Mint Lite | Corona, masks, India fuel demand, domestic violence & other news4 min read . Updated: 03 Aug 2020, 09:53 PM IST
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The pandemic is allowing governments around the world to track people more closely than before due to the rapid digitization of personal data, Alibaba Group’s Joseph Tsai warned on Monday. Digitization of information has accelerated in the past few months as countries try to trace people to curb covid-19, Tsai said at the virtual launch event of the Singapore Fintech Festival. Singapore is planning an online and physical fintech festival in December, where participants meet at key physical locations and connect to an “online city". Singapore said last month it is preparing for resumption of business events, and is developing a framework for events of up to 50 attendees. For the rest of the national and world news, here’s Mint Lite.
Workout in a masks
Gyms and yoga studios are set to open from Wednesday after months of closure due to the covid-19 outbreak, and the health ministry on Monday released standard operating procedures for them. Masks or face shields are mandatory, equipment has to be spaced out, people have to maintain six-feet distance, workout sessions have to be staggered and the premises have to be disinfected regularly. Meanwhile, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad went into isolation as a precaution because he met home minister Amit Shah, who has tested positive for covid-19, on Saturday. Six staff members of Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s office have tested positive for the virus, a day after he was admitted to hospital with the infection. On Monday, India’s case count crossed 1.8 million, while the global cases surpassed 18 million on Monday, with the pandemic now adding a million infections every four days.
Covid toll on diesel sales
Sale of diesel has fallen sharply across India, as states imposed regionalised lockdowns to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The drop in demand in India could have a follow-on effect on world markets. Diesel sales of Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, the three biggest oil marketing companies, dropped 13% in July from the previous month. Their sales figures are down 21% from a year ago, Bloomberg reports. It’s a reversal from a few months ago when rising diesel sales were seen as evidence the economy was on the mend after one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. While diesel demand typically falls at this time of the year due to the monsoon, the decline exceeds the 8% month-on-month drop at the same point last year. India is the world’s third largest crude importer, and any drop in demand here will have an effect on global sales at a time when oil producing countries are returning to pumping more oil.
India steps on the gas
Indian power plants used the most liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the last three years in the quarter ended June, going by government data. The cost of importing LNG is not much higher than coal right now as covid-19 puts a squeeze on the world economy. Power producers say the trend is likely to continue until at least September, Reuters reports. Power plants on the western coast of India, which are closer to LNG producing countries such as Qatar, will benefit even more from the lower prices. Gas consumption by India’s power plants rose 11.7% to 104.83 million standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) in the three months to June compared to the same period last year, data from the Central Electricity Authority showed. Imports accounted for 37.4% of overall gas consumption by power plants, up from 35% a year ago. The increased use of gas comes as India’s overall electricity demand is expected to fall this year for the first time in decades. Coal-fired generation is also declining and imports of coal by power plants also fell to the lowest in seven years during the June quarter.
Red zones, more domestic violence
There’s been a rise in cases of domestic violence during enforced stays at home during the pandemic, but a new working paper draws an even stronger line between the two. Researchers from the University of California found that districts with the strictest lockdowns, or red zones, in India, recorded a greater rise in domestic violence than others. Published by US National Bureau of Economic Research, the paper, titled ‘Unintended consequences of lockdowns: Covid-19 and the shadow pandemic’, by Saravana Ravindran and Manisha Shah, uses data from the National Commission for Women and maps it against the government’s red, orange and green covid containment zones. They found that red zone districts recorded a 131% increase in domestic violence complaints compared with green zone districts. The figure for cyber-crime complaints was 184%. Rape and sexual assault complaints declined more in red zones.
It’s a floating splash of blue, purple and red shaped like a butterfly in outer space, a few thousand light years away—and it’s the first time the European Space Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile caught a photograph of it. The stunning space butterfly is actually a planetary nebula, or a bubble of gas that’s formed around an ancient star that hasn’t exploded yet. It’s named NGC 2899, and it’s between 3,000 and 6,500 light years away from Earth in the constellation Vela, visible in the southern hemisphere. As the parent star collapses, it releases hydrogen, oxygen and other gases, and ultraviolet radiation heats them to temperatures upwards of 10,000 degrees. The superheated hydrogen gas in the nebula forms the reddish halo around the oxygen, which glows blue. It’s rare for planetary nebulae to form this kind of shape. This one has two central stars—as one star reached the end of its life and cast off its outer layers, the other interfered with the flow of gas, forming the two-lobed shape. The “butterfly" will probably disappear in a few thousand years—which is forever for us but really not very long for the universe.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran. Have something to share with us? Write to us at email@example.com or tweet to @shalinimb