Daily Briefing: PM seeks review of overseas travel amid spread of new Covid variant; Farmers defer march to Parliament

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In the light of growing concerns regarding the new Covid variant first detected in South Africa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked officials to review the lifting of international travel restrictions. A day earlier, the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced the resumption of international scheduled commercial flights from December 15, after a 21-month gap. The PMO said Modi highlighted the need to monitor all international arrivals, with focus on countries identified as ‘at risk’. 

Only in the Express

Explaining the current political scenario of our country, P Chidambaram writes: “The rich get big and the big get rich. Once they are big and rich, there is the clear and present danger that they will be unaccountable. It is crystal clear that the Modi government fears only one thing — losing an election. Petrol and diesel prices were reduced within hours of the results of the by-elections to 30 Assembly seats, where the BJP won just seven.” 

From the Front Page 

In the first signs of strain in ties with the Congress, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which is trying to gain a national footprint, indicated that it was not keen on coordinating its moves in Parliament with the Congress. The TMC is unlikely to attend a meeting of Opposition floor leaders called by Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, on Monday. 

An alleged gang which obtained “fake decrees” from small-causes courts to illegally grab properties — by forging documents and creating a fictitious rental dispute between a “fake owner” and a “fake tenant” — was also hired by politically connected persons to grab some prime properties in Bengaluru, according to a probe by the state CID. So far, the CID has filed 60 FIRs over the evictions racket. It has found that some of the 118 cases, filed in the small-causes court to obtain fake decrees, involved “VIPs”’ who hired the “fake suits” operatives to grab disputed prime properties. 

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, spearheading the year-long protest by farmers at the gates of Delhi against the three new agriculture laws, said that it was suspending its march to Parliament following the Prime Minister’s announcement that the laws will be repealed in the winter session of the House starting Monday. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, meanwhile, urged farmers to return to their homes, saying there was no point in continuing the agitation following the announcement of the decision to repeal the farm laws.

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Increased use of contraception across the country has been a major contributing factor in preventing unwanted pregnancies, and in turn the decrease in India’s Total Fertility Rate to below replacement level, NFHS-5 data show. In five years between NFHS-4 (2015-16) and NHFS-5 (2019-20), use of modern contraceptives for family planning has increased from 47.8 per cent to 56.5 per cent, data show. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar’s numbers, in particular, have been encouraging. 

With the government set to introduce a Bill to regulate cryptocurrencies in the upcoming Winter session of Parliament, the Sunday Express meets a range of stakeholders — from investors to coin exchange players and the government — on what could be the way forward. “We have to come out of the shadows…How do we provide the right education to the user and ensure they understand the risk when they get into it…guidelines and self-regulation organisations are needed to lay down what is allowed,” Ashish Singhal, founder & CEO of CoinSwitch Kuber and BACC co-chair, said. 

Sunday Eye 

Stand-up comedians in India prepare for a lot of things — awkward silences or an audience that is not in on the joke. But, over the last decade, amid increasing instances of fragile egos and easily-hurt sentiments, an FIR has also come to be one of them. We speak to comedians about how they create content despite frequent threats of intimidation and even arrest. 

Until tomorrow, 

Rounak Bagchi and Rahel Philipose

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