CHENNAI FRIDAY OCTOBER 30, 2020 `7.00 PAGES 40 LATE CITY EDITION U.S. PLANS TO SCRAP LOTTERY SYSTEM TO SELECT H-1B VISAS The Trump administration has proposed to introduce a wage-level-based selection process for H-1B work visas MOVE TO PROTECT AMERICAN WORKERS’ PAY WILL INCENTIVISE EMPLOYERS TO PAY MORE Replacing computerised draw will help counter the downward pressure on the wages of American workers due to influx of relatively lower paid H-1B visa holders, the Department of Homeland Security said. H-1B, the most sought after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US firms to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that need expertise | P9 ■ If finalised as proposed, the new selection process will incentivise employers to offer higher wages. DHS says this is a better way to allocate H-1Bs when demand exceeds supply ■ The proposals have been published in the Federal Register, but their implementation may hinge on the outcome of the US polls 85,000 H1-B VISAS ARE ISSUED EACH YEAR, IN ADDITION TO RENEWING LAPSED ONES 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 In battle of narratives, a generational divide MUKESH RANJAN & RAJESH KUMAR T H A K U R @ Muzaffarpur/Patna AT a highway crossing in Jarang Baluaha village of Muzaffarpur, a group of men playing cards under a tree are discussing the ongoing Bihar elections. As the debate touches on the subject of the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s rule of Lalu Yadav-Rabri Devi, when criminals ruled the roost, Amar Chand Verma, 32, turns agitated. “Let Nitish Kumar keep on shouting Lalu jungle raj, but the people will vote for the candidate of their choice. It is not going to influence the voters,” he said. His views are echoed by Shubham Thakur, 21, a graduate in Patna. “What is the point in recalling the Lalu-Rabri rule? We want jobs, whoever will perform on this front will get our vote, irrespective of caste and creed,” he said. Lal Bachchan Paswan, 30, of Kamtaul village agreed with them. “Most BIHAR 2020 of the people who witnessed that regime have died. Those who are still alive have no say in the decisionmaking of their family members,” Paswan said. But Lata Sinha, 54, a college teacher in Patna whose doctorhusband was kidnapped for ran- Lalu missing in RJD’s hoardings as the party tries to put a lid on his legacy | RANJIT K DEY som in 2004, violently disagrees. “Those who have seen those days will never forget them. We will not vote for that party at any cost,” she said. Sinha is supported by Kaushal Kumar Singh, 55, of Vaishali. “In those days we didn’t have the courage to go out in the evenings or buy a new car. Either you would get mugged or your car would be lifted,” he said. As campaigning for the threephase elections peaks, a competing narrative is being built by the BJP-JD(U) combine on the one hand and the RJD on the other. The BJP-JD(U) has repeatedly targeted the RJD and its leader Tejashwi Yadav, warning voters of the RJD misrule. Campaigning in Muzaffarpur on Wednesday Modi , described the 15-year RJD rule as the age of “darkness” and called Tejashwi the “jungle raj ka yuvraj (prince of jungle raj).” CONTINUED ON: P9 N-E MONSOON HITS CHENNAI Chennai: Heavy downpour filled up the streets of Chennai on Thursday. The streets in Valasaravakkam, Egmore, Pulianthope, Mudichur, Tondiarpet, Pallikaranai, and Vyasarpadi areas witnessed heavy water logging. Weather blogger Pradeep John said this was the highest amount of rainfall received by the city in 24 hours since November 2017. According to a data released by Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), as many as 57 streets were water logged in the city. S Balachandran, Deputy Director General of Meteorology, said, “Chennai would receive light to moderate rainfall with thunderstorms on Friday.” P3 EXPRESS READ Three BJP workers shot dead in J&K Srinagar: Three BJP workers — Fida Hussain, Umer Hajam and Umer Rashid Beigh — were shot dead by militants in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, police said. The trio was rushed to a local hospital at Qazigund where doctors declared them dead on arrival, said a police official. The Resistance Front, which is believed to be a shadow group of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, has claimed responsibility for the killings. Since June, militants stepped up attacks on BJP workers and leaders, killing eight of them so far SP group submits plan for separation from Tatas Mumbai: The Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) Group on Thursday said it has submitted a plan to the Supreme Court to end its seven decades-old association with the Tata Group. The Mistrys have valued their holding in the Tatas at `1.75 lakh crore. As a non-cash settlement, the SP Group sought pro-rata shares in listed Tata entities where Tata Sons currently owns stake. The SP Group’s ownership of 18.37% in Tata Sons will translate to 13.22% shareholding of TCS, which is worth `1,35,000 crore at present market capitalisation | P13 Core sector contraction narrows in September New Delhi: Contracting for the seventh straight month in a row, the output of eight core infra sectors dropped 0.8% in September, due to decline in production of crude oil, natural gas, refinery products and cement. In September last year, the production of eight core sectors had contracted 5.1%. the During April-September 2020 period, the sectors’ output dropped by 14.9 per cent as compared to a growth of 1.3 per cent in the same period of the previous year, data released on Thursday showed | P13 EPS scores a political win as all regional parties welcome the move; doubts remain if it will withstand judicial scrutiny G.O. gives a NEET route to bypass Raj Bhavan hurdle on 7.5% quota UGC not in tune with TN decision on arrear exams In an oral submission, the University Grants Commission informed the Madras High Court on Thursday that it was not in tune with TN govt’s decision to promote final year students who had arrears to clear this year | P2 Guv bound by Constitution to decide ASAP Chennai received heavy rainfall on Thursday, as the North-East monsoon asserted its entry by lashing over the city and submerging its streets; (in the picture) people wading through knee-deep water near Binny Mills in Perambur | ASHWIN PRASATH ED ARRESTS KERALA CPM CHIEF’S SON IN B’LURU DRUGS CASE EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Bengaluru / Kochi THE Enforcement Directorate on Thursday arrested Kerala CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son Bineesh in Bengaluru on charges of funding a drug racket. Bineesh was booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and sent to ED custody for four days. Sources said Bineesh was arrested after the ED gathered evidence about alleged financial dealings between him and Mohammed Anoop, who was earlier arrested in a narcotics seizure case. Bineesh had appeared before the ED for questioning on October 6. He was again summoned on Thursday. He arrived at the ED office in Shanthinagar at 11am and, after nearly five hours of questioning, his arrest was recorded. The arrest added to the discomfiture of the Left Front government in Kerala, already reeling under the impact of WITH THIS ISSUE the gold smuggling case. The back-to-back arrests of senior official M Sivasankar on Wednesday and Bineesh on Thursday have dealt a serious blow to the Pinarayi Vijayan government’s image in the last days of its tenure. In August, the Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) Bengaluru zonal unit had seized a huge stash of MDMA (Ecstasy pills) and LSD blots and arrested Anoop along with two others — Anikha D and R Ravindran. The NCB probe revealed financial transactions between Anoop and Bineesh and the ED stepped into the investigation. Anoop reportedly told ED Bineesh that had paid him `50 lakh for his restaurant business in Bengaluru. The agency registered a case to investigate the money trail between Anoop and Bineesh. Anoop is also said to be known to K T Rameez, an accused in the diplomatic baggage gold smugP7 gling case. 40 PAGES, INCLUDING 24 OF INDULGE (TABLOID) CHENNAI’S BEST WEEKEND GUIDE FRANCE HORROR Three knifed to death in church terror attack EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE IN another lone-wolf jihadist attack in France, a man armed with a knife killed three persons at a church on Thursday, prompting global outrage. This was the third such attack in two months in the country since the opening of a terror trial into the mass murder at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris in 2015. Though the assailant at the Notre Dame Church in the city of Nice was wounded by police bullets, “he cried ‘Allah Akbar!’ over and over,” Mayor Christian Estrosi later claimed. Less than two weeks ago, an assailant decapitated a French school teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet for a class on free speech. There were further worries as a Saudi Arabian citizen wounded a guard in a knife attack at the French consulate in Jeddah. Also, an Afghan national armed with a long knife was arrested in the French city of Lyon as he was about to board a tram. Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined global leaders in condemning the attack, adding India stands with France in its fight against terror. But Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad was the odd man out as he said Muslims had a right “to kill millions of French P11 people”. LTC cash voucher scheme for all now E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi IN a bid to boost consumption, the Centre on Thursday extended the I-T exemption available under the LTC cash voucher scheme to employees of state governments, state-owned enterprises and the private sector as well. “The payment of cash allowance, subject to a maximum of `36,000 per person as Deemed LTC fare per person (Round Trip) to non-Central Government employees, shall be allowed income-tax exemption,” a finance ministry statement read. To avail the scheme, one has to spend three times the value of the How it works If the deemed LTC fare is `80,000, then one has to spend `2.4 lakh on specified goods / services to avail the tax benefit under the scheme deemed LTC fare on goods or services carrying a GST rate of 12% or more and obtain a voucher indicating the GST number and the amount paid. The payment must be done digitally between October 12, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Those who have exercised the option to pay income tax under concessional tax regime under Section 115BAC of the Income-tax Act, 1961 will not be entitled for this exemption. The Madurai Bench of Madras HC reiterated that the Governor should keep in mind the future of government school students and take a decision on NEET reservation Bill as soon as possible. The judges, quoting Article 200 of the Constitution, said, “If a Bill is placed for assent, the authority has to take a decision ‘as soon as possible.” | P2 SUSHMITHA RAMAKRISHNAN @ Chennai WITH every other move hitting a hurdle, the State government on Thursday issued a Government Order reserving 7.5 per cent undergraduate government medical seats for students who have studied in government schools from Classes 6 to 12 and cleared NEET. As the Bill passed in the State Assembly in September is still pending with the Governor for his assent, the government said it had issued the order considering the “urgency to decide on the issue”. The NEET-UG results were declared a fortnight ago and the admission process has already started. As per the order, the horizontal reservation will be provided within each category of the vertical reservation followed in the State. The order said that since the State’s power to issue executive orders under Article 162 of the Constitution is co-extensive with legislative powers, pending decision of the Governor, the government has taken a policy decision to provide reservation. Most parties in the State have welcomed the government’s move. However, it’s unclear if the order will withstand judicial scrutiny While the govern. ment has the legal ambit to pass such an order, it can easily be contested in court, says retired justice P Chandru. “For instance, a student from a private school can legally contest for the seat obtained by a student of his same caste/community through the current quota, given the former has secured more marks in NEET,” says Chandru. “Two students from the same community are considered socio-economically equal in front of law, unless one of them falls in the creamy layer. You cannot reserve seats within the same community simply because a student went t o a g o ve r n m e n t school.” “Two equals cannot be treated as unequals legally,” says Chandru, adding that the order is likely to be quashed by the courts. PK Ilamaran, leader of the Tamil Nadu Government Teachers Association, welcomed the order and said that it will significantly boost the morale of stud e n t s f r o m g o ve r n m e n t schools. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said, “The Government Order for 7.5 per cent reservation has been issued with a view to establish social justice and fulfil the dreams of the government school students who have cleared NEET. CONTINUED ON: P2
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