Home >News >Business of Life >Mint Lite | WHO, MIT corona study, falling remittances, US statues & other news

Maybe inspired by the World Health Organization’s recent acknowledgment that covid-19 spreads more widely in the air than previously suggested, a restaurant in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, has started serving parottas in the shape of masks as part of an awareness drive. In Geneva, after over 200 scientists wrote an open letter to WHO, the UN health agency said the virus might spread through the air, especially in poorly ventilated settings. US President Donald Trump has, meanwhile, made it official: the country will leave WHO next year. For more national and world news, here’s Mint Lite.

The human cost of gas blast

The death toll from the boiler blast at NLC India on 1 July has risen to 13, the public sector company has said
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The death toll from the boiler blast at NLC India on 1 July has risen to 13, the public sector company has said

The death toll from the boiler blast at NLC India on 1 July has risen to 13, the public sector company has said. The plant has been shut since for a safety audit. The incident took place last week during a maintenance check, and just two months after five people were killed in an accident at the same power station. More than three people die and at least 46 are injured every day in industrial accidents in India, Reuters reports, citing government data for three years ended 2016. Data shows Tamil Nadu, where the NLC India plant is located, is the most dangerous state in the country to be a worker, after Maharashtra and Gujarat. Meanwhile, 12 officials of LG Polymers, including its South Korean CEO Sunkey Jeong, have been arrested, two months after a gas leak at the company’s chemical plant in Visakhapatnam killed 12 people. Toxic styrene gas leaked from the chemical plant choking many people who were sleeping.

If a vaccine isn’t developed...

India may have 287,000 cases of the novel coronavirus every day by the end 2021 in the absence of a covid-19 vaccine or drug interventions, going by a study by researchers at the MIT
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India may have 287,000 cases of the novel coronavirus every day by the end 2021 in the absence of a covid-19 vaccine or drug interventions, going by a study by researchers at the MIT

India may have 287,000 cases of the novel coronavirus every day by the end 2021 in the absence of a covid-19 vaccine or drug interventions, going by a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Using data for 84 countries, spanning 4.75 billion people, MIT professors Hazhir Rahmandad and John Sterman, in a pre-print paper, noted that the top 10 countries by projected daily infection rates at the end of 2021 are India, the US, South Africa, Iran, Indonesia, the UK, Nigeria, Turkey, France and Germany. They warned that the projections should be interpreted as indicators of potential risk and not precise predictions of future cases. They estimate that cases and deaths till mid-June are 11.8 and 1.48 times higher than official reports across the 84 nations. On Wednesday, more than 20,000 coronavirus cases were reported across India and 482 deaths, taking the total caseload to 742,000 and the death toll to 20,642.

More burden for Kerala

Remittances to India to drop to 2016 levels
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Remittances to India to drop to 2016 levels

A couple of days ago, Kuwait approved a draft expat quota bill, which could force 800,000 Indians living there to return to India. The bill seeks to limit the number of Indians to 15% of the population. About 1.45 million Indians live in Kuwait, of which Keralites make for a big chunk. Their possible return could strain a state that’s dependent on remittances and already feeling the strain of the pandemic. In April, the World Bank predicted a 22% drop in remittances to South Asian nations due to the pandemic. This would be the steepest ever, far more than the 5% drop after the 2008-09 global financial crisis. In India, Kerala is likely to be the worst affected as remittances made up more than 35% of the state’s GDP last year. The state is expecting home return of over 500,000 people from Gulf countries.

A letter for ‘censoriousness’

The CBSE has cut the syllabus for Classes IX-XII by 30% for the 2020-21 session in view of the disruption caused by covid-19
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The CBSE has cut the syllabus for Classes IX-XII by 30% for the 2020-21 session in view of the disruption caused by covid-19

More than 150 writers, academics and artists, including J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood, have signed an open letter warning that the spread of “censoriousness" is leading to “an intolerance of opposing views" and “a vogue for public shaming and ostracism". Published in Harper’s Magazine, the letter is in “defence of a foundational principle of a liberal society: open debate and freedom of thought and speech". It goes on to decry what it calls “a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity". In India, meanwhile, the Central Board of Secondary Education has cut the syllabus for Classes IX-XII by 30% for the 2020-21 session in view of the disruption caused by covid-19. Among the chapters deleted from the syllabus are democracy and diversity, religion, challenges to democracy, citizenship, nationalism and gender.

Who wants to buy US statues?

A Russian billionaire wants to buy two of the statues that Black Lives Matter activists in the US want removed for their ties to racism
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A Russian billionaire wants to buy two of the statues that Black Lives Matter activists in the US want removed for their ties to racism

A Russian billionaire wants to buy two of the statues that Black Lives Matter activists in the US want removed for their ties to racism. Transportation entrepreneur Andrey Filatov’s Art Russe Foundation, which collects and preserves Soviet-era art, has said Theodore Roosevelt and Alexander Baranov, whose statues in New York and Alaska are in the eye of the storm, had a positive influence on Russia. The foundation plans to install the statues in St. Petersburg to preserve “cultural and historical heritage", CNN reports. The Roosevelt statue (see photo) is under fire for its depiction of a Native American man and Black man at the feet of the former US president. The city has said the statue will be taken down. Roosevelt brokered a deal to end a war between Russia and Japan in 1904, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Baranov was a merchant who once governed the parts of North America owned by Russia before they were sold to the US.

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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