CHENNAI THURSDAY FEBRUARY 11, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 20 LATE CITY EDITION ACADEMIC REGRESSION DURING PANDEMIC: STUDY The Loss of Learning During the Pandemic study reveals 92% kids lost at least one speciﬁc language ability from the previous year NEGATIVE IMPACT ON LEARNING LEVELS OF KIDS SCRAP VACATIONS, REDRAW SYLLABI The language ability lost includes describing a picture or their experiences orally; reading familiar words; reading with comprehension. The study on primary school children, carried out by Azim Premji Univ, highlights the negative impact on the learning levels of children due to prolonged closure of schools and suggests immediate action to rectify the regression ■ 82% of children have lost at least one specific mathematical ability like identifying single and two-digit numbers; using basic problem solving operations; describing 2D/3D shapes ■ Report suggests measures like eliminating vacations, extending academic year, reconfiguring syllabus as ways to arrest the slide 16,067 KIDS OF MP, CHHATTISGARH, KARNATAKA, RAJASTHAN AND UTTARAKHAND SURVEYED 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 Amid full-blown freedom of speech spat with Twitter, govt begins Kooing B I S M A H M A L I K @ Bengaluru CAUGHT in the eye of a political storm over the ongoing farmers protests, US social media giant Twitter on Wednesday said it had suspended more than 500 of the 1,178 accounts the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) wanted purged citing the possibility of inciting violence and threat to national security . However, the site took a dig at the government saying the others were not suspended as the blocking orders were not consistent with Indian law. “Keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians. To do so, we believe, would violate their Shed status quo mindset and let new laws help empower small farmers, urges PM Ready for talks, says Modi amid reform hardsell EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi NOBODY had asked for the triple talaq or dowry laws, but they were still enacted, for reforms must be attuned with changing times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday as he rebutted the Opposition’s charge that farmers had not sought the contentious agri reform laws. Wrapping up the Lok Sabha debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address, Modi reiterated his gover nment’s willingness to resume talks while describing the laws as progressive. “Besides creating an additional, but optional, avenue has there been any change after the enactment of the laws? When the laws offer only an option, there can’t be any reason for protest,” he reasoned. Conceding that 100% acceptance to any new measure was not possible, Modi, however, said progress could not be gained without shedding the status quo mindset. Recalling the late farmer leader Chaudhary Charan Singh’s words on farm fragmentation, he said: “We cannot progress if we do not care for small farmers, who constitute 80% of the farming community Fragmentation is a re. ality, and this is what the farmers’ producers organisations aim to address.” “A new world order is in the AGITATION PATH On 77th day of their protest on the borders of the National Capital, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha on Tuesday prepared a detailed pan-India protest plan. The finer details will be decided later FEB 12: All toll plazas in Rajasthan will be made toll free FEB 14: Candle and mashaal march across the country FEB 16: Solidarity day to mark birth anniversary of Sir Chhotu Ram FEB 18: Four-hour rail roko across the country making in the post-Corona era, and we have to choose between being a mute spectator and making reforms. An Atmanirbhar Bharat will play a crucial role in the new world order,” the prime minister asserted. When Congress members began disrupting his speech, Modi took potshots at them, saying it was divided and confused. “The party has different stands in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. It can neither work for its own good nor solve the country’s challenges,” he said even as Congress and TMC members staged a walk-out. He also made a distinction between andolankari (protesters)and andolan jivi (professional protesters), saying the former is pious while the latter is an anarchist. The kisan andolan is pious, he said. EXPRESS READ Muslim youth assaulted for talking to Hindu girl? Coimbatore: A Muslim youth was stabbed on Tuesday night by two cadre of the Hindu Munnani while he was talking to a Hindu girl in Ramanathapuram in the city. According to the police, M Akil Ahamed (27) was talking to a girl, believed to be his friend, near a temple around 9 pm when Karthik and Sanjay, members of the Hindu Munnani, questioned their presence. They brandished sharp weapons and attacked Ahamed, injuring his chest and thigh. He was taken to the hospital by his friends. The attackers are absconding. A police officer, however, claimed there was no communal motive | P6 fundamental right to free expression under Indian law,” Twitter said. The ministry termed Twitter’s statement as ‘unusual’, posting its response first on a rival platform, Koo, which garnered more than three million downloads in two days. Later, MeitY Secretary Ajay Sawhney ticked off top Twitter officials Monique Meche and Jim Baker at a virtual meeting. “India has a robust mechanism for protection of freedom of speech and expression un- Fully Indian firm Aprameya R, the co-founder and CEO of Koo, said it is an India registered firm backed by investors like 3one4 capital. A Chinese investor, Shunwei, is also a shareholder, but will exit fully Surprise disengagement in Ladakh as China, India pull back combat vehicles M AYA N K S I N G H A N D P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi AFTER a nine-month-long stand-off along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh, the situation appeared to ease a tad on Wednesday as both China and India began a “synchronized and organised” disengagement process. While Indian sources said it was limited to armoured vehicles, the Chinese Ministry of National Defence claimed that the frontline troops from both sides along the Pangong Tso had started disengaging. Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defence, said: “The Chinese and Indian frontline troops at the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso started synchronized and organised disengagement from February 10.” It was in accordance with the consensus at the ninth round of China-India Corps Commander level meeting, he added. From the Indian side, a senior Army officer confirmed the pullback of armoured vehicles, including infantry combat vehicles. “The armoured vehicles are moving back but troops at the f ro n t l i n e h ave n o t b e e n thinned,” he said. The disengagement is expected to happen in phases, another senior officer said. “The infantry moving back will be the last step; it will depend on compli- ANGANWADI STAFF IRKED OVER ‘FORCED’ VACCINE SHOTS A R A V I N D R A J @ Karur TIME and again, they said it is voluntary. They still say it is voluntary But what report. edly transpired in this small town on Wednesday was not a voluntary experience for many . In a shocking development, anganwadi workers at the District Integrated Children Development Project Centre at Thanthonimalai in Karur were allegedly forced to take a Covid vaccine shot despite them refusing to get it. According to sources, the workers were summoned by officials to take the shot. However, many were hesitant to do so. Soon, a quarrel broke out between mid-day meal workers and officials when the latter forced some of the workers to take a jab. One of the anganwadi workers told Express: “All over the world, political leaders and other VIPs are the ones who take the jab first. But here, it is different. We are afraid to take the shot.” Following a heated exchange, the officials managed to pacify a few of the workers. Among the 90-odd workers who turned up at the centre, about 40 took the vaccine shot. Karur District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO) told Express, “We are not forcing anyone, but just motivating the workers to get the shot. It is very important for them to get the shots as they are going to be with the children and will be preparing the Kabasura kudineer drink.” The officer added, “There’s nothing to fear. Even our Collector, DRO, and senior police officers got a jab last week in order to encourage other frontline workers to get the shots. The health department has been working tirelessly to get the shots administered to the maximum frontline workers possible.” ‘EVERYONE HAPPY’ DMK seals seat-sharing deal with allies? S K U M A R E S A N @ Chennai WELL ahead of the Assembly elections, scheduled to be held this summer, the DMK seems to have almost finalised its seatsharing agreements with alliance partners after playing hardball. As per senior sources in the party the Dravidian major has , agreed to allocate around 20 seats to the Congress. Both the Left parties may be given eight seats each, and the MDMK may get 8-10 seats. Thirumavala- van’s VCK is likely to get six seats, while IUML and MMK will be given two each. Smaller partners KMDK and Tamilaga Valvurimai Katchi may also get two each, but will have to contest on the DMK symbol to av o i d a n y l a s t - m i n u t e surprises. Senior functionaries in both the DMK and one of the alliance partners confirmed that the seat-sharing formula has been accepted and welcomed by all those involved. The DMK insiders also said der Article 19 (1) of the Constitution. But freedom of expression is not absolute and it is subject to reasonable restrictions as mentioned in Article 19 (2),” he said. Sawhney said Twitter it is welcome to do business in India but must respect local laws and institutions. “Twitter is free to formulate its own rules and guidelines, like any other business entity but Indian laws en, this was possible because the party struck a hard bargain at the very beginning. It initially sent out a message that only the Congress, which is a national party, would be given seats in the double digits. Rest of the partners will have to make peace with the fact that they would get less than five seats. This announcement startled not just the alliance partners, but also the second-rung leaders of the DMK. CONTINUED ON: P4 Cong to get 20 seats? As per senior sources in the DMK, the party has agreed to allocate around 20 seats to the Congress. Both the Left parties may be given eight seats each, and the MDMK may get 8-10 seats ance of the phased disengagement from the Chinese side,” the officer said. The disengagement began on a day when the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, in an article said that the two countries should meet each other half way in addressing problems while putting the boundary issue in an appropriate place in bilateral ties. “We should put the boundary issue in an appropriate place in bilateral relations.... “It’s important for China and India to respect each other, enhance mutual trust, seek common ground while shelving differences and meet each other half way,” Sun suggested. ASTRAZENECA GETS W.H.O. STAMP People above 65 years age category can get the shots as the benefits of the jab outweigh any risks, says WHO | P16 acted by Parliament must be followed,” he emphasised. Legal experts said Twitter may have very few options since it has only partly complied with the government orders, while free speech activists denounced the government’s crackdown on social media by using ‘legal weapons’. India remains a key market for the social media giant with more than 75 million active us- ers, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has a 65.5 million strong user base with his key cabinet colleagues as well as government departments active on the site. Ministers Piyush Goyal and Ravi Shankar Prasad and actress Kangana Ranaut were amongst those who shifted to Koo, which also onboarded key government departments on Wednesday . WRONG TUNNEL Search suffers for want of layout; direction changed V I N E E T U PA D H YAY @ Tapovan (Uttarakhand) IT’S not just the topography that has made the rescue of 37 workers stuck in the Tapovan tunnel following flash floods on Sunday, difficult. “For the first two days, we were blind,” said a senior rescue official as they did not have the layout of the tunnels they were negotiating with. The layout plan was shared only on Tuesday and a course correction was ordered the following day . Till Wednesday the assump, tion was 37 workers were trapped at a point 180 metres deep into the Tapovan tunnel at a bend, which was why sludge was cleared up to 130 metres and beyond. The plan changed to start drilling the ground at 70-75 metres inside the tunnel to reach a silt filtration tunnel there, as officials now think the workers could be trapped there. The decision was taken at a combined meeting of state officials, the armed forces and the NTPC, which is developing the power plant. Rescue operations continue at Tapovan Tunnel in Joshimath | SHEKHAR YADAV Confirming the change, R Raman, commissioner of Garhwal division, told TNIE, “Information is constantly emerging and developing because everything is based on anticipation on the basis of the tunnel’s layout. Today we found that the sludge is pushing back from the tunnel. A consensus was reached to look for the workers in silt filtration tunnel below the tunnel.” Why the Hyderabad-based tunnel developer, Rithwik Projects Pvt Ltd, took this long to share the layout when network connectivity was available and the company’s officers were very much on site boggles the mind. AIADMK, BJP demand early, single-day polls E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Chennai THE Election Commission of India (ECI) officials, led by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora, held meetings with political parties and officials overseeing the election process in Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming Assem, bly polls. The ruling AIADMK and its ally BJP urged the ECI to complete the election process by the end of April to avoid any hardship to voters. The term of the current Assembly ends on May 24. Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Pollachi V Jayaraman, said: “We have requested the ECI to conduct polls in the fourth week of April so that the voters need not face any hardship due to the peak of summer.” When pointed out that the 2016 elections were held in the month of May he said: “Consid, ering the experience gathered then, we are now demanding the polls to P4 be conducted in April itself.”
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