SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
NOVEMBER 25, 2
TO THE FORE
MCI (P) 079/10/2022
Kerala Education Minister V. Sivankutty (left) and a scene from the movie Double XL (above).
REPORT ON PAGE 4
Kerala minister calls
for end to
A street in Kolkata
painted with the
Messi and Portugal’s
Cristiano Ronaldo as
the football World
Cup gets under way
Football fever has
gripped the city,
known as India’s
football Mecca, with
fans releasing paper
sky lanterns (fanush)
and adorning the
walls of homes with
the images of some
of the world’s
One of the
holding a globe that
nations featuring in
the 2022 World Cup.
Six killed in police firing
At least six people were killed in
police firing near the border between
Assam and Meghalaya on Tuesday.
The incident occurred in
Meghalaya’s West Jaintia Hills district,
when Assam Police personnel and
forest guards opened fire on a crowd
after heated arguments.
India discontinues Air Suvidha
form for international passengers
The Ministry of Civil Aviation on
Monday discontinued the filling of
mandatory Air Suvidha form for
The Air Suvidha was a mandatory
self-declaration to be filled by
international passengers arriving in
India. The form asked about the
travellers’ health status and recent
The ministry said it revised the
guidelines in light of sustained
declining Covid-19 trajectory and
significant advances being made in
Covid-19 vaccination coverage both
globally and in India.
Travellers with single name on
Indian passport can’t fly to UAE
United Arab Emirates authorities have
told trade partner IndiGo airlines that
passengers with a single name on
Indian passport will not be allowed to
enter UAE from Monday.
This means that both first and last
names have to be clearly declared.
But the low-cost carrier said
passengers with single name on
passport and in possession of a
residence permit or permanent visa
will be allowed to enter provided the
first name and surname are updated.
OECD: India among few economies
in Asia to witness growth
The Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development
(OECD) in its latest report projected
India as one of the few growing
economies in Asia amid a global
slowdown triggered by a massive
energy shock owing to the ongoing
The Paris-based inter-governmental
body, which focuses on economic
policy, reports that India is set to be
the second-fastest growing economy in
the G20 in FY 2022-23 after Saudi
The statement comes despite
decelerating global demand and the
tightening of monetary policy to
manage inflationary pressures.
Cotton exports stall as farmers
hold off sales for higher prices
Indian traders are struggling to export
cotton despite higher production as
farmers are delaying sale of their
harvest hoping for higher prices in
coming months, industry officials told
The limited supplies are keeping
local prices significantly above the
global benchmark, making overseas
sales unviable from the world’s biggest
producer of the fibre.
Billionaire Adani’s firm weighs
US$1.8 billion fundraiser
Adani Enterprise, the flagship firm of
Asia’s richest person, is considering
issuing at least US$1.8 billion ($2.5b)
in new shares, reported Bloomberg.
Billionaire Gautam Adani’s
conglomerate is working with advisers
on the follow-on issue and might sell
the shares as soon as next year.
The sale might raise as much as
The issuance will test investor
appetite for a stock that has had
outsized gains, compounded by lower
liquidity relative to peers and sparse
Man jailed six months for letting
cows roam streets
A court in Gujarat has handed a
six-month jail sentence to a man for
letting his cattle stray on the streets.
Prakash Jairam Desai was found
guilty of letting them loose and
endangering people’s lives.
The court said the punishment was
imposed to serve justice since such
offences are on the rise.
MP Congress MLA’s ‘wife’ writes to
party leaders to seek justice
A day after a woman, who claimed to
be Madhya Pradesh Congress legislator
Umang Singhar’s wife, lodged a police
report accusing him of sexual
harassment, she wrote a letter on
Wednesday to top party leaders,
including Sonia Gandhi and Kamal
Nath, seeking justice.
She claims that Mr Singhar has a
fetish for filming women in the nude
and blackmailing them, and has
exploited many other women.
Probe ordered after six lose
eyesight in cataract operation
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in
Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur district has
ordered a probe against the Aradhya
nursing home after six senior citizens
lost their eyesight following surgery for
The six complained of loss of
vision, headache and pain in the eyes.
CMO Alok Ranjan said that action
would be initiated after the inquiry.
Four women allegedly abduct man
and sexually abuse him
Four women – all in their early-20s –
in Punjab’s Jalandhar city allegedly
abducted a man, who works as a
labourer in a leather factory, on the
pretext of asking for an address and
sexually abused him.
The victim told the media that the
women sprayed a chemical in his eyes,
which made him unconscious. Later,
he was dumped at a secluded spot.
Kerala govt moves court against
discharge of IAS officer in case
The Kerala government on Wednesday
approached the High Court to
challenge an order of a lower court
which discharged Indian
Administrative Service officer Sriram
Venkitaraman of a culpable homicide
charge for a road accident in 2019 in
The officer was driving a car that hit
journalist K.M. Basheer and killed
him. The police found that Mr
Venkitaraman was drunk at the time of
Maharashtra govt to probe police
inaction on Shraddha’s SOS
The Maharashtra government has
ordered a probe into the Palghar
Police’s “inaction” on a letter from Ms
Shraddha Walkar in November 2020.
She had written about the death
threats from her live-in partner Aftab
“Without blaming anybody, we
need to know the truth... If the police
had acted in a timely manner, this
killing of Shraddha by Poonawala
could have been avoided,” said
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra
Aftab was arrested in Delhi on Nov
12 for killing Ms Shraddha on May 18,
chopping her body into many pieces
and scattering the remains in a forest.
Cricket board sacks selectors after
World Cup exit
India’s cricket board has sacked its
entire selection committee, led by
former fast bowler Chetan Sharma,
after the team’s humiliating T20 World
India suffered a 10-wicket thrashing
by England in the semi-final in
Adelaide, prompting fresh
soul-searching by a team that last won
a global title at the 2013 Champions
Trophy. The exit dismayed India’s
legion of die-hard fans and prompted
calls from commentators and the
public for heads to roll.
Football fever grips Kolkata as World Cup kicks off
An SPH Media Limited publication
(English/Malay/Tamil Media group)
Wong Wei Kong
V.K. Santosh Kumar
(International & Transactional Sales)
For editiorial matters,
write to us at
For advertising enquiries,
Advertise with us by calling
9366 5277 (Maheswari) or
9863 3894 (Kalim)
For home delivery, call
(Mon to Fri 9am to 6pm)
Catch us online at
November 25, 2022
Last week, Indian paediatrician
Soumya Swaminathan (right) an-
nounced on Twitter that she would be
leaving her post as chief scientist at
the World Health Organisation (WHO)
at the end of this month.
The 63-year-old plans to return to
India to work on public health.
She joined WHO in 2017 and in
March 2019 was named the agency’s
first chief scientist, a position created
by Director-General Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus to make sure “WHO
anticipates and stays on top of the
latest scientific developments”.
During the Covid-19 pandemic,
Dr Swaminathan became one of the
faces of the agency’s global response,
fielding reporters’ questions at count-
less press conferences.
Her biggest regret, she told Scien-
ceInsider, is not acknowledging early
in the pandemic that SARS-CoV-2
could be spread by aerosols.
“We should have done it much
earlier, based on the available evi-
dence, and it is something that has
cost the organisation,” she said.
“You can argue that (the criticism
of WHO) is unfair, because when it
comes to mitigation, we did talk about
all the methods, including ventilation
“But at the same time, we were not
forcefully saying: ‘This is an airborne
virus.’ I regret that we didn’t do this
much, much earlier.”
Dr Swaminathan conceded that it
went wrong due to a “mix of things”.
“I was very new in the role of chief
scientist and it had not been defined,
what does the chief scientist do during
a pandemic? I tried to do what I
thought was best,” she said.
“What happens at WHO is that the
technical departments do the guide-
lines and at the science division, we
just set the norms of how to do
guidelines. So it was not my role and
neither did anyone ask me to get
involved at that stage.
“The existing paradigm is based
around flu because most of our pan-
demic preparedness is for flu. And
similarly, SARS-1 was very different as
a pathogen, so we couldn’t fully extrap-
olate from that. But in the beginning,
we had to base it on some things.
“So, I think what I would say to the
next chief scientist: If there’s any
situation where there’s new evidence
emerging, particularly from other disci-
plines, that’s challenging our under-
standing, get involved early on.”
Dr Swaminathan believes she ac-
complished quite a bit during her time
at WHO, especially setting the science
division on a path, giving it a lot of
visibility globally and forging links
with the big science communities.
“The other thing I am really proud
of is the creation of the WHO mRNA
vaccine technology hub, a facility
based in Cape Town that aims to
provide Africa with messenger RNA
vaccines,” she said.
“Moderna and BioNTech-Pfizer re-
fused to share any technical know-
how or help us in any way, but the
South African scientists were still able
to create a vaccine.”
She said she was leaving WHO
because “after five years of working at
the global level, I feel an urge to go
back and work at the national level”.
“As India and many other countries
have made health a priority, I think
there is a chance to really transform
the way we approach health, with
more focus on a systems approach, on
prevention and health promotion, at-
tention to the determinants of health.
“I’ll probably be based in Chennai
with a research foundation. What else I’ll
do, I don’t know at the moment.”
Indo-Asian News Service
WHO chief scientist rues Covid misstep
A probe by the Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) found that the
death of Mumbai-based talent manager
Disha Salian (right) was an accident.
Her death in 2020 became a contro-
versy following numerous allegations
of foul play and cover up.
The 28-year-old managed several
Bollywood stars in her career, most
notably Sushant Singh Rajput, who
died less than a week after Ms Disha.
Even as there was no separate
police report or complaint into
Ms Disha’s death, the matter was
investigated by the CBI in connection
with Sushant’s death, which itself in-
vited probes from several central inves-
tigative agencies, ranging from the CBI
to the Enforcement Directorate and the
Narcotics Control Bureau.
Ms Disha died on the night of
June 8, 2020, after reportedly falling
off the balcony of a 14th floor apart-
ment in Mumbai’s Malad.
When Sushant’s body was found
five days later, Bharatita Janata Party
leader Nitish Rane claimed that the
deaths were linked and there was foul
play. A CBI probe reportedly found
that Ms Disha fell after losing balance
under the influence of alcohol.
An Economic Times report quoted
an unnamed CBI official as saying:
“Since serious allegations were levelled
in the Salian matter and claims were
made that the two deaths were linked
since Salian had briefly worked for
Rajput, her death has been probed into
“The investigation has revealed that
Salian had organised get-togethers at
her residence in the run-up to her
birthday. The party on June 8 night
was part of it.
“But that night, Salian, who had
consumed alcohol, lost her balance and
slipped from the parapet of her flat.”
The official added that there was no
proof to suggest the two deaths were
linked or that Ms Disha’s death trig-
gered Sushant’s suicide.
Another CBI official said: “The
probe hasn’t found any substance in
the allegations levelled by Rane that
Salian was assaulted, that she ap-
proached Rajput for help and that
there was a larger political conspiracy
The CBI continues to investigate the
death of Sushant, which has been
treated as a suicide.
Indo-Asian News Service
|Singapore Press Holdings|
|Copyright © 2023 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co|