Mint Lite | Jobs, hair to stop oil spill, women working more and other news4 min read . Updated: 10 Aug 2020, 11:14 PM IST
A daily wrap of news and views, opinions and talking points to start your day
Social activist, author and academic Ilina Sen died late on Sunday night in Kolkata. Sen spent decades in Chhattisgarh working on healthcare and human rights and with trade unions and indigenous communities, before moving into academia. She was a strident critic of alleged human rights violations, and spent many years focusing on healthcare for workers, especially in mines in central India. For more national and world news, here’s Mint Lite.
No jobs but Modi has fans
More than 68% of rural Indians have faced severe financial difficulties due to covid-19, and 78% haven’t been able to find work, yet 74% of participants in a survey said they were satisfied with the government’s management of the pandemic. The survey was done by Delhi’s Centre for Study of Developing Societies and news portal Gaon Connection, interviewing over 25,000 people in 179 districts. Over the third of returning migrants were eager to return to cities for work. The findings come at a time when most sectors, from auto to FMCG, are hoping rural demand will drive an economic recovery. Curbing the virus remains a challenge in rural India, where healthcare is poor and living conditions difficult. India now has the highest number of daily new infections, more than the US, the worst affected country. The virus has spread to about 711 of 739 districts, including 100 of the poorest rural parts of India.
Using hair to stop oil spill
A ship that hit a reef and ran aground off Mauritius on 25 July is cracking and leaking oil into the ocean, posing an ecological and economic disaster for the tourism-dependent country. Over 1,000 tonnes of fuel has seeped from the Japanese carrier MV Wakashio into the sea, polluting coral reefs, mangroves, beaches and lagoons. About 2,500 tonnes remain on the vessel, and the danger now is that the ship could break up. Japan and France have dispatched experts but thousands of volunteers are creating makeshift floating barriers to stop the oily tide. Videos online show people sewing leaves and their own hair, which they’ve cut voluntarily, into nets to float on the surface and corral the oil until it can be sucked up by hoses. The slick has begun drifting up the coast, fanned by strong winds and currents. Mauritius, which earned $1.6 billion from tourism last year, has declared an environmental emergency.
Women working more
Women have spent more time than men doing unpaid domestic and care work during the covid-19 pandemic, initial research from UN Women shows. The amount of time they’ve spent on these tasks has also increased in the past five months (see chart). Conservative statisticians may not consider time-use surveys as accurate, but they reveal trends regarding unpaid household and care work, and could help estimate women’s unpaid contributions to the GDP. A 2014 OECD survey in 160 countries showed that women performed more than double the amount of unpaid care work each day. The UN Women survey found that men are pitching in and spending more time than the pre-covid period on unpaid work, but the bulk of the burden is still on women.
Croc park facing crunch
The Madras Crocodile Bank, India’s largest crocodile park, may run out of funds to feed animals, pay staff salaries and continue research in four months. The park near Chennai, which depends largely on ticket revenue, especially from large student groups, has been closed to visitors since 16 March due to the covid-19 outbreak. It has been closed through the summer vacations, its busiest time of the year, when it makes more than ₹1.4 crore from ticket sales. The park director Allwin Jesudasan told Reuters that staff have taken voluntary pay cuts of 10% to 50% but existing funds will probably last for only four months. The park was started in 1976 to conserve crocodiles, alligators and reptiles such as turtles, tortoises, lizards and snakes, and has successfully captive bred three endangered species of crocodiles. The future of its 2,000 animals is unclear once the existing funds are exhausted.
NASA skips ‘hurtful’ tags
The US’ space agency is grounding itself in equity, diversity and inclusion. Nasa has said it will no longer use some unofficial “cosmic nicknames that are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful". Nicknames make constellations, galaxies, planetary nebulae and other cosmic objects more approachable, or easy for the public to relate to—like Barnard 33, or the “Horsehead Nebula", which invokes its appearance. The Horsehead Nebula will retain its nickname but a committee of diversity and inclusion experts will review the rest of the nicknames to make sure that none of them have objectionable cultural or historical connotations. Among the names that will no longer be used are “Eskimo Nebula" for the planetary nebula NGC 2392, as the terms Eskimo is “is widely viewed as a colonial term with a racist history, imposed on the indigenous people of Arctic regions." A pair of spiral galaxies, NGC 4567 and NGC 4568, in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster will no longer be referred to the “Siamese Twins Galaxy". “Often seemingly innocuous nicknames can be harmful and detract from the science," a Nasa release says.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran. Have something to share with us? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @shalinimb