FRIDAY BENGALURU AMONG TOP 5 DIVERSE A.I. CITIES GLOBALLY 24 Ranking finds city’s talent pool 2nd largest in the world & 5th most diverse DECEMBER, 2021 GENDER BALANCE Annual share of AI research publications in Elsevier with at least one woman author epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard INDIA RUSSIA ITALY SPAIN FRANCE UK US GERMANY CANADA CHINA SMART CITY PROJECT CHRISTMAS AFTER 35 YEARS Historic Srinagar church renovated and reopened in time for Dec 25 celebrations A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 7 NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 India has double the proportion of AI papers — that include women authors — as compared to the US or the UK 4% 28% 23.7% 22% 20.5% 19% 16% 15.5% 15% 14.6% Source: Scopus 2020, OECD.AI Central teams to strengthen Omicron fight PM chairs meet; ministry proposes 5-point strategy of containment, testing, clinical management & vaccination E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi JAB-O-METER THE Union government will send Central teams to states with low Covid-19 vaccination, rising cases and insufficient health infrastructure to assist them, it was decided in a high level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to review the situation in the country . The PM directed officials to ensure that the health systems in the states, beginning from the district level, are strengthened to meet any challenge posed by the Omicron variant whose total case count crossed 300 in India. It is important for states to ensure that oxygen supply equipment is installed and fully functional, he instructed, also urging officials to work with states on a regular basis and review the status of preparedness of various components of the health infrastructure. Earlier in the day, the Union health ministry proposed a five-point strategy to tackle any future Covid wave in the wake of the Omicron outbreak, including subjecting samples from any cluster to whole genome sequencing to identify the presence of the strain and quickly press in necessary measures. In a review meeting with states, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan reiterated the need to impose night curfews and ensure strict regulation of large gatherings, especially ahead of the forthcoming festivities. He also asked states to promptly notify containment zones and create buffer zones to isolate new clusters of Covid positive cases. On testing and surveillance, states were asked to keep a close and strict watch on the number of Delta and Omicron cases in all districts, case positivity on a day-on-day and week-on-week basis, the doubling rate and emerging clusters. In addition, states were directed to ensure doorto-door case search in containment areas and to test all cases of severe acute respiratory as well as influenza-like illnesses, apart from vulnerable and comorbid people. The latest guidelines say that local containment measures are to be put in place by the district administration if the test positivity rate goes beyond 10% or occupancy of oxygenated beds crosses 40%. IN THE NEWS T O D AY INDIA MPs meet Sonia New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi held deliberations with party MPs from Punjab on Thursday on the political situation in the poll-bound state. Though details of what transpired were not known, the meeting came in the wake of incidents of alleged sacrilege attempts at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and in Kapurthala, and the subsequent lynching of two persons. These incidents have generated a lot of political heat. Militants surrender Diphu (Assam): Around 65 Dimasa National Liberation Army militants, active in Assam’s Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong districts, surrendered on Thursday before senior police officers and Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council’s Chief Executive Member Tuliram Ronghang. The militants surrendered before Additional Director General of Police Hiren Nath, and other senior police and civil administration officials of the two districts. The militants deposited two AK-series rifles, 11 guns, nine pistols and 300 rounds of live ammunition. INTERNATIONAL Putin’s message Moscow: President Vladimir Putin urged the West on Thursday to ‘immediately’ meet Russia’s demand for security guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine, saying the US is ‘on the threshold of our home.’ Speaking at an annual news conference, he welcomed talks with the US that are set to start in Geneva next month as a ‘positive’ move, but warned Moscow expects the discussion to produce results. P9 TAKE YOUR SHOT Dec 22 62,70,380 doses Dec 23 51,73,933 doses TOTAL DOSES: 1,40,24,47,922 NATIONWIDE DEC 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths DELHI A health worker collects swab sample of a vendor at a market near Jammu on Thursday | PTI NIGHT CURFEW IN MP 23 new cases of Omicron variant in Maharashtra, highest in a day in the state so far Madhya Pradesh imposes night curfew across the state from 11 pm to 5 am with immediate effect Any restriction must be enforced for a minimum of 14 days, Centre tells states 104 Omicron patients have recovered or migrated so far, according to govt data Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths DEC 23 6,317 6,906 318 DEC 22 7,495 6,960 434 DEC 23 125 58 00 118 57 01 Government of Delhi prepared to deal with one lakh cases every day: Kejriwal IFRAH MUFTI @ New Delhi ANTICIPATING a surge in Covid-19 cases in the wake of the Omicron spread, the Delhi government is ramping up preparedness to tackle one lakh cases per day Chief Minister Arvind , Kejriwal announced on Thursday after a review meeting. Infrastructure and resources are being readied to conduct three lakh tests daily and ensure ample availability of manpower, medicines and oxygen, he said. Though Omicron is said to cause only mild symptoms, the government doesn’t want to take chances given the experience during the second wave earlier this year, when a massive spike in cases had ex- HC judge urges UP poll cancellation due to Covid then there is a world,” the judge said. He made these observaIN a major observation, the Al- tions while hearing the bail lahabad High Court on Thurs- plea of one Sanjay Yadav. The day urged Election Commis- court was concerned about sion of India and the Prime large gatherings in the court Minister to consider postpone- premises. “There is no social ment of upcoming Uttar distancing and there might be Pradesh Assembly elections in a third wave because of the view of rising Covid-19 cases. new Omicron variant”. The court also urged the ECI Justice Yadav praised PM to direct political parNarendra Modi for ties not to hold public his efforts towards rallies to avoid a posf re e va c c i n at i o n . sible jump in Covid-19 “The court acknowlcases following the Election rallies edges the efforts of emergence of the should be banned to PM Modi for holding save the public from a massive free vacciOmicron variant. a third wave of A single-judge nation drive to comCovid before bench of Justice bat the pandemic and elections to be held Shekhar Yadav obthe court admires in UP. They should served “Jaan hain toh him. The court rebe asked to Jahaan hain” while quests the PM to take campaign through requesting ECI to TV and newspapers strict steps in view of take a decision on pothe situation.” Justice Shekhar Yadav litical rallies election It may be recalled by two months. that during the sec“Election rallies of political ond wave, UP rural local body parties should be banned to elections and West Bengal Assave the public from a third sembly elections were going wave of Corona before Assem- on. With large rallies and gathbly elections in UP They should erings such as the Kumbh Mela . be asked to campaign through in Haridwar, lakhs had got inTV and newspapers. Strict flicted, resulting in thousands steps should be taken to stop of deaths. The ECI had banned election meetings and rallies. public campaigning in the last Also consider postponing the two phases of Bengal polls held election, because if there is life, on April 26 and 29. NAMITA BAJPAI @ Lucknow posed the lacunae in upgrading the healthcare facilities to deal with the Covid crisis. While 26,000-27,000 cases a day were reported at the peak of the second wave in April, Kejriwal said adequate arrangements had been made to deal with one lakh cases daily. “We have increased our capacity of conducting Covid tests. From the current 6070,000, we will be able to conduct 3 lakh tests per day he added. ,” Kejriwal appealed to Delhiites to stay at home instead of rushing to hospitals and assured that the home isolation module had been strengthened. Every positive patient will re- WHAT IS UPSETTING HARISH RAWAT ceive a phone call and a medical team will visit next day “He . will be given a health kit comprising instructions, oxymetre and medicines. A tele-counselling team will remain in touch with the patient for 10 days till he recovers,” the CM said. “Our current capacity to visit homes was 1,000 cases per day but now our target is to reach out to 1 lakh homes per day. We have arranged sufficient manpower for this,” he said, adding that the hiring process will be completed in two-three days. In order to avoid any shortage, the Delhi government has stocked medicines for two months, informed the CM. Political analysts believe senior leader of hill state is falling back on old strategy of throwing tantrums in order to sideline potential in-house rivals | P8 Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai speaks at the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi on Thursday | SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT Anti-conversion bill gets Karnataka Assembly’s assent NAUSHAD BIJAPUR @ Belagavi KARNATAKA on Thursday became the ninth state to pass an anti-conversion bill. Amid huge uproar by the Congress, The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021 was passed by voice vote in the Assembly . Congress legislators rushed to the Well of the House in protest as the Assembly adopted the bill on the penultimate day of the winter session. The bill, now headed to the Legislative Council, prohibits conversion to another religion by misrepresentation, fraud, allurement, force or marriage. Leaders of the Congress, Janata Dal (Secular) and BJP argued over who first came up with a plan to draft such a bill. Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah termed the bill unconstitutional and draconian. But Law Minister J C Madhuswamy said it was the Congress government headed by Siddara- BIG DISPARITY IN HARSH PENALTIES Violators get 3-5 years in jail and a `25,000 fine if they are in the general categories. For minors, women and people from SC/ ST communities, the jail term is 3-10 years and the fine `50,000. Offenses are non-bailable maiah which took up the initiative for an anti-conversion bill in 2016 for the first time. “We have made some changes to it and tabled it in the Assembly he said. ,’’ Several Congress legislators denied the BJP’s claims that the bill was mostly the same as the one proposed earlier. They also objected to several stringent clauses. Siddaramaiah asked why punishment was more for those in the SC and ST communities. CM Basavaraj Bommai asserted that cases of conversions were more in these communities. Blast in Punjab court, suicide bomber suspected HARPREET BAJWA @ Chandigarh Security personnel look for clues at Ludhiana district court on Thursday | PTI ONE person was killed and five, including two women, were injured in a bomb explosion at Ludhiana district court on Thursday . Sources said the bomb may have gone off while it was being assembled. Police suspect the deceased was a suicide bomber. “One body has been recovered, but it is yet to be identified. Probably, the person was carrying the explosives,” Ludhiana Police Commissioner Gurpreet Singh Bhullar said, adding that he is the prime suspect. A DNA test will be conducted on the unidentified body All the five injured are out of danger. . Police have registered a case against unknown persons under various charges including sedition. The blast took place around 12.15 pm in a toilet on the second floor of the court complex. The explosion was so powerful that the roof and the walls of the washroom collapsed. An iron grill flew in the air and fell on the vehicles parked below, smashing the window panes of some cars. Use of IED is suspected. The court was not crowded since lawyers were on strike. A high alert has been sounded in the sensitive border state, which is going to polls early next year. The Centre has sought a report from the state government. Two separate teams of the NIA and NSG have also reached the spot. Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi said anti-national elements are trying to destablise the state ahead of polls, while home minister S S Randhawa blamed “external forces”. Sources in the state police claimed that the person killed might be a suicide bomber trying to assemble the bomb when it went off. “DNA test of the dead body will be conducted and police will also be checking the CCTV footage,” said a police officer. CLEAN ENERGY Food waste to biogas for cooking in Jharkhand students’ initiative MUKESH RANJAN @ Ranchi IN a first of its kind initiative, food leftovers at hostels and messes in Birla Institute of Technology Sindri, will not be , simply dumped as waste. Instead, this will be utilised for generating biogas for cooking, by setting up a plant in the campuses of leading engineering colleges in Jharkhand. This is an initiative of five B Tech students, who launched a start-up called ‘Urja Viable So- lutions’ with an eye on generating energy from waste as part of a sustainable development initiative. It was founded by Kumar Aryan, Adarsh Tirkey, Geet Kumar, Nitish Kumar and Raj Kumar Singh. All are BIT Sindri students. The first project was launched by these students in their college. Though this was conceived a year ago, groundwork including team constitution took some tme. According to Aryan, the biogas plant with a capacity of treating 100 kg of waste per day will be set up by January. Equipment is being developed in Bengaluru. From 100 kg of waste, 8 kg of biogas will be produced, which will used for cooking. Aryan said more such plants will be set up in other hostels to reduce dependency on LPG. Tirkey said scarcity of fossil fuel has triggered the idea. “Demand of energy is increasing exponentially along with the scarcity of fossil fuels. There- fore, we should start finding alternative sources of energy and save the existing ones. In future, we have to switch to renewable energy Our start-up is . mainly focused on the renewable energy sector,” he said. “Although this biogas plant is the first project of our company, we will gradually move towards renewable energy production as a second step, with the ultimate objective of ensuring zero waste and an ecofriendly BIT,” Tirkey added. `9 lakh sanctioned The Head of the Department of Production Engineering said the start-up is sponsored by BIT Sindri Alumni Association. A fund of `9 lakh has already been approved. A model of the biogas plant conceptualised by students of Birla Institute of Technology, Sindri | EXPRESS
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