NEW DELHI 31 JANUARY 2021 SUNDAY `9 PAGES 24 facebook/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard https://epaper.morningstandard.in From Clay to Life PLUS: 12 PAGES Sustainably Stylish MAGAZINE EXCLUSIVE VOICES ar d Slow and Steady Loses the Weight Be st Foot Forw TJS George Prabhu Chawla Shankkar Aiyar Sheila Kumar Agri law offer still stands, govt just a call away: Modi Opposition says need to discuss laws again, remove misgivings of farmers; Centre stresses it has open mind on contentious issue EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi WITH the Opposition parties gearing up to corner the government on the controversial farm laws in the ongoing parliament session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reiterated the government’s proposal to stay the laws for 18 months. At an all-party meeting, the PM said the government’s stand was the same as it was on January 22, when the proposal to keep the laws in abeyance was made during the talks with the protesting farmers’ unions. “During the all-party meeting PM Narendra Modi assured that the government was approaching the farmers’ issue with an open mind. The PM said the agriculture minister’s proposal still stands,” parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said. Modi stressed that the government had an open mind and was ready for a detailed discus- HERO FIGHT AGAINST WITCH-HUNTING A recipient of Padma Shri, Chhutni Mahto continues her fight against the social scourge 25 years after she was branded a witch and underwent brutalities PAGE 5 AMU student barred for role in CAA stir EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Lucknow AN AMU student leader, who was booked under different charges during the antiCAA protests on the campus last year, was barred by the Aligarh administration from entering the district for six months. Arif Khan Tyagi was a threat to the peace of the city and his presence posed a danger to its peace-loving residents, the order said. Additional District Magistrate (ADM) City Rakesh Kumar Maalpani had issued the externment order under the Uttar Pradesh Control of Goondas Act to Arif last week. The AMU final-year post graduate student received it two days ago. Aligarh Muslim University spokesman Professor Shafay Kidwai told a news agency that the externment order pertained to the protests on the campus against the Citizenship Amendment Act which began on December 15, 2019. The AMU campus was rocked by protests on December 15 in which over 70 people were injured. The university had then announced an extended winter break. Arif, meanwhile,said all the cases against him pertained to protests on the campus. “The externment order is yet another attempt to muzzle freedom of expression,” he said, adding that he would move court against the order. sion on the issue, adding the farmers could always approach the government as agriculture minister Narendra Tomar was just a phone call. The PM reaffirmed the importance of the smooth functioning of Parliament and comprehensive debates on the floor of the House. He said smaller parties suffered as a result of frequent disruptions as they do not get an opportunity to express themselves adequately and called on the bigger parties to ensure that Parliament functions smoothly . In the meeting, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Trinamool Congress’s Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut and Akali Dal member Balwinder Singh Bhunder also spoke at length on the agitation. Azad reportedly said in the meeting that the Congress had warned the government about the agitation and now the government has to deal with the consequences. Most opposition leaders were of the view that the government needs to discuss the laws again in both houses of parliament and also seek to address the misgivings of the agitating farmers. They also reportedly asked the government not to see them as enemies. The Opposition condemned the violence during the tractor rally on January 26 but also demanded an investigation into how “outside elements” had infiltrated the farmers’ movement. The farmers made similar allegations, blaming actor-activist Deep Sidhu for instigating the mob and planting a Sikh religious flag at the Red Fort. The meeting took place a day after opposition parties boycotted the President’s address to a joint sitting of parliament in order to express support to the protesting farmers. Joshi said the budget session would take up 38 items, including 33 Bills and five financial items. He said though it would be mainly devoted to financial business relating to the budget and a discussion on the motion of thanks among others. P4&7 SC withdraws proposal on Bombay HC judge groping a 12-year-old girl’s breast because he did not make skin-to-skin contact. Days earIN a rare move, the Supreme lier, the judge ruled that holdCourt collegium is understood ing the hands of a five-year-old to have withdrawn its approval girl and unzipping the trousers to a proposal for the appoint- do not amount to sexual assault ment of additional judge of the under the POCSO Act. Bombay High Court, Justice PV The top court stayed the skinGanediwala, as a permanent to-skin order on January 27, judge of the court following her ruling that it would set a dantwo controversial vergerous precedent. dicts in POCSO cases. In other judgments On January 20, a this month, Justice three judge collegium Ganediwala acquitted headed by Chief Jus- If her judgments are two men accused of not fair, the-top tice of India S A raping minors noting court has ample Bobde had recomthat the testimonies opportunities to mended to the minisof the victims did not change them. try of law and justice inspire confidence to Judges are also to appoint Justice human beings, they fix criminal liability Ganediwala a perma- do commit mistakes on the accused. nent judge of the high Justice Gandediwaand later rectified court. According to la earlier worked as by higher courts officials privy to the the registrar general information, a note Advocate from Nagpur of the Bombay High was sent to the minisCourt and was also a try withdrawing the colle- judge at a sessions court. gium’s recommendation. An advocate from Nagpur As per the officials, the issue claimed the controversy surbefore the collegium was raised rounding Justice Gandediwala by two senior SC judges who was a result of a conspiracy “If . hail from the Bombay High her judgments are not fair, theCourt. They are understood to top court has ample opportunihave expressed reservation ties to change them. Judges are over the recommendation. also human beings, they do Justice Ganediwala recently commit mistakes and later recacquitted a man accused of tified by higher courts.” EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi/Mumbai The Curator with a Taste for History Expanding the Baahubali Universe Gautam Chintamani Anirban Ganguly Neil McCallum Anand Neelakantan No internet at Singhu, Ghazipur till today Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and six journalists were booked by the Haryana Police on charges of sedition for allegedly spreading disharmony during the clashes between the police and farmers on Republic Day in national capital. Suffering is Your Creation Now, Haryana books Tharoor & journalists The Centre temporarily suspended internet services at the Singhu, Ghazipur, and Tikri borders. The decision was taken to maintain public safety and avert public emergency. On January 26, there was large scale violence during the tractor rally. The Dance of Indian Politics SADHGURU SPEAKS An NSG team inspects the explosion site near the Israel Embassy | PARVEEN NEGI Cops probe Iran, al Qaeda angles in embassy blast E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi BKU leader Rakesh Tikait addresses supporters and the media during a protest over Centre’s agriculture laws at Ghazipur border | PARVEEN NEGI During the all-party meeting PM Narendra Modi assured that the government was approaching the farmers’ issue with an open mind. Proposal still stands —Pralhad Joshi, Union MInister EXPRESS READ States told to improve vaccination coverage New Delhi: The Centre asked states to improve the Covid-19 vaccination coverage in a review meeting to discuss the status of the major immunisation drive launched two weeks back. All the states and Union Territories were advised to improve the percentage coverage of vaccinated beneficiaries. Ex-TMC minister, four other leaders join BJP New Delhi: Former West Bengal minister Rajib Banerjee, who recently quit the Trinamool Congress, and four other disgruntled leaders and a Bengali actor joined the BJP in New Delhi on Saturday. Besides Banerjee are MLAs Prabir Ghosal and Baishali Dalmiya and former Howrah mayor Rathin Chakraborty. EVIDENCE of pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, a high grade explosive chemical mostly used by the al Qaeda group has been found during the investigation of the low intensity blast that took place outside the Israel embassy on Friday . Sources said the handling of the chemicals is not easy and the blast has to be the handiwork of a group that is experienced in using the explosives. The investigating agencies and the police feel local agents of the group could have carried out the attack. The special cell and the other intellegence units are now investigating how they entered and planted the bomb at the highly-secured area of the national capital. While the police have not ruled out any possibility, including the role of Pakistan’s ISI, they are also investigating the Iranian angle. An envelope with a letter addressed to the Israel ambassador to India was found, which refers to Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and nuclear scientist Dr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, both of whom were killed last year. The letter was found 12 yards away from the spot and the forensic team is examining the fingers prints and the contents. Sources said India-Israel diplomatic relations completed 29 years on Friday and Soleimani was killed in January last year. Fakrizadeh died in November and the blast could be to avenge the killings. The sources said the police are looking for Iranians in the city and there was a possibility of some bei n g p i cke d u p fo r questioning. CCTV footage in the area has revealed a cab suspiciously moving near the area and dropping off two persons near the embassy The . special cell has contacted the cab driver and inquired about the two suspects. The police are investigating guest houses, airports, hotels and lodges. Security agencies are also scanning the cell phones that were active in the vicinity before, during and after the incident. About 18-20 lakh calls were made. It is also analysing all the mails and calls made to foreign countries on and before the blast, the P7 sources said. GANDHI STATUE VANDALISED IN US EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi The statue was donated by India to the city of Davis | PIC COURTESY: TWITTER Extensive damage to statue: US media According to local media reports, the statue was ripped off from the base and has been sawed at the ankles. Reports said that half of the face was severed and missing A six-foot bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi was vandalised at a park in California, prompting India to issue a strong statement seeking appropriate action against those responsible for the ‘despicable act’. This was the second such incident in less than a month after Khalistan supporters had desecrated the Gandhi statue in Washington on December 12. “The Government of India strongly condemns this malicious and despicable act against a universally respected icon of peace and justice. The Embassy in Washington D.C. has taken up the matter with the U.S. Department of State for a thorough investigation into the incident and appropriate action against those responsible for this despicable act,” the MEA said. “The Consulate General in San Francisco has separately taken up the matter with the City of Davis and local law enforcement authorities, which have initiated the investigations. The Mayor of Davis deeply regretted the incident and informed that they have initiated an investigation.” The Gandhi statue was vandalised on January 28. The US Department of State has conveyed that the act is unacceptable and expressed the hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice as quickly as possible. Bengal pays for ignoring health insurance scheme, says economic survey INFANT & CHILD MORTALITY RATES S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi WEST BENGAL VS ADJOINING STATES (BIHAR, ASSAM, SIKKIM) ELECTION-bound West Bengal lags behind other states on several crucial health development indices because of its non-implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, the Centre’s flagship health scheme, the latest economic survey has found. The survey, tabled in Parliament on Friday, has compared Bengal with three neighbouring states — Bihar, Assam and Sikkim — which implemented the scheme. Other than the fact that these states are contiguous to each other and therefore similar on socio-economic dimensions, the report said the baseline Neonatal mortality rate Infant mortality rate Under-5 mortality rate 49 42 22 30 16 -30% 21 28 22 30 -31% NFHS 4 (WB) -20% -28% NFHS 5 (WB) NFHS 4 (Bihar, Assam, Sikkim) 32 36 25 -20% -27% NFHS 5 (Bihar, Assam, Sikkim) Per 1000 live berths | Source: National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4 & 5 characteristics of these two groups of states were similar. The report said the proportion of households that had health insurance increased in Bihar, Assam and Sikkim from 2015-16 to 2019-20 by 89% but it decreased by 12% over the same period in Bengal. As far as other states go, the survey noted that the proportion of households with health insurance increased by 54% in the states that implemented the PMJAY while there was a 10% fall in the states that did not adopt the scheme. “Thus, the PMJAY enhanced health insurance coverage,” it said, add- ing that while some of these effects stemmed directly from enhanced care enabled by insurance coverage, others represent spill-over effects due to the same. For example, while the infant mortality rate declined by 20% in Bengal from 2015-16 to 2019-20, in Bihar, Assam and Sikkim the fall was 28%. Also, while West Bengal saw a fall of 20% in its under-5 mortality rate, the neighbours witnessed a 27% reduction. The neighbouring states thus witnessed 7-8% greater reduction in these health outcomes, the report pointed out. According to the report, modern methods of contraception, female sterilization and pill usage went up by 36%, 22% and 28% respectively in the three states while the changes for Bengal were negligible. While Bengal did not witness any significant decline in unmet need for spacing between consecutive kids, the three states recorded a 37% fall. Various metrics for mother and child care improved more in these states than in Bengal, stressed the report, without specifying how these indices are linked with the health insurance scheme. The PMJAY was adopted by Bengal but later withdrawn.
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