THURSDAY SMALL SAVINGS RATES SLASHED. A CASE OF BAD TIMING? 01 The Centre on Wednesday revised interest rates of various small savings schemes for the first quarter of FY22 (April 1 to June 30, 2021) APRIL, 2021 epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard The announcement comes at a time when five states are going to polls ‘ V I R A L’ S P O R T S SAI CENTRES REPORT 30 CASES J8.00 Mamata’s mid-poll clarion call for Oppn unity receives mixed response Cong chief Sonia Gandhi remains silent, RJD, NCP concur with Didi; writes to Jagan, too, but not KCR HOSPITAL I strongly believe that the time has come for a united and effective struggle against the BJP’s attacks on democracy and the Constitution Mamata Banerjee, CM We support Mamata. Sharad Pawar may campaign in the last phase of the elections in Bengal after he recuperates Nawab Malik, NCP What she has written now was long ago said by RJD chief Lalu Prasad to save the country from being ruined by the BJP Mritunjay Tiwary, RJD DEDICATED COVID CARE CENTRE 5,815 5,525 Total beds Total beds 1,799 M @ Kolkata/New Delhi/Patna/Mumbai ACCUSING the BJP of trying to establish a one-party ‘’authoritarian rule’’ in the country West Bengal Chief Minister , Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday wrote to top Opposition leaders urging them to unite to defend democracy . Her letter came ahead of the second phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal and it is being seen as an initiative to drum up Opposition support against the BJP which is the main rival , of the ruling Trinamool Congress in the ongoing polls. Her call drew mixed reactions within the Opposition with the Congress choosing to remain silent, though regional parties like the RJD, NCP, AAP and SP extended full support. “I strongly believe that that the time has come for a united and effective struggle against the BJP’s attack on democracy and the Constitution. We can win this battle only with the unity of hearts and mind and by presenting a credible alternative to the people of India,’’ she wrote. In the three-page letter, Mamata appealed to non-BJP leaders, including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, ailing NCP founder Sharad Pawer, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, DMK chief M K Stalin, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik RJD chief Tejashwi Yadav, Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy PDP head Me, hbooba Mufti, CPI(ML) chief Dipankar Bhattacharya and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. She, however, did not write to Telengana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who had fancied his chances in the past at leading a third front. S TAT U S O F C O V I D B E D S NANDIGRAM TALKING POINT ACROSS BENGAL EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE PAGES 12 24 Occupied Occupied 4,016 AMATA Banerjee lit up Nandigram with a slogan that perhaps encapsulates where West Bengal is right now, in terms of the gap between its reality and its desire. “Cool cool Trinamool, thanda thanda cool, vote paabe jora phool,” she thundered, with an elan that TV advertising professionals would envy Jora phool is the grass flower associated with the West . Bengal Chief Minister’s party, the Trinamool. Will it get the votes? Therein hangs a tale. Now, West Bengal may well be renamed Nandigram. You must of course overlook a few distractions — like Amit Shah claiming a clean sweep, in arid Purulia. Or Mamata Banerjee actually demanding that the PM’s visa and passport be cancelled for having visited Orakandi in Bangladesh. Those distractions are quite a handful for an Assembly election, you think? Yes. But then, this is West Bengal. A little detour: Orakandi is revered by the Matua community, quite a vital component of the voters in three Bengal districts. Nobody here, among the intelligentsia, quite likes the fact that the name of caste has been taken. Bengal’s poliWEST BENGAL tics has always avoided it. And that’s the BJP’s opening. BenSANTWANA BHATTACHARYA gal still speaks a universal lan@ Bolpur/Suiri/Rampurhat, Birbhum guage. It still responds to resonating phrases like ‘Amar Naam, Tomar Naam, Nandigram, Nandigram...’ That’s not just a slogan, by the way. Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan, Birbhum, 24 Parganas—districts which vote in the third and fourth phases or later—seem somewhat indifferent about happens to their own constituencies. But they’re not indifferent about Nandigram. Anywhere and everywhere, it’s difficult to get people focused on any other issue. The small talk all around—the small tea shops, the small man walking back after his day’s work in those rich rice fields—invariably focuses on that one thing. It’s the Big Fight. The questions are: Is Didi panicking? Will Suvendu Adhikari pull it off ? Will Nandigram again be the turning point of Bengal’s political history? It’s quite the local thriller. If you so much as mildly declare that you have been to the epicentre and have come out in one piece, you may very well get a discount at a sweet shop, or at Sonajuri CONTINUED ON: P7 haat, Santiniketan. 5,489 Vacant Vacant DEDICATED COVID HEALTH CENTRE TILL MARCH 30 AFTER THE CM ORDER TOTAL INCREASE 842 Normal Covid beds 838 NEW DELHI The last time the Central government had cut the interest rates of small savings schemes in a big way was in the April-June quarter of 2020-21, when rates were slashed by 70-140 basis points 608 Interest rates for small savings schemes are notified on a quarterly basis. The new rates are lower by 50-100 basis points and this is for the first time since 1974 that Public Provident Fund interest rate will be below 7 per cent 2,547 A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 11 This might not sit well with voters who have invested in small saving schemes 1,705 Sports Authority of India’s Bengaluru and Patiala centres hit by Covid cases 50-100 bps down 230 ICU Covid beds 97 TOTAL BEDS 0 OCCUPIED 97 VACANT * 12 beds of CCC are occupied by persons under quarantine including travelers who came By Vande Bharat Mission and Bubble flights 5,196 HOME ISOLATION OCCUPANCY AS ON MARCH 31 Delhi govt increases Covid ICUs, beds in 33 pvt hospitals EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi WITH continuous rise in daily Covid-19 cases in the national capital, the number of beds including intensive care units (ICUs) exclusively for infected patients has been increased in 33 private hospitals, following the directions of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said the Delhi government is also discussing making Covid negative reports mandatory for people coming to the city “The . matter of those coming from other states with a heavy caseload will require a negative report to come to Delhi is being discussed,” said Jain. The minister added hospitals have also been instructed to update the list of increased ICUs and common beds on the data management portal. Following the order, around 230 ICU and 842 normal beds in CM says availability will improve “In view of the situation developing in Delhi, the number of normal and ICU beds reserved for COVID is increased in a few hospitals. This will improve bed availability. We’re keeping a close watch and will take all steps. But please follow all precautions,” tweeted CM Kejriwal. 33 private hospitals will be available additionally The city . recorded 1,819 cases on Wednesday and 11 deaths. Infection cases have been increasing in Delhi for about a week. On Monday daily count , crossed the 1,900-mark. This was the highest in around three-and-a-half months. Positivity rate rose to 2.77%. “For the past few days, positivity rate has been hovering around 3%. In some states, positivity rate has crossed 10%. Testing capacity too, has , been increased. More than 80,000 tests will be conducted daily. We are conducting genome tracing of up to 30 family and friends of those who have tested positive. Mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic ones are recommended home isolation,” said Jain. The minister added that vaccination for city residents of 45 years of age or above would start from Thursday. According to him, there are 65 lakh people who are 45 or above including 20 lakh who are 60. “All the 500 vaccine centres in the city will be operational from 9 am to 9 pm. Walk-in hours have been set at 3 pm onwards, during which those who have not registered can directly come to the centre and get inoculated… We do have sufficient vials as of now to vaccinate the desired population. There are several hospitals that have 10 vaccination centres. This will help us to get the desired population vacciP8 nated timely said Jain. ,” Highway blockade, Parliament march Core infra slips 4.6% in Feb, the most in 6 months on the cards as farmers firm up stir plan EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi Mitti Satyagraha will expose govt: SKM H A R P R E E T B A J W A @ Chandigarh PROTESTING farmers have firmed up their agitation schedule for April-May On April 10, . they plan to block the KundliM a n e s a r- Pa lw a l ( K M P ) expressway, almost a month ahead of their march to Parliament in May . The general body meeting of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) was held on Monday at Singhu border. “On April 5, the farmers will lay a siege to the FCI offices across the country On April 10, . the KMP expressway will be blocked for 24 hours from 11 am and on April 13, the festival of Baisakhi will be celebrated at Delhi borders,’’ said Morcha leader Darshan Pal. “Our action is meant to wake up the government,’’ he added. “We’ll mark April 14 — the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar — as the Samvidhan SKM has already launched a Mitti Satyagraha Yatra, which is aimed at “exposing the government move to snatch the farmers’ land and hand it over to capitalists”. The Yatra was stopped by the Gujarat Police in Umrachi, said Morcha leader Darshan Pal Bachao Divas. On May 1, we’ll mark Mazdoor Day on the borders of Delhi. The day will be dedicated to farmer-labourer unity said Pal. ,’’ He said the day of the march to Parliament would be decided later. “Farmers, labourers, women, Dalit-Adivasi-Bahujans, unemployed youths and every section of the society will be a part of this march. People will come in their own vehicles from villages to the borders of Delhi. After this, a foot march will be undertaken,’’ said the Morcha leader. “We will form a committee to let the protesters know what to do in case there is police action during the march,’’ he said. Pal alleged that SKM farmer leaders, who held the banner ‘No vote for BJP/NDA’ in the Kerala capital, were thrashed by BJP and RSS workers. “We strongly condemn it,’’ he said. The Morcha also released a document explaining ‘what is black in these (farm) laws’. INDICATING that economic recovery would be slower than anticipated, output of the eight infrastructure sectors contracted by a sharp 4.6% in February – the steepest decline in the past six months – the latest government data showed. According to commerce ministry data released on Wednes- day, the eight key core sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity — witnessed a decline of 4.4%, 3.2%, 1%, 10.9%, 3.7%, 1.8%, 5.5%, and 0.2%, respectively in , the month of February . Core sector data is crucial as its combined weight is over 40% in the Index of Industrial production (IIP). In January FIRM BOMBAY HC SLAMS PARAM BIR, ASKS WHY NO FIR? Bench reserves order on the former Mumbai Police Commissioner’s appeal for CBI probe against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. Says he is well-versed with legal procedures by virtue of his position and didn’t follow them in this case | P8 INSPIRING Tribal woman fashions success story, featured in Vogue E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Bhopal TWO months ago, 25-year-old Sita Vasuniya was like any other tribal woman in the Bheelanchal region of west Madhya Pradesh, whose life is limited to being a housewife. Now, the mother of a two-year-old son has figured in Vogue Italia — the Italian edition of the world’s premier fashion magazine Vogue — symbolizing women’s self-empowerment. Wearing a Maheshwar handloom saree block-printed by herself, the tribal woman’s pic- ture shot by a Delhi-based fashion photographer at the famed Rani Roopmati Mahal in Mandu of Dhar district is the cynosure of all eyes on the digital platform of the premier magazine’s Italian edition. “When I started training in February, I had never dreamt of being featured even in a local newspaper. I still can’t believe it,” an overjoyed Sita told this daily on Wednesday . A resident of Panala village, Sita is one of the 10 young girls and women forming a part of Dhara, a self-help group created as part of the Madhya Pradesh government’s ambitious Ek Jila Ek Utpaad (one district one product) scheme under the larger Atmanirbhar Madhya Pradesh mission. Dhar’s ADM Saloni Sidana When I started training in February, I had never dreamt of being featured even in a local newspaper. I still can’t believe it Sita Vasuniya, housewife featuring in Vogue Italia said the district is famous for its fabric printing art, including the famous Bagh print, Dabu and Batik prints. “Under the state government scheme, the district administration has focused on training women in these traditional styles and then creating market linkages for those products,” said Sidana. Instead of professional models, the Lookbook showed tribal girls and women who worked on the sarees and wore them for photoshoots. Results are for all to see. Sita Vasuniya in her creation this year, industrial production slipped 1.6%, after registering a 1% growth in the last month of 2020. Experts believe that recovery would be delayed with the steep rise in Covid-19 infections across the country “The . fact that all sectors have gone negative is a disappointment,” said Madan Sabnavis of CARE Ratings. Inflation target kept at current levels The Central government has kept the inflation target for the next five years at the current levels, Economic Affairs secretary Tarun Bajaj disclosed on Wednesday. The current target for inflation set by the government is four per cent (plus/minus two per cent) | P10 Freebie culture makes people lazy, Madras HC calls it corrupt practice the development is achieved or not, freebies have only created POLITICAL parties are drain- or are inculcating laziness ing the state’s coffers and mak- among people, shattering work ing people lazy by giving them culture,” they remarked. freebies, observed the Madurai The judges opined said it is Bench of Madras High Court not as if offering money or on Wednesday The court asked gifts alone is corrupt practice. . why not make the po“Parties promising litical parties deposit freebies to people to Pulling up 10 per cent of the exlure them can also be poll panel penditure required construed as corrupt The judges asked for executing their practice,” the judges why ECI does not promises as soon as said. Recalling a 2013 de-recognise they assume power, Supreme Court judgparties which and why not the Elecment, in which ECI don’t fulfill tion Commission of was directed to frame India (ECI) monitor election promises. guidelines governing Criticising people, the contents of elecwhether the promisthe judges said: es are fulfilled within tion manifestos, the “In a democracy, the party’s tenure. judges noted that no Justices N Kiru- people get leaders legislation has been they deserve.” bakaran and B Pugapassed even after lendhi observed that eight years. election manifestos attained They posed 20 queries to the popularity in the past two dec- Central government and ECI, ades, as political parties start- which included steps taken by ed competing with each other the Centre to bring in such a offering freebies, promising legislation, the details of efdevelopment, social upliftment forts taken by the ECI in weedand comfortable life, if they ing out unrealistic promises are voted to power. “Whether from manifestos since 2014. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Madurai
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