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The demolition of the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya on 6 December, 1992, was not planned, a special court in Lucknow ruled on Wednesday, while acquitting 32 accused, including BJP’s LK Advani, Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi. The accused tried to stop the demolition and hold back the mob, which involved “anti-social elements", the special judge said, adding that the CBI’s evidence of video and audio clips of speeches were not sufficient. The opposition parties have criticised the order. For more quick updates, here’s Mint Lite.
The trial of the former head of Volkswagen’s Audi luxury car division, Rupert Stadler, and three others began on Wednesday in a case relating to the company cheating on diesel emissions tests, AP reports. This is the first criminal trial in Germany over the scandal has cost Volkswagen Group more than $35 billion in fines and settlements. In September 2015, US Environmental Protection Agency said issued Volkswagen had rigged thousands of engines to detect when the cars were on emissions test stands. Software turned emissions controls up so the cars could pass the test, and turned them off when cars were on the street. The result was excess nitrous oxide pollution. In India, VW was pulled up for failing emission tests in 2015, and it recalled over 300,000 Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen cars sold between 2008 and 2015. National Green Tribunal fined it ₹500 crore for “using a cheat device" and damaging the environment.
Travel slump threatens 46 million jobs
The impact of the pandemic on travel could wipe out 46 million jobs globally, according to projections published on Wednesday by Geneva-based Air Transport Action Group. It predicted the travel slump and a slow recovery will threaten 4.8 million aviation workers and more than half of the 87.7 million total jobs supported directly or indirectly by the sector, in related leisure industries and supply chains. Most industry experts do not expect passenger air travel to recover to 2019 levels until 2024. Economic activity supported by aviation could shrink 52%, translating to a loss of $1.8 trillion in global GDP, it said. Jobs cuts at major airlines and airports are already underway, and it’s been followed by layoffs at planemakers, parts suppliers, catering companies and construction firms. Decline in air traffic has had an impact on tourism: Prior to the pandemic, 58% of all tourists arrived at their destination by air.
Women in India spend more than seven hours a day on unpaid domestic and caregiving duties in the house, or more than double the time that men spend on the same activities, shows the results of a new NSS report from the statistics ministry, released on Wednesday. Close to 60% of men spend eight hours a day in employment and related activities, while just 18% of women do paid work. A distinguishing feature of a time-use survey is that it captures paid, unpaid and other activities such as leisure, which may not always be possible in other studies. The ministry conducted its first-time use survey last year, between January and December. Over 1.38 lakh rural and urban households were covered. The idea is to use the findings to deliver more targeted welfare programmes, the ministry said.
Oxygen suppliers in a tight spot
Hospitals in several states are worried about a shortage of medical oxygen, essential in the treatment of covid-19, even as infections in India rise at the fastest rate in the world. The demand for medical oxygen has risen almost four times, from 750 tonnes a day in March, before the lockdown, to about 2,800 tonnes a day. Manufacturers are scrambling to plug gaps in supply and transportation, and prices have been rising. Last week, the pharma pricing regulator capped the price of medical and liquid oxygen for six months, and the Centre drafted a “five-point plan to think ahead" and prevent a shortage. Most states are dependent on supply from other parts of the country. New Delhi, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, for instance, do not have a single oxygen manufacturing unit. Shares of Linde India, the country’s biggest manufacturer and distributor of industrial gases, including oxygen, have surged 50% since March.
Is the return to school far away?
Despite the relaxation of rules and a partial reopening from 21 September, most Indian states have not had students return to schools even as the government is expected to release Unlock 5.0 rules on Thursday. In the US, concerns are rising about a spike in covid-19 cases among schoolchildren, a cause of concern as the younger ones were thought to be safer from the virus. Children of all ages now make up 10% of US cases, up from 2% in April, the American Academy of Paediatrics said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the incidence of covid-19 in children started rising early September as many returned to the classroom. In a study of data from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh (see Plain Facts), researchers found that children are transmitting the virus to the elderly, and the risk of transmission is highest among pairs of children of the same age. Experts suggest outdoor classes as an option.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran and Pooja Singh. Have something to share with us? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @shalinimb
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