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Covid-19 infections across the world crossed 35 million even as India’s numbers surpassed 6.6 million. The World Health Organization estimates that 10% of the global population may have been infected with covid-19, which is far more than the official estimates from governments around the world. Global focus has remained on the health of US President Donald Trump even as France plans to shut down bars in Paris, Ireland is debating a return to full lockdown, and UK’s Boris Johnson warned of a “very tough" winter as Europe faces rising infections. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.

Time to rethink pandemic bailouts

Until June, governments made spending plans for about $10 trillion to boost economies, according to International Monetary Fund estimates
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Until June, governments made spending plans for about $10 trillion to boost economies, according to International Monetary Fund estimates

As the pandemic stretches on and recovery seems further, world governments, which splurged to blunt the economic impact are now coming up with plans that are more targeted and tactical in their approach. Until June, governments made spending plans for about $10 trillion to boost economies, according to International Monetary Fund estimates. Central banks raised it further with rate cuts, bond purchases and other credit programmes. IMF now estimates this is about $2 trillion short of what’s needed, with global output expected to shrink 4.9% this year. It will issue updated forecasts ahead of its 12-18 October meetings. At the start, the thrust of policy was to get money out fast, with few strings attached; now, the approach now is wary. UK’s furlough options are being rejigged, Japan is putting limits on further fiscal plans, and France will only give cash to businesses that closed again due to a second wave.

Annual air pollution battle begins

Crop residue burning, a primary causes of air pollution in north India started from 13 Sept in Punjab and Haryana with a couple of fires, going by NASA satellite images, and have now crossed 70 fires
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Crop residue burning, a primary causes of air pollution in north India started from 13 Sept in Punjab and Haryana with a couple of fires, going by NASA satellite images, and have now crossed 70 fires

Crop residue burning, a primary causes of air pollution in north India, started from 13 September in Punjab and Haryana with a couple of fires, going by Nasa satellite images, and have now crossed 70 fires. Air in the Indo-Gangetic plains has already started deteriorating, and the Central Pollution Control Board said some areas, including Delhi, have entered the “poor" category of air quality. On Monday, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal launched an anti-air pollution campaign, saying polluted air can be life threatening in view of the covid-19 pandemic. Plans have been made for each of the 13 pollution hotspots in the city, and a Green Delhi mobile app to report pollution will be launched. Amid agitations over the farm bills, agriculturalists have said fires will continue this year in the absence of adequate monetary support to small farmers to use straw management machinery.

Who will revive the economy?

Recovery in top six state economies
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Recovery in top six state economies

Till recently, economic revival in India was mostly limited to smaller states, while the richer ones felt the lingering impact of the pandemic. That trend is now reversing, shows Mint’s State Recovery Tracker. Six states make up half of India’s economic output, and will matter the most in economic recovery: Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and West Bengal. The tracker considers workplace mobility, electricity consumption, GST tax collections, and vehicle sales as proxies for economic activity. Across all four indicators, four of the large state economies fared better in September than before, with workplaces in these states recording 69% of their normal footfalls. These states account for 54% of all reported cases. For more, see Plain Facts.

Singapore to pay parents for babies

To ease people’s financial burden amid job layoffs and wage cuts during the pandemic, Singapore is set to provide a one-off payment to support parents looking to have a baby
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To ease people’s financial burden amid job layoffs and wage cuts during the pandemic, Singapore is set to provide a one-off payment to support parents looking to have a baby

To ease people’s financial burden amid job layoffs and wage cuts during the pandemic, Singapore is set to provide a one-off payment to support parents looking to have a baby. In Parliament on 5 October, deputy prime minister Heng Swee Keat said, “We have received feedback that covid-19 has caused some aspiring parents to postpone their parenthood plans. To help with expenses..., we will introduce a one-off additional support for newborns." Though Heng didn’t immediately give any further details, he said details will be announced at a later date, reports Bloomberg. Any additional support will come on top of the government’s baby bonus, meant to encourage Singaporeans to have more children and provide eligible parents up to $7,330 in benefits. Singapore’s fertility rate touched an eight-year low in 2018, shows data, and the rate of 1.14 (or 1.14 births per woman) remained unchanged last year.

Go ahead, vote for the fattest bear

The annual Fat Bear Week, which ends with the announcement of the fattest on 6 October, is a voting contest and an education tool about ecosystem dynamics.
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The annual Fat Bear Week, which ends with the announcement of the fattest on 6 October, is a voting contest and an education tool about ecosystem dynamics.

With mostly gloomy news about the growing impact of the virus, natural disasters and political upheavals flooding our social media feeds these days, here’s something to cheer for: you can vote online for the fattest brown bear at Alaska’s Katmai National Park. The annual Fat Bear Week, which ends with the announcement of the fattest on 6 October, is a voting contest and an education tool about ecosystem dynamics. Visitors to Fatbearweek.org can vote online for which bear they think has packed on the most pounds while in preparation for the long winter hibernation. On the site are before-and-after photos of each bear, shot during their skinnier spring days and their autumn rotundity. They can also watch live webcams showing the bears fishing for salmon in their natural habitat, Brooks River. Fat bears are a sign of a robust ecosystem, since they’ve spent the summer and fall gorging themselves on food.

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

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