Home >News >Business Of Life >Mint Lite | Amit Shah, air quality, Mahatma Gandhi likely on UK money & others

Union home minister Amit Shah went into hospital on Sunday after testing positive for covid-19, even as the country recorded close to 55,000 new cases and crossed the 17-lakh mark. In three days, India’s caseload has risen by more than 1.5 lakh. In the last 24 hours, more than 850 people have died due to the novel coronavirus, pushing the death toll to 37,364. Of the 17,50,724 cases, 5.6 lakh are active cases, while more than 11 lakh have recovered. For the rest of the national and world news, here’s Mint Lite.

Our role in forest fires

Researchers from Indian Institute of Remote Sensing in Dehradun have recorded an 83% decline in the number of forest fires in the western Himalayas during two months of the nationwide lockdown
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Researchers from Indian Institute of Remote Sensing in Dehradun have recorded an 83% decline in the number of forest fires in the western Himalayas during two months of the nationwide lockdown

Researchers from Indian Institute of Remote Sensing in Dehradun have recorded an 83% decline in the number of forest fires in the western Himalayas during two months of the nationwide lockdown. March to June is usually the peak season for forest fires, but despite the heat wave, there was a decline in blazes. The researchers, who published the results in Current Science, say this is more proof that humans are one of the main causes of forest fires in the region. Of the 7lakh sq.km of forests that India has, 21.4% is prone to forest fires, says the Forest Survey of India. Fires in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest increased 28% in July from a year ago, shows government data. It recorded 6,803 fires last month, compared to 5,318 in the same month of 2019. Meanwhile, about 8,000 people have been evacuated as an out-of-control wildfire, which started over the weekend, is wreaking havoc in Los Angeles.

Crew dragon is returning

Two astronauts who flew the first commercial trip into orbit are on course to splash down into the Gulf of Mexico about 15 minutes past midnight on Monday
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Two astronauts who flew the first commercial trip into orbit are on course to splash down into the Gulf of Mexico about 15 minutes past midnight on Monday

Two astronauts who flew the first commercial trip into orbit are on course to splash down into the Gulf of Mexico about 15 minutes past midnight on Monday. Since it set off for the International Space Station late in May, the NASA-SpaceX Crew Dragon mission has had a fairly smooth ride, and on Saturday, US’ Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken undocked the Endeavour capsule from ISS to return home. If it lands safely, it gives the US a means of getting its own people into orbit and back. The US retired its fleet of shuttles in 2011, preferring to use commercial partners to save the cost of owning and operating space crew transportation shuttles. Much of the hardware SpaceX has provided, from rockets to capsules, is reusable. The next operational flight with SpaceX is set for September with a full crew of four astronauts. Boeing is also developing a taxi service to ISS for the US, but software problems has delayed its launch.

Good life is in the air

Years we’d gain with cleaner air
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Years we’d gain with cleaner air

If air quality met WHO guidelines, Indians would live on average 5.2 years longer. Globally, bad air cuts life expectancy by about two years, says a new report from University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute. Nearly a quarter of the world lives in four countries in South Asia that are among the most polluted: Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Pollution levels in these countries is 44% higher than two decades ago. High PM2.5 levels across Bangladesh make it the most polluted country, but the most severe pollution is in parts of India. India’s PM2.5 concentration in 2018 (base year of the study) was 63, against the WHO norm of 10. Some parts fare worse than average (chart), with air pollution shortening life by 9.4 years in Delhi and 8.6 in Uttar Pradesh, the most polluted state.

UK money may get Gandhi

The UK is considering putting people of colour, or Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) figures, on its bank notes and coins for the first time, and at the top of the list of people likely to feature on a coin is Mahatma Gandhi
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The UK is considering putting people of colour, or Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) figures, on its bank notes and coins for the first time, and at the top of the list of people likely to feature on a coin is Mahatma Gandhi

The UK is considering putting people of colour, or Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) figures, on its bank notes and coins for the first time, and at the top of the list of people likely to feature on a coin is Mahatma Gandhi. UK finance minister Rishi Sunak has asked the Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC), an independent committee of experts who recommend themes and designs for notes and coins, to consider recognition of individuals from BAME communities. Military nurse Mary Seacole, who was born in Jamaica, and WWII secret agent Noor Inayat Khan, who was of Indian descent, are being considered. The move comes after a global outcry against racism following the killing of George Floyd by US police officers. It has also forced many institutions in the UK to reassess their history and ties to oppressive colonialism, while looking at ways to improve diversity.

Rembrandt’s selfie record

A self-portrait by Rembrandt, done in 1632, sold for $18.7 million at a virtual auction, a record price for a self-portrait by the Dutch master, according to auctioneer Sotheby’s
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A self-portrait by Rembrandt, done in 1632, sold for $18.7 million at a virtual auction, a record price for a self-portrait by the Dutch master, according to auctioneer Sotheby’s

A self-portrait by Rembrandt, done in 1632, sold for $18.7 million at a virtual auction, a record price for a self-portrait by the Dutch master, according to auctioneer Sotheby’s. The original selfie artist, Rembrandt created about 80 paintings, etchings and drawings of himself between the ages of 22 and 63. The previous record for a Rembrandt self-portrait is $8.9 million during an auction in 2003. The top-selling painting was Joan Miró’s 1927 ‘Femme au chapeau rouge’, which sold for $28.8 million, following an 11-minute bidding battle. And on stage too, there’s interest in art—a Broadway musical on the drama and mystery surrounding the world’s most expensive painting is set debut in New York in 2022. ‘Salvator Mundi!’ will tell the tale of Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Jesus, which was lost for hundreds of years after it was painted in the 1500s and rediscovered in 2005. After being in private hands for years, it was shown in London in 2011 and then sold at an auction in Christies for $450.3 million in 2017. And again, the painting hasn’t been seen since.

Curated by Shalini Umachandran. Have something to share with us? Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com or tweet to @shalinimb

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