Mint Lite | Covid vaccine, Karnataka floods, party funding, Kimchi & others4 min read . Updated: 18 Oct 2020, 09:26 PM IST
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Prime minister Narendra Modi has said the government and other agencies should use its experience of organizing massive elections to streamline the speedy delivery of covid-19 vaccines to every citizen. The centre, states, corporates and non-profits could work together to plan for cold storage chains, monitoring mechanisms, and advance assessment, he said. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan , meanwhile, has finally admitted that India is in the throes of community transmission of coronavirus after denying it for months. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.
Floods in Karnataka
The army and disaster response teams have rescued over 20,000 people in Karnataka as the Krishna and Bhima rivers are in spate. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said many villages in Kalaburagi, Vijayapura, Yadgir and Raichur districts were completely or partially submerged due to flooding caused by heavy rains in the past week. He plans to undertake an aerial survey on Wednesday. This is the third time the state has been hit by floods in the past three months following heavy monsoon rains. Water released from dams in neighbouring Maharashtra have added to the flooding. It’s been raining heavily in Maharashtra too, and at least 48 people have died and lakhs of hectares of crops damaged. Over the last few days, Telangana has also been battered by floods and at least 50 people have died. The Telangana government has requested the Centre to release ₹1,350 crore as immediate assistance.
New Zealand, Bolivia at the polls
It wasn’t too much of a surprise when Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party returned to power on Sunday with the biggest vote share in over 50 years, after New Zealand went to the polls on Saturday. Ardern, who won largely on her handling of the covid-19 outbreak, has said she will work to revive the economy and tackle social inequality. She plans to form a government in three weeks after holding talks with ally Green Party, though Labour has a clear majority. On Sunday, Bolivia voted, hoping to end a year of unrest after protests led to the resignation and exile of Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous president who held office since 2006. The allegations were that he rigged the election, charges his supporters reject. Interim president Jeanine Áñez pulled out last month. Morales’ Mas party’s Luis Arce has been the favourite in opinion polls so far. The election has been postponed twice due to covid-19.
India Inc. and political parties
Large corporate and business houses donated 92% of the funds that five national political parties (BJP, Congress, NCP, CPM and Trinamool Congress) received in 2018-19, shows a report from Association for Democratic Returns that tracked known donations of more than ₹20,000. Corporate donations to national political parties crossed ₹875 crore in 2018-19, up 107% from FY2017-18. Electoral trusts, led by the Tata Group-controlled Progressive Electoral Trust, were the top donors giving parties close to 70% of their funds (see chart). Of the five national parties, the BJP received the maximum donations of ₹698 crore from 1,573 corporate donors. The Congress followed with ₹123 crore from 122 corporate donors, and NCP got the third highest corporate donations.
New notes send Ethiopians to banks
Ethiopia’s effort to stamp out counterfeiting with new currency notes is bringing people who never had a bank account into the financial system. Over the past month, one million previously unbanked Ethiopians handed in 20-year-old banknotes, Bloomberg reports. They were given a bank account from which they can withdraw the new notes. The central bank is trying to deter cash hoarding that enables corruption and illegal trading. Only 35% of Ethiopian adults had a bank account in 2017, way behind its neighbour Kenya, where the ratio is 82%, according to World Bank. While Kenya’s demonetization process last year went smoothly, South Sudan is contemplating demonetization to curb illicit financial flows. In 2016, India demonetized ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes for similar reasons, but the results were not as expected as economic growth slowed and millions of daily wage earners lost their livelihoods.
Kimchi catastrophe hits South Korea
A series of typhoons in South Korea has left the country staring at a kimchi catastrophe. Fields of cabbages were wiped out across the country due to extreme weather, causing prices to surge over 60%, Bloomberg reports. At this time of the year, people buy cabbages and other vegetables in bulk to make kimchi, a popular dish of cabbage seasoned with spices and fermented for months, for the next year. But this year, a long rainy season and three typhoons caused flooding in August and September, damaging crops and disrupting supplies. Fresh food prices rose 22% last month to the highest since early 2011, data shows. Daesang, South Korea’s top kimchi producer, said it has temporarily suspended online sales because of the shortage. Food company CJ CheilJedang said it’s looking for alternative supplies to meet demand that’s especially high this year as more people eat at home due to the pandemic.
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