WEDNESDAY RETAIL SALES DECLINE 79% IN MAY OVER PRE-COVID LEVELS 16 Pandemic-induced restrictions have brought retail businesses to their knees, according to the Retailers Association of India (RAI) JUNE, 2021 70% epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard FALL IN QUICK SERVICE RESTAURANTS SALES IN MAY 2021 OVER MAY 2019 POWER TUSSLE FIGHT IN LJP GETS MESSIER Chirag Paswan expels 5 rebel MPs a day after his uncle orchestrated a coup. PAGE 8 NORTH, WEST INDIA SUFFER THE MOST A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS NEW DELHI J8.00 The impact on sales was the steepest in western and northern parts, which witnessed a whopping 83% dip in May 2021 compared to May 2019. The eastern region, according to the retailers’ body, witnessed a 75% fall, while South India suffered a 73% drop in sales. The government should step in to ameliorate the financial woes of the sector, RAI said PAGES 12 Beware the equity market bubble, warn experts, raise the red flag D I PA K M O N DA L & A RS H A D K H A N @ New Delhi THE Indian equity markets seem to be going through a purple patch. Even as the Covid-19 pandemic wrecked the backbone of the economy in 2020 and 2021, the markets don’t seem to mind a bit. In the past year, the BSE 30 Index Sensex has sprung from 33,228 to 52,773 points, gaining 59% on the way Since 23 March . 2020, when the lockdown was first announced, the equity markets have returned almost 100%. The Sensex during the period rose from 27,600 points to 52,773, gaining 91%. The ‘bull run’ continues even if regulators and a few market experts have already raised the red flag. The RBI in its recent annual report warned of a possible equity market bubble, subtly cautioning investors against irrational exuberance. MARKET CAP TO GDP RATIO (%) 35 97 97 55 54 69 61 76 72 68 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Lucknow LEFT with only seven MLAs in a House of 403 after a suspension/expulsion spree, the prospects of BSP ahead of next year’s Assembly polls look bleak, with some rebels set to join the Samajwadi Party, and others mulling floating an outfit. At least five MLAs may contest on SP ticket, said a rebel MLA after meeting its leader Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow on Tuesday . Handia legislator Hakimlal Bind said he, along with Chaudhary Aslam Ali, Mujtaba Siddiqui, Hargovind Bhargav, Aslam Raini and Shushma Patel, met the SP chief, though Bhargav later denied being present at the meeting. “I have decided to contest 2022 polls on SP ticket. We met Akhilesh ji to discuss our future,” said Patel. However, not all were in favour of switching camp. Rainee, a suspended MLA, said: “We will form a separate party with 12 MLAs and then decide on future course.” The BSP had won 19 seats in 2017 but nine have been suspended and two expelled. Ramachal Rajbhar (Akbarpur) and Lalji Verma (Tanda), both founding members of the BSP were expelled earlier , this month. Verma, who is likely to be selected as leader of the rebel faction, said he was not aware of the meeting. N AT I O N W I D E Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths JUNE 14 JUNE 15 70,421 1,19,501 3,921 60,471 1,17,525 2,726 June 14 TAKE 22,15,947 doses YOUR June 15 SHOT 25,68,858 doses TOTAL DOSES: 26,17,40,273 JAB-O-METER DELHI Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths JUNE 14 JUNE 15 131 355 16 228 364 12 88 99 77 76 32.31 30 26.44 25 20 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 DECEMBER DATA UP POLLS BSP rebels meet Akhilesh, weigh their options in 2022 AVERAGE SENSEX P/E RATIO 146 15 18.05 18.73 17.09 17.38 28.1 23.78 23.71 20.62 20.18 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22* Source: BSE RBI’s concerns are not without reasons. Valuations have gone through the roof, and yet the markets have climbed new peaks driven by easy liquidity provided across the globe by governments to support growth to pandemic-hit economies. India’s current market cap to GDP ratio is 112%, against the historic average market cap to GDP ratio 76%. The Sensex is currently trading at a price-toearnings ratio of 32 against the five-year average of 21. However, experts are not impressed by such high valuations. According to Geojit Financial Services’ chief investment strategist V K Vijayakumar, robust foreign institutional buying, select highquality buying by domestic institutions and enthusiastic retail activity are positives for the market, but the froth building up in the broader market is a big worry CONTINUED ON P10 . 6 TN HOSPS UNDER-REPORTED DEATHS? O M J A S V I N M D @ Chennai Natasha Narwal Asif Iqbal Tanha Devangana Kalita Delhi HC upholds right to protest, activists get bail Rules invoking stringent UAPA against them in connection with the Delhi riots was illegal K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi FAULTING the state for blurring the line between the right to protest and a terrorist activity in order to suppress dissent, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted bail to a couple of activists and a student, who were arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in connection with the northeast Delhi riots in February last year. A bench of justices Siddhartha Mridul and Anup J Bhambhani granted bail to Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal and Jamia Milia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha in three separate verdicts. Over a year after they were arrested, all three SIGNIFICANT can expect to be free on bail. While Kalita was booked in four cases, Narwal had three FIRs registered against her. They already have bail in all the other cases. The UAPA case against them pertains to the larger conspiracy angle behind the riots, being probed by the Delhi Police’s Special Cell. “We are constrained to say, that it appears, that in its anxiety to suppress dissent and in the morbid fear that matters may get out of hand, the State has blurred the line between the constitutionally guaranteed ‘right to protest’ and ‘terrorist activity’. If such blurring gains traction, democracy would be in peril,” the order to grant bail to Narwal said. DEATHS related to Covid-19 in six government hospitals in Tamil Nadu, during the months of April and May, could be 8.4 to 9.8 times higher than the actual deaths of 863 issued by the government in its daily health bulletin, a report by NGO Arappor Iyakkam has claimed. The NGO concluded this by drawing up the government’s death certificates issued in six hospitals — Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai, Coimbatore Medical College Hospital, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College Hospital in Tiruchy, Vellore Medical College Hospital, Karur Medical College Hospital, and Tiruppur Government Hospital. According to their report, during April and May 2021, the six hospitals have issued a total of 11,699 death certificates. Convenor of Arappor Iyakkam, Jayaram Venkatesan, said the NGO could only work on these six hospitals as only they had uploaded death cer- DISPARITY IN NUMBERS Covid deaths reported GRH Madurai Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College, Tiruchy Karur Medical College Vellore Medical College Coimbatore Medical College Tiruppur GH Health NGO bulletin report 172 3,152 55 1,806 115 104 960 1,416 323 3,464 94 901 More questions than answers EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE SCRATCH the surface of the Covid fatality data in various districts and they throw up searching questions. Kamrup: Take Assam. Its Kamrup (Metropolitan) district includes the Guwahati Municipal Corporation. During the first corona wave in April 2020, altogether 183 death certificates were issued in that district, but there was not a single recorded case of Covid death. In April 2021, as many as 912 death certificates were issued in the same district, during which time 78 Covid deaths were recorded. How does one explain the big year-on-year difference in the number of deaths in April, which is 729? Health officials said it could be because of various factors. “It could be that more people came of age this year compared to last year. Also, a number of deaths this year could be due to comorbidities. There was hardly any road accident death last year due to strict lockCONTINUED ON P8 down. letin recorded only 172 Covid deaths. In the absence of any other natural calamity and the road traffic remaining less, due to a full lockdown, the NGO has said that the deaths could possibly be related only to Covid or complications related to it. Similarly, in Coimbatore GH, out of the 3,464 deaths, only 323 were recorded for Covid; in Tiruchy GH, of the 1,806 deaths, 55 were Covid; in Vellore, of the 1,416 deaths, 104 were Covid; in Karur, it was 115 out of 960 deaths; and 94 out of 901 in Tiruppur. The report also highlighted that in Tiruppur GH, no Covid deaths were declared in the State bulletin from April 1 to May 19, this year, but the total death certificates issued in these dates count to 489 for this hospital during that period. The NGO also flagged Tiruchy GH for grossly underreporting, saying that the mortality was 32.8 times more than the reported Covid deaths in April and May 2021. AIIMS to resume OPD services by June 18 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @New Delhi OBSERVATIONS AFTER remaining closed down for almost two months, the AllIndia Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has decided to resume the OPD services “latest by June 18” in a phased manner. The heads of all clinical departments have been requested to provide a proposed number of new and follow-up OPD patients per day who are to be given online/telephonic appointments, according to an order issued by the AIIMS medical superintendent on Tuesday . The HoDs have been requested to provide the requisite information within two days. PEACEFUL PROTEST WITHOUT USE OF ARMS Stressing that the right to peacefully protest without arms is a fundamental right, the court said, “Considering, however, that the right to protest is a fundamental right that flows from the Constitutionally guaranteed right to assemble peaceably and without arms enshrined in Article 19(1)(b) of our Constitution, surely the right to protest is not outlawed and cannot be termed as a ‘terrorist act’ within the meaning of the UAPA, unless of course the ingredients of the offences under sections 15, 17 and/or 18 of the UAPA are clearly discernible from the factual allegations contained in chargesheet and the material filed therewith.” AMBIT OF THE ‘TERRORIST ACT’ PHRASE The court said the phrase ‘terrorist act’ under UAPA could not be permitted to be applied in a cavalier manner to criminal acts or omissions that fall squarely within the definition of conventional offences as defined under the Indian Penal Code. “Even if we assume for the sake of argument, without expressing any view thereon, that in the present case inflammatory speeches, chakka jams, instigation of women protesters and other actions, to which the appellant is alleged to have been party crossed the line of peaceful , protests permissible under our Constitutional guarantee, that, however, would yet not amount to commission of a ‘terrorist act’ or a ‘conspiracy’ or an ‘act preparatory’ to the commission of a terrorist act as understood under the UAPA,” the bench said. P7 tificates data in the State government’s portal for 2019, 2020 and 2021. The NGO drew data of deaths recorded during April and May this year and compared it with that of the health bulletin, which indicated a gross mismatch. During the said period, while there were 3,152 deaths in Madurai GH, the daily bul- NATION REMEMBERS Maj Gen Akash Kaushik, Officiating GOC Fire and Fury Corps, lays a wreath to pay homage to Galwan martyrs on the first anniversary of their supreme sacrifice | PTI GRIM PREPARE FOR WORSE IF CROWDS IGNORE RULE: DOCS As of now, OPD registration will be done only for such patients who have prior online/ telephonic appointments. A decision to allow walk-in registrations will be taken later after reviewing Covid situation, the order said. AIIMS has stopped routine physical OPD services on April 22 and postponed inpatient admissions to contain the spread of the virus and augment resources for treatment of Covid-19 patients. Delhi on Tuesday recorded 228 new cases at a positivity rate of 0.32 per cent along with 12 fatalities. The fresh infections and the positivity rate have seen a slight increase from Monday’s figures. While medical experts agree that the stringent lockdown helped in curbing the Covid, doctors fear worse than second wave situation if people don’t follow safety procedures in Delhi | P4 Myanmar coup: Provincial chief Waterholes dug by villagers boost forest cover minister seeks refuge in Mizoram JHARKHAND M U K E S H R A N J A N @ Ranchi VILLAGERS in Ranchi’s Bero block voluntarily joined a unique campaign to increase the forest cover by digging small waterholes in nearby jungles so that Sal seeds can germinate germinate inthem. Together, the Lamkana villagers dug up more than 3,500 such small pits across 20 acres of the forest area in which rainwater collects. According to village councillor Rajesh Oraon, the work was completed during the Covidinduced lockdowns in the previous and the current years. The villagers did not seek the help of the forest department or any other government agency he said. , As a morale booster, the holes they dug up last year started showing results this year as small Sal plants appeared in them, he said. “The forest cover in our area has dwindled. So, we thought digging up small pits could help. The entire 20-acre jungle belongs to our village and protecting it is our duty,” said Oraon. “The Sal seeds dropping from the trees often get washed away in the rainwater. The villagers wanted to replant the Sal within the forest.” The panchayat cleared the idea, prompting the villagers to offer ‘shramdaan’ (voluntary labour) from at least one member from each family. “Last year before the onset of monsoon, we succeeded in digging up more than 2,000 waterholes in around 65% of the forest area. The rest was done this year by digging up another 1,500 waterholes,” said Oraon. The villagers also keep an eye on the jungle. “Two youths are deputed every year. They are given 20 kg of paddy from each of the 125 households.” E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ Guwahati A chief minister of a province in the coup-hit Myanmar is among the 9,000-odd people who have fled to Mizoram over the past few months. Chief Minister of Chin State, Salai Lian Luai, crossed over the border on Monday night and was taking refuge in the remote Champhai district. Luai is among over 20 lawmakers from Myanmar taking shelter in the northeastern state. He is a leader of National League of Democracy which Aung San Suu Kyi leads. The refugees include a large number of security personnel, mostly police. Earlier, the Mizoram government had urged the Centre to view the influx of the refugees as a humanitarian crisis. Six Mizoram districts such as Champhai, Siaha, Lawngt- lai, Serchhip, Hnahthial and Saitual share 510 of the 1,643 km land border, which India shares with Myanmar. People from Myanmar’s Chin community and the Mizos in India belong to the Zo ethnic group and they share the same ancestry. The Chin people are settled in Myanmar’s Chin State, which shares a 404 km porous border with Mizoram.
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