COVID-19: SC dismisses plea for direction against identifying persons based on religion

Agencies
September 25, 2020

New Delhi, Sept 25: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking directions to the Centre, Delhi government and others not to identify persons based on religion, caste, community and religious identity with regard to COVID-19 related information.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan refused to entertain the plea which had sought directions to the authorities concerned to stop the dissemination of information of coronavirus or other epidemic disease on the basis of religion, caste, community, religious identity or communal classification.

The plea, filed by two Delhi-based residents, also sought directions to the authorities to identify persons, organisations, websites and media houses who have either authored, shared and aided in circulation of such information.

It said the authorities should immediately block such websites and remove the offending materials on the internet and take action under the Information Technology Act against those who are spreading communal hatred, creating problem for public order.

The plea referred to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in March this year and said the incident had made national headline and certain section of media, instead of exercising restraint, reported it with "communal colour".

"It was thus apparent that the unfortunate incident of the Tablighi Jamaat was being used to demonise and blame the entire Muslim community and this Tablighi Jamaat story is just another way of the government to distract with its own policy failures," the plea had alleged.

At least 9,000 people had participated in the religious gathering at Tablighi Jamaat's headquarters in Nizamuddin West here in March and it was alleged that the congregation became a key source for spread of COVID-19 in India as many of the participants had travelled to various parts of the country for missionary works.

The plea had also claimed that several videos and fake news were circulated on different social media platforms which resulted in "vilification" of the Muslim community because of its religious identity.

What came as an utter shock was that "Arvind Kejriwal in the capacity of chief minister of Delhi supported such reporting by the medium of his tweets and other modes by naming affected cases deliberately as a separate caption 'Masjid Markaz'," it alleged.

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News Network
October 22,2020

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New Delhi, Oct 22: With a spike of 55,838 new COVID-19 cases and 702 deaths in the last 24 hours, India's COVID-19 count crossed 77-lakh mark and reached 77,06,946 on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

As per the MoHFW, the COVID-19 count includes 7,15,812 active cases (dip by 24,278 since yesterday) and 68,74,518 cured/discharged/migrated cases (rise by 79,415 since yesterday). With 702 deaths in the last 24 hours, the total death count due to the disease has reached 1,16,616.

"On the global scale, India continues to report one of the lowest cases/million population. With consistently falling CASE FATALITY RATE (1.51% presently), it also has one of the lowest #COVID19 mortality," Ministry of Health said in a tweet attaching pictures of two graphs.

In graph 1, the ministry highlighted the COVID-19 cases per million population in last 7 days, according to which there were 321 cases per million population in the last 7 days in the world, India-297, Brazil-692, Russia-723, Spain-819 and USA-1,195.

In graph 2, the ministry put out the data of deaths due to COVID-19 per million population, according to which there were 143 deaths per million population in the world, India-84, Russia-169, France-511, UK-644 and USA-660.

With 1,59,346 total active cases, Maharashtra continues to be the worst affected state by COVID-19 in the country. While 14,15,679 patients have recovered from the disease in the state, 42,633 have died so far.

Among other severely affected states, Karnataka has 1,00,459 active cases, while 6,71,618 people have recovered, 10,696 have succumbed to the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a total of 9,86,70,363 samples have been tested in the country for COVID-19 till Wednesday. This includes 14,69,984 samples tested on October 21.

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News Network
October 14,2020

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Hyderabad, Oct 14: A man is seen being swept away by the rampaging floodwater in a dramatic visual that has emerged from Hyderabad, one of the worst affected districts in Telangana that has been witnessing heavy rain for the last three days. It is not clear whether the man has been rescued.

In the dramatic video shot in Barkas, near Falaknuma, the man is seen being swept away by the strong currents of the rainwater as efforts are made to save him. The man tries to grab hold of a pole that comes in the path but fails as he is pushed by the strong currents. Two people standing at an elevated path are seen watching helplessly amid screams by locals who try to save the man. A tyre tube -- possibly thrown to save him from drowning -- is also seen being swept away in the currents.

Dramatic visuals of vehicles being swept away by strong currents of rainwater have also emerged from Hyderabad. Many areas in the state capital have received 20 cm rains in the last 24 hours, news agency ANI reported quoting Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar.

Fifteen people, including a two-month-old, have died in rain-related incident in Hyderabad in last 24 hours. Nine people died after a compound wall collapsed and fell on 10 houses due to heavy rain late last night.

The weather department, in its latest forecast -- valid from 8.30 am on October 14 till 8.30 am on October 15, has predicted heavy to very heavy rain at isolated places over Telangana.

The rains were triggered by a deep depression over the west-central Bay of Bengal leading to heavy rains across several districts of Telangana, according to the weather department.

The depression over western parts of Telangana, the weather department has predicted, will move west northwestwards and gradually weaken into a well-marked, low-pressure area in the next 12 hours."Depression over western parts of Telangana near latitude 17.7degN and longitude 78.1degE, about 50 km west of Hyderabad (Telangana) is a potential cause of the sudden outpour of rainwater in the city and surrounding areas. This depression will move west northwestwards and gradually weaken into a well-marked, low-pressure area in the next 12 hours," according to the IMD.

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News Network
October 13,2020

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New Delhi, Oct 13: The prolonged closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic in India may cause a loss of over $400 billion in the country’s future earnings, besides substantial learning losses, according to a World Bank report.

South Asia region stands to lose $622 billion from the school closures in the present scenario or up to $880 billion in a more pessimistic scenario, it said, adding while the regional loss is largely driven by India, all countries will lose substantial shares of their GDP.

The report titled “Beaten or Broken? Informality and COVID-19 in South Asia” claims that South Asia is set to plunge into its worst-ever recession in 2020 as the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the region’s economies linger.

“Temporary school closures in all South Asian countries have had major implications for students. They have kept 391 million students out of school in primary and secondary education, further complicating efforts to resolve the learning crisis, said the report.

While most governments have made enormous efforts to mitigate the impact of school closures, it has been difficult to engage children through remote learning initiatives,” it said.

The report also noted that the pandemic may cause up to 5.5 million students to drop out from the education system and cause substantial learning losses, which will have a lifetime impact on the productivity of a generation of students.

“Most school systems closed in March, and — though there are important exceptions — countries are starting to reopen or have already opened their schools. Children have been out of school for approximately 5 months. Being out of school for that long means that children not only stop learning new things, they also forget some of what they have learned. The projected learning loss for the region is 0.5 years of learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS), falling from 6.5 LAYS to 6.0 LAYS, an enormous setback from recent advances in schooling,” it said.

The Learning Adjusted Year of Schooling’ (LAYS) concept, introduced by the World Bank, seeks to combine access and learning outcomes into a single measure.

It combines quantity (years of schooling) and quality (how much kids know at a given grade level) into a single summary measure of human capital in a society.

The report has projected that based on country data on household labor incomes, the average child in South Asia may lose $4,400 in lifetime earnings once having entered the labour market, equivalent to 5 percent of total earnings.

“These projections are based on what we currently know about returns to schooling, using the reduced level of learning caused by the crisis. Summing these numbers for all children in South Asia, the region stands to lose $622 billion from the school closures in the present scenario, or up to $880 billion in a more pessimistic scenario.

“While the regional loss is largely driven by India, all countries will lose substantial shares of their GDP. For reference, note that South Asian governments spend only $400 billion per year in total on primary and secondary education. The total loss in economic output from the current closures is hence substantially higher than what countries currently spend on education,” it said.

The novel corona virus has infected over 3.7 crore people across the globe claiming over 10.5 lakh lives.

India’s COVID-19 caseload stands at 71.2 lakhs while the death toll is 1.09 lakh as on Monday.Universities and schools across the country were ordered shut on March 16 to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. On March 25, the Centre announced a nationwide lockdown. While several restrictions have been eased gradually in different phases of the ‘unlock’ since June 8, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

However, according to the latest unlock guidelines, schools, colleges and other educational institutions outside COVID-19 containment zones can reopen after October 15. The final decision on reopening the institutions has been left with the states and Union territories.

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