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COVID-19: Students of classes 10, 12 want board exams cancelled

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Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, over one lakh students of classes 10 and 12 have signed petitions urging the government to either cancel board exams scheduled to be held in May or conduct them in online mode.

The hashtag “cancelboardexams2021” has been trending on Twitter for the past two days.

However, both the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) have said that adequate safety arrangements are being made for students and all COVID-19 guidelines will be followed during the exams.

“The situation in India is getting worse day by day. When there were only a few cases in the country, they cancelled the remaining board exams and now when the cases are at a peak they are planning to open schools. We urge the education minister to look into this matter and cancel all examinations to be held this year as students are already under a lot of stress,” a petition on Change.Org said.

Divya Garg, a class 10 student, on Twitter urged the government to postpone the exams for at least a month and then take a further review based on the number of cases.

“The students have already faced a lot of problems till now in this pandemic. Classes were held online so the exams should also be held online or students should be promoted via internal assessment marks,” another user tweeted.

Usually, practical exams are conducted in January and written exams begin in February and conclude in March. However, the exams were delayed and are scheduled to be held in May-June in view of the pandemic.

“Adequate arrangements are being made to ensure the students are safe and all COVID protocols are followed. The number of exam centres has been increased by 40-50 per cent to ensure social distancing. The staff at exam centres is being sensitised to ensure all guidelines are followed,” a senior CBSE official said.

The board had last week announced that if any student fails to appear for ongoing practical exams after the student or any family member testing positive, the schools will conduct re-tests for them at an appropriate time.

The official, however, did not comment on whether the same relaxation will be given to students in theory exams as well.

Similarly, Gerry Arathoon, the chief executive and secretary at CISCE, said the schedule for exams “will remain the same”.

Schools across the country were closed in March last year to contain the spread of COVID-19 ahead of a nationwide lockdown.

Several states started reopening the schools partially from October last year, but physical classes are again being suspended in view of the exponential rise in coronavirus cases.

Last year, the board exams had to be postponed mid-way in March. They were later cancelled and the results were announced on the basis of an alternative assessment scheme.

Both the CBSE and CISCE had decided not to come up with a merit list last year.

India registered a record single-day spike of 1,26,789 new COVID-19 cases, pushing its infection tally to 1,29,28,574, while the number of active cases too went upwards to breach the nine lakh-mark again, the Union Health Ministry’s data updated on Thursday showed.

source: The Statesman

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Places of worship to open from June 1; private, govt offices with ‘full strength’ from June 8 in West Bengal

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday – two days before the lockdown 4.0 to end — said that all places of worship in the state will open from June 1.

As per her announcement, not more than 10 people will be allowed to enter the religious place and congregations or functions will not be allowed.

“Temples, mosques, gurdwaras, churches, all will open, but not more than 10 people will be allowed, there will be no assembly at religious places. This will be implemented from 1st June,” she said in an online press conference.

CM also launched a sharp attack at the centre during the online press conference for running migrant special trains.

“They are stuffing the Shramik trains full of people, there is no social distancing, no food, no water, nothing. What are they trying to do? Are they running Shramik trains or are they trying to run Corona Express?” West Bengal CM said.

She said the railway ministry could easily increase the number of coaches in the trains to prevent crowding. Citing herself being as the rail minister, she asserted that the railways has enough number of rakes to make the trains longer and stop crowding.

“If such trains could run in the lockdown, religious places that had been shut and neglected for two months could open too,” she said.

“West Bengal was successful in controlling the COVID-19 spread in the last two months. Cases are increasing now as people are coming from outside,” she added.

The tea and jute industry will also open from June 8 with 100 per cent workers, Mamata Banerjee said. All government and private offices will open with full strength.

After the announcement of lockdown on March 25, all the places of worship were shut and continued in the extended versions as well.

Earlier today, Union Home Minister Amit Shah met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the lockdown strategy as India saw its biggest spike in Coronavirus cases with 7,466 infections in 24 hours.

His meeting with the Prime Minister comes a day after Shah on Thursday evening asked Chief Ministers for feedback on the lockdown and their views on whether to extend it after May 31.

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‘Double One Zero’ – Jasveer Singh Dangi is ‘Out of the Shadows’

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Thriller has always been one of the bestselling genres across the world and when a prolific writer like Jasveer Singh Dangi picks it up as his next choice, then what can give a better start to 2020? Yes, you caught me correct, Jasveer the author of ‘Version One and a Half (Version 1 1/2)’ and ‘Diary from Heaven’, will soon be opening the cover of ‘Double One Zero (110) – Out of the Shadows’, his third title. The name itself clinches a century, putting his readers up on their toes.

Little is being revealed about the story line by the author, with due respect to the very genre. I too don’t want to be a spoil sport by unraveling the hidden mysteries behind 110 and his quest for identity through extraterritorial endeavors. But can’t resist to talk about its unique self-discovery style. Will it be a mix of ‘Version One and a Half (Version 1 1/2)’ and ‘Diary from Heaven’ or a completely new tale is the question of the hour. Only a trained health and safety professional like Jasveer Singh can come for your rescue.

Brace yourself for the ride of your life as ‘Double One Zero (110)’ comes ‘Out of the Shadows’…

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Rupee rises 10 paise to 71.40 against USD in early trade

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The Indian rupee appreciated by 10 paise to 71.40 against the US dollar in early trade on Wednesday as positive opening in domestic equities and sustained foreign fund inflows strengthened investor sentiments.

Forex traders said easing crude oil prices also supported the domestic unit.

At the interbank foreign exchange the rupee opened at 71.43, then gathered momentum and touched 71.40 against the US dollar, registering a rise of 10 paise over its previous close.

On Tuesday, rupee had settled for the day at 71.50 against the US dollar.

The domestic unit however could not hold on to the gains and was trading at 71.45 against the dollar at 0935 hrs.

Forex traders said investors were optimistic about the US-China trade talks.

Top Chinese and US trade negotiators have reportedly spoken on phone and agreed to continue to work toward a preliminary agreement for resolving their tariff war.

Domestic bourses opened on a positive note on Wednesday with benchmark indices Sensex trading 213.80 points higher at 41,035.10 and Nifty higher by 64.80 points at 12,102.50.

The dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, rose by 0.06 per cent to 98.31.

Market participants, however, said sustained foreign fund inflows supported the local currency.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) remained net buyers in the capital market, as they purchased shares worth Rs 4,677.75 crore on Tuesday, according to provisional exchange data.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, fell 0.23 per cent to trade at USD 64.12 per barrel.

The 10-year government bond yield was at 6.49 per cent in morning trade.

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