chennai l monday l december 28, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 32 l late city EDITION ANT told to return to ITS roots in payments services People’s Bank of China stops short of asking for a breakup of Jack Ma’s firm, but stresses necessity of a business overhaul weighing options to protect economy Slammed for monopolistic tendencies The central bank told Ant to ‘rectify’ its suite of services, which have expanded from a PayPal-like operation to offer consumer loans, insurance and wealth management. The regulators are weighing the options of carving up Ant’s different lines of operation, or splitting its online and offline services to contain the risks it poses to the Chinese economy P9 ■ ■ Authorities blasted Ant for sub-par corporate governance, disdain toward regulatory requirements, and engaging in regulatory arbitrage. They castigated Ant for monopolistic tendencies too The empires built by Jack Ma, Tencent Holdings’ chairman Ma Huateng and other tycoons are also under scrutiny $35 bn IPO listing of ANT before the central bank torpedoed it 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 Rajini out of KCR now changes tack, hosp, advised aligns his policies with a week’s rest what’s brewing? Munusamy’s remarks on coalition draw significance, as it comes days after Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, evaded questions by reporters in Chennai on whether or not the BJP leadership would endorse Palaniswami as the alliance’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2021 Assembly polls. S KUMAR E SA N , SI N D UJA JA N E @ Chennai eps responds to stalin’s allegations After launching the campaign, AIADMK joint coordinator and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami listed out the government’s achievements. He also responded to the many allegations levelled by DMK chief MK Stalin and said, “He has been spreading canards that we did nothing for the people.” | P4 AIADMK joint coordinator and CM Edappadi K Palaniswami at the party’s poll campaign launch in Chennai on Sunday | p jawahar AIADMK says no to coalition govt Party kick-starts campaign for 2021 polls; affirms own government ‘a long-standing policy’ T MURUGA N A N D HAM @ Chennai IN a razor-sharp message that was loud and clear to its allies, the AIADMK on Sunday categorically ruled out any possibility of a coalition government after the 2021 Assembly elections, asserting that the new government would be led only by the ruling Dravidian party Mincing no words during . his rather explosive speech, the AIADMK’s deputy coordinator, KP Munusamy, said, “The AIADMK will form the next government even if national and State parties join as alliance partners. There is no need to speak about a coalition government. If any party coming for, ward for an alliance arrangement, aspires to form a coalition government, please rethink.” express read 3 more UK returnees test positive for Covid Chennai: Three more persons with UK travel history tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, taking the total number of positive returnees to 13. As many as 12 of their contacts also have been infected and their samples have been sent to the Virology Institute in Pune for genome sequencing | P2 `1.5-lakh chopper ride for a poll campaign? Tiruchy: MNM founder, Kamal Haasan, arrived in Tiruchy for his election campaign in a private chopper, that purportedly costs at least `1.5 lakh a ride. Haasan was scheduled to land at Tiruchy from Chennai in a chartered flight on Sunday afternoon, but his flight was diverted to Madurai | P4 Cops charge army officer with fake encounter Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police filed a chargesheet, charging an army captain and two locals with a conspiracy to abduct civilians and stage a fake encounter on July 18 last. The army had claimed to have killed three militants in the encounter at Amishpora in Shopian | P8 Stadia can welcome back spectators Chennai: A circular issued by the Sports Ministry has paved the way for fans to re-enter stadia. The circular, dated December 26, states “... for outdoor events spectators will be allowed up to a maximum of 50% of the total capacity of the stadium.” | P11 WITH THIS ISSUE THE ESSENTIAL CAMPUS DIGEST 32 PAGES, INCLUDING 16 OF edex (TABLOID), 4 of city express YOUR LIFE COACH He also reaffirmed that Edappadi K Palaniswami is the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance. Though he did not mention any party, his remarks were a straight response to the BJP, which has been speaking about sharing power. Addressing a packed gathering after Chief Minister Palaniswami and his deputy, O Panneerselvam, formally kick-started the AIADMK election campaign in Chennai, Munusamy said forming a government on their own has been the long-standing policy of late leaders, MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa. “It is the firm stand of all the function- aries and the cadre, including Palaniswami and Panneerselvam.” Munusamy’s remarks are significant, coming as it does two days after the Union minister, Prakash Javadekar, had evaded reporters’ questions about whether the national party leadership would endorse Palaniswami as the chief ministerial candidate. He had simply pointed to AIADMK’s Rajya Sabha M P, A Nav aneethakrishnan, seated in the audience, saying, “That is the answer.” The question is whether the BJP would accept the AIADMK as the leader of the National Democratic Alliance in The AIADMK will form the next government even if national and State parties join as alliance partners. There is no need to speak about a coalition government - KP Munusamy, AIADMK deputy coordinator Tamil Nadu, he had said. Munusamy sprinkled his speech with tributes to the party’s stalwarts, MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa and said the upcoming elections were crucial as it comes at a time when many parties have been speculating on a supposed change of the political scenario in the State. “Such views have been emanating because erstwhile tall leaders like MGR and Amma are not there now. DMK stalwart M Karunanidhi, too, who was on the opposite side, is no more. At such a juncture, many have been dreaming of winning the elections. I wish to convey to them — the political history of Tamil Nadu is different from that of the rest of India, because its seeds were sown by Periyar,” he said. P4 CLOUDS of uncertainty loom over the much-awaited political entry by actor Rajinikanth once again as he has been advised a week’s rest and “minimal physical activity” after being discharged from the Apollo Hospitals in Hyderabad on Sunday The actor was admitted to . the hospital on December 25 following severe fluctuations in his blood pressure and exhaustion. A press release by the hospital said that his blood pressure had stabilised and that Rajinikanth was feeling much better. The actor has been advised complete bed rest for a week, with regular monitoring of blood press u re l eve l s and minimal physical activity to avoid stress, “in view of his post-transplant status, labile hypertension and age”. He was also counselled by the doctors to avoid any activity that increases his risk of contracting Covid-19 infection. Back home, however, a section of his fans felt that it would be a major setback for the actor, and affect his reliability if he did not keep his word on the party launch by the end of this year. But Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM) functionaries are hopeful that the actor would launch his political party, as promised, by December 31. Centre’s new farm laws the three laws and had asked his party cadre to make the December 8 Bharat Bandh a Weeks after TRS president grand success, and the shift in and Telangana Chief Minis- stand appears stark. ter K Chandrashekar Rao Another nugget in Sunday’s launched a broadside against basket of decisions was to nix the three new farm laws, regulated cropping, which he appeared to be on till now was one of his the same page as the major policy initiaCentre on Sunday on tives in the farm secthose contentious tor. The Telangana legislations. government decided For, the state govto let farmers choose ernment decided to whatever they want `7,500 cr stop procurement of to cultivate. One realoss paddy and other crops son for scrapping regat the village level, as The state govt u l a t e d c r o p p i n g , the Centre’s new law incurred losses which was implepermits farmers to totalling `7,500 mented for two seasell their produce any- crore, as it had sons this year, could purchased where in the country . be the government’s The change in line various crops at inability to provide MSP, but was came close on the bonus to superfine heels of the chief forced to sell at rice cultivators due to minister’s visit to Del- lower prices due FCI norms. hi on December 13, to low demand The chief minister during which he met took these decisions Prime Minister Narendra during a meeting with variModi and Union Home Minis- ous ministers and senior agriter Amit Shah. The visit came culture department officials. after the Greater Hyderabad In a press statement after the Municipal Corporation elec- meeting, the state government tions, where the BJP did re- said: “As the new agriculture markably well. laws permit farmers to sell Contrast that with his posi- their crop anywhere in the tion in early December, when country the state government , he extended support to the need not set up purchasing farmers protesting against centres in villages.” E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Hyderabad mar 31 date till expired RC & DLs will be valid The union transport ministry extended the validity of motor vehicle documents to help out citizens requiring renewal while maintaining social distancing anxious wait: p2 Amid oppn barbs, nitish makes loyalist bihar JD(U) head Melbourne identity Nitish to work towards strengthening the party in other states. Singh is known to be somewhat soft towards the BJP in NDA circles here. A bureaucrat-turned-politician, Singh belongs to the same caste and hails from the home district of Nitish Kumar (Nalanda). He was the principal secretary to Nitish before joining politics. Singh has been the vice-president (organisation) of party , and its Rajya Sabha MP . While BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand congratulated Singh on his elevation, RJD spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwary claimed Nitish handed over the reins fearing another bout of defections. Meanwhile, a senior member of the JD(U) took a sharper line against the BJP “The . JD(U) will not only contest in West Bengal, but also in other states without initiating the first move for a break-up of the alliance. Politics must be replied through politics,” the leader said. At 63-3, India were in a spot of bother. But in Ajinkya Rahane, India found a saviour. The stand-in captain, coming in at No 4, scored a patient century, his 12th in Tests as India ended Day 2 with a lead of 82 runs with five wickets still remaining. Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja have so far added 104 runs for the sixth wicket which has put Australia on the backfoot at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Rajesh Kumar Thakur @ Patna A day after the opposition predicted copycat defections would rock the JD(U) further, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigned as the national president of the party on Sunday and appointed his political confidant and ex-IAS officer Ram Chandra Prasad Singh Singh as the successor for the next three years. Dismissing the opposition claims that Ar u n ach al Pradesh-like defections posed a threat to the party, JD(U) chief general secretary K C Tyagi said that Nitish handed over the reins to RCP Singh to play a bigger role in national politics. While maintaining that the alliance with BJP was under no strain, Tyagi said that Nitish would campaign vigorously in West Bengal, where the party would contest alone. However, sources said the JD(U) was worried about an Arunachal rerun in Bihar, Nitish Kumar RCP Singh Anti-alliance spirit, says JD(U) leader The Arunachal Pradesh incident seems to have stressed the relations between the JD(U) and the BJP in Bihar. JD(U)’s chief general secretary KC Tyagi said, ““The JD(U) is extremely shocked... It is out-and-out an antialliance spirit.” P7 with speculation that Singh’s elevation was tied to it. Singh is Nitish’s trouble shooter and is credited with bringing JD(U) back in the NDA fold in 2017. His elevation is seen as attempt to stem turbulence in the JD(U) outside Bihar as it frees up India take lead @ MCG 104* is Rahane’s second Tests century at the MCG. He had scored 147 in 2015. Only three other Asians — Vinod Mankad, Sadiq Md, Majid Khan have scored two hundreds at this venue. An unbeaten 104 from Ajinkya Rahane (left) helped India take 82-run lead on Day Two of the second Test against Australia at the MCG on Sunday | AP 2nd 1 This is rahane’s first test century batting at no 4. and also his first as captain. Indian captain after Sachin Tendulkar (1999) to score a hundred at Melbourne. No cause for alarm, but India already has 19 variants of coronavirus S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi Like elsewhere, coronavirus is quietly changing in India, making itself resistant to antibodies. As of now, 19 such variants are already present in the country researchers associated with , multiple government institutions have established. Scientists attached with the CSIR - Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in Delhi, the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research and Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, analysed over 2,40,000 SARS-COV-2 genome sequences from 133 countries and identified 86 with escape mutants, or variants with genetic changes that make them resistant to antibodies. Nineteen of these 86 variants were found in India. An escape mutation is one that allows SARS-COV-2 to evade antibodies specific to the spike protein the virus uses to enter human cells. All vaccines are designed to generate antibodies against the spike protein to try to block the virus’ waking up to expedite Genome sequencing Of the more than 1.01 crore Covid-19 positive cases reported in India, only about 6,400 samples have been genome sequenced. In contrast, the UK with 2 million cases has already sequenced 1.57 lakh samples entry into cells. The findings come at a time when the government has decided to accelerate genome sequencing to track changes in the pathogen after a variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the UK had significant structural and behavioural changes, making it 70% more infectious that the original Covid strain. “There is no need to be alarmed but definitely a need to be cautious,” Vinod Scaria, a scientist with CSIR-IGIB and joint first author of the paper told this newspaper. “The variations in the virus does not mean that the vaccine will not work against it but is likely to lower its efficacy,” he said. “During the trials of the vaccine, too, it needs to be analysed whether those who are getting infected are afflicted with the variant virus,” he added. Scaria said cases of Covid-19 re-infection should also be followed up with genome sequencing.
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