OPINION, P6 ECONOMY, P2 INTERNATIONAL, P8 EDITORIAL SECOND TRANCHE OFFLOADING SPREE Finmin gives `9,871 cr as revenue deficit grant to 17 states Bezos sells $2.5 bn of Amazon, signals more’s coming SC rightly finds no merit in reservation for Marathas Don't force schools to cut fees, SC order to Rajasthan schools opens the floodgates for this CHENNAI/KOCHI, FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2021 FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & FACEBOOK. APP AVAILABLE ON APP STORE & PLAYSTORE WWW.FINANCIALEXPRESS.COM READ TO LEAD VOLUME XLII NO. 311, 16 PAGES, `6.00 P U B L I S H E D F R O M : A H M E D A B A D , B E N G A L U R U , C H A N D I G A R H , C H E N N A I , H Y D E R A B A D , K O C H I , K O L K ATA , L U C K N O W, M U M B A I , N E W D E L H I , P U N E SENSEX: 48,949.76 ▲ 272.21 NIFTY: 14,724.80 ▲ 106.95 NIKKEI 225: 29,331.37 ▲ 518.74 HANG SENG: 28,637.46 ▲ 219.48 `/$: 73.76 ▲ 0.15 `/€: 88.86 ▼ 0.14 BRENT: $68.47 ▼ $0.49 GOLD: `47,163 ▲ `163 IN THE NEWS Operation Twist: RBI buys bonds worth `10,000 cr THE RESERVE Bank of India bought `10,000 crore of the benchmark 10-year bond at its Operation Twist on Thursday, taking away the bulk of the paper it sold at an auction last week, reports Bloomberg. The 10-year bond yield remained little changed at 5.97% after the operation. 2nd wave: Fitch sees India GDP growth at 9.5% THE SPIRALLING crisis from resurgence of Covid-19 cases in India has dented support for the ruling BJP, but support for PM Narendra Modi will remain strong over the coming quarters, Fitch said on Thursday, reports PTI. It forecast real GDP to grow 9.5% in April 2021 to March 2022. Ex-Union minister Ajit Singh dies battling Covid-19 FORMER UNION minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh, also a prominent farmer leader, passed away at a hospital in Gurgaon on Thursday, battling Covid-19, his family said, reports PTI. He was 82. Special Feature ‘We want to bring 10 cr small businesses online’ Vidit Aatrey, co-founder and CEO, Meesho, which recently raised $300 million from SoftBank, on what deters SMBs from adopting the e-commerce model ■ BrandWagon, P7 COMBATTING COVID SC says Centre’s oxygen policy needs a relook Questions govt over its readiness and plan of action to deal with the imminent third wave INDU BHAN New Delhi, May 6 THE SUPREME COURT on ThursdaysaidtheCentre’soxygendistributionformulaneeds arelookasithasgrosslyunderestimatedDelhi’srequirement. Abench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said the Centre’s current formula devised presently on the “oxygen-for-bed”arrangement for Covid patients “needs a relook”.On Wednesday, the SC had askedthe Centretosubmit a comprehensive plan to ensure Delhi receivedits quota of around 700 metric tonnes of oxygen per day. The apex court questioned the Centre over its readiness and plan of action to deal with the impending third wave of the Covid pandemic,even as it found its current “rough-andready”formulafordistribution ofoxygentostates,particularly Delhi,grosslyunderestimated. “When you prepared the formula not everybody who went to ICU needed oxygen. But now many home isolation patientsneedoxygen.Yourformula does not take into account ambulances, Covid care facility etc,” Justice Chandrachud said,directing a complete audit of the distribution system so as to give it a panIndia view that fixes accountabilityoncestocksarereleased. "When the third wave comes, how will you deal with it? It might have very different parameters. If we prepare today, we will be able to handle. What is the problem in enhancing the supply? It will save people from oxygen panic and create buffer." "When you prepared the ('oxygen-for-bed') formula, not everybody who went to ICU needed oxygen. But now many home isolation patients need oxygen. Your formula does not take into account ambulances, Covid care facility etc." HARD TIMES (Clockwise from above) Patients, on oxygen support, wait outside a hospital in Jammu on Thursday; people flout social distancing norms while waiting to get vaccinated in Solapur, Maharashtra; urns containing ashes await immersion at a crematorium in New Delhi Current surge likely to fall by middle or end of May: Kang It also decided to form a committee of experts for oxygen audit,as sought by the Centre. The bench said the Centre needs to start preparations and finalise a new formula for allocation,supply and distribution of oxygen in a“scientific manner”ahead of the coming wave. Besides, it stressed the need for a speedy vaccination process as the possible third surge is likely to affect children,according to experts. Continued on Page 2 PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, May 6 THECURRENTSURGEincoronavirus cases may go down by themiddleorendofMay,noted vaccinologist Gagandeep Kang has said.She said there could be one or two more peaks of cases but they may not be as bad as the current one. Right now it’s doing a “world through” inareas itdidnotdolastyear,inthemiddle-classpopulation,intherural areas and there is going to be “very little fuel”for the virus to continuetogothrough,shesaid. Allaying fears about vaccines, she said they are efficacious and emphasised the need to ramp the inoculation drive. She also expressed concern over the declining number of coronavirus tests. Continued on Page 2 Honda extends plant shutdown by 12 days Paytm launches Covid vaccine finder tool HONDA CARS India on Thursday said it is advancing maintenance shutdown at its Rajasthan-basedmanufacturingplantbyaroundtendaysin the wake of second wave of Covid-19, reports PTI. The Japanese automaker, which PAYTM ON Thursday launched ‘Covid-19 Vaccine Finder'’ — a platform to help citizens check the availability of vaccination slots — on its Mini App store, reports PTI. Theplatformwillhelpcitizens check the availabilityofvacci- HEAVY METAL AMNS posts 187% jump in profits in Jan-Mar quarter FE BUREAU, New Delhi, May 6 ARCELORMITTAL NIPPON STEEL India (AMNS India) on Thursday reported a 187% year-on-year and 47% quarter-on-quarter increase in its earnings before interest, tax, depreciationandamortization (Ebitda) at $403 million for the January-March period of the current year. ArcelorMittal, or the erstwhile EssarSteel,follows a January-December fiscal. In the last quarter of 2020, AMNS India had clocked $274 million Ebitda and in the first quarter of 2020,its Ebitda was $140 million. Essar Steel was acquired by AMNS through the insolvencyrouteinDecember2019 for over `42,000 crore. The Indian operation, in which it has the majority 60% stake,contributed in a big way to help ArcelorMittal turn in its best-ever quarterly Ebitda in a decade at the group level during the JanuaryMarch quarter of the current year at $3.2 billion compared with $1.7 billion in Q4’20. Overall, ArcelorMittal’s sales in the first quarter were at $16.2 billion against $14.2 billion for Q4’20 and $14.8 billion for Q1’20, mainly buoyed by surging SUPREME COURT TO CENTRE Aditya Mittal, CEO, ArcelorMittal AMNS India Ebitda performance (in $ m) Q1, 2020 Q4, 2020 140 403 ArcelorMittal in Jan-Mar 2021 $16.2 bn ■ Ebitda $3.2 bn ■ Net income $2.3 bn Loan recast 2.0 FE BUREAU 50% Crisil-rated mid-sized cos eligible Half of Crisil-rated mid-sized companies will be eligible for the restructuring window offered under the resolution framework 2.0 announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Companies with relatively weaker credit profiles and part of lowresilience sectors are expected to benefit more from the scheme, the rating agency said on Thursday. Investment grade Subinvestment grade 2,712 4,050 60% 40% Crisil-rated portfolio of mid-sized companies (excluding ﬁnancial sector) Investment grade Subinvestment grade 17% 2,872 589 83% Crisil-rated eligible credits nation slots for a specific date by individually entering different PIN codes or district details along with age group. In case the slots are saturated for the near future, users can select the option forreal-time alerts from Paytm. ● LOADING SOON PUBG set to be back in Indian avatar SOUTH KOREA’S KRAFTON will launch Battlegrounds Mobile India, a successor to the popular mobile game PUBG that was blocked by the Indian government last year, reports PTI. In September last year, the government blocked 118 mobile applications, including PUBG, terming them prejudicialtothesovereignty,integrity and defence of the nation. Following the ban,PUBG Corp — a subsidiary of Krafton — had said China’s Tencent Games would no longer be authorised todistributethePUBGMOBILE franchise in India. ■ Page 4 THE N440K is neither a ‘variant of interest’, nor virulent now, the Andhra Pradesh health department has said, quoting a study by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, reports PTI.“The major strains identified from the samples of south India (AP, Karnataka, Telangana),from the positives of April data, are B.1.617 and B.1,which are very infectious and also spreading in the younger age groups apart from adults,”AP Covid Command and Control Centre chief KS Jawahar Reddy said. “N440K strain (B.1.36) was detected in June-July 2020...It dropped down drastically in March2021.Now,itsshare amongthepositivesisvery minimal,” Reddyadded. GROWING REACH Infections spread to rural areas REUTERS New Delhi, May 6 HOPES THAT THE country’s deadly second wave of Covid19 was about to peak were swept away on Thursday as it posted record daily infections and deaths and as the virus spread from cities to villages. India reported a record 4,12,262 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours and a record 3,980 deaths.Covid-19 infections have now surged past 21 million, with a total death toll of 230,168, health ministry data show. Government modelling had forecast a peak in second wave infectionsbyWednesday. With hospitals scrabbling for beds and oxygen in response to the surge in infections, the World Health Orga- Limited access to public healthcare in rural areas posing significant challenges India accounted for nearly halfthe Covid cases reported worldwide lastweek, according toWHO The surge in infections has coincidedwith a drop invaccinations over supply and delivery issues nization (WHO) said in a weekly report that India accounted for nearly half the coronavirus cases reported worldwide last week and a quarterofthe deaths.India has 3.45 million active cases. Continued on Page 2 FLEXI-WORKING Google says 20% of employees to be remote,many more hybrid PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, May 6 GOOGLE WILL MOVE to a hybridworkweek,where most Googlersspendapproximately threedaysinthe officeand two days “wherever they work best”, according to a note by Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. About 20% of Google’s workforce will continue to work remotely after its offices reopen later this year, while about 60% Googlerswill come together in the office for a few days a week,Pichai said. “Since in-office time will be The future of work is flexibility. The changes are a starting point to help us do our very best work and have fun doing it. — SUNDAR PICHAI, CEO, GOOGLE Google to offer opportunities for employees to apply for completely remotework based on their role and team needs Staffto also be able to temporarily work from a location other than their main office for up to 4weeks per year focused on collaboration,your productareasandfunctionswill help decide which days teams will cometogetherin the office. Therewillalsoberolesthatmay need to be on site more than three days a week due to the nature of thework,” he added. Continued on Page 2 274 Q1, 2021 ■ Sales sells models like Amaze and City, has decided to shut production at itsTapukara-based facility for 12 days starting from May7 in order to curtail spread of infections.The production will be halted from May7 till May18. ■ Page 4 ‘N440K variant dropped down drastically’ ■ Crude steel production 17.6 mt ■ Steel shipments 16.5 mt prices of the material. ArcelorMittal recorded net income of $2.3 billion in the first quarter compared with a net loss of $1.1 billion in the same period last year. Continued on Page 2 QuickPicks As Covid cases rise, railways cancels slew of Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains THE NORTHERN Railways on Thursday cancelled a slew of Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express', stating low patronisation and rising coronavirus cases as the reason behind the decision, reports PTI. The to-andfro services of eight Shatabdi Express, two Rajdhani Express, two Duronto Express and one Vande Bharat Express are among around 28 trains that have been cancelled "till further advice" by the Northern Railways. Among these are Shatabdis originating from Delhi to places like Kalka, Habibganj, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Rajdhani trains from Delhi to Chennai, Bilaspur, Duronto trains to Jammu Tawi and Pune. CHENNAI/KOCHI
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