New variant and old fears Many European countries have pressed the panic button even as the WHO is yet to make its assessment of the variant with high number of mutations public Variant: B.1.1.529 Why’s Europe worried? Found in: Botswana and Hong Kong 1 Cases have leapfrogged 11% over the past week Risk factor: Under assessment) 2 WHO’s grim prediction that the winter toll may cross 7,00,000 (in travellers from South Africa) WHO meeting: Friday’s emergency discussions focus on variant’s possible effects and giving it a Greek alphabet denomination thrissur l saturday l November 27, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION 3 Belgium has become the first EU country to detect a case 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 ■ ■ Countries South Africa Lesotho Botswana Zimbabwe in focus Mozambique Namibia Eswatini Uncertainty returns as new mutant spreads Equity markets crash, oil prices tumble Ars h a d K h a n & R a k es h K u m a r @ New Delhi Reports of a heavily mutated Covid-19 variant on Friday sent global and domestic equity markets into a tizzy In. dian equity markets saw `4.5 lakh crore worth of investors’ wealth getting eroded as both the benchmark indices – BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty – fell by around 3%. US stocks opened lower while London’s benchmark fell by 3.3% at the opening. Tokyo, Shanghai, Frankfurt and Hong Kong also fell. The tremors were also felt in the global oil market as Brent Crude shed over 10% to trade around $73.34 a barrel on Friday India’s equity mar. ket saw its biggest single day fall in recent times on Friday . The Sensex shed 1,688 points or 2.87% to close at 57,107, and the Nifty was down 510 points or 2.91% to 17,027. Friday’s bloodbath was caused by discovery of a new mutation of c o r o n av i r u s i n A f r i c a (B.1.1529), which poses another set of challenges to global economic recovery . Amit Gupta, Fund Manager – PMS, ICICI Securities, said, “Nervousness on the new variant and expectations of US increasing the pace of tapering have led to recent market weakness. This trend may take some time to recover as the WHO meeting on the new mutant variant impact and hospitalization rates in US and Europe will be watched by the market very closely .” Apart from the discovery of the new Covid variant, the over-10% drop in crude prices is also attributed to the release of crude reserves by the United States and other countries leading to increase in global supply surplus. Recently the US made a re, quest to some of the world’s largest oil-consuming nations including China, India and Japan to release oil from their strategic reserves to check the skyrocketing prices. India and the US decided to release 5 million and 50 million barrels of oil, respectively, from their stockpile. According to the findings of a panel of experts that advises ministers of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), such release is likely to perk up supplies in the coming months. Therefore, OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, are set to meet on December 2 to weigh their policy options. FLIGHT PLAN Category Capacity At risk with bubble agreement At risk without bubble agreement 75% of pre-Covid operations 50% bilateral capacity arrangements Full capacity under bilateral agreements Not at risk Bloodbath in market K4.5 lakh cr 3.3% Investors’ wealth eroded 1,688 3% Fall in BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty Points shed by Sensex shed 510 10% Drop in Brent Crude to trade around $73.34 Shed by Nifty NATIONWIDE Nov 25 Nov 26 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Fall in London’s benchmark 9,119 10,549 10,264 9,868 396 488 a barrel Jab-o-meter Take your shot November 25 statewide nov 25 nov 26 74,59,819 doses Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 65,23,396 doses 5,987 5,094 56 4,677 6,632 33 November 26 Total doses 120,96,90,961 Regular int’l flights to resume on Dec 15 K u m a r V i k r a m @ New Delhi The Ministry of civil Aviation on Friday announced the resumption of scheduled international flights to and from India from December 15. The ministry, however, said certain restrictions would apply to countries based on their risk assessment and airbubble deals. Countries categorised as at-risk and having air bubble agreement with India would resume 75% of pre-Covid scheduled international flights or a minimum of seven frequencies a week, whichever is higher. Countries under the at-risk category include the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore and Hong Kong. An order issued by the civil aviation ministry said the decision was taken after consultations with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Resumption of international passenger services wo u l d i m p l y r eve r s i o n to bilaterally-agreed capacity and termination of the air bubble arrangements. Countries identified as not ‘at-risk’ by the Health Ministry would get full capacity entitlements according to the bilateral air service agreements. For a country identified as ‘atrisk’ and not having an airbubble agreement, only 50% of bilateral capacity entitlements or 50% of pre-Covid operations, whichever is higher, would be permitted. Dynastic politics May God help our state, says HC on biggest threat to increasing police harassment plaints democracy: Modi PM targets Congress as 14 opposition parties boycott Constitution Day event in Parliament E xpress N ews S ervice @ New Delhi With 14 opposition parties including the Congress, the TMC, the DMK and the Left parties boycotting the Constitution Day event in the Central Hall of Parliament on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tore into family-run parties calling them a danger to democracy . Noting that dynastic parties are a matter of concern to people committed to the Constitution, Modi said, “More than one person from a family joining the party on the basis of merit does not make the party dynastic. Problems arise when a party is run by the same family, generation after generation.” Targeting the Opposition parties that boycotted the event, Modi said the country will not listen to those who turn their back to an important event to respect the Constitution, which has the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar attached to it. “When a political party loses its own democratic character, how can it protect democracy? Today from Kashmir to Kanya, kumari, look at every corner of India, the country is moving towards a crisis that should worry every individual who respects the Constitution and that comes from dynastic parties. This is against the principles of the Constitution,” the PM said. Elaborating on the spirit behind celebrating the Constitution Day Modi said it was initi, ated in 2015. Modi recalled how faced resistance when the idea to dedicate a day in the name of the Constitution was mooted. ‘Boycott to protest authoritarian govt’ Justifying its decision to boycott the Constitution Day event in Parliament, the Congress said it was to register its protest against the authoritarian functioning of the Narendra Modi-led government “I remember when I was addressing the House in 2015 on B R Ambedkar’s 125th anniversary and making this announcement, even then there was resistance. Why are you doing this? What was the need?” he said. Speaking on the occasion, the President Ramnath Kovind said, “All Members of Parliament are defenders of the dignity of Parliament, whether they represent the ruling party P7 or the Opposition.” lic office, not a “terror field”. Any man, woman or child In the wake of the death by sui- should feel free and confident cide of a 21-year-old law student to walk into a police station because of alleged domestic anytime. The court also asked violence and lackadaisical at- the government that why it altitude of a circle inspector over ways restricts punishment her complaint, the Kerala High of police officers to discipliCourt on Friday observed that nary action. “Why is this hesiif there is prompt actation to take action tion against any erring against police officpolice officer, the eners? Police have to be tire force would change protectors, not its attitude. The court, A police station is persecutors.” a public office, not The observation in an oral observation, a ‘terror field’. Any was made when a petialso expressed concern man, woman or over the rising number child should feel tion filed by K Rajeev of complaints regard- free and confident of Thenmala, Kollam, to walk into a alleging police harassing police harassment police station ment came up for saying, “God, help our anytime hearing. The court state.” Justice Devan Ramhad earlier found that achandran orally observed, “at least two police officers had “If the state takes swift and treated the petitioner with unstringent action against one imaginable barbarity — handpolice officer, just one is cuffing him to the handrail of enough, the entire police force the police station and registerwould change its attitude. ing multiple cases against Till then, this will continue — him — all because he dared to people will be chained, killed ask a receipt for a complaint and even forced to commit sui- sent to the Police Complaints ● More on P4 cide.” A police station is a pub- Authority”. E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @Kochi CPI mouthpiece flays police excesses T’Puram: Unleashing a scathing criticism against the way the police have been functioning in the state, CPI, the second largest ally in the ruling LDF, said lapses by the police have cast a shadow on the government’s image. In a strongly-worded editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Janayugam’ on Friday, the CPI reminded the Pinarayi Vijayan government that it has a responsibility to ensure the rule of law in a fair manner. Mofiya suicide: Inspector Sudheer suspended over lapses E xpress N ews S ervice @ Kochi/T’Puram AMID pressure from various quarters, the Kerala Police on Friday suspended Aluva Station House Officer C L Sudheer for his alleged lapses while handling the domestic violence complaint of law student Mofiya Parveen, who later ended life blaming her husband, in-laws and the station house officer. DGP Anil Kant issued the order hours after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assured Mofiya’s father K Dilshad of a proper investigation into the case and action against the inspector of police. “The deputy inspector general of police, Ernakulam range, has submitted a special report against C L Sudheer, which prima facie reveals certain lapses in the disposal of the petition submitted by Mofiya Parveen against her husband. In the above circumstances, Sudheer is hereby placed under suspension with immediate effect,” read the or● More on P4 der. 1st Test bright start by nz openers after Shreyas’ ton New Zealand’s Will Young and Tom Latham put on 129 runs, first century partnership by a visiting team openers since 2016. Young is unbeaten on 75 and Latham 50. Shreyas Iyer completed his century on debut with a knock of 105 as India managed 345. NZ pacer Tim Southee finished with five wickets for 69 runs at Kanpur | P11 a year of protests Farmers chanting slogans during a rally to mark one year of their anti-farm law protests at Singhu border | Parveen Negi | P7 Sathyanarayana conserves 650 rice varieties in 25-cent plot As an 18-year-old boy he fell in , love with the tiny grains of Rajakayame rice. He used to glean the paddy field and the pathway on which reapers carried the harvested paddy bundles. Today, Sathyanarayana Beleri is a one-man paddy bank conserving 650 varieties of traditional rice varieties. He has varieties from Japan and the Philippines to far-flung states of Assam and Manipur and neighbouring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; he Sathyanarayana Beleri has paddies that grow as tall as 13 feet; he has rice varieties which are black, purple, white, red, and light green; he has varieties which give good yield in saline soil, and also in the water-scarce field. On November 11, minister for agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar honoured him with the ‘Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Reward’ in Delhi for his efforts in conserving traditional varieties of rice. Sathyanarayana — whose income comes from rubber, nutmeg, and arecanut — said he grows all the 650 varieties of rice on a 25-cent artificially created paddy field because his land is not conducive for paddy express read Bichu Thirumala passes away at 79 T’Puram: Prolific lyricist of Malayalam cinema Bichu Thirumala passed away at a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday following cardiac-related ailments. He was 79. He had written around 5,000 songs, including film and devotional songs. Apart from penning lyrics and composing music, the multi-faceted Bichu Thirumala had also written the story and dialogues of film ‘Shakthi’ and the script of ‘Ishtapraneswari’. He had also sung a number of songs. His body was cremated at Santhikavadam with full state honours on Friday. P2 ‘KWA must repair roads it dug up’ Malappuram: Public Works Department Minister P A Mohammed Riyas on Friday came out against the Kerala Water Authority for the failure to repair the roads that KWA had dug up to lay pipelines. The minister said KWA has the responsibility to restore the roads to their previous condition. The minister’s reaction comes a day after the Kerala High Court directed the authorities concerned to repair roads properly. Plan to extend school timings till evening One-man gene bank G e o rge P o i k ay i l @ Kasaragod Bilateral air service agreements are signed between countries to operate scheduled passenger flights. This determines the number of airlines, ports of entries and total flights weekly that can be allowed. Under air bubble agreements, airlines of two countries operate special flights under certain restrictions. “The seats under air bubble arrangement that have already been sold by airlines, which are more than the capacity entitlements under bilateral air service agreements, will be allowed to be operated till December 14, 2021,” the aviation ministry said, adding such airlines would restrict their operations to capacity entitlements enter bilateral air service agreements with effect from December 15. cultivation. “Of the 25 cents, I grow one variety on 10 cents just for the birds and the rats,” says Sathyanarayana, a resident of Nettenige village in Belloor panchayat of Kasaragod. The rest of the varieties he breeds in grow-bags and protects them with nets. He has developed his own methods to conserve the different landraces of rice. “I use paper cups and grow-bags,” for best results. He sows around 20 seeds in a paper cup with a potting mixture. After 10 days, he shifts seedlings to the grow-bags. Once the paddy blooms, he shifts the grow-bags to a 30-metre-square plot where he has laid tarpaulin. “The tarpaulin helps me save water and ensure there is optimum moisture in the grow-bags,” he said. He repeats these steps for all the 650 varieties of rice every year. The technique impressed the National Gene Bank in Delhi that it gave Sathyanarayana 30 varieties of rice to conserve. The Kerala Agricultural University in Thrissur and the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences in Shiv- amogga have used paddy varieties from him in their breeding programmes. In 2006, Sathyanarayana read about Ramachandra Rao, a Gandhian and organic farmer at Cherkady in Udupi, giving away seeds of Rajakayame rice variety “The news report took . me back to my younger days. Back then there was no phone in our house. So I wrote a letter to him asking for Rajakayame seeds,” he said. Rao, who advocated self-sufficiency in food production, couriered him 100gm of Raja● More on P4 kayame rice. E xpress N ews S ervice @ T’Puram THE general education department has come up with a proposal to extend school timings till evening. Classes will be held either from 9.30am to 3.30pm or 10am to 4pm. A meeting convened by Education Minister V Sivankutty on Friday approved the proposal and submitted the same to the chief minister for clearance. Schools in the state, which were reopened on November 1, have been following ‘half-day on three days a week’ pattern. The students in a class are divided into two groups and they attend classes on three days each. However, the teachers have been saying that the shift system was too insufficient to cover the syllabus. A section of parents also cited the difficulty in dropping and picking up children at school for half-day shifts.
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