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Photo: Reuters

Mint Lite | Nirav Modi custody extended, South Asia covid cases rise, other news to know

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India is “not in community transmission" mode so far, the Indian Council of Medical Research said at the health ministry’s daily press briefing on Thursday, but it did add that a large proportion of the population is still susceptible to covid-19. Cases are rising in India with 9,996 new ones recorded in the last 24 hours, though the total number of recoveries has overtaken the total active cases. To bring you up to speed on the rest of the news in five minutes, here’s Mint Lite.

SA sends buses out for migrants

It’s not just in India that industry is worried about how to lure migrant workers back to jobs after an unplanned covid-19 lockdown left thousands of them without food and money. South Africa’s gold and platinum miners are racing to bring back thousands of skilled migrant workers who are crucial to production, following the easing of lockdown. For 150 years, South Africa’s mines have relied on cheap labour from Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Botswana. They account for 10% of the industry’s 450,000 workers, estimates Bloomberg. Mining companies have started a huge logistics operation to bus migrant workers back from their homes, and quarantine and test them. It is estimated that the South African economy will contract 16% this year, and mining output 10%. A rapid turnaround in mining, one of the country’s biggest exporters, is crucial. Its mining output dropped 47% in April, compared to a year before, the steepest fall since 1981.

Nirav Modi custody extended

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Photo: Mint


A London court on Thursday remanded fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi to further custody till 9 July. He has been in prison in London since his arrest in last year. He appeared via video link for the hearing in India’s extradition case against him. Modi is accused of cheating Punjab National Bank of more than 13,000 crore by getting bank staff to issue letters of undertaking to his companies without following protocol. His uncle Mehul Choksi is also accused in the case, and is currently in Antigua. This came a day after the enforcement directorate said it had brought back to India polished diamonds, silver jewellery and pearls worth 1,350 crore belonging to the two. The 108 consignments were brought to Mumbai from a warehouse in Hong Kong, days after a special Mumbai court allowed the Enforcement Directorate to confiscate Modi’s properties. The next hearing in the extradition proceedings in London is on 7 September.

South Asia cases rise fast



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Graphic: Mint


South Asia coronavirus cases have increased at the fastest rate globally in the past week, as the region becomes one of the latest pandemic hotspots. Infections have risen by 27% in Pakistan, 19% in Bangladesh and 17% in India, according to data of the 20 most affected nations compiled by Bloomberg. Pakistan and Bangladesh also had their single biggest daily spike in fatalities. As cases dwindle in the US and Europe, they are still increasing in South America and South Asia. Countries across South Asia have started to ease lockdowns as they attempt to balance rising cases against economic trouble. Pakistan has more than 120,000 confirmed covid-19 cases, and WHO has recommended partial lockdowns again. In Bangladesh, the case load crossed 78,000, while India has more than 286,000 cases.

Toppling symbols of racism

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Photo: Reuters


A statue of scouts movement founder Robert Baden-Powell (left) will be taken down in UK as an effort to remove symbols of racism following protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. The protests have rekindled debates on how UK should view its history as a colonial power that gained from slavery, oppressed populations and built its economy at the expense of others. In Boston, Virginia and Minnesota, statues of Christopher Columbus were vandalized. In London, a statue of a slave owner was removed, and one of Winston Churchill sprayed with graffiti. London mayor Sadiq Khan said the city will change statues and street names with links to slavery. In Belgium, there are calls to remove statues of Leopold II, responsible for millions of deaths in Congo. Toppling statues won’t eliminate racism but removing from pedestals people who perpetuated discrimination is a start.

British Airways to auction art

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Photo: Reuters


British Airways will sell at least 10 works of art by Damien Hirst, Peter Doig and Bridget Riley from its extensive collection to raise millions of pounds to boost its cash reserves as it struggles through the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports. The airline has come under fire from UK politicians for plans to cut 12,000 jobs. But with planes grounded and no revenue, it says the job cuts are necessary because travel demand is set to shrink in coming years. Most of the art hung in executive lounges at airports and at least one work has been valued at more than $1.27 million. Airlines around the world are struggling as fleets have been grounded for months. A number of European airlines have got government bailouts, while LatAm, Virgin Australia and Avianca have filed for bankruptcy. In London’s Heathrow, airport authorities have started cutting frontline jobs as passenger numbers have not revived and about 500 management posts have been eliminated.

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