7. Is it time to reopen schools?

7. Is it time to reopen schools?
7. Is it time to reopen schools?
  • An appeal: In a direct appeal to parents, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that the risk posed to children from the coronavirus is very small and being kept away from classrooms any longer would be far more damaging to their well-being. His appeal comes as different parts of the country prepare for the end of the summer break and the start of a new school term.
  • A study: A study carried out by Public Health England has concluded that coronavirus infections in schools are “rare” and that “children were more likely to acquire SARS-CoV-2 infection at home than in school”. Read more here
  • In India: The fourth phase of unlock begins from September 1 but the government is yet to announce guidelines. Some experts have argued in favour of opening schools saying the poor who may not have facilities to access online education are missing out on education. However, 62% of the parents who took part in a survey by LocalCircles said even if governments reopen schools, they won’t send their children to attend classes.

In Supreme Court: Prashant Bhushan contempt case, plea against Central Vista project; NIA to file chargesheet in Pulwama attack; Taliban delegation in Pakistan ahead of intra-Afghan talks; Melania Trump to speak at US Republican Party national convention; England vs Pakistan, 2nd Test, Southampton, Day 5

1. Congress stays with Sonia, for now
1. Congress stays with Sonia, for now
  • After a marathon seven-hour meeting, the Congress Working Committee on Monday decided that Sonia Gandhi would remain the party’s interim president for now. A new chief will be elected within the next 6 months following an All India Congress Committee session that will start the process.
  • At the meeting, which took place in the backdrop of more than 20 top party leaders seeking an immediate organisational overhaul and an “active, full-time and visible” president, Gandhi is said to have offered to quit but was requested to stay on.
  • Reports said former president Rahul Gandhi launched a sharp attack at the signatories of the letter and questioned its timing as it came at a time when the party was dealing with the political crisis in Rajasthan and Sonia Gandhi was unwell.
  • Sonia is the longest-serving Congress president with a 19-year continuous stint (1998 to 2017) and then another year as its interim president after Rahul Gandhi resigned from the post following the party’s defeat in the 2019 general elections. More details here
2. States aren’t Atmanirbhar
2. States aren’t Atmanirbhar
State governments are the “most vulnerable” as they have limited source of tax revenue, and hence require “an immediate fiscal support” from the central government, the State Bank of India’s chief economic adviser said in a report.

  • The losses: The lockdown and the Covid-19 related slowdown means state governments (20 states were considered) are staring at a loss of Rs 53,000 crore in VAT, excise and stamp duty. Add to this the loss in SGST (intra-state GST component), the losses rise to Rs 1.2 lakh crore in the first quarter. For the financial year 2021, the overall losses are estimated to be around Rs 3 lakh crore. The revenue loss of states from the centre is estimated to be Rs 1.5 lakh crore. Add this and slippages rise to Rs 4.5 lakh crore.
  • A fight: The state governments are at the forefront of the fight against pandemic. There are already signs of the cash crunch impacting Covid response of some states. The research note estimates an additional expenditure of Rs 1.7 lakh crore by states to fight the pandemic. Adding this, states are facing slippages of around Rs 6 lakh crore.
  • A support deficit: To allow the state governments to cover up, the centre had earlier allowed them to borrow a higher amount of 5% of state GDP instead of the upper limit of 3% state GDP. This gives states a support of Rs 4.28 lakh crore. But the report says only 8 of 20 states meet the criteria set by the centre to access this additional 2%, which means only Rs 3.13 lakh crore is estimated to be borrowed.
  • A solution: The centre could transfer the full amount of Rs 54,000 crore from the State Disaster Response Fund and the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), and at least 50% of the remaining Rs 2.5 lakh crore through further hike in WMA (ways and means advances) limits, the report said.
  • Watch out: The GST Council meets this Thursday (Aug 27).
3. Prashant Bhushan won’t apologise for tweets
3. Prashant Bhushan won't apologise for tweets
  • Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan refused to offer an apology to the Supreme Court on Monday for his two tweets (below) against the judiciary.
PRashant 2
PRashant 1

  • “If I retract a statement before this court that I otherwise believe to be true or offer an insincere apology that in my eyes would amount to the contempt of my conscience and of an institution that I hold in highest esteem,” he said in his supplementary statement filed in the top court.
  • The apex court on August 14 had held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for the two tweets and on August 20 granted him time till August 24 to reconsider his “defiant statement” refusing to apologise.
  • Bhushan faces simple imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Rs 2,000 or both as punishment.
4. Bomb attacks kill 14 in Philippines
4. Bomb attacks kill 14 in Philippines
  • Suspected Islamic militants set off two bombs in the town of Jolo in southern Philippines on Monday, killing 14 and injuring at least 75 soldiers and civilians. The first bomb was attached to a motorcycle parked near two army trucks, the regional military commander said. A second blast nearby, apparently from a female suicide attacker, occurred about an hour later. A third, unexploded bomb was reportedly found in a public market.
  • Jolo is the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a militant group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Southern Philippines is home to minority Muslims in the largely Roman Catholic nation and has been the scene of decades of separatist unrest.
5. Name Haryana’s first-ever non-Jat chief minister.
  • Clue 1: He was born in Nindana village in then East Punjab’s Rohtak district .
  • Clue 2: In the Haryana Assembly election held in October last year, he had retained his Karnal seat.
  • Clue 3: He succeeded Bhupinder Singh Hooda as the 10th CM of Haryana.

Scroll below for answer

6. A fourth of global cases last week was from India
6. A fourth of global cases last week was from India
  • Overall, India has a 13% share in Covid-19 cases in the world so far.

Monday’s count:

  • Cases: 59,041, seven-day low
  • Deaths: 848 deaths, lowest daily toll since Aug 4

  • Unlock 4.0: Metro rail services, suspended for over five months due to Covid, may resume from September 1, with the home ministry contemplating excluding these from the list of prohibited activities under Unlock 4.0. However, schools and colleges are likely to remain shut in view of fears that these may end up as potential clusters for Covid transmission. Cinema halls and multiplexes may also have to wait for longer.

Capture 2

  • Alert: An apparently young and healthy 33-year-old patient had a second case of Covid infection four and a half months after the first episode, University of Hong Kong researchers said on Monday. The first confirmed case of coronavirus reinfection suggests that immunity to the virus may last only a few months in some people. And it has implications for vaccines being developed.
8. Many feared trapped as building collapses in Raigad
8. Many feared trapped as building collapses in Raigad
  • One person was killed and at least 80 people were trapped under debris when a multi-storey building collapsed in Raigad, Maharashtra, on Monday. The building, constructed in 2011, comprises 47 apartments housing over 200 people.
  • The rescue teams extricated nearly 60 people by 11 pm Monday; 30 suffered minor injuries. The building started trembling at around 6 pm before its pillars collapsed. Details here
9. A resolution against Adani takeover
9. A resolution against Adani takeover
  • The Kerala state assembly on Monday passed a “unanimous resolution” opposing the 50-year lease of Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Enterprises. The BJP said its lone representative in the House was “not allowed to speak”.
  • Also on Monday: The opposition UDF moved a no-confidence motion — the first such in the state in 15 years — against the LDF government led by CM Pinarayi Vijayan, allowing it to submit a “charge sheet” against the government on the gold smuggling racket, the airport scenario and an alleged corruption in a housing scheme. The motion was defeated 87-40 after a marathon nine-hour discussion.
10. IPL loses another sponsor
10. IPL loses another sponsor
  • Retail conglomerate Future Group has pulled out from IPL’s central sponsorship pool, with the company reportedly on the verge of a takeover and having suffered losses due to the pandemic. “Future Group has pulled out of IPL central sponsorship and that’s the reason their logo has been removed from the IPL website,” a BCCI veteran told PTI.
  • More brand exits? Daikin Air-Conditioning, which had been the principal sponsor for the Delhi franchise since 2015, had earlier pulled out of IPL 2020. However, the Delhi franchise managed to rope in JSW Group as a replacement.
  • With the title sponsorship amount reduced to nearly half (from Vivo’s Rs 440 crore deal to Dream11’s Rs 222) and subsequent pullouts, the teams are set to get lesser than what they were earning earlier. In fact, franchises are staring at an imminent Rs 20 crore loss in sponsorship this year and most brands are re-negotiating deals.
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Manohar Lal Khattar. Haryana’s chief minister on Monday tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the third CM after his counterparts in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and BS Yediyurappa, to contract the virus. Earlier in the day, state Health Minister Anil Vij said Assembly Speaker Gian Chand Gupta and two MLAs also tested positive, PTI reported.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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