kochi l saturday l February 06, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 18 l late city EDITION Pfizer withdraws request for emergency use permit The US company was the first drugmaker to apply for emergency use authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine in India on Dec 5, 2020 Experts committee denied nod: reports Panel flags serious adverse events The move comes after an expert panel of India’s drugs regulatory authority reportedly recommended against granting approval to the firm at this stage. On February 3, the Subject Expert Committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation had taken up Pfizer’s application for its Covid-19 vaccine that it has developed with Germany’s BioNTech ■ The committee in its meeting on Wednesday noted incidents of palsy, anaphylaxis and other serious adverse events after the vaccine’s approvals in some other countries ■ The panel was also worried that Pfizer had not spelt out a plan to generate safety/ immunogenicity data for the Indian population 95% Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy against 62% of covishield manufactured by sii CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI RBI allows retail Being toddy tapper’s son not disgrace but pride: CM investors direct access to G-Secs E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram Decision will help Centre meet its market borrowing target in the next financial year E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi In a game-changer move, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday said it would allow retail investors to buy government bonds directly from it. Currently, retail investors can only buy gilt or government issued bonds through a platform on the National Stock Exchange. However, this is not very popular. The RBI platform for G-Secs is likely to be dubbed Retail Direct, though its details have not been shared. The current yield on a 10-year government bond is 6.126%. Bonds with shorter tenor yield less as interest. “As far as I know, very few countries like the US and Brazil allow this. In Asia, we are the first country to do it,” RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das told reporters on Friday soon after the monetary policy meeting. The move to attract retail investors to the gilt market will help the government meet its market borrowing target of `12 lakh crore. Analysts said the reason why RBI is opening up a direct gilt trading window for small buyers is to widen the market for government bonds and to keep the interest rate paid by the government low. “While a promising move, a lot will depend on the platform and parallel investment opportunities available,” said Nimish Shah, chief investment officer, Waterfield Advisors. Meanwhile, RBI’s six-member monetary policy committee What are G-Secs? Government Security (G-Sec) is a tradeable instrument issued by the central or state governments. G-Secs carry practically no risk of default and, hence, are called riskfree gilt-edged instruments did not spring any surprises on Friday as key policy rates were kept unchanged. Repo and reverse repo rates currently stand at record low levels of 4% and 3.35%, respectively . Among others, the first monetary policy announcement after the Union Budget 2021-22 had a few key elements: restoration of the cash reserve ratio (CRR) to 4% in a gradual manner. CRR is the share a bank’s total deposits that is parked with RBI. Banks don’t earn interest on this amount. RBI also said it estimates India’s GDP growth at 10.5% during FY22, with an optimistic outlook on economic recovery Rural demand is . likely to be resilient on good agricultural prospects while urban demand and demand for contact intensive services is expected to strengthen with fall in Covid-cases and mass-vaccination drive. Consumer confidence is likely to remain upbeat as demand has moved beyond the ‘pent-up’ phase to actual demand. The central banks said inflation has returned within its ‘tolerance band’, revising inflation at 5.2% for Q4FY21 from P12 5.8% earlier). After all, I am the son of a father who worked hard for the family and it’s a pride for me. The criticism against the CM travelling in helicopter is not in tune with the time Pinarayi Vijayan CM SPEAKS 5% drop in active cases There has been a five per cent drop in active Covid cases from January 28 (72,392) to February 4 (68,857), said Pinarayi. The spread has slowed down because of the strict precautions taken by the authorities, he said. On PSC appointments According to the chief minister, the number of PSC appointments increased significantly during his government’s tenure. A total of 1,51,513 persons were given appointment or advice memo until December 31, 2020, he said. ‘Communal UDF’ No communal angle was intended in the CPM’s criticism of the Muslim League, Pinarayi said. The Left will not compromise with communal forces, but the UDF unfortunately does not follow the same stance, he added. Edit: communal discourse in run-up to kerala elections | P8 Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said being the son of a toddy tapper as said by Congress leader K Sudhakaran is not a disgrace, but a moment of pride. “Not only my father, my elder brother too was a toddy tapper and another brother knows tapping and I have only pride to say that. Mine was an agricultural family So, there is no need . to see Sudhakaran’s reference as a disgrace,” he said while addressing the media on Friday . “After all, I am the son of a father who worked hard for the family and it’s a pride for me,” said Pinarayi. The chief minis- E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Kochi/T’Puram The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) on Friday criticised a recent speech made by Chandy Oommen, son of former chief minister Oommen Chandy regarding conver, sion of Hagia Sophia church into a mosque in Turkey . Chandy Oommen, in a programme organised by Muslim Students Federation in Malappuram recently reportedly said , the protest campaigns on social media against the conversion of the Hagia Sophia church into a museum were aimed at creating communal divide. He reportedly said those protesting against this move had no issues when churches in the West got converted into commercial spaces. KCBC, in an official statement, said his comments caused pain to the Christian community. “In an attempt to justify the writer of an article in ‘Chandrika’ daily, which @ New Delhi The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail to stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui who was arrested by the Madhya Pradesh Police for allegedly hurting the sentiments of Hindus during a show. “The petitioner (Faruqui) is released on ad-interim bail on conditions to the satisfaction of the trial court,” a bench headed by Justices R F Nariman ordered. While issuing notice to the Madhya Pradesh gover nment on Faruqui’s plea, it also stayed a warrant for production of the comedian in Uttar Pradesh in another case. The bench granted interim bail to the comedian after it ‘My speech was misconstrued’ In the wake of the controversy, Chandy Oommen said: “I have not whitewashed or defended the Turkey rulers. The issue of the churches getting converted will only create a dangerous scenario in society. My speech has been misconstrued and am apologising for it. I had never intended to hurt anyone.” praised the act of Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque, Chandy Oommen in his speech, analysed the event connecting it with churches in Europe getting sold and getting converted into commercial express read SC grants interim bail to Comedian Faruqui was pointed out that procedure under Section 41 of CrPC and the law laid down by the Supreme Court with regard to arrest weren’t followed. On behalf of the comedian, advocate Saurabh Kirpal termed it a case of victimisation and said the allegations made in the FIR were vague. He argued that a person cannot be arrested unless there is a magistrate’s order or a warrant, which is stated in Section 41 of the criminal code, and the law laid down by the Supreme Court with regard to arrest weren’t followed. “Do you say that Section 41 CrPC was not followed as per our 2014 judgment,” the bench asked. Kirpal said it wasn’t and his client was being harassed. Faruqui was arrested on January 1. ESZ: UDF hartal in Wayanad on Monday Regal Root takes flight Chennai: The England skipper scored his 20th century to help the visitors to a promising 263/3 at stumps on Day 1 of the first Test against India in Chennai. On a docile pitch, the visitors’ No 4 unfurled his full batting arsenal 7 Root has at least one score over 50 in seven consecutive Tests in India. Only Javed Miandad (eight) has more 9 Root became the ninth cricketer to hit a century while playing in the 100th Test not your average joe Joe Root is pleased as punch after bringing up a century at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Friday. This was his third on the trot and second in India | bcci | P13 Kalpetta: A draft notification on the declaration of EcoSensitive Zone (ESZ) around the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, specifically the inclusion of human settlements, has sparked off a series of protests in Wayanad. The UDF has called a dawn-todusk hartal in Wayanad on February 8 against the draft notification. P7 Blast at Moolamattom power house in Idukki Kochi: Power generation at Moolamattom power station was stopped for three hours on Friday evening as there was a minor blast in one of the generators. The blast occurred in the panel of the fourth generator forcing the KSEB to shut down all six generators. P4 18 pages, including 4 pages of KOCHI Express child marriage Pocso case against tribal youth as 14-yr-old wife gives birth E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Malappuram A 22-year-old tribal man was booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act by the Pothukal police after his 14-year-old wife gave birth at Kozhikode Government Medical College Hospital (MCH) last month. “He first took her to the district hospital in Nilambur. Once the hospital authorities found out that his wife was a minor, they informed us,” said Pothukal sub-inspector Abbas K. Considering the complications that can arise when a minor delivers a baby, hospital authorities referred her to the MCH on January 22. She gave birth to a baby girl two days later. Police said the man has absconded ever since the district hospital reported the pregnancy to them. Meanwhile, the young man, with the help of a tribal organisation, has moved the Pocso Court in Manjeri seeking anticipatory bail. The girl’s parents also filed an affidavit before the tapper” was now flying around in helicopters. His remarks had since snowballed into a major controversy, with criticism even from his own party . Meanwhile, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala did a somersault on Friday stating that there was nothing wrong in the remarks. He said his reaction to Sudhakaran’s comment on Thursday was in reply to a question by mediapersons. Congress leader K C Venugopal said Sudhakaran’s remarks were not casteist and maintained that it was a local way of expression. However, he said leaders should hold discussions within the party before making public comments. Chandy Oommen’s Hagia Sophia comment upsets bishops’ council relief at last E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e ter further said he knows Sudhakaran from his days in Brennen College. “The criticism against the CM travelling in helicopter is not in tune with the time. Those who know me are aware of the kind of life I have been leading and the people of the state also know whether I am a man indulging in luxuries,” he said. Pinarayi’s statements came on a day when several Congress leaders rallied behind Sudhakaran, a day after disowning him. Addressing party workers during a reception accorded to Aishwarya Kerala Yatra in Kannur on Tuesday, Sudhakaran had said the “son of a toddy court stating they had no complaint against him and that she was married off as per their custom. The court, however, rejected the petition. “We will take him into custody soon. Since the girl is a minor, the accused is culpable under Pocso. There is no provision exempting tribal people from the law,” said Abbas. The SI, however, pointed out that marrying off minor girls was a custom in some tribal communities. “But when the girls get pregnant, they approach government hospitals for safe delivery. Hospital authorities then verify the age of the girl and report to the respective police station. Still, several child marriages among tribals go unreported in the state,” said Abbas. ● More on P6 spaces. The Cathedral (Hagia Sophia) represents a big Christian community which suffered communal persecution. Does the political leadership here doesn’t know that the act of the Turkey ruler converting the historical monument into a mosque inflicted an unhealable wound on Christianity?” said the KCBC statement. The statement with the header, ‘It is not right to promote communalism to win elections’, also said that young leaders should try to learn the history . After the issue snowballed into a controversy, Chandy Oommen said his speech was misconstrued and he was apologising for it. He alleged that certain lobbies in the RSS and CPM leaderships have been deliberately trying to create unrest in the state. The youth leader claimed that in the backdrop of the assembly elections, the move to communalise anything is a ● More on P5 dangerous trend. ‘Pinarayi doesn’t deserve any respect’ T’Puram: Continuing his attack on the CM, Sudhakaran on Friday pointed out that Pinarayi had once criticised KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran’s father, calling him ‘Attamparathi Gopalan’. “While Mullappally’s father was fighting for the country’s freedom, the CM’s father was roaming around in his village,” he claimed. Pinarayi, who has used words like ‘scoundrel’ (paranari) and called a bishop a “wretched creature”, doesn’t deserve any respect, he added. P4 Hindu Aikya Vedi leader booked over ‘halal’ video E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Kochi Hindu Aikya Vedi general secretary R V Babu was arrested by the North Paravoor police for allegedly posting a video on boycotting halal food. According to the police, the content of the video had elements promoting hatred between different groups. Babu was produced in court, which granted him interim bail. The police had registered a suo motu case invoking IPC Section 153A (promoting disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony). In recent months, there had been campaigns on social media against halal food and police have registered many cases in this regard. Blockade outside Delhi, UP, Uttarakhand today E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Chandigarh/Jaipur/Lucknow/New Delhi With the government on Friday strongly defending the farm laws in Rajya Sabha despite protests against them gathering momentum, farmers unions said that the chakka jam planned for Saturday will not take place in UP, Uttarakhand and Delhi, but will cover other parts of the country, including souther n states. While agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the offer to amend the laws should not be viewed as if they had any flaws, the Opposition demanded that they be repealed and fresh ones brought after consultations. At the protest site, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) announced their action plan on the chakka jam following a meeting between Balbir Singh Rajewal and Rakesh Tikait. “As sugarcane harvesting is on in UP and Uttarakhand, farmers will be busy. The SKM has decided that farmers in these two states will not resort to chak- Farmers wave the Indian flag during Kisan Mahapanchayat in UP’s Shamli district on Friday | Pti ka jam and will submit memos to the deputy commissioners. Delhi is also kept away from tomorrow’s stir, though it will cover the rest of the country,” said Tikait and Rajewal. Tikait welcomed the support from international artistes and activists, including Rihanna and Greta Thunberg, but admitted he didn’t know them. The SKM’ said only national and state highways are to be jammed from 12 noon to 3 pm. The farmer leaders appealed to keep it peaceful. rajan fiat can torpedo the budget and economy If Raghuram Rajan’s 2016 formula on NPAs is reapplied, it could devastate the economy and set the Budget off-track, warns S Gurumurthy | P9
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