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Ram Temple Trust head Mahant Nritya Gopal Das tests positive for coronavirus. (Photo: ANI)
Ram Temple Trust head Mahant Nritya Gopal Das tests positive for coronavirus. (Photo: ANI)

Mint Lite | India corona cases, gems export, Belarus solidarity chains & others

A daily wrap of news and views, opinions and talking points to start your day

About a week after he was on stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the bhoomipuja for a Ram temple in Ayodhya, the temple trust’s chief Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, 82, tested positive for covid-19 on Thursday. UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and governor Anandiben Patel were also present. Several central ministers, including home minister Amit Shah and Ayush minister Shripad Naik, have tested positive in the past few days. India on Thursday recorded the highest single day spike of 66,999 cases as well as the highest recoveries at 56,383. For more national and world news, here’s Mint Lite.

Gem exports lose shine

India’s gems and jewellery industry has taken a double hit
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India’s gems and jewellery industry has taken a double hit

India’s gems and jewellery industry has taken a double hit. First, export orders evaporated due to covid-19 and lockdown. Second, even after reopening thousands of highly skilled workers have not returned to the factories. The county’s overall gems and jewellery exports fell 38% in July from a year ago to $1.36 billion, largely due to a fall in shipping of cut and polished diamonds. In April-July, cut and polished diamond exports plunged 46.5% from a year ago to $2.7 billion, the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) said. Falling exports of cut and polished diamonds prompted polishing units to reduce imports of rough diamond, which fell 82% to $712.6 million during April and July compared to a year ago, the trade body said. International shows for foreign buyers have also been postponed. GJEPC now plans to hold a virtual buyer and seller meet on 27-28 August. Globally, demand for diamonds has plummeted during the pandemic.

Belarus’ solidarity chains

Women formed human chains and carried flowers to condemn the crackdown on protests.
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Women formed human chains and carried flowers to condemn the crackdown on protests.

About 6,000 people have been arrested, hundreds have been injured, and two have died in Belarus since Sunday, when mass protests began against the country’s long-time president Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election. Thousands took to the streets, and clashed with police, alleging mass rigging of the presidential election, after Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, was declared winner. The EU has said the poll was “neither free nor fair", and the main opposition contender, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who drew huge crowds during her rallies and was widely expected to win, has fled to Lithuania. Women formed human chains and carried flowers to condemn the crackdown on protests. Police have used force, rubber and live bullets, water cannons and stun grenades against protestors. EU foreign ministers gathered on Friday to discuss sanctions against Belarus, a call led by Germany and Lithuania.

Benefits of a work pal

Office network matters
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Office network matters

We have all felt we miss stopping by a colleague’s desk for a chat or to discuss an issue—and now there’s a survey to prove it’s socializing in office that really makes us work better together as teams. BCG surveyed over 12,000 employees in India, the US and Germany on the future of remote work, and has concluded that “social connectivity emerged as the most powerful force" to improve productivity even while working from home. Respondents who reported satisfaction with social connectivity with colleagues are two-three times more likely to maintain or boost their productivity on collaborative tasks than those who are dissatisfied with it (see chart). “It will be critical for companies to recreate this connectivity regardless of where employees are located," the report says.

Waste beer gives biogas

The biogas is then converted into electricity to power the water treatment plant.
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The biogas is then converted into electricity to power the water treatment plant.

Millions of litres of expired or stale beer in Australian breweries have been turned into biogas to power a wastewater treatment plant. Restaurants, pubs and clubs were closed in late March in Australia to control the coronavirus outbreak, leading to large stocks of beer piling up in breweries. Rather than dump the millions of litres, the breweries sent it to the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant, west of Adelaide, where it’s being used to generate renewable energy for the past few months. The beer is sent into the plant’s “digester tanks", where it is mixed with sewage sludge, to produce biogas. The biogas is then converted into electricity to power the water treatment plant. They’ve used about 150,000 litres of stale beer every week since March, making the plant completely self-reliant. Before the pandemic, and the use of stale beer, it was able to generate enough biogas to provide 80% of its energy needs.

Women get their names back

A set of 25 English novels written by women using male pen names have been republished with the writers’ real names
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A set of 25 English novels written by women using male pen names have been republished with the writers’ real names

A set of 25 English novels written by women using male pen names have been republished with the writers’ real names. Among the books getting a name change are that favourite of college syllabus setters, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, which has been reissued under the author’s real name, Mary Ann Evans, for the first time in 150 years. Middlemarch is now considered the “greatest British novel of all time". Evans adopted the pen name of George Eliot in the mid-19th century to have her work taken seriously at a time when women were excluded from literary and intellectual pursuits. The project is called Reclaim Her Name, and marks the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Other novels include Marie Of The Cabin Club by Ann Petry, the first African-American woman to sell more than a million copies. The 25 novels are being offered as e-books, which are free to download.

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

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