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India

BJP’s Swamy to drag UN official to court over Muslim ‘comment’ row

Dieng said on Monday that alleged statements attributed to Swamy like “all people are not equal”, and that “Muslims are not in an ‘equal category’ as others” were extremely alarming. Dieng added: “Hate speech and the dehumanisation of others go against international human rights norms and values.”

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New Delhi, May 23 : What started off as a war of words is about to result in a legal suit. BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has announced that he will be prosecuting United Nations Under Secretary General Adama Dieng for defamation after Dieng accused Swamy of an anti-Muslim hate speech. Swamy has also rubbished the allegations, questioning the credibility of Dieng’s source of information.

The BJP lawmaker tweeted: “I am honoured & encouraged to receive from the BJP National President J.P. Nadda and office bearers their best wishes for success on my endeavour to prosecute for defamation the United Nations Under Secretary General Mr. Adama Dieng. I am also thankful to the MEA for facilitation.”

If this tweet is anything to go by, Swamy has the backing of both his party and the government in his legal offensive against the UN Official.

IANS was the first to report about this controversy. Earlier, Under-Secretary-General Adama Dieng said on Monday that alleged statements attributed to Swamy like “all people are not equal”, and that “Muslims are not in an ‘equal category’ as others” were extremely alarming. Dieng added: “Hate speech and the dehumanisation of others go against international human rights norms and values.”

However, the BJP lawmaker, while speaking to IANS then, demanded to know “the source or medium” of the alleged statement attributed to Swamy by Dieng. Swamy asked, “Or is it cut and paste fake news?”

Later, Swamy released a second salvo at Dieng saying, “That is cut and paste production. Get the unedited 2-hour interview tape which they are declining to give me,” after a short version of the link to his interview where he made the purported comments was provided as “source” of the UN official’s charge against him.

But this time around, Swamy seems determined to take Dieng head on, in a legal face-off.

Dieng claimed that the expedited citizenship given to non-Muslim minorities should be extended to Muslims in order to be non-discriminatory. Excluding Muslims “is contrary to India’s obligations under international human rights law, in particular on non-discrimination,” he said, without explaining how a measure to explicitly protect religious minorities from Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are officially Islamic countries, and Muslim-majority Bangladesh, would apply to the members of the majority religion there.

Cities

Two Delhi Police personnel succumb to Covid-19; toll 3

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Corona Delhi

New Delhi, May 31 : Two Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASIs) of the Delhi Police have succumbed to Covid-19, taking the toll in the force to three, according to officials, here on Sunday.

While Shesh Mani Pandey, an ex-army man, was deployed as fingerprint expert in the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch, Vikram was posted at the Sultan Puri police station.

Pandey tested Covid-19 positive on May 26 at the Lady Hardinge Hospital as he complained of fever and cough, the officials said. He was admitted to Army Base Hospital in the Delhi Cantonment area.

He is survived by wife and three children. His elder son and daughter are married and settled in Madhya Pradesh, while the youngest son, a class 12th student, is staying with mother in Naraina village.

Assistant Sub-Inspector Vikram, on highway patrolling duty since May 1, was admitted to the Army Base Hospital on May 26 with breathing problems. He tested Covid-19 positive the same day. He succumbed to Covid-19 around 11.30 a.m on Sunday.

He is also survived by wife and three children.

Delhi Commissioner of Police S.N. Shrivastava paid homage to the two members of the Delhi Police family who made the greatest sacrifice in the fight against Covid-19.

Shrivastava also interacted with all station house officers and briefed them about the Covid-19 preventive steps and facilities, like isolation, testing centres, treatment support, alternate accommodation, and reserved beds in hospitals for police personnel.

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Disaster

Delay in reporting Covid deaths: AIIMS, RML, Lok Nayak served notice

While Delhi has reported only 73 deaths till May 10, the Covid toll on Sunday has reached 473 — after hospitals started reporting the pending deaths.

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Corona Death Body

New Delhi, May 31 : Weeks after warning all the hospitals here of strict action on delay in reporting coronavirus fatalities, the Delhi government has served a show cause notice to AIIMS, Lok Nayak, RML and Safdarjung Hospitals to explain the reasons for delay in reporting the deaths.

The Delhi Health Department on Sunday said memorandums have also been issued to Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital to explain the reasons for delay in reporting death cases.

“Show cause notices have been issued to AIIMS Hospital, Lok Nayak Hospital, RML Hospital, and Safdarjung Hospital to explain the reasons for delay in reporting death cases in violation of the directions issued by the Health Department of Delhi as well as by DDMA under the Disaster Management Act,” the Health Department said.

Also, it said, an advisory have been issued to Lok Nayak Hospital to “be careful in future and follow the orders and guidelines issued by the department in true letter and spirit” so that there is no anomaly in the deaths being reported by the government.

While Lok Nayak Hospital is a Delhi government hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Safdarjung Hospital are under the Central government.

On May 10, accepting that public and private hospitals in the city were not reporting the Covid-19 deaths in a timely and regular manner, the Delhi government, after much criticism from the opposition, warned all the hospitals of strict action on delay in reporting of coronavirus deaths and ask the healthcare facilities to submit the death report, even nil, by 5 p.m. daily.

Along with the order, Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev on May 10, also issued the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as per which every Covid hospital and health facility will have to report all death cases of Covid-19 positive patients by email to the District Surveillance Unit and also to the State Surveillance unit of IDSP Cell of Delhi Government by 5 p.m. every day.

The order warned that non-compliance will be viewed seriously and strict action as per the relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 as well as other relevant laws will be taken against the defaulters without any further notice.

While Delhi has reported only 73 deaths till May 10, the Covid toll on Sunday has reached 473 — after hospitals started reporting the pending deaths. The Health report said that the cumulative death figures refer to fatalities where the primary cause of death was found to be the infection, as per the report of the Death Audit Committee on the basis of case sheets received from various hospitals.

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Business

Amid sharp GDP data revision, debate continues over its fairness

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GDP data

New Delhi, May 31 : The sharp revision in quarterly GDP data has grabbed the eyeballs of economists and experts and the government has also received flak over it.

The debate still continues over whether the revision of the previous quarter’s GDP growth numbers were justified or not.

State Bank of India (SBI) Group Chief Economic Adviser, Soumya Kanti Ghosh, in a report, has questioned the data quality and ‘remarkable’ volatility in the new series adopted by the CSO that has led to frequent sharp revisions in GDP numbers in each of quarterly estimates with wide upward and downward swings in numbers in each of the quarter estimate from excisions.

Noting that the loss of economic activity due to the lockdown in last few days of March has dragged GDP growth to a 40-quarter low of 3.1 per cent in Q4 FY20, he said: “However, CSO has significantly revised the previous quarters’ growth rates (compared to Q3 release) which is quite puzzling and raises questions about data quality and remarkable volatility in the new series and we believe that a methodological note from CSO explaining the frequent revisions will be very useful.”

The SBI Ecowrap report, authored by Ghosh, said that in February, the quarterly numbers underwent significant upward revisions and such numbers have now been steeply revised downwards by an almost equal amount, within a span of three months.

“While it is customary to change the quarterly numbers in May when the 3rd estimate of FY20 is released, the extent of such revision reveals possibly the loss in Q4 because of lockdown may have been evenly distributed across quarters/Rs 1.18 lakh crore loss estimated and distributed across quarters in FY20 (Q4 accounted for only 50 per cent of such),” it said.

Talking to IANS, former Chief Statistician of India Pronab Sen said that the fourth quarter numbers are fine, but the revision of the third quarter numbers was the major problem which should have been avoided as it was out of schedule.

“As far as changes were concerned, the changes that were released during this fourth quarter… those are fine. There is no problem at all, that is how it should be. The problem here was the change made with the third quarter data. That was problematic, that was off schedule.”

He explained that as per the normal schedule, the quarterly data is not changed till the provisional estimates of the year are released in June.

“But prior to that, the three quarters data is not changed. When the provisional annual data is released, then the quarterly data has to be changed so that there is consistency between the four quarters and the annual figures. That is the standard operating procedure… now that got violated this year,” Sen said.

N.R. Bhanumurthy, Professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, however, noted that official GDP data has revisions and this is the third revision, which is called provisional estimates. He was of the view that revision in previous quarters’ GDP numbers should not be a matter of concern as it is a routine process.

On the concerns regarding the quality of data, he said that improving the quality of data is a work in progress as the country is now getting into a new data basis.

Bhanumurthy, who is also a member of the Advisory Committee on National Accounts Statistics (ACNAS), said: “We are now getting into a much more wider data sense in getting the GDP numbers. I would say it’s still a long way to go. The contribution of the informal sector is always taken on a pro-rata basis based on some survey done in 2011-12… those things need to be updated.”

He was of the view that the problems would have existed in the old GDP data calculation methodology.

Bhanumurthy noted that the GST data is not given in a “disaggregated level” which is also a major obstacle in getting accurate data.

“Previously, we used to use indirect tax data, now we don’t get that kind of a granularity. There used to be VAT separately, there used to be service tax separately. GST is a combination of that, we don’t know what is goods and what is services,” he added.

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