OPINION, P6 COMPANIES, P4 BHAMY V SHENOY India unwisely rattled sabres at Saudi Arabia over oil prices INTERNATIONAL, P8 EDITORIAL PANDEMIC NEED BEIJING DIARY Govt must act urgently to prevent Covid-disruption of schools spelling disaster for poor households HUL’s Mehta says key sectors should leverage increased digitisation China GDP hits record growth, but recovery seen losing steam CHENNAI/KOCHI, SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 2021 FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & FACEBOOK. APP AVAILABLE ON APP STORE & PLAYSTORE WWW.FINANCIALEXPRESS.COM READ TO LEAD VOLUME XLII NO. 294, 12 PAGES, `10.00 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: 48,832.03 ▲ 28.35 NIFTY: 14,617.85 ▲ 36.40 NIKKEI 225: 29,683.37 ▲ 40.68 HANG SENG: 28,969.71 ▲ 176.57 `/$: 74.36 ▲ 0.57 `/€: 89.07 ▲ 0.70 BRENT: $67.22 ▲ $0.28 GOLD: `47,021 ▲ `389 IN THE NEWS SC norms for early disposal of cheque bounce cases EXPRESS PHOTO: DEEPAK JOSHI PNB SCAM ● INPUT COSTS RISE UK home secy okays Nirav’s extradition TO ENSURE SPEEDY disposal of over 35 lakh cheque bounce cases pending in various courts across the country, the Supreme Court on Friday gave a number of directions including asking the government to amend the laws to allow for clubbing of multiple trials in cases filed for a same transaction against anyone, reports fe Bureau in New Delhi. Signs off order to extradite diamond merchant, wanted in India for fraud and money-laundering EXPRESS PHOTO: PREM NATH PANDEY ADITI KHANNA London, April 16 AWS unveils new solutions for SMB digitisation FRIDAY TERROR Patients share a common bed (top left) at the casualty ward as shortage of bed increased at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in Ranchi; despite curfew, congestion at railway stations has not abated in Thane; bodies lined up for cremation at the Hindon river crematorium in Ghaziabad on Friday AMAZON WEB SERVICES (AWS) on Friday launched a curated set of software solutions 'Amazon Digital Suite', aimed at helping small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the country to digitise their operations and bring their businesses online, reports PTI. COVID-19 PSUs roped in to ramp up production of Covaxin QuickPicks Labour law implementation might get delayed further THE RAPID surge in Covid cases may further delay the implementation of the Centre’s ambitious labour reform proposals, reports Surya Sarathi Ray in New Delhi. This means businesses will have to wait longer for the freedom to retrench workers or close units without prior government permission. Of course, for workers too, minimum wages and timely payment ensured in the laws may not soon become a reality. Amalgamating 29 labour laws into four codes, the Centre wanted to bring in a sea change in the way business and industry functions today. While the wage code was passed in August 2019, Parliament approved three other codes — industrial relations, social security and occupational safety & health — in September 2020. PAGE 2 IPL opening match logs 323 m impressions, says Star India STAR INDIA, the official broadcaster of the Indian Premier League (IPL), on Friday said the opening match of the T20 event clocked 323 million total impressions, reports PTI. The opening match between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore got a response which was bigger than the opening matches of all other IPL editions held previously, except in 2020, and 42% higher than the edition in 2019, Star India said. "The Star India network has clocked 323 million total impressions for the opening match ofVIVO IPL 2021," it said. Impressions are the total number of times a content has been watched. ■ Indian Immunologicals to provide 10-15 million doses a month by August-September During this period, there havebeenextensivereviewsand feasibility studies on the plans being discussed with vaccine manufacturers,thedepartment of biotechnologysaid said. As part of the augmentation plan, capacities of Bharat Biotech as well as other public sectormanufactures are being upgraded with required infra- structure and technology, the DBT said. Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council for Medical Research have developed Covaxin, one of the two vaccines being used in the ongoing nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive. Continued on Page 2 IMD FORECAST Normal, dispersed monsoon seen FE BUREAU New Delhi, April 16 AFTER TWO SUCCESSIVE yearsof‘above-normal’rainfall, thecountrywouldwitness‘normal’ south-west monsoon in thecurrentyearwithprecipitation at 98% of the long period average (LPA), official weather forecaster said on Friday. If the prediction holds true, it would augur well for food grains production, and thereby the agriculture gross value added (GVA), but such forecasts have not always been accurate. Also,through grains output has risen in recent years and agriculture sector in FY20 and FY21remainedabrightspotina sagging economy, the link betweenoverallmonsoonrainsand agricultural production has be- Rain and grain Grains productivity has risen in recent years, monsoon link tenuous 320 240 109 160 80 0 Food grain production** (mn tonne) 303.3 The new model of the Toyota Fortuner has been launched, and we drive it on all kinds of terrains— from highways to sand and hilltops, and most things in between ■ Motobahn, P9 will have a capacity of 20 million doses per month, once functional 97 91 2020-21 New Toyota Fortuner looks ‘virtually indestructible’ ■ Haffkine facility A RECORD SINGLE-DAY riseof2,17,353 newcases took India’s total tally to 1,42,91,917, whileactive cases surpassed the 15lakh mark, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Friday, reports PTI. The death toll rose to 1,74,308 with 1,185 new fatalities, the highest sinceSeptember19,2020, the data updated at 8 am showed. Registering a steady rise for the 37th day, the active cases have increased to 15,69,743, while the national recovery rate dropped to 87.80%. ■ Page 2 297.5 Special Features in July-August 2019-20 AFTER DECLINING FOR two consecutive quarters, India's forex reserves surged by $4.34 billion to $581.21 billion in the week ended April 9, reports PTI. In the previous week ended April 2, it had dipped by $2.42 billion to $576.28 billion. It had dropped by $2.99 billion to $579.28 billion in the week ended March 26, 2021. 6-7 cr Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details. 285.2 Forex reserves surge by $4.34 bn to $581.21 bn by May-June; 3 PSUs roped in to increase the capacity Highest-ever single-day spike with 2,17,353 fresh cases Adar Poonawalla @adarpoonawalla 2018-19 THE PRODUCTION OF indigenouslydevelopedCovid19 vaccine Covaxin will be ramped up significantly and increased to 10 crore doses per month by September, the department of biotechnology said on Friday. Covaxin’s production will be doubled by May-June and the department has roped in three public sector companies to increase the capacityofvaccine production,it said. Fewweeksago,inter-ministerial teams had visited the sites of two mainvaccine manufacturers in India to get their inputs on how production can be ramped up. doubled ■ Bharat Biotech to raise production from 1 cr doses in April 2021 to 285 PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, April 16 ■ Covaxin's productionwill be 2017-18 Centre eyes 10 crore doses per month by Sept 275.1 FORMER CBI DIRECTOR Ranjit Sinha died here Friday morning at the age of 68 in what is believed to be a Covid-19 related death, senior officials said, reports PTI. He was confirmed positive for coronavirus on Thursday night and breathed his last at 4.30 am, the officials said. 2016-17 Former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha passes away 120 110 100 90 80 Monsoon rainfall* (% of LPA) RHS Note: Rainfall between 96-104% of 'long period average' (LPA) of 88 cm is considered 'normal', 90-96% 'below normal', 104-110% is 'above normal' *During June-September, **July-June en rather tenuous. Of course, distributionanddurationofrains do have a role in production of keygrains,given that 52% of the crop area is still rain-fed. Statingthatseasonalrainfall thisyear,accordingtotheIndian Meteorological Department (IMD) was likely to be 98% of ● PRO-DEMOCRACY STIR LPA with a model error of +/5%, M Rajeevan, secretary at ministry of earth sciences,said the precipitation could be normal across the country,barring Odisha,Jharkhand,Bihar,Assam andeastern UttarPradesh. Continued on Page 2 UK HOME SECRETARY Priti Patelhassignedoffontheorder toextraditeNiravModi,wanted in India on fraud and moneylaundering charges related to theestimated$2-billionPunjab NationalBank(PNB)scamcase, senior Indian diplomatic sourcesintheUKsaidonFriday. Modi, 50, who remains behind bars at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, has 14 days to apply for permission to appeal against the Home Secretary's order in the High Court in London.Back on February 25, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court had concluded that the diamond merchant has a case to answer before the Indian courts, leaving the sign off on the order with the Cabinet minister. He had allegedly perpetrated the PNB fraud in collusionwith his uncle Mehul Choksi. ● BENGAL POLLS EC extends silence period to 72 hours in last 3 phases PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, April 16 AGAINST THE BACKDROP of rising Covid cases, the Election Commission on Friday put in placerestrictionsoncampaigningbypoliticalparties,including curtailing its time,for the West Bengal elections. EC curtailed the time for campaign up to 7 pm.Earlieritwas up to 10 pm. It also extended the silence period from 48 hours to 72 hours in each of the remaining three of the eight phases of the polls to be held on April 22, 26 and 29.During the silence period,whichisusuallyfor48hours, parties and candidates cannot hold ralliesand meetings. ■ Modi has 14 days to apply for permission to appeal against home secretary's order ■ On February 25, a London Court had concluded that Modi has a case to answer before the Indian courts ■ Court said there is no evidence to suggest hewould not receive a fair trial in India ■ Also dismissed human rights concerns that Modi's medical needswould not be addressed ■ He iswanted in India on fraud and moneylaundering charges related to $2-bn PNB scam case After a two-year-long legal battle, district judge Samuel Goozee had ruled that Modi only has a case to answer in the Indian courts but that there is no evidence to suggest he would not receive a fair trial in India. Continued on Page 2 Maruti Suzuki hikes model prices by up to `22,500 PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, April 16 THE COUNTRY'S LARGEST carmaker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI)onFridaysaidithashiked prices of most of its models by up to `22,500with immediate effect to partially offset the impactoftheriseininputcosts. BarringCelerioandSwift,allthe models of the company will be covered under the price increase exercise. “The company is increasing the price for selectmodelsowingtoincrease invarious input costs,” it said in a regulatoryfiling. The weighted average price increaseinex-showroomprices (Delhi)acrossmodelsis1.6%,it added.ThenewpricesareeffectivefromFriday,MSIsaid.Itsells various models ranging from Alto to S-Cross,priced between `2.99lakhand`12.39lakh(exshowroom Delhi). In March,MSI had said over the past year, the cost of the vehicles has been impacted adverselyduetoariseinvarious input costs. On January 18 this year, it hadannouncedtohikepricesof select models by up to `34,000 due to arise in input costs. Bonds rally FE BUREAU RBI rejects all bids at auction Bonds rallied and the benchmark yield fell on Friday after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) rejected all bids for the security at the `14,000-crore auction. The yield fell four basis points to 6.088% after rising to 6.13% on Thursday. The rupee gained 58 paise against the dollar to end at 74.36 6.21 10-year bond yield (%) Intra-day, April 16 6.18 6.15 6.141 6.12 6.088 6.09 6.06 6.03 6.00 Previous close: 6.126 Open Close NEW ENERGY Large fleet of hydrogen-run buses soon FE BUREAU New Delhi, April 16 TO PROMOTE THE use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel, the government has firmed up a plan to ensure that the country will soon have a very large fleet of buses running on compressed natural gas blended with hydrogen (HCNG).Currently,50 buses of the state road transport corporation in plying on HCNG on a pilot basis in the national capital region. ■ Indian Oil to run about 75 hydrogen fuel-cell (HFC) powered buses on popular routes such as Vadodara to Statue of Unity and Delhi toAgra. ■ NTPC is working on a project to promote HFC buses in Leh and the DelhiJaipur route, other PSUs like GAIL and Indraprastha Gas to follow suit Union minister of petroleum and natural gas (MoPNG) Dharmendra Pradhan said at a recent event here that the government was planning to scale the project up in the coming months across the major cities of India. It is not immediately clear if the government will purchase HCNG buses or promote the use and purchase of such vehicles via policy interventionsandincentivesordoboth. Continued on Page 2 US SCRUTINY Hong Kong tycoon Lai gets 14 months in prison Blueprint for Big Tech crackdown approved DIANE BARTZ April 16 JESSIE PANG & JAMES POMFRET Hong Kong, April 16 HONG KONG MEDIA tycoon Jimmy Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison while nine otheractivistsreceivedjailtime or suspended sentences on Friday for taking part in unauthorised assemblies during mass pro-democracy protests in 2019. Senior barrister Martin Lee,whohelpedlaunchthecity’s largest opposition Democratic Jimmy lai Party in the 1990s and is often calledthe“fatherofdemocracy”, was given an 11-month suspended sentence. Continued on Page 2 THE US HOUSE of Representatives Judiciary Committee formally approved a report accusing Big Tech companies of buying or crushing smaller firms, representative David Cicilline’s office said in a statement on Thursday. With the approval during a marathon,partisanhearing,the more than 400-page staff report will become an official committeereport,andtheblue- Panel formally approved a report accusing Big Tech companies of buying or crushing smaller firms The over 400page staffreport to become a blueprint to rein in power ofGoogle,Apple,Amazon and Facebook print for legislation to rein in themarketpowerofthelikesof Alphabet Google,Apple,Amazon.com and Facebook. Report first released in October suggests extensive changes to antitrust law It describes dozens of instances where it said the companies had misused their power The reportwas approved by a 24-17 vote that split along party lines. The companies have denied anywrongdoing. The report first released in October – the first such congressional review of the tech industry–suggestedextensive changes to antitrust law and described dozens of instances where it said the companies had misused their power. “Amazon,Apple,Google,and Facebook each hold monopoly power over significant sectors ofoureconomy.Thismonopoly moment must end,” Cicilline said in a statement. Continued on Page 2 CHENNAI/KOCHI
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