kochi l wednesday l june 02, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l late city EDITION Buzz on ‘modi admirer’ judge Arun Mishra as NHRC chief The retired SC judge’s name was reportedly pushed through by the Centre at a five-member selection panel meeting Modi-led panel clears it, Kharge dissents No Dalit candidates in shortlist The committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the names of Justice Mishra and two others – ex-IB director Rajeev Jain and former chief justice of Jammu & Kashmir HC Mahesh Mittal Kumar. Opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge, the lone member who is not from the ruling NDA, dissented citing lack of consultation prior to the meeting ■ ■ Kharge raised a specific point of dissent about the lack of any candidates from the Dalit, Adivasi or minority communities While serving as an SC judge, Justice Mishra had raised eyebrows when he described PM Modi as a “visionary who could think globally and act locally” in a public function 5 months nO full-time head FOR n.h.r.c. after Justice H L Dattu retired IN DEC ’20 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 Flu shots for kids can cut Covid rush: Experts e X P R E S S nE W S sE R V I C E @ New Delhi / Bengaluru / Hyderabad AMID concerns that children, who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus, might be the biggest casualty in the next pandemic wave, the Centre on Tuesday said it will soon issue guidelines for Covid management in kids and prepare hospital infrastructure to face any influx of child patients. However, Dr V K Paul, Niti Aayog member (health) and chairman of national Covid-19 task force, on Tuesday said that so far, only 2-3% of Covid-infected kids have required hospital care. Dr Paul, who himself is a paediatrician, averred that available scientific evidence suggests children are less susceptible to the severe disease. He said the government is nevertheless prepared for any exigency. “We will strengthen our facilities as required and do an audit of what is required and what might be required in a worst-case scenario,” he said. According to public health expert Chandrakant Lahariya, serosurveys have shown preva- lence of infection was similar across all age groups. “So, a large number of kids may have been affected already he said. ,” But not many kids became seriously ill. This is because unlike adults, children have smaller number of ACE 2 receptors, which the coronavirus uses to enter human cells, he added. Rising child patient count in Maha adds to worry Covid infection among children is soaring in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, a latest state report shows. As many as 9,416 cases among children below 18 years of age were reported from Ahmednagar. In April, 757 cases were reported among children below five years. While some doctors have advocated flu shots for kids to guard against Covid, a senior paediatrician in AIIMS, Delhi said it may not be suitable for India. “The flu shots are prepared for influenza virus strains prevalent in Europe,” he said. Dr Jagadish Chinappa, a consultant child specialist at Manipal Hospitals, said vaccinating kids with flu shots will not protect them from Covid infection. However, it will help avoid the confusion if the cough, cold and fever in children are due to CovP7 id or influenza. Decision taken so as to end anxiety among students, parents and teachers, says Modi; most states, however, had suggested pen-and-paper test; CISCE board follows suit CBSE Class XII boards nixed District unlock norms include 70% vax among vulnerable ones Expr e ss N e ws S e rvic e @ New Delhi The Centre on Tuesday listed two crucial parameters for opening up districts after weeks of heavy restrictions to contain Covid-19: test positivity rate of less than 5% for at least a week; and a minimum of 70% vaccination coverage for the vulnerable groups. There are 344 districts in India as of now that have a positivity rate of under 5%. But there is no publicly available data yet on the districts that are anywhere near the 70% cut-off point of vaccination among vulnerable groups. The vulnerable population comprises people above the age of 60 as also the 45 + with comorbidities. “Gradual lifting (of lockdown) will not witness a massive surge. However, we have to ensure that vaccination is prioritised. The vaccination rate for the vulnerable population must be up to 70% and Covid-appropriate behaviour should be followed,” said Balram Bhargava, ICMR Director General. The WHO recommends a TPR of under 5% for at least two weeks before an outbreak can be considered to b e u n d e r c o n t ro l i n a geography . NATIONWIDE MAY 31 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths @ New Delhi 1 The Centre on Tuesday decided to scrap the Class XII CBSE board examinations this year, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying at a high-level meeting that the “health and safety of our students is of utmost importance and there would be no compromise on this aspect.” Evaluation of marks will be made based on an objective criterion prepared by the board in a time-bound manner, the government said but the formula was released immediately . Sources in the CBSE said there might be changes in the evaluation criteria it had proposed earlier, according to which results of classes IX, X and XI, apart from internal assessments through Class XII, will be weighed in for scoring the students. “It has now been decided that Class X results and internal as- 1,52,734 1,32,439 2,38,022 2,29,796 3,128 3,195 May 31 Take 25,52,501 doses your June 1 shot 22,08,941 doses Total doses: 21,83,58,591 statewide MAY 31 12,300 28,525 174 One proposal doing the rounds earlier was for the CBSE to consider the results of classes IX, X and XI, apart from internal assessments in Class XII, to arrive at the final score so that this does not become a zero year 2 While there is no official word yet, CBSE might just take Class X results and internal assessment of Class XII into account for preparing the final results 3 Students who want the option of written tests will get it when the Covid situation improves Health and safety... is of utmost importance.... In today’s time, such exams cannot be the reason to put our youth at risk. All stakeholders need to show sensitivity for students - Narendra Modi, Prime Minister sessment of Class XII alone will be taken into account for preparing the final results and the detailed criteria will be released soon,” a senior CBSE official said. It has also been decided that for some of the students who may not be satisfied with the results, an option to write papers will be offered when the Covid situation is conducive. The decision to cancel the board exams came even though all states and Union Territories june 1 19,760 24,117 194 16 pages, including 4 pages of KOCHI Express — barring Delhi and Maharashtra — had given written consent for conducting the penand-paper mode tests. The decision was taken after wide-ranging consultations, including a deliberation presided over by Modi and a second one by Union defence minister Rajnath Singh. “In view of the uncertain conditions due to Covid-19 and the feedback obtained from various stakeholders, it was decided that Class XII board exams would not be held this year. It was also decided that CBSE will take steps to compile the results of Class XII students as per a well-defined objective criterion in a time-bound manner,” the PMO said in a statement. The PM underlined that while the pandemic has affected the academic calendar, the issue of board examination has been causing immense anxiety among students, parents and teachers, which must be put to an end. leading light Hamsa, a native of Velliparamba in Kozhikode, helps his visuallychallenged daughter Lehana understand the messages streamed virtually on the first day of the school year on Tuesday. More than 3 lakh students joined Class I in government and aided schools this year | T P Sooraj First Bell 2.0 begins The state on Tuesday ushered in the new school year by kickstarting the second edition of ‘First Bell’, the virtual academic session. P5 june 1 Jab-o-meter Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Possible evaluation criteria Expr e ss N e ws S e rvic e The total global debt has reached $281 trillion — a whopping 340% of total global GDP of $84.5 trillion — according to the International Institute of Finance, raising concerns that the Covid-hit world is living beyond its means. The situation has been aggravated by increasing inflation and job losses. Here’s a look. Health of global economy Country Japan US France South Korea Brazil UK India Germany Vietnam China Total debt Debt-to($ tn) GDP 10.94 28.16 3 1.77 1.42 3.022 2.27 2.66 0.13 7.5 217% 134.50% 117% 110% 99% 97.50% 84% 70% 48.50% 47% Consumer inflation Unemployment rate (%) -0.50% 4.20% 1.20% 2.30% 6.80% 1.50% 4.29% 2% 2.70% 0.90% 2.8 6.1 7.9 3.5 14.7 4.9 8 4.5 NA 5.1 Note: Debt-to-GDP ratio measures the ability of a country to repay its debt. A higher debt-GDP (usually over 100%) is not considered healthy for an economy Consumer Inflation data as of April; unemployment figures are latest available data Source: Govt bureaus, IIF, Moody’s Analytics Why paying pension to madrasa teachers: HC to state Expr e ss N e ws S e rvic e @ Kochi Why the state government is financing a religious activity, the High Court on Tuesday asked while considering a petition against the former’s decision to provide pension to madrasa teachers in the state. The court also asked the state to clarify whether it has made any contribution to the Kerala Madrasa Teachers’ Welfare Fund. A division bench comprising Justice A Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Kauser Edappagath issued the order on the petition filed by Manoj, secretary of Citizen Organisation for Democracy, Equality, Tranquility and Secularism, seeking to quash the Kerala Madrasa Teachers’ Welfare Fund Act, 2019, which is passed for disbursing pension and other benefits to madrasa teachers. C Rajendran, counsel for the petitioner, said from the reading of the Act, it is quite clear that these madrasas are imparting knowledge only about the Quran and other textbooks pertaining to Islam. T he pumping of hug e amounts of money for the said purposes is unconstitutional and against the principles of secularism enshrined in the Constitution. The bench observed madrasas in Kerala are different from those being run in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal which have been imparting secular as well as religious education. “In Kerala, these are involved purely in a religious activity What is the purpose of con. tributing funds by the state for a religious activity?,” it asked. The petitioner said the government is contributing money to the scheme. The welfare fund is mainly for the payment of a fixed amount and pension to a member who has completed 60 years and has remitted contribution for not less than five years. p a r t y B A I T T O ATTRA C T w o r k e r s Salary of mins’ personal staff bleeds state coffers, `155cr in last 5 yrs alone M S V I D YA N A N D A N @ T’Puram PERSONAL IS POLITICAL When the CPM state secreJ1.07 lakh-J1.6 lakh tariat met here 10 days ago, is the salary of private there were rumours that the secretary/addl PS leaders would reach a conThe new govt has cleared 30 sensus to reduce the number personal staff for CM and 25 of personal staff members each for 20 ministers of ministers, owing to the state’s financial crisis and Each personal staff member who completes two-and-a-half the pandemic situation. But, years is eligible for pension the CPM secretariat decided to allow 25 personal staff During the 2016-21 Pinarayi members for each of the 21 government, there were 513 ministers and for three othpersonal staff members for the er cabinet-rank public servCM and ministers. Among them, ants — speaker, deputy 304 were direct recruits speaker and chief whip. As During the 2011-16 Chandy govt, per convention, the Opposithere were 669 personal staff tion leader will also be eligimembers for CM and ministers ble for the same number of personal staff. The reason cited by lead- staff. Apart from salary for ers was that there was a re- five years, the personal staff duction, from 30 to 25 per- are eligible for pension bensonal staff members, made efits proportional to their in 2016 when the LDF came years of service till their to power after being in the death. opposition for five years. Dr J Prabhash, political Not just the ministers who scientist and former prohandle heavyvice-chancellor weight portfoliof the Kerala Part - I os, but those in University, said Cost to charge of nameit is high time sake departthe state limited ments are also the number of eligible for the personal staffers same number of personal of ministers and of those staff. The practice is contin- holding cabinet rank. Conuing unchallenged as ap- sidering the state’s strained pointment of personal staff finances and Covid pandemis the one bait used by major ic, the upper ceiling on perpolitical parties to woo full- sonal staff appointments time workers. Every five should be brought down, year, a batch of dedicated he told TNIE. He, however, party workers who are does not support the call to armed with recommenda- make all personal staff aption letters from local party pointments by way of depu● More on P4 units, get into the personal tation. exche uer
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