DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA ● REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 JOURNALISM OF COURAGE MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 HIGH SPEND SCHEMES LIKELY PARTHA SARATHI BISWAS PUNE, JANUARY 10 MAHARASHTRA BECAME the latest in the line of states to report cases of Avian Influenza aftersamplesof deadpoultrybirds tested positive for the H5N1 virus late Sunday. This is the first timethatthestatehaswitnessed a case of bird flu since 2006, when it was first reported at a poultry in Nandurbar district. Animal Husbandry Commissioner Sachindrapratap Singh confirmed the development. Earlier this week, the commissionerate had sent out samples of dead poultry birds from Parbhani district for testing to the Bhopal-based National Instituteof HighSecurityAnimal Diseases. Over 800 birds had died in a backyard poultry in Parbhani. Besides, there have been reports of deaths of crows, parrots and pond herons from various parts of the state. Latur district has also reported the deaths of over 200 poultry birds earlier this week. Singh told The Indian Express CONTINUEDONPAGE2 WORLD DEMOCRATS SEEK ANSWERS FROM JUSTICE DEPT ON TRUMP’S ROLE PAGE 11 Protesters walked through the fields to reach the venue of the ‘kisan panchayat’ at Kaimla village in Karnal district of Haryana on Sunday. Jasbir Malhi P VAIDYANATHAN IYER Protesters disrupt BJP event in Khattar hits back: only Karnal, force CM to cancel visit amendments, Govt WITH THE uptick in the economy better than what most economists estimated post easing of lockdown restrictions, the Union Finance Ministry is of the viewthathigherspendingatthis stage of recovery — rather than earlier — will give a bigger push to growth. According to sources, the Prime Minister’s Economic AdvisoryCouncil,NitiAayogand the Chief Economic Advisor’s office, have pushed for an expansionary budget to reinforce the nascent recovery. All have advocated the Keynes mantra to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during pre-Budget consultations. British economist John Maynard Keynes had argued that free markets cannot be relied upon to fuel GDP growth when there is a recession, of the kind India and the world, has witnessed in 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, consumer confidence hit a new low, and they avoided discretionary spending; this led to a demand collapse, forcing firms SUKHBIR SIWACH KAIMLA VILLAGE (KARNAL), JANUARY 10 AROUND 1,000 farm protesters stormedthevenueof ahigh-profile “kisan panchayat” organised by the ruling BJP in Haryana Sunday, forcing Chief Minister ManoharLalKhattartocancelhis visittothesiteontheoutskirtsof Kaimla village in Karnal district. Theincidentalsosawclashes between supporters of the BJP event and opponents of the Centre's new agriculture laws, withleadersonbothsidessaying that several persons suffered injuries during the confrontation. On Monday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a clutch of petitions related to the laws, with talks between the Centre and farmer unions failing to make any headway despite protesters camping on Delhi's outskirts for over a month. The panchayat in Kaimla, organised by local BJP MLA Harvinder Kalyan, was part of the party's plan to hold such meetingstomobilisesupportfor the laws. However, the protesters had warned that they would CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPERT EXPLAINS Siraj Hussain From The Indian Express panel of specialists, exclusive insight FARM PROTESTS, BIG PICTURE EXPLAINED PAGE 9 Explosion in equipment likely began hospital fire in which 10 kids died BUSINESS AS USUAL TABASSUM BARNAGARWALA BY UNNY MUMBAI, JANUARY 10 THE FIRE that killed 10 babies in a hospital in Bhandara, Maharashtra, early on Saturday was likely caused by an explosion in one of the several radiant warmers in the Sick New-born Care Unit (SNCU), believe the officials who carried out a preliminary inspection at the hospital on Sunday. The radiant warmer burst intoflamesaftertheexplosion— thefirstof two loudnoisesheard byhospitalstaff thatnight—and the seven-day-old baby inside “was found burnt like coal”, officials said. The baby had been abandoned on a roadside, and broughttothehospitalbypolice. This and nine other babies were killed in the fire thatbroke out in P8 PUNE, NEW DELHI, JAN 10 IN THE last four months, Kerala has recorded more than 7 lakh coronavirusinfections,morethan any other state in India. For the last 45 days, it has consistently been the top contributor of new cases.Thestatenowhasthehighest number of active cases in the country, comprising almost 30 per cent of India’s total. But while Kerala is the worst hotspot of the epidemic in the countrynow,whatisremarkable isthattheriseincaseshasnotresultedinasimilarincreaseinthe PAGE 1 ANCHOR THE EXPRESS INTERVIEW ‘OUR DAILY TOLL NEVER WENT BEYOND 25’ K K SHAILAJA KERALA HEALTH MINISTER VARINDER BHATIA CHANDIGARH, JANUARY 10 FORCED TO scrap his visit to Karnal Sunday after farm protesters took over the venue, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar accused OppositionpartiesandstateBKU leader Gurnam Singh Chadhuni of inciting people to disrupt law and order, and insisted that the Centre will not repeal its new agriculture laws. Govt slashes security cover of Fadnavis, several other BJP leaders EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE MUMBAI, JANUARY 10 Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray visits the Bhandara General Hospital on Sunday. PTI the SNCU of Bhandara District General hospital at 1.30 am on Saturday. While it is suspected that the fire started after the explosion in theradiantwarmer,membersof the inquiry committee said they were yet to reach a final conclusion. “Inquiry is still going on. We will submit the report in a few days. At this point we cannot comment on how or where the fire started. But we will go into each and every detail,” Dr Sadhana Tayade, director of the Directorate of Heath Services CONTINUEDONPAGE2 Covid curve doesn’t bend in Kerala but why state isn’t overly worried yet AMITABH SINHA & LIZ MATHEW won’t repeal farm laws number of deaths. In fact, Kerala has one of the lowest death counts among the major states. With more than 8 lakh confirmed infections so far, Kerala has the fifth highest caseload in the country. But there are 11 states that have recorded more deaths than Kerala, including states like Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab, that have three to five times fewer cases. The state government says that unlike many other places, Kerala had managed to avoid a “sudden peak”, and that has ensured fewer deaths. “In other states, the cases CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 ‘Our culture is different. They (BJP) can’t create fear of other religions here. It won’t work in TN’ KANIMOZHI LOK SABHA MP, DMK PAGE 10 TWO FORMER chief ministers, a former Governor, two serving Union ministers and the Maharashtra BJP president were among those whose security cover was either withdrawn or downgraded by the Uddhav Thackeray government on Sunday, inviting sharp criticism from the Opposition, which accused it of revenge politics. While the security cover of Thackeray’s predecessor and current Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, was downgraded, the ‘Y+’ cover enjoyed by former chief ministerNarayanRanewas completely withdrawn following a threat perception review exercise carried out by the state Home department. Asperthegovernmentorder, Fadnavis, who was earlier enjoying ‘Z+’ security, will now be gettingonly‘Y+’securitywithanescort. Sources said that a bullet proofvehiclethatwasapartofhis convoy will now be withdrawn. The government also downgraded the security cover extended to his wife, Amruta, and daughter, Divija, from ‘Y+’ category to ‘X’ category while striking off the one previously enjoyed by his aunt, Shobhatai Fadnavis -- a former minister and a sitting MLC. Incidentally, while Rane’s security was withdrawn, the government newly granted ‘X’ categorysecuritycovertoShivSena MLA Vaibhav Naik, who had defeated Rane in the 2014 Assembly polls. It also slashed CONTINUEDONPAGE2 Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh after his visit to the venue of a BJP “kisan panchayat”inKarnal'sKaimlavillage wascancelled,Khattarsaid:“The Government is not going to CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE EDITORIAL PAGE BUDGET:INDIA’S NEWDEAL MOMENT BY SAJJID Z CHINOY PAGE 6 NEW DELHI, JANUARY 10 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BUDGET ’21 COUNTDOWN IN & OUT OF COVID SHADOW E E X P L A I NE D Dead poultry bird samples test positive for bird flu in Maharashtra Govt looks at ‘expenditure’ budget to aid higher growth Spend more when ● growth low A FISCAL stimulus in 2021-22 will be most effective to spur growth, particularly with many parts of the economy showing clear signs of a nascent recovery. Having preserved its spending power, the government plans to spend more in sectors such as healthcare, housing and constructionheavy infrastructure, which positively impact many industries. Racism stops play in Sydney as India draw hard line on abuse MIHIR VASAVDA & SRIRAM VEERA NEW DELHI, MUMBAI, JAN 10 RACISM STOPPED play at the Sydney Cricket Ground Sunday. In line with the recent global trend, where sportspersons are startingtodrawthelinebetween banter and racist abuse from the stands, the Indian cricket team put theirfootdown andensured that the Test against Australia in Sydney was halted for 10 minutesSundaytillagroupof unruly spectators were evicted. Thebreakinplayfollowedan incident on Saturday when Indian pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj said racist comments were directed at them as they fielded on the boundary line. “We had decided Police remove a group of spectators after Mohammed Siraj complained to umpires, in Sydney on Sunday. Reuters Saturday evening that if somethinglikethishappensagain,we willimmediatelyidentifythem,” an Indian teammanagementofficial told The Indian Express. On Sunday, Day 4 of the Test, as Bumrah was about to start running in during the 86th over ofAustralia’ssecondinnings,Siraj walked up to stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane, and umpires Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson. The 26-year-old debutant from Hyderabad said that a sectionof thecrowdraciallyabused CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Looking for lithium toehold, India finds a small deposit in Karnataka ANIL SASI NEW DELHI, JANUARY 10 ALONGSIDE A move to tap into the global lithium value chain, India has initiated a concerted domestic exploration push for the alkali metal, a vital ingredient of the lithium-ion rechargeablebatteriesthatpowerelectric vehicles (EVs), laptops and mobile phones. Preliminary surveys by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), an arm of the Departmentof AtomicEnergy, is learnt to have shown the presence of 1,600 tonnes of lithium resources in the igneous rocks of the Marlagalla-Allapatna region of Karnataka’s Mandya district. A government official said the AMD is carrying out surface and sub-surface exploration for lithium in potential geological domainsof the country. The find in Mandya is extremely small in quantitative terms, but it marks some initial success in the attempt to domestically mine the silver-white metal by way of hard-rock extraction of the ore. India currently imports all its lithium needs. The domestic exploration push, which also includes CONTINUEDONPAGE2 Lahore to NY via India: his unflinching gaze — and prose AMRITADUTTA BENGALURU, JANUARY 10 IN THE beginning, arguably, was Ved Mehta. Long before writers such as Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth would become the ambassadors of Indian English writing to the West, a young man born in preIndependent India found a voice and space in the New York literary scene in the 1960s. Mehta diedinNewYorkattheageof 86. “We are extremely sorry to learn about the passing of Ved Mehta.Hewasamasteroftheautobiographical genre and a pio- neer of Indian writing in English. We will remember him for his keen insight into Indian society and what it means to bridge the gap between the east and the West,” said Meru Gokhale, publisher, Penguin Press, Penguin Random House India. Mehta leaves behind a remarkable legacy as a memoirist, and essayist for The New Yorker — and a man who, early on, seized upon his subject: the remarkable life and times of Ved Mehta and his family, which he wrote about, overthreedecades, inhis12-volumeautobiography, Continents of Exile. Born in 1934 in Lahore to a Punjabifamily,youngVedlosthis vision at the age of three. Remarkably for that time, his father, a London-educated public health officer refused to believe thatwasapermanentsetback;he sent him first to a school for the blind in Bombay — and then, at the age of 15, to another blind school in Arkansas, US. HewasastudentinCalifornia when he began writing his first book,FacetoFace(1957)—theautobiographyofayoungmaninhis 20s, who had overcome great odds, from blindness to the tumult of Partition, to fashion a sturdy self-independence. It was thefirstinstanceof whatnovelist and critic Nilanjana S Roy described as Mehta’s “need to set it alldown”.“Itwaswrittenoutof a feeling that I could partly alleviatealifeofdeprivationbywriting about it,” Mehta wrote. In the next two decades, Mehta found a mentor in The New Yorker editor William Shawn, who encouraged him to writeonsubjectsasvariedastheology and philosophy, R K Narayan and Satyajit Ray. In a 2009 Idea Exchange held in the Delhiofficeof The IndianExpress, he recalled: “One thing I learnt from The New Yorker was the minute you start thinking about your readers you are lost.” VED MEHTA 1934-2021 Shawn,whoconsideredMehtaa protege, called his "prose style airy,elegant,marvellouslyclear”. Morestrikingly,Mehta’swritingcarriedasurfeitofvisualdetail that would often flummox his readers -- and lead to one of the most interesting cases of mistaken literary identity. In The World is What It Is, the biography of V S Naipaul by Patrick French, the author recounts, “A literary groupie is searching for Ved Mehta, disbelieving that a blind writer could produce such vivid descriptive prose. Finding a distinguishedIndianmansittingon asofa,shewavesherhandinfront of his face while he looks on un- blinking”.SheisconvincedMehta is blind, until she is corrected by someone:“Thatisn’tVed,that’sV S Naipaul”. It was a story that Mehta was known to recount, too, with a wicked chuckle. Inthe1970s,achanceconversation with his father, Amolak RamMehta,setMehtaoff onthe series of books -- a million-plus words in all -- that explore and document the life of his parents and family. Writing at a time when, as he recalled, “the image of India was of a leprous beggar crawling along Calcutta streets”, he turned the focus on the universal experience of home and family in books such as Daddyji andMamaji.“Myprocessof writingisassemblingdetails,assembling material,” he said. The personal story also told a larger tale of the north Indian home in pre-Independent India, and the big subterranean shifts in Indian society. Inhissubsequentbookssuch as The Stolen Light, Up at Oxford, All for Love and The Red Letters, Mehta held up his remarkable life — of a man who lost his sight but fashioned a rich life — to a steady, unflinching gaze. To the delight and exasperation of his readersinIndiaandelsewhere,it wasastorythatfoundresonance in their own.
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