41 killed in Holi related violence, mishaps in Bihar; 3 children charred to death

coastaldigest.com news network
March 30, 2021

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Patna, Mar 30:  At least 41 persons were killed in different incidents, including group clashes and road accidents, during Holi in Bihar on Monday.

Five were killed in Patna reportedly due to personal enmity, while three children were charred to death in Gaya during the ‘Holika dahan’ event on Sunday night, said sources. They were cremated on Monday.

Three persons were shot dead in a clash over a land dispute in Madhubani, while six of a family died after their car collided with a truck near Gopalganj. The family was travelling to Bihar from Delhi to celebrate Holi with other family members.

Four were killed in two road mishaps in Samastipur reportedly due to drunk driving.

A woman in Buxar was shot when she opposed the vulgar Bhojpuri songs being played by some youths during Holi. One of the revelers shot her in the leg.

“The firing incident took place due to playing of obscene songs. We are investigating the matter,” said the DSP of Buxar, Gorakh Ram.

In another incident, a truck rammed into a sweet shop in Nalanda killing six people on the spot. They were making purchases for the Holi festival.

Two were killed in Sitamarhi a motorcycles accident and three persons, on motorcycles, died in Katihar in road accidents.

Police sources said two persons each were killed in Buxar, Jehanabad and Vaishali, while one person was killed in Lakhisarai when a pick-up van overturned. Three persons were killed in a road accident in Kaimur.

Even though Bihar has been declared a ‘dry’ state, drunk driving was reported on the occasion of Holi leading to several road accidents. At some places, clashes were reported ostensibly due to the forthcoming panchayat election in the state.

Meanwhile, six children were burnt alive in Araria after their huts caught fire when they were roasting corn.

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Agencies
May 6,2021

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United Nations, May 6: At least 155 million people faced acute hunger in 2020, including 133,000 who needed urgent food to prevent widespread death from starvation -- and the outlook for 2021 is equally grim or worse, a report by 16 organizations said Wednesday.

The report, which focuses on 55 countries that account for 97% of humanitarian assistance, said the magnitude and severity of food crises last year worsened as a result of protracted conflicts, the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, and weather extremes that exacerbated “pre-existing fragilities.”

The 155 million people faced “crisis," “emergency" or “catastrophe/famine" levels of food needs, an increase of around 20 million people from 2019, it said.

According to the report, two-thirds of the people in those crisis levels were in 10 countries -- Congo, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, northern Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Haiti. The 133,000 facing starvation, death and destitution were in Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Yemen.

“The number of people facing acute food insecurity and requiring urgent food, nutrition and livelihoods assistance is on the rise,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in the forward to the 307-page Global Report on Food Crises.

“There is no place for famine and starvation in the 21st century,” he said. “We need to tackle hunger and conflict together to solve either.”

Arif Husain, the World Food Program's chief economist, said at a UN news conference for the release of the fifth annual report that the biggest driver of food crises is conflict, which accounted for 99 million people in 23 countries facing a food crisis last year.

“Unless we start finding political solutions to conflicts,” the number of people needing humanitarian assistance will keep increasing, he said.

According to the report, 40.5 million people in 17 countries faced acute food insecurity last year because of “economic shocks” including the fallout from the pandemic.

First and foremost, Husain pointed to declining incomes as a result of the 255 million jobs lost in the pandemic — “four times more than the financial crisis” in 2008. He also expressed concern that the amount of debt taken on by countries large and small to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus “has exploded.”

Dominique Burgeon, director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's office in Geneva, said 60% to 80% of the 155 million people facing acute food insecurity depend on agriculture, but last year FAO was able to assist only about 30%.

The report presented some other grim statistics from 2020: 75.2 million children under 5 years old living in the 55 countries were “stunted” in their growth and 15.8 million were “wasted,” or underweight for their height.

In terms of the prevalence of people facing a crisis, emergency or famine levels of food needs, the report said Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria had more than half their analyzed populations at the crisis level or worse, and five countries -- Afghanistan, Haiti, Lesotho, Yemen and Zimbabwe -- had between 40% and 45% of their populations at those levels.

Looking to 2021, the report said, “food crises are becoming increasingly protracted and the ability to recover from new adverse events is becoming more difficult.”

“Conflict, the Covid-19 pandemic, and large-scale economic crises are expected to extend food-crisis situations in 2021, necessitating continuing large-scale humanitarian assistance,” it said.

The report made forecasts based on 40 of the 55 countries, saying those for the other 15 countries weren't available.

It said over 142 million people in those 40 countries are forecast to face food crises, emergencies or catastrophes this year. Around 155,000 people are likely to face “catastrophe/famine" through mid-2021 — around 108,000 in South Sudan and 47,000 in Yemen, the report said.

WFP's Husain said, for example, that providing one single meal per day for a year for 34 million people would cost about $5 billion, saying that the most critical needs are funding and humanitarian access.

“Without that, we won't be able to save lives,” he said.

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News Network
May 7,2021

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Male, May 7: The Maldives speaker of parliament and former president, Mohamed Nasheed, was in critical care on Friday after being severely wounded in a bomb blast outside his home, hospital authorities said, in what police are treating as a terrorist attack.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for Thursday's explosion in the capital Male that has revived security concerns in the Indian Ocean islands, known for luxury resorts but which have also faced political unrest and Islamist militant violence.

Nasheed, the Maldives first democratically elected president who is now parliament speaker, had previously warned about militants infiltrating the Islamic country. He was getting into his car when the blast occurred.

Local media said the explosion was caused by a device planted on a motorcycle parked near his car.

Doctors operated to remove shrapnel from Nasheed, who is now in critical condition in intensive care, ADK hospital said.

"Over the course of the past 16 hours he had life-saving surgery on injuries to his head, chest, abdomen and limbs," the hospital said in a statement.

In 2015, former president Abdulla Yameen escaped unharmed after an explosion on his speedboat. In 2007, a blast that was blamed on Islamist militants targeted foreign tourists and injured 12 people.

Police Commissioner Mohamed Hameed said 450 officers had been deployed to investigate the latest incident.

"We are treating this as a terrorist attack," he told a news conference, adding that the national security threat level had been raised to its highest rating of 3.

The government is seeking technical support from foreign partners in the case. A team from the Australian Federal Police is expected to join the investigation on Monday.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a close ally of Nasheed, said Thursday's blast was an attack on nation's democracy and its economy.

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Agencies
May 8,2021

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After dipping into his savings to weather India’s snap pandemic lockdown last March, Manoj Kumar was just getting his head above water again earning 600 rupees ($8) a day as a construction worker in the tourist hotspot of Goa. He’d squirreled away enough for a trip last month to his native village in Bihar some 1,490 miles away for a wedding. He’s still there, stuck in one of the nation’s least developed states, as a fierce second Covid-19 wave triggers the world’s worst health crisis and prevents his return.

On a lucky day, he’ll land some odd jobs that fetch him as much as 300 rupees. But there aren’t too many of those chores left. So he’s taking loans to feed and clothe his wife and three kids.

“It is all in God’s hands now,” said Kumar, who’s told his wife to curtail spending on items such as lentils, cooking oil and clothes. “I don’t know when I will return. My family is worried and doesn’t want me to go back as the cases are also rising in Goa.”

Kumar, 40, is one of the millions of migrant workers who form part of India’s vast unreported informal sector, which accounts for half of its $2.9 trillion, domestic demand-driven economy.

A protracted Covid-19 wave is shrinking incomes and wiping out savings of people like Kumar, posing the risk of a double whammy for Asia’s third-largest economy that’s still struggling to recover from last year’s pandemic-induced recession.

The government estimates India’s gross domestic product shrank 8% in the year ended March, its biggest contraction since 1952.

Many economists are cutting their forecasts for the current fiscal year as rising unemployment and dwindling savings dim the chances of a double-digit growth. Shaun Roache, chief economist for Asia Pacific at S&P Global Ratings, slashed his prediction to 9.8% from 11% earlier.

Fitch Solutions sees the economy expanding by 9.5%, a projection that’s below the Bloomberg consensus of around 11%. “A drawn-out Covid-19 outbreak will impede India’s economic recovery,” Singapore-based Roache said.

 “The country already faces a permanent loss of output versus its pre-pandemic path, suggesting a long-term production deficit equivalent to about 10% of GDP.”

With the latest surge caused by a new coronavirus strain, total infections in India have risen to 21.5 million, a third of which were added just in the past three weeks alone.

Experts have warned the crisis has the potential to worsen in the coming weeks, with one model predicting as many as 1,018,879 deaths by the end of July, quadrupling from the current official count of 234,083.

Harsh and Sudden

As new travel restrictions are put in place in some of the nation’s biggest economic centers to contain the outbreak, India’s poor are likely to bear the brunt again, just as they did in 2020.

They have yet to recover from the lockdown ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in late March last year. The harsh and sudden measure sparked an exodus of migrant workers from cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi, as they trekked hundreds of miles to reach home.

People like Kumar typically work without contracts and often for a pittance. The so-called informal economy in India employs approximately 411 million workers, according to calculations by Jeemol Unni, a professor of economics at Ahmedabad University, who relied on surveys by the government’s National Statistical Office to arrive at the number.

While the low-paying farm sector employs the bulk of them, construction comes second with about 56 million.

Unprotected by unions and politicians, these laborers often miss out on handouts from governments. After meeting daily expenses, they are left with little to pay for health care and medicines -- a risky situation especially when a pathogen is taking lives and sending thousands to intensive care at overcrowded hospitals running short of beds.

Dip in Savings

Economists warn depleting household savings and falling incomes will have an impact on domestic consumption, which accounts for almost 60% of GDP. A study by Nikhil Gupta, an economist at Mumbai-based brokerage Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd., found that India’s household savings dropped to 22.1% of GDP in the quarter through December, from 28.1% in the three months ended June last year. Full-year numbers show India’s savings growth lagged behind the likes of the US, the UK and Japan, he said.

“A slower rise in household savings, coupled with similar or slower decline in consumption, confirms weak income growth in India,” Gupta said. “If so, the contribution of pent-up demand in growth recovery would also be limited in India compared with other nations.”

Data showed April jobless rate increased to nearly 8% from 6.5% in March, with more than seven million exiting the workforce last month, according to data from Center for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt., a private research firm.
 
As a result of all the turmoil that started last year, income inequality is deepening in India. A study by Pew Research Center has shown an estimated 75 million people slipped into poverty since the pandemic began. The second wave is set to crush some more. For the study, Pew considered daily incomes of 150 rupees or less as poor, 151 to 750 rupees as low income and 3,750 rupees and above as high income.

A study by the Azim Premji University in Bangalore showed even more alarming numbers. About 230 million individuals slid below the national daily minimum wage threshold of 375 rupees during the pandemic, it said.

Though India could still emerge as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, it will also be one of the most unequal countries, Oxfam, a non-profit organization said.

Duvvuri Subbarao, a former governor of India’s central bank, said the strife faced by the informal-economy workers could hurt India’s long-term growth prospects. “Inequalities have intensified because the formal sector has nearly normalized while the informal sector remains distressed,” he said.

Slower growth would be bad news for workers like A.K. Singh, who was a cook for a monthly salary of about 20,000 rupees in a restaurant in Mumbai. He fled recently to his home town of Gorakhpur in northern India to start a tire business, for which he’s waiting for a loan.

“I used some of my savings and money I received from my last salary,” he said. “But there’s a lockdown here too for the past week. My shop was hardly open for two days during the week. What will we earn out of that?
 

Comments

MOHAMED S SULTAN
 - 
Saturday, 8 May 2021

Keep this actor away from administration.

At least please remember not to allow him or any one like him to sit on the responsible seat.
There is another dangerous guy is so called Yogi.

Identify those guys to blacklist from cheating you again

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