DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE `5.00 WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 CLOUD OVER MONSOON SESSION Phonesof2ministers,3Oppleaders amongmanyonsurveillancelist:Report NEW ROADS OF EDUCATION A RED initiative appears in today’s edition of The Indian Express. This page is an initiative of the marketing solutions team of The Indian Express Group and contains content paid for by advertisers. This page should be read as an advertisement. Israeli Pegasus spyware used, says report; baseless…bid to malign Indian democracy, institutions, says Govt AASHISH ARYAN & PRANAV MUKUL NEW DELHI, JULY 18 IN WHAT could trigger a stormy start to the Monsoon session of Parliament commencing Monday, a global collaborative investigative project has revealed thatIsraelicompany NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware targeted over 300 mobile phone numbers in India including that of two serving Ministers in the Narendra Modi government, three Opposition leaders, one constitutional authority, several journalistsandbusinesspersons. The Wire, a digital news platform, which is part of the collaboration, reported Sunday that the leaked global database of 50,000 telephonenumbers,was first accessed by French nonprofit Forbidden Stories and AmnestyInternational,andthen shared with 16 media partners: The Guardian, Washington Post, LeMonde,SuddeutscheZeitung, and 11 other Arab and European organisations. The Indian list of 300“verified”numbersincludes those used by by “ministers, opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, businessmen, government officials, scientists, EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, JULY 18 FOR THE first time in over four months, Delhi did not report a singleCoviddeath on Sunday.Of the 71,546 samples tested, 51 werefoundtobepositive–0.07% positivity rate. The city, which at the peak of thesecondwavesaw448deaths in one day (May 3), has seen a sharp dip in cases and deaths over the past month. Over the last three days, for instance, six deaths were reported — one each on Thursday and Friday, and four on Saturday. And for almost three weeks now, the city has reported less than 100 new cases per day. The last time that the city saw no Covid death was on March 2. The city's total toll so far is 25,027.However,thosewhodied athome,whentheywereunable to get hospital beds during the peak of the second wave in April andMay,arenotpartof thistally. The cumulative case fatality ratio is 1.7%. According to Delhi government data, there are 592 active CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NEW DELHI, JULY 18 THREEEDITORSof theTheIndian Express — two current and one former — are among the over 40 journalists whose phone numbers figure in a leaked list of potential targets of surveillance by an “unidentified agency,” using the Pegasus spyware, online news portal The Wire reported Sunday. Its report was part of a global investigation by 17 media organisations drawing on data was accessed by Paris-based Forbidden Stories. The numbers of Deputy Editor Muzamil Jaleel, who reports on Jammu and Kashmir and internal security, and Senior Assistant Editor Ritika Chopra, who covers the Election Commission and the Ministry of Education, appear in the leaked records. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CHANDIGARH, NEW DELHI, JULY 18 NEW DELHI, JULY 18 ON THE eve of the Monsoon Session, while the government said Prime Minister Narendra Modiwouldbrieffloorleaderson TuesdayontheCovid-19situation and its vaccination programme, the Opposition rejected the offer, saying he should address the issue on the floor of the House. Thegovernment'soffer,which MONSOON SESSION: OPP TORAISE FUEL PRICE,FARMERS’ STIR, COVID PAGE 3 comesamidseverecriticismover itshandlingofthesecondwaveof thepandemic,wasannouncedby Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi at an allparty meeting convened by the Centre on Sunday. Alleging a “highly irregular” move to “bypass” norms, the Opposition questioned the need to hold a briefing outside the HouseatatimewhenParliament would be in session. “We have not got any invitation, but why should there be a separate closed-door meeting when Parliament is in session? CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 KOLKATA, JULY 18 ON MAY 2, the results had just started showing signs of Trinamool returning to power when the men arrived, going housetohouse,ransackingthem, breaking some. By the end of the day,40familiesofacolonylocated on KPC Medical College grounds in Jadavpur had fled. All BJP supporters or workers, they say TMC threatshavekeptthemawaytwoand-a-half months later. Recently, when a team of the NHRC,investigatingpost-pollvi- olence in Bengal on the orders of the Calcutta High Court, visited thearea,theywerechasedaway, allegedly by TMC supporters -bringing to limelight one of the incidents the BJP has been highlighting in the state. In its report, the NHRC accused the Mamata Banerjee government of turning a blind eye to the violence. Of the 40 families, only eight agreed to meet with The Indian Express at their new locations, while two others spoke over the phone. Two families met by the roadside,sayingtheywereafraid of giving away where they were. Many claimed they had approached police but it didn't CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Celebrations in Patiala over Sidhu’s appointment. PTI BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY Congress president Pawan Goel is a Hindu; while Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra is seenasRahulGandhi'seartothe ground. While Gilzian has been publicly critical of the CM recently, Danny was considered close to him. Goel is the son of Congress leader Bhagwan Dass, who was assassinated during Punjab militancy. He had invited their ire by removing a turban from his head and tying it on then prime CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 DEUBAWINSVOTE UK’SJOHNSONTO OFCONFIDENCEIN SEL-ISOLATEAFTER NEPALPARLIAMENT COVID-19CONTACT PAGE 9 Cryptocurrency bank plans India operation, takes cooperative route to get round RBI rules GEORGE MATHEW & SUNNY VERMA MUMBAI, JULY 18 TRAGEDY STRIKES Rescuers at the site of a wall collapse that killed 19 people in Chembur, Mumbai. At least 32 people died as heavy rainfall hit the city early Sunday morning. Amit Chakravarty REPORTP3 No let-up in Covid, Kerala yields to pressure, relaxes curbs for Bakrid SHAJU PHILIP THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JULY 18 BJP supporter Mana Adhikari’s house in KMC Medical College grounds is now rubble. Partha Paul IN A SURPRISE move at the end of a day where the Amarinder Singh camp got all the Congress Lok Sabha MPs from Punjab and several MLAs to plead his case, thehighcommandSundaynight announced Navjot Singh Sidhu as the new PCC chief. It also named four working presidentsasaplacatorygesture towards Amarinder, who fought fiercely against Sidhu's appointment, before finally conceding and saying the latter should at leastapologisepubliclyforhisdiatribe against his government. Finally, the top Congress leadership didn't allow the Chief Minister either. Amarinder was also ignored on the choice for working presidents. He had reportedly suggested four names for working presidents and PCC chief — Cabinet minister Vijay Inder Singla, Raj Kumar Chabbewal, Tarsem D C and Ajit Inder Singh Mofar. In its choice, the Congress tried to even the scales as far as caste and religious dynamics go — one of the contentions of the Amarindercamp was thatSidhu wasaJatSikhliketheCM,andhis appointment would alienate Hindus. Among the new working presidents, Tanda Urmur MLA Sangat Singh Gilzian is a backward class leader; Jandiala Guru MLA Sukhwinder Singh Danny belongs to a Scheduled Caste; former Faridkot district WORLD House to house, eight times in two months, 40 families say on the run OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALLIST & MEMBER OF IOC’S ATHLETES COMMISSION PAGE 1 ANCHOR LIZ MATHEW & MANOJ CG POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE ‘Don’t know how Olympics will transpire. Must go in with open mind. Protocols in place, but will they be enough? Don’t know’ ABHINAV BINDRA PAGE 8 Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay after the all-party meeting in Parliament on Sunday. Prem Nath Pandey AN EXPRESS SERIES PART-3 RAVIK BHATTACHARYA, ATRI MITRA & SWEETY KUMARI 4workingpresidents;noneof CM’schoice KANCHAN VASDEV & MANOJ C G First time CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 since March 2, Delhi sees Express journalists among Govt offers PM briefing on Covid to day with no over 40 on list of targets floor leaders; come to House: Opp Covid death GOVT & POLITICS KRISHN KAUSHIK Amarinder rebuffed as Sidhu is named Punjab Cong chief AMIDST CONSISTENTLY high Covid-19 cases in Kerala, the PinarayiVijayangovernmenthas given in to pressure and lifted lockdown restrictions for three days for celebration of Bakrid, which falls on July 21. Even in lo- calbodieswherethetestpositivity rate has been steadily above 15%, restrictions have been waived for a day on Monday to enable people to go for festival shopping. Of 4.25-lakh active Covid cases in the country, Kerala accounts for 1.25 lakh. The state's share in national daily cases has been consistently around 35%. The Indian Medical Association criticised the government decision as "unwarranted and inappropriate at the time of a medical emergency". "When many northern states like J&K, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchalhavestopped,witha constructive sense of public safety, the traditional and pilgrimyatras,itisunfortunatethat the learned state of Kerala has CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 ATAtimewhentheReserveBank of India (RBI) frowns on private virtualcurrencies,theproposalof cryptocurrency bank Cashaa to launch banking operations in Indiaforcustomersofvirtualcurrencies like Bitcoin from August, through the credit co-operative society route, has raised eyebrows in financial circles. Cashaa says it has launched Unicas, the world’s first cryptofriendlyfinancialinstitutionwith physicalbranchesinIndiainassociationwiththeUnitedMultistate Credit Co-operative Society. It allows services for both crypto and fiat(currencies)fromasinglesavingsaccount,Cashaafounderand CEO Kumar Gaurav said. The “bank” has ambitious planstoextendloanstobuycryptocurrenciesandopensavingsaccountsforcustomers.Thegovernmentisalsoplanningtobringina E EXPLAINED MONDAY, JULY 19, 2021, JAIPUR, LATE CITY, 12 PAGES Alleyes onGovt ● REGULATION OF cryptocurrencies and their acceptance has been a matter of debate, with its proponents vouching for their virtues even as central banks remain sceptical. The government is yet to decide on introduction of a cryptocurrency regulation, leaving investors uncertain. law to regulate cryptocurrencies. Asked whether the firm has sought RBI's permission to launch a “bank”, Gaurav said United is a multistate credit cooperativesocietywhichis“registered and works under the Registrar of Societies”. “As we give services to members only, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 MP plans bridge module as studies show students far behind grade IRAM SIDDIQUE BHOPAL, JULY 18 IT WASN'T easy but Sitaram Dewar, 40, a farmer owning 10 acres in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh, put together some money to buy a mobile phone last year so that his daughter Neetu, entering Class 9, and son Ashish, a grade younger, could follow the online classes being conducted by their government schools. Still, to Dewar's worry, Ashish is now struggling in basic math, which he once excelled at. After a study across five states by the Azim Premji Foundation confirmed findings of its own Rajya Shiksha Kendra regarding the alarming regression in learning among students over the year of the pandemic and school shutdowns, the Madhya Pradesh government is set to roll out a course to make up the gap. Starting August 1, a basic learning module, split into three parts, would be covered over four months, so that students can be brought up to their grade should, as expected, all classes start by then. When Covid forced schools to shut down, the state government had made course material available online, as well as over TV and radio transmissions. However, the inadequacy of this compared to in-person teaching was shown by an Azim Premji Foundation study in January 2021 to assess the foundation abilitiesof studentscomparedto their previous class. Released in February, it said that about 92% of children had regressed in one particularlanguageabilityacross all classes while the regression in mathematical skills was seen among 82% of them. The foundation covered 16,067 government school students,including1,767inMadhya Pradesh.Itsubmitteditsfindings COVID AND CLASSROOM AZIM PREMJI FOUNDATION FINDINGS: 92% of children regressed in one particular language ability, 82% in math skills MP GOVT’S RAJYA SHIKSHA KENDRA FINDINGS: Of 80 lakh govt school students up to Class 8, only 30.9% could access material over WhatsApp, 25% over TV, 12% over radio UNICEF FINDINGS: Nearly 60% govt school students did The learning module is to be covered over four months not use any remote learning material, 40% parents struggled to pay for Internet recharge Jaipur to theCentre, which later shared them with states. Ashok Prateek, Deputy Directorof RajyaShikshaKendra (RSK), says till then they had no scientific study to show the effect of school shutdowns on the 80 lakh-odd government school students in the state till Class 8. "The findings matched the feedback we had received from our field officers." It was then that the idea for a bridge course was formalised. A body under the Madhya Pradesh Education Department, the RSK looks after elementaryeducation,aswellas the State Council for Education Research and Training, Shiksha Mission and adult education. An internal assessment by the RSK had also shown that while textbooks reached 98% of the 80 lakh government school students till Class 8, only 30.9% could access material over WhatsAppduringthelockdown, while the figure for radio and TV was 12% and 25% respectively. While the government had announced mohalla classes to reach such students, these faced practical challenges. Preeti Dawar, a middle-school governmentteacherinAlirajpurdistrict, points out that during the first lockdown even transport was CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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