villupuram l friday l january 28, 2022 l `9.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION PM Modi hosts first ever India-Central Asia Summit Five presidents — of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan — attended the virtual meet Five presidents attend virtual meet “Our concerns with respect to regional security are the same. We all are concerned about Afghanistan,” Modi said at the summit, which was attended by Kazakhstan president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Uzbekistan’s Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow and Kyrgyzstan’s Sadyr Japarov ■ 1st Focus on regional cooperation ■ At the summit, PM Modi outlined three main objectives: to stress that cooperation between India and Central Asia is essential for regional security; give an effective structure to such a cooperation; and, formulate an ambitious roadmap India has completed 30 yrs of diplomatic ties with central Asia leader-level engagement between India and Central Asian nations | P7 CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI PTI Chandra meets modi Notable changes Ahead of the transfer of the airline on Thursday, Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi (pic). Later, he said the Tata Group is committed to making Air India a world-class airline Smart and well-groomed cabin crew, better on-time performance of flights, and enhanced in-flight meal service are some of the measures the Tatas are planning to implement Air India begins second tata inning New owner hits the ground running, starts implementing customer-friendly measures, vows to turn around airline Ku m a r Vi k r a m & A rs h ad K h an @ New Delhi The Tata Group, which had founded Air India in 1932 before it was nationalised in 1953, officially took over the management and control of the carrier on Thursday after the government transferred 100% shares of Air India to Talace Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons. “The Air India strategic disinvestment transaction has been completed with the government receiving `2,700 crore from Talace,” a finance ministry statement read. The transaction covers three entities — flagship Air India, low-cost carrier Air India Express and ground handling unit Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd. The Tatas also took over `15,300 crore of debt in Air India and Air India Express, while the remaining debt of `46,262 crore plus an outstanding of about `15,000 crore towards fuel bills were paid off by the government. Ahead of the official handover, Tata Sons chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We are excited to have Air India back in the Tata Group and are committed to making this a world-class airline. I warmly welcome all the employees of Air India, to our Group, and look forward to working together,” he said in a statement. Tatas will be retaining over 10,000 employees of Air India. And, as part of the deal, all of them will have to be retained for one year after the takeover. As the Tata Group’s priority is to turn around the loss-making carrier, there will be a drastic change in the working culture of the staf. In a letter to Air India employees, Chandrasekaran said, “The entire nation’s eyes are on us, waiting to see what we will achieve together. To build the airline our country needs, we need to look to the future.” Rahul bites the CM face bullet Ha r p r eet Baj w a @ Chandigarh Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday decided to bite the bullet on announcing the chief ministerial candidate of the party in Punjab, saying both incumbent Charanjit Singh Channi and Punjab Congress unit president Navjot Singh Sidhu were on the same page on taking the call. Channi and Sidhu brought up the matter while travelling together in his car, Rahul revealed while addressing a Punjab Fateh virtual rally at Mithapur in Jalandhar. They also flagged it in their speeches at the rally, setting the platform for Rahul to respond. Rahul said both agreed it was the top-of-the-mind question within the party in the state at the moment, adding there cannot be two leaders in the same pole position. “Both assured support to whoever is chosen. I agree. We will discuss the matter with party workers and announce the CM face,” he said. With that, the middle ground Rahul Gandhi at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Thursday | PTI Dedicated manifesto coming on women “I told Channi and Sidhu to come up with a dedicated manifesto for women. Twothree promises, not 15-20, so as to change their lives,” Rahul informed line on collective leadership was flushed. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had earlier said the party will contest elections under collective leadership of Sidhu and Channi. In his address at the rally, Sidhu said, “Please tell the peo- N EE T B r e a k t h r o u g h Sr citizen gets chance to fulfil MBBS dream S I N D UJA JA N E @ Chennai It’s common for children to dream of becoming a doctor. But the path isn’t easy, and many end up choosing other destinations. K Sivaprakasam didn’t let his destinations derail his desires. The 61-year-old retired government school teacher from Dharmapuri wrote NEET last year, and was called for counselling on Friday He will attend it along . with one of his students. “Sivaprakasam will easily get a seat,” says Selection Committee secretary Dr P Vasanthamani. “There are 437 MBBS seats under the 7.5 per cent quota for government school students, and his rank in this category is 349.” A total of 719 candidates were invited for counselling on Friday . However, Sivaprakasam, who scored 249 in NEET, probably won’t study medicine as his son, who’s doing his house surgency at the Kanyakumari Government Medical College, has advised him against it. “He asked if it would make sense that I take the seat and spoil a young government school student’s chances. After MBBS, I might only be able to serve for 10-15 years. But a young student can put in 40-50 years. My son has a point,” explains Sivaprakasam. Nevertheless, he’s travelling from Dharmapuri to Chennai. “I’m coming for the counselling since I’m bringing one of my students for it. I’m still in two minds. As a retired government school teacher, I don’t want to feel guilty for depriving a student of an opportunity If I skip the counsel. ling, a youngster will take the seat and go home happy he ,” says, adding that he will observe the counselling process so he can guide his students. Continued on: P5 ple of Punjab who will lead the party. Who would implement the agenda. Once you make it clear, I can assure you the Congress will win with 70 seats.’’ Channi echoed Sidhu in his speech, saying: “People wants a CM face. Sidhu has already talked to you about this. Now I am saying the same thing. People say there is a fight between us. Announce the CM candidate and we’ll stand united.’’ Channi also hugged Sidhu, creating a photo op to show unity Just a few days ago, Channi . had said the Congress should announce its chief ministerial candidate in the run-up to the polls, pointing out that whenever it hadn’t, the party had lost. Around the same time, Sidhu had created a few ripples by saying the people would elect the chief minister and not the Congress high command. The pressure on Congress to name its chief ministerial candidate heightened after the AAP, which is perhaps its biggest rival, declared Bhagwant Mann as its CM face. The group has already started implementing some changes to attract customers. On Day One of its takeover, it introduced an ‘enhanced meal service’ in four flights that will operate from Mumbai. Sources said the changes after ownership transfer had started flowing in the form of advisories to the frontline staff who interact with passengers. A consortium of lenders led by State Bank of India has agreed to provide loans to the Tata Group for the smooth operations of the loss-making airline. The other large lenders in the consortium include Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, and Union Bank of India. Bouquet gets bigger Tata Group, which already holds a majority interest in AirAsia India and Vistara, will have access to a fleet of 117 wide-body and narrow-body aircraft of Air India and 24 narrow-body aircraft of Air India Express. It will also get control of 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing, and parking slots at domestic airports Regular market approval to two vaccines for adults E x p r ess N e w s S e r v ice @ New Delhi Two Covid-19 vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, on Thursday got the expected approval for regular market sale from India’s drug regulator. But the vaccines will be available only for adults and sold at hospitals and private clinics, not pharmacies. The Drug Controlled General of India’s approval came after the Subject Expert Committee on Covid-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation had on January 19 recommended it. Making the announcement, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted: “The CDSCO has now upgraded the permission for Covaxin and Covishield from restricted use in emergencies to standard new drug permission in the adult population with certain conditions. The conditions include supply for programmatic settings, including registration on the Co-Win platform and to continue to submit safety data on a sixmonthly basis.” The government is yet to announce their pricing. The jabs can be administered in hospitals/clinics only as per the prevailing government guidelines. Jab-o-meter Schools, colleges to reopen on Feb 1 E x p r ess N e ws S e r v ice @ Chennai restrictions Schools in Tamil Nadu will reopen for Classes 1-12 from February 1, Chief Minister MK Stalin said on Thursday while , extending the lockdown norms in the State till February 15. While playschools, LKG and UKG facilities will remain shut, universities, colleges, polytechnic institutes and training centres (except those functioning as Covid centres) will be allowed to reopen from February 1. Besides, there will be no night curfew from January 28, and no complete lockdown on January 30 (Sunday). Places of worship will be allowed to remain open on all days from January 28. Though educational institutes will reopen, the upcoming semester exams in colleges are likely to be conducted online. Sources in the Higher Education Department said they are not keen on changing the exam format now, since tests are scheduled to begin from February 1. A final call will be taken on Friday . On Thursday, Tamil Nadu reported 28,515 new Covid cases with a test positivity rate of 19.4 per cent. The State also reported 53 deaths, the highest single-day toll in the third wave so far. However, health experts said it’s time for normal life to resume. “It should be treated like any other disease. Many schools are well ventilated, so there won’t be a problem. People above the age of 50 who have comorbidities should avoid crowded poorly-ventilated buildings, and must get vaccinated,” said Dr K Kolandaswamy, former director of public health. l LKG, UKG, playschools shut l Bar on social, cultural, political gatherings remains l Poll SOP to be followed l Exhibitions, cultural events not allowed l Only 100 people allwed at weddings, related events l Only 50 people allowed at funerals Just 50 per cent occupancy at... Restaurants, hostels, bakeries, lodges Textile, jewellery shops Gyms, restaurants, sports facilities in clubs, yoga centres Multiplexes, cinemas, theatres Contests in indoor sports stadia Seminars, music and drama events in indoor auditoriums Beauty parlours, salons, spas Amusement parks, except water sports facilities Take your shot Jan 26 22,10,813 doses Jan 27 49,69,805 doses Total doses 1,64,35,41,869 NATIONWIDE Jan 26 Jan 27 Fresh cases 2,85,914 2,86,384 Recoveries 2,99,073 3,06,357 Deaths 665 573 tamil nadu Jan 26 Jan 27 Fresh cases 29,976 28,515 Recoveries 27,507 28,620 Deaths 47 53 express read Two teenagers killed as Cuddalore building falls PLA hands over missing Arunachal boy to Army Cuddalore: Two teenagers were killed after a dilapidated building collapsed in Cuddalore while they were playing on Thursday. Another child was injured. The CM has promised `2 lakh to the families of each of the deceased | P3 New Delhi: China’s PLA has handed over the missing teenager from Arunachal Pradesh to the Indian Army, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Thursday. The youth was handed over at Wacha-Damai interaction point, he added | P7
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