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Bihar went to the polls on Wednesday in Phase 1 of the first state assembly election being held since the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic. Voters in 71 of 243 constituencies lined up for the first day of the three-phase election till 7 November. About 51.9% of voters in the 16 districts turned out in the first phase till 5pm, the Election Commission said, following physical distancing rules, wearing masks and undergoing temperature checks before getting their fingers inked. For more updates, here's Mint Lite.

How bank loans aid biodiversity loss

SBI and HDFC Bank have exposure of $6,984 million to projects that pose a risk to biodiversity
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SBI and HDFC Bank have exposure of $6,984 million to projects that pose a risk to biodiversity

Fifty of the world’s biggest banks, including State Bank of India and HDFC Bank, provided loans and underwrote services worth more than $2.6 trillion to industries that contributed the most to biodiversity loss in 2019, says a new report from Portfolio. Earth, a group focusing on the financial world’s effect on biodiversity. Biodiversity loss is now an economic issue as it is one of the top five threats facing humanity in the next decade, according to World Economic Forum. The leading financiers were the three biggest US banks—Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase. “None of the banks have chosen to put comprehensive policies or sufficient systems in place to monitor or measure the impact of their loans on biodiversity," the report says. SBI and HDFC Bank have exposure of $6,984 million to projects that pose a risk to biodiversity. These include mining, fish exports, fossil fuel imports and infrastructure.

Health workers in Turkey can’t quit

Turkey has barred public health workers from quitting, as a surge in covid-19 cases brings the death toll near 10,000
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Turkey has barred public health workers from quitting, as a surge in covid-19 cases brings the death toll near 10,000

Turkey has barred public health workers from quitting, as a surge in covid-19 cases brings the death toll near 10,000. The ban applies to doctors, nurses and other health workers in the public sector and is meant to ensure an uninterrupted fight against covid-19, the Hurriyet newspaper reported Wednesday, citing an order from the health ministry. Authorities have also suspended voluntary retirement for the workers, with the exception of those retiring due to disability or having reached the age for mandatory retirement. Turkey stopped disclosing figures for all confirmed cases in July, instead only releasing numbers for symptomatic patients, Bloomberg reports. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told local media earlier this month that Turkey would report complete figures to the World Health Organization. Official data as of 27 October showed 366,208 confirmed patients, with 9,950 dead.

Farm startups draw funding

Not a level playing field
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Not a level playing field

Food delivery startups Zomato and Swiggy, which each raised about $115 million between January and June 2020, have made headlines but within the larger agrifoodtech sector, it’s India’s farm startups have investor interest. The top two US farm startups got more than $230 million in funding in H12020, but four Indian farm startups are among the top funded, with a total of about $35 million. Others on AgFunder’s list of most funded farm startups are also from Asia (see chart), in large part because of the massive problems in agriculture and markets that have to be solved. Farm marketplaces connect farmers with resources like crop inputs, financing, and marketing. The Indian farm startups focus largely on connecting smallholder farmers to supplies and markets.

Aussie koalas face bleak future

Bushfires, drought, urban encroachment and the pervasive bacterial disease chlamydia are threatening the survival of Australian koalas.
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Bushfires, drought, urban encroachment and the pervasive bacterial disease chlamydia are threatening the survival of Australian koalas.

Bushfires, drought, urban encroachment and the pervasive bacterial disease chlamydia are threatening the survival of Australian koalas. In fact, as a government report shows these forces could make the nation’s symbolic animal extinct in New South Wales, the most populous state, by 2050, reports Reuters. Australia’s worst summer of bushfires in a generation razed over 11.2 million hectares. In New South Wales, at least 5,000 koalas were killed in the fires that burned 80% of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and 24% of koala habitat on public land. A few days ago, federal environment minister Sussan Ley approved the expansion of a quarry, which would result in the clearing of over 50 hectares of koala habitat in the New South Wales town of Port Stephens. The minister said the department’s assessment found the development would “not rob the area of critical koala habitat".

How to spot fake art, the German way

Finding a fake in a collection is usually the lowest point for a museum, but Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, has taken a different approach.
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Finding a fake in a collection is usually the lowest point for a museum, but Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, has taken a different approach.

Finding a fake in a collection is usually the lowest point for a museum, but Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, has taken a different approach. It’s put 22 of the fake Russian avant-garde pieces discovered in its collection on show, online and in the museum, alongside bona fide artwork to educate people about authentication and forgeries. Many fakes have been found in the Russian avant-garde world, a wave of modern art that rose between 1905 and 1930 in the USSR, as censorship was rife and restrictions led a rise to art smuggling and forgeries. Philanthropist Irene Ludwig bequeathed most of the work in the show, “Russian Avant-Garde at the Museum Ludwig: Original and Fake," to the museum in 2010. Experts examined about half the collection of 100 paintings and found 22 to be “falsely attributed" to artists such as Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko, Liubov Popova and Olga Rozanova.

Curated by Shalini Umachandran, Pooja Singh and Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com or tweet to @shalinimb

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