kottayam l tuesday l november 24, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION Congress veteran Tarun Gogoi passes away at 84 The three-time chief minister of Assam was undergoing treatment for post-Covid complications in Guwahati Tarun Gogoi April 1, 1936 November 23, 2020 ‘no problem’ was his favourite one-liner Gogoi, who saw himself among a tough breed of politicians who do not dither while making decisions, often told his team members that his guiding mantra in all that he did was: “no problem”. Explaining it in his memoir Turnaround, the Congress stalwart said if one “approaches the P7 negative in a positive manner, things automatically fall into place” ■ PM Brought ulfa to the talks table ■ As Assam’s chief minister for 15 years from 2001, Gogoi is widely credited for pulling the state from the edge of bankruptcy and putting it on the path of development The six-time MP will also be remembered for bringing various militant outfits, including the ULFA, to the negotiation table calls gogoi a popular leader and a veteran administrator 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 Rajan rips apart RBI’s corporate bank idea State not to put police ordinance into effect Former RBI boss, ex-deputy guv Viral Acharya appalled at plan to let borrowers become lenders E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan on Monday ripped apart the banking regulator’s latest proposal to allow large business houses to float banks, saying chances of misuse is very high because of ‘self-lending opportunities’. “Industrial houses need financing, and they can get it easily, with no questions asked, if they have an in-house bank. The history of such connected lending is invariably disastrous — how can the bank make good loans when it is owned by the borrower?” he asked in a note written jointly with RBI’s former deputy gover- Actor abduction Special public prosecutor quits, trial affected E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Kochi Close on the heels of the Kerala High Court deciding not to transfer the trial of the actor abduction case from the Additional Special Sessions Court, the special public prosecutor (SPP) submitted his resignation on Monday. A Sureshan, the SPP, had already clarified that he cannot appear before the current trial court which he claimed was biased. Sureshan’s resignation came to light when the court considered the case on Monday for the resumption of trial. He filed a statement about his resignation through another lawyer when the case was called. The matter was stated in the court diary as well. “The counsel representing SPP filed a statement that he submitted his resignation before the authority concerned and requested to be relieved from his duties. Considering his submission and the order of the Supreme Court to dispose of the case on or before February 4, 2021, the Investigation Officer is directed to make necessary ar rangements to resume the trial,” stated the court diary accessible to the public. On Monday the court was sup, posed to consider six other petitions related to the case, all of which were posted to Thursday ● More on P5 for hearing. Raghuram Rajan Viral Acharya Why now? Have we learnt something that allows us to override all the prior cautions on allowing industrial houses into banking? nor Viral Acharya. The note, titled ‘Do we really need Indian corporations in banking’ and published on LinkedIn, warned that such a move will “further ex- In what is being read as an attempt to steamroll infrastructure project clearances, the Union environment ministry has decided to dilute assessment procedures to study possible environmental damages and their social impact. Projects seeking environment clearances come to ministry’s expert appraisal committees (EAC), where they take humongous time for final approval — from 83220 days in 2015-16 to 176336 days in 2019-2020. To resolve this bottleneck, “all projects, placed in the agenda, should be considered by the EAC notwithstanding the non-attendance of the Project Proponent or his consultant in the EAC meeting to make a presentation,” said an Office Memorandum issued by the ministry last week. All EAC meetings shall be held at least twice a month to cut down es that already have the initial capital that has to be put up. “Moreover, highly indebted and politically connected business houses will have the greatest incentive and ability to push for (banking) licences. That will increase the importance of money power yet more in our politics, and make us more likely to succumb to authoritarian cronyism,” they warned. The duo’s caution came on a day when S&P Global Ratings also ter med RBI’s proposal “fraught with risk”. Non-performing assets within the corporate sector stood at a high 13% as of March this year, S&P said in its report. Move comes after CPM central leadership raises objection; CM says further action after discussion in the assembly Law points Governor Arif Mohammed Khan signed the ordinance on Saturday, giving police more powers to prosecute persons who slander citizens on social media Opposition parties and sociopolitical commentators lashed out at the new provisions India’s best shot at covid vaccine has 70% efficacy @ New Delhi Of all the big Covid vaccine efficacy reports, the one India was keen to hear about has just arrived. Swedish-British biotech firm AstraZeneca on Monday announced that Covishield, its vaccine candidate developed along with the University of Oxford, showed an average efficacy of 70% in two study segments in early phase 3 of testing. Though the performance percentage is lower than that of its three competitors — US pharma majors Pfizer and Moderna, and Russia’s Sputnik V claimed 90+% efficacy — the Oxford vaccine scores over the rest for India as it can be stored at a comfortable 2-80C; the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is already manufacturing it; proced around `200 per dose to the government, it’s cost effective; and it is possibly the first Covid-19 vaccine India can lay its hands on. Of the 11,636 volunteers in Astra’s initial test, 131 developed coronavirus, but did not need hospitalisation. “This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against Covid-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,” said Pascal Soriot, CEO of the company . The first dosing regimen given to 2,741 volunteers showed 90% efficacy when administered as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart. The second dosing regimen giv- the period of Environmental Clearance (EC) approval, it added. All fresh EC proposals submitted 10 days before an EAC meet shall be taken up at its meeting. Any queries or issues the division may have should be raised during the EAC meeting itself, it said. “Member Secretary ought to ensure that the relevant queries of the division are also pointed out at the time of EAC meetings itself so as to avoid occasion for such queries before and after the examination by EAC,” it added. However, Kanchi Kohli, Legal Research Director, CPR-Namati Environment Justice Program, said the directive visualises environmental appraisals to straightjacketed, linear and bureaucratic processes. “It is pushing the EACs to take hasty decisions that are eventually not in favour of business or the environment,” she said. It was pointed out the amendment is against the CPM stand on freedom of speech and expression Maha firewall for passengers from four states E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e Easing norms to expedite green nod to infra projects R i c ha Sha r ma @ New Delhi acerbate the concentration of economic (and political) power in certain business houses”. RBI has till now been opposed to letting business houses run banks given India’s history of the 1950s and 1960s when a number of banks run by big industrial houses went under after a spate of connected loans were doled out. A major private-sector lender ICICI Bank is facing probe over loans given out to connected parties. RBI recently ordered the merger of the struggling private sector lender Lakshmi Vilas Bank with DBS Bank. Rajan and Acharya said the latest proposal by RBI gives undue advantage to large business hous- The decision to put the amendment on hold was taken at the CPM state secretariat meeting attended by the CM and the party’s secretary in-charge A Vijayaraghavan S u d h i r S u r ya w an s h i @ Mumbai Oxford shot rate for govt around L200 While the cost of the Oxford vaccine is expected to be about D220 per dose under the government’s national immunisation programme, its market price could be higher, Serum Institute of India chief Adar Poonawala has already indicated en to 8,895 individuals showed 62% efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart. Both regimens put together showed an average efficacy of 70%. SII CEO Adar Poonawala had already said the company will seek emergency use authorisation from the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation in India as soon as the initial data from the trial is out. For India, the company has pledged 35 million doses per month. Overall, the Oxford vaccine is being tested in about 60,000 volunteers across multiple countries including the US, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and India. With a fresh wave of Covid building on the horizon, Maharashtra sought to raise its firewall, mandating travellers from the most-affected states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa to show a Covid-19 negative certificate on arrival by rail, road and air from Wednesday . As per a Standard Operating Procedure issued by the state government, all travelers must undergo an RT-PCR test within 72 hours of the scheduled ar rival time in Maharashtra. “The passengers not having the negative test report will have to under take a Covid-19 test at their own cost. The airport authority will arrange the testing centres and charge the passengers directly stated the notification. ,” Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar warned people not to ignore pandemic guidelines. “The Covid-19 cases have been increasing every day. People need to take prevention measures. This is a very deadly and unpredictable virus. The danger is not over yet,” he said. Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting will take a call on the next step E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram UNDER fire from various corners including national-level leaders and Left sympathisers, the Kerala government on Mon1 day decided not to enforce the controversial provisions in the Kerala Police ordinance 2020. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said any further action would be taken only after discussing it in the assembly and collecting feedback from the 2 public. After CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said earlier in the day that the party wo u l d r e v i e w t h e 3 amendment, its state secretariat took the decision against proceeding with the ordinance. The amendment to the Kerala Police Act 2011 gives the police more power to prosecute persons who exploit various communication platforms to slander fellow citizens. Soon after 4 Gover nor Arif Mohammed Khan signed the ordinance on Saturday, Opposition parties and socio-political commentators had lashed out at the new provisions. Having put the amendment 5 on hold, the state government will now have to officially withdraw it. Sources said the gov- ernment may either bring in another ordinance or request the governor to withdraw the same as per Article 213 (2)(b). Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting will take a call on the next course of action. In a statement issued after the CPM state secretariat meet, the CM said the government had decided to bring in the ordinance after noticing defamatory and obscene campaigns on social media. “Criticism and complaints against defamatory, untrue and obscene campaigns have come up from various quarters of society. Strong protests have been raised against the merciless attacks, including on women and transgenders. There have been instances in which the integrity of families was affected, resulting in suicides. The need for legally tackling these was raised even by the heads of media houses. It was in these circumstances that an amendment to the Police Act was envisaged,” the CM said. “Apprehensions were aired by those who support the LDF and defend democracy. Hence the government will not go ahead with implementing the amendment,” said Pinarayi. Day of dissent and decision Can’t be deferred by CM, SAY EXPERTS The CM said the government “won’t go ahead” with the Act, but experts said the law has come into effect and the only way it can be annulled is when it is recalled by its author (the governor, in this case) or when it is struck down by a competent court. P4 It’s unfortunate that the CM is looking to gag government’s detractors. Once the Governor signs an ordinance, it becomes a law. Then, how can he claim that it will not be implemented? Ramesh Chennithala Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran protesting in front of the Secretariat | B P deepu Apprehensions were aired by those who support the LDF and defend democracy. Hence the state government decided not to go ahead with implementing the amendment Pinarayi Vijayan Not to be enforced, govt tells High Court Kochi: The state government on Monday informed the Kerala High Court that it has decided to keep in abeyance the implementation of the Kerala Police Ordinance. P4 EDIT: Review pointless, drop kerala gag law | P6 express read Antony Blinken set to be Secretary of State Customs gets nod to arrest Sivasankar Washington: US President-elect Joe Biden will name his trusted foreign policy advisor Antony Blinken, who had served as deputy secretary of state under Barack Obama, as his top diplomat on Tuesday. Analysts say, Blinken, a defender of multilateralism, will help calm America’s strained ties with allies. Biden is also expected to name his former aide Jake Sullivan as the national security advisor. Sullivan advised Biden on domestic policy as V-P | P9 Kochi: The Special Court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases here has granted the Customs permission to record the arrest of M Sivasankar — currently in judicial custody — in the gold smuggling case. In a report submitted before the court on Monday, the customs stated that during the course of investigation, the agency got direct incriminating materials regarding Sivasankar’s involvement in the smuggling of gold. P4 Popular Finance: HC orders CBI probe Kochi: The High Court has ordered a CBI probe into 1,368 cases registered in connection with the Popular Finance case. The CBI has been ordered to form a special probe team. P5 ncrb data 39% undertrials, 21% convicts in state prisons below 30 yrs A M I YA M E E T H A L @ Kozhikode The prison statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau for 2019 on Monday revealed that 21 per cent of convicts and 39 per cent of undertrial prisoners in Kerala jails were below 30 years of age. While jails in the state remain overcrowded, among a total of 3,131 convicts as of last December, 658 persons were in the 18-30 age-group. And of the 4,330 under-trial Age-wise (Convicted) Kerala Prison Statistics, 2019 Religion-wise 18-30 years 658 30-50 1,522 50 and above 951 Total prison inmates 7,499 Convicts 3,131 Under trials 4,330 (Among convicts) Total capacity of jails 6,841 (Undertrial prisoners) Hindu 1,642 Men 6,437 Muslim 839 Women 404 Christian 635 18-30 1,683 30-50 2,000 50 and above 647 prisoners, the corresponding figure is 1,683, said the NCRB data. Education wise, 22 of the convicts are post graduates while 148 possess technical de- gree/diploma. The statistics also confirmed that the state’s prisons were filled to 110 per cent of its capacity . Sub-jails held 150 per cent of their capacity while central jail’s were at over 130 per cent. The state has a total of 55 jails including three central jails, 13 district jails, 16 sub-jails and three women’s and open jails each. Among the total convicts, 53 per cent belonged to the OBC category while 17 per cent were from the SC category and four per cent ST. “The situation in our jails is alarming. Sending to jail is a punishment and not suffering in jail because of overcrowding. The latter is unconstitutional,” said G Mohan Gopal, former director of National Judicial Academy . “Increased incarceration does not deter crime anywhere. Spending on jails is unproductive and a huge burden on the exchequer,” he pointed ● More on P4 out.
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