concerns in Kumbakonam, where 20 streets been classified as containment zones. Most of the cases here are linked to the Darasuram market. Now, traders in the town have volunteered to keep shops open P4 only from 6 am to 4 pm. TN BATTLE FRESH CASES 4,979 NEW DEATHS 78 TOTAL CASES 1,70,693 TOTAL DEATHS 2,481 Call to incentivise desi APIs to reduce China dependence R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi TO reduce dependence on China for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), a report of the Ministry of Science and Technology has recommended a slew of measures, including a re-look at custom duty to facilitate , indigenous production. At present, India’s pharma sector imports a whopping 68% of its API requirement from China. Companies using indigenous API must get preference in government procurement, the report suggests while seeking priority licence renewal for API manufacturers. It also recommends relaxation in environment clearances and land acquisition for them. “India has been manufacturing bulk of APIs till about two decades back... Given the changes in global norms, we quickly need to ensure API security in the country and prepare a national stockpile of generic medicines for critical illness,” the report says. In 2019, India imported `249 billion worth of intermediates and APIs, of which around `169 billion was from China. A total of 600 molecules of APIs and Drug Intermediates are imported, of which 58 molecules are sourced only from China. India has the technology but needs to optimise cost by scaling up API manufacturing. Towards this end, common facilities such as solvent recovery plants, distillation plants, power and steam units should be established in bulk drug parks, it suggests. One more staff at spaceport tests +ve S V K R I S H N A C H A I TA N YA @ Chennai A day after two employees of the Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB) in Sriharikota spaceport tested positive for Covid-19, a female nurse, who was under mandatory home quarantine after having returned from elsewhere, has tested positive. She is a resident of the staff quarters in phase-2 colony “As a pre. cautionary measure, residents of 20 houses surrounding the house are under compulsory quarantine,” officials said. SDSC-Shar Director A Rajarajan told Express all precautionary measures were taken and the situation is under control. “Recently, we have obtained Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) accreditation for Shar hospital, which is enabling us to conduct Covid-19 tests inhouse. The hospital is equipped with two RTPCR machines. The local district administration is in constant touch and providing all help.” He said several welfare measures were also taken to bail out migratory workers and resident labourers. “Provisions, vegetables and drinking water were being provided. Some workers, who left for their hometowns and returned, are placed in isolation camps and check-ups were being carried out.” On Saturday four Covid-19 cases were report, ed in Swarnamukhi Nagar in Sullurpeta, which is 18 km from Sriharikota, following which a containment zone has been formed. A circular issued on Sunday by SDSC-Shar administration, accessed by Express, says “movement of all persons in Swarnamukhi Nagar, other than for essential/emergency purP4 poses is strictly prohibited.” WITH THIS ISSUE THE ESSENTIAL CAMPUS DIGEST YOUR LIFE COACH 28 PAGES, INCLUDING 16 OF edex (TABLOID) NETTING LUCK Hoping to sell their catch at a good price, owing to high demand, a duo fishes in Kambarasampettai check dam in Tiruchy | M K ASHOK KUMAR EXPRESS READ Pondy’s high infection rate cause for concern: Minister Rao Puducherry Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao expressed concern over the high infection rate of 14.2 per cent in the Union Territory. “In the last 24 hours, a total of 768 samples were tested out of which 109 have come positive. This is rate of 14.2 per cent is dangerous,” he said. ‘No Aadi Amavasi rituals on banks of Thamirabarani’ The Tirunelveli district administration has also banned the public from conducting rituals on the banks of Thamirabarani during Aadi Amavasai on July 20. “Conducting rituals, gathering and taking bath in Thamirabarani are banned as a precautionary measure,” said a release. This too shall pass, says Tiruchy’s ‘guide’ to government offices J O S E K J O S E P H @ Tiruchy IN the days before the pandemic invaded our private spaces, P Easwari had a thriving business. Stationed outside the Tiruchy corporation office and the collectorate, this disabled woman would help the visitors fill out forms and write appeals for a humble fee of `20 or `30. Today the virus has left these , public offices deserted. But that does not stop Easwari. Covid or not, she continues to come and sit outside the office complex. “I consider mine to be a job that helps people directly,” she tells Express. “I guide people through the nitty-gritties of the government office. Now, it’s very challenging. Very few people are coming here or seeking my service, thanks to the fear of contracting the virus.” Why does Easwari then still come to work? “My father and I get by with the little money I make here,” she says. “Also, I am not scared of Covid. I have already seen too many challenges. P4 Even this will pass.” FAILING ODDS First in TN to take exam using computer, visually-impaired girl aces Class 10 N I R U PA S A M PAT H @ Cuddalore WHILE her classmates wrote exams with pen and paper, GV Oviya typed out the answers on a keyboard. When her peers read and re-read their answer sheets to check for errors, she had to trust a software to make sure that whatever she typed had been recorded correctly. While appearing for her CBSE class 10 exams, Oviya, a visually-impaired student, didn’t know that she would be the first in the State to take the exam using a computer. What more? She scored an impressive 447 out of 500. Though Oviya is overjoyed that she has aced the exams, there are concerns springing up. No school in her neighbourhood is offering the commerce stream that she wants to pursue. But, considering the odds she faced so far, this is a small challenge for Oviya and her parents. The family has decided to take her to Coimbatore for higher studies.Oviya’s mother Kokila would be accompanying her. Kokila told Express that her daughter had 70 per cent viI am determined to work hard and clear civil service exams so that I can change the lives of people like me GV Oviya sion while she was in Class III. “Oviya slowly started losing vision. We tried different methods, but the most effective was screen reader,” she said adding that they got introduced to this technolog y through an NGO. Kokila said Oviya had been taking class notes on her laptop. “After four years of typing practice, she was able to give answers in the exam for four straight hours,” added Kokila. Oviya’s school, the Jawahar Higher Secondary School in Neyveli, is not strange to assisting students with special needs. The school has supported as many as 30 differentlyabled students so far. However, it was Oviya who got permission from the CBSE to write the exams using a computer. Her father Vijayaraj said: “Despite financial constraints, Oviya’s desire to study and tenacity kept us motivated.” Reading a screen A screen reader employs software to help the visually impaired to ‘read’ text that is displayed on computer with a speech synthesizer Oviya studies with the assistance of a computer | EXPRESS
Express Network Private Limited publishes thirty three E-paper editions of The New Indian Express newspaper , thirty two E-paper editions of Dinamani, one E-paper edition of The Morning Standard, one E-paper edition of Malayalam Vaarika magazine and one E-paper edition of the Indulge - The Morning Standard, Kolkatta.