Today Picture

Will Swiggy, Zomato deliver alcohol in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune? Here's what we know

Liquor shopkeepers have roped in Swiggy and Zomato and a couple of other on-demand delivery platforms in Maharashtra, excluding Mumbai, where the civic body has not issued any permission for its sale at the counter or home delivery. Of the 10, 791 license holders across the state, 6,027 have started liquor sales on counters and offer home delivery.

The government, from May 4 (when the liquor sale resumed) till May 20, has collected excise duty of over Rs 300 crore. The daily excise collection is ranging between Rs 20 crore and Rs 42 crore, which is showing steady increase. Liquor home delivery has been launched since the last three days in Thane and Navi Mumbai.

A state Excise Department officer told the Free Press Journal, “It is mandatory that liquor shopkeepers strictly ensure social distancing during the lockdown. In the case of home delivery, shopkeepers can rope in Zomato, Swiggy or another platform. The state government is no way involved in it. It is the responsibility and liberty of the shopkeepers to deliver liquor at home by sticking to the guidelines issued by the Excise Department.’’

He informed that customers can place orders via WhatsApp, SMS or call. The shopkeepers will have to display their contact number outside their shops. Making arrangements for delivery will be the retailer's responsibility. But, the retailer can request passes for delivery boys, which can be obtained from offices of the excise superintendent of police and deputy SP.

The Maharashtra government on May 19 issued revised guidelines for lockdown 4.0, which is up to May 31. The government has allowed home delivery of liquor apart from its sale on counters only in permitted areas.

Meanwhile, Swiggy has enabled the online processing and home delivery of alcohol through the Wine Shops category on the Swiggy app. The service went live in Ranchi today after obtaining necessary approvals from the Jharkhand government. Other major cities in the state will be launching it within a week. Swiggy is also in the advanced stages of discussion with multiple state governments to provide support with online processing and home delivery of alcohol, which the company can immediately enable by leveraging its existing technology and logistics infrastructure and nationwide presence.

Swiggy vice president Anuj Rathi said by enabling the home delivery of alcohol in a safe and responsible manner, it can generate additional business for retail outlets while solving the problem of overcrowding, thereby promoting social distancing.

Global investment firm KKR to invest Rs 11,367 crore into Jio

Cyclone Amphan changes course; Rain along with 185 km/h wind speeds hits Kolkata, Sunderbans and Howarh

Heavy rains aided by strong gusty winds from Cyclone Amphan continued to hit West Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday.

Wind speeds were recorded as high as 185 km/hr, making life for residents as well as the administration.

The cyclone, which was supposed to make landfall between Digha in East Midnapore district and Hatiya islands in Bangladesh, ultimately changed course and made landfall in Sagar islands in the Sunderbans in South 24 Parganas district around 2.30 pm, said West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha.

The authorities did not forecast that the cyclone would impact the districts of Nadia, Purulia and Bankura districts.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who was stationed at the 24X7 control room in Nabanna, the state secretariat since Tuesday evening said that districts of North and South 24 Parganas faced the maximum brunt of the storm.

After hitting Kolkata around 4.00 pm, the eye of the storm was over the city around 7:00 pm before making its way to the neighbouring district of Howrah.

By 9:00pm, the cyclone had moved towards North 24 Paraganas district, but the cyclone had still not left Kolkata completely. Heavy rainfall was predicted in Kolkata till Thursday morning, after which Mamata said the process of restoration work will be assessed.

"I request people not to go out of their homes tonight. We will start restoration work tomorrow wherever it is possible. We will set up a task force tomorrow and hold a meeting," Mamata said.

The Chief Minister also added that 5 lakh people were evacuated over the last few days. Shelters have been set up in various parts of the state for people, especially in coastal areas.

Mamata also said that close to 12 people have died in the state due to the storm, two of which were reported in Regent Park area of Kolkata after a wall collapsed on a lady and her son.

Reports came in of window panes breaking, walls collapsing, roofs of houses being ripped apart, electricity poles falling, trees being uprooted, and hoardings falling.

Hospitals were affected in many parts of the state with power cuts reported in many parts of West Bengal including Kolkata for large parts of the evening.

From justifying 1984 pogrom to Shah Bano: 8 huge mistakes of Rajiv Gandhi's life

Today marks the 29th death anniversary of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi at the age of 40 became the youngest Prime Minister of the country. He took over as the sixth Prime Minister after his mother Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984.

Born on August 20 in 1944, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suicide bomber during an election rally in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991.

However, during his tenure at Prime Minister of India, Rajiv was accused of making decisions that did not benefit the country in the long run. While people have argued that ‘he was a good man, who was misled’, people will only remember him as the decision-maker and not the people who influenced him to make that decision.

Here are 7 incidents that showcase the mistakes made by Rajiv Gandhi while he was a politician

The 1984 Sikh genocide: Soon after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards, following her decision to execute Operation Blue Star in Amritsar, Congress workers went up in arms and began massacring Sikhs in the national capital. Some of the names that have cropped up in the list of Congress leaders involved include former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Sajjan Kumar, and Jagdish Tytler amongst others. While Rajiv didn’t order for the riots, his silence about the massacre has raised many questions.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Thousands of people were killed after the methyl isocyanide (MIC) leak at the Union Carbide plant in December 1984, two months after Rajiv Gandhi assumed oath as prime minister. Four days after the leak, Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson was arrested by the CBI and placed under house arrest. However, after a few hours, he posted bail and left India never to return to face trial. Reports have suggested that Rajiv Gandhi was pressurized by the US government to let Anderson go. Moti Singh, the then Bhopal collector, even alleged that Anderson managed to get away by using a phone in his room to contact people in the United States.

Shah Bano case

In 1978, Shah Bano, a Muslim woman and mother of five children​​ was divorced by her husband. She filed a criminal suit in the apex court demanding maintenance. In 1985, in a historic judgement, the Supreme Court ruled in her favour and the court ordered that alimony be paid. Muslims thought that the Supreme Court is interfering in their personal laws and took massive processions against the judgement. To calm down the Muslim community, Rajiv overturned the verdict.

Later, the Congress government enacted the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. According to the act, a Muslim woman gets the right to maintenance for the period of only three months after the divorce. The responsibility of maintaining her was shifted to her relatives of the Wakf Board. Hence, taking away basic rights of Muslim women.

Ayodhya Case

Rajiv Gandhi was blamed for indulging in minority appeasement. To restore the damage, Rajiv ordered to remove the locks from Ram Janmabhumi-Babri Mosque in Ayodhya and allow religious rites inside the structure. This decision triggered a movement by the ABVP to break free the ‘Lord from captivity’. Stones were carried from different parts of the country to lay the foundation of the temple. And this resulted in the worst massive riots across North India.

Allegations of using Navy warships to go on joyrides

During the 2019 election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged that Rajiv Gandhi used naval warships as his personal tour boat. An Indian Naval officer even claimed that he witnessed it. Commander V K Jaitly, who was posted on INS Viraat at that time, backed PM Modi’s claim, saying that the warship was used by Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi to ‘celebrate their holidays’. “Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi used INS Viraat for travel to celebrate their holidays at Bangaram island. Indian Navy resources were used extensively. I am a witness. I was posted on INS Viraat that time,” Jaitly tweeted.

However, former Navy chief Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas defended late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Ramdas, who was the Southern Navy Commander then and was also onboard the INS Viraat, in a statement, said “no foreigners visited INS Viraat and that the prime minister and his wife were onboard the aircraft carrier” following all official protocol.

India’s interference in Sri Lanka

People have speculated that Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination came because he sent an Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka, which led to atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils. This did not go down well with LTTE chief Prabhakaran, who called for Rajiv Gandhi’s execution.

Banning marijuana in India

In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi buckled under United States pressure to ban marijuana in the country. Before that, it was even known as the penicillin of the Ayurveda industry. This was the second case where India buckled under US Pressure.

Bofors case

The Bofors scandal was a major weapons-contract political scandal that occurred between India and Sweden during the 1980s and 1990s, initiated by Indian National Congress (Congress party) politicians and implicating the Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and several other members of the Indian and Swedish governments who were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB, a bank principally financed by the Wallenberg family's Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, for winning a bid to supply to India their 155 mm field howitzer.

Rahul Gandhi pays homage to his father Rajiv Gandhi, says proud to be the son of a true patriot

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday paid homage to his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his 29th death anniversary.

Taking to Twitter, Rahul Gandhi said that he is proud to be the son of a true patriot. "I am proud to be the son of a true patriot, liberal and a benevolent father. As Prime Minister, Rajiv ji had pushed India on the path of progress. He took many important steps to empower the country with his forward-looking vision. Today, on his death anniversary, I salute him with affection and gratitude," he tweeted.

Even, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary. Taking to Twitter, Narendra Modi wrote: "On his death anniversary, tributes to former PM Shri Rajiv Gandhi."

Rajiv Gandhi at the age of 40 became the youngest Prime Minister of the country. He took over as the sixth Prime Minister after his mother Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984.

Born on August 20 in 1944, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suicide bomber during an election rally in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991.

200 more trains to operate from June 1, online bookings start today: Here's the full list of 200 trains

The Railways on Wednesday issued a list of 100 pairs of trains that it will operate from June 1, putting in operation popular trains such as Durontos, Sampark Krantis, Jan Shatabdis and Poorva Express. People can book ticket in these trains from 10.00am today through the IRCTC app and website.

This is the second slew of special passenger services that marked the Railways graded restoration of its trains which were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While in a statement issued earlier, the Railways had said that these trains will be fully non-air conditioned, on Wednesday it said that these will have both AC and non-AC classes and fully reserved coaches. It said these trains will be "special trains run on the pattern of regular trains", covering tier 2 cities and also major state capitals like Mumbai, Kolkata.

Railways said that fare for these trains will be normal. But second seating (2S) fare shall be charged for General (GS) coaches being reserved. Only online e-ticketing will be done through IRCTC website or through Mobile App, and no tickets will be booked across the reservation counter on any railway station, the Railways said.

Here’s the full list of trains:

1. 01016/15: Gorakhpur to Lokmanyatilak (T) – Kushinagar Express

2. 01019/20: Mumbai CST to Bhubaneswar – Konarka Express

3. 01061/62: Lokmanyatilak (T) to Darbhanga – Darbhanga Express

4. 01071/72: Lokmanyatilak (T) to Varanasi – Kamayani Express

5. 01093/94: Mumbai CST to Varanasi – Mahanagri Express

6. 01139/40: Mumbai CST to Gadag – Express

7. 01301/02: Mumbai CST to Ksr Bengaluru – Udyan Express

8. 02156/55: H. Nizamuddin to Habibganj – Bhopal Express

9. 02230/29: New Delhi to Lucknow Jn – Lucknow Mail

10. 02296/95: Danapur to Ksr Bengaluru – Sanghmitra Express

11. 02377/78: Sealdah to New Alipurduar – Padatik Express

12. 02392/91: New Delhi to Rajgir – Shramjevi Express

13. 02394/93: New Delhi to Rajendra Nagar – Sampoorn Kranti Express

14. 02418/17: New Delhi to Prayagraj – Pragraj Expess

15. 02420/19: New Delhi to Lucknow – Gomti Express

16. 02407/08: ASR to NJP – Karambhum i Exp

17. 02357/58: Amritsar to Kolkata – express

18. 02452/51: New Delhi to Kanpur – Shram Shakti Express

19. 02463/64: Jodhpur to Delhi S Rohilla – Samprak kranti

20. 02477/78: Jaipur to Jodhpur – express

21. 02479/80: Bandra (T) to Jodhpur – Suryanagri Express

22. 02533/34: Lucknow Jn to Mumbai CST – Pushpak Express

23. 02555/56: Hisar to Gorakhpur – Gorakhdham Express

24. 02560/59: New Delhi to Manduadih – Shivganga Express

25. 02618/17: H. Nizamuddin to Ernakulam – Mangla Express

26. 04009/10: Anand Vihar to Bapudham Motihari – Champaran Satyagrah Express

27. 02629/30: New Delhi to Yesvantpur – KarnatakaSamprak kranti Express

28. 02701/02: Mumbai CST to Hyderabad – Husain Sagar Express

29. 02703/04: Howrah to Secunderabad – Falaknuma Express

30. 02715/16: H. S. Nanded to Amritsar – Sachkhand Express

31. 02724/23: New Delhi to Hyderabad – Telangana Express

32. 02792/91: Danapur to Secunderabad – Express

33. 02801/02: Puri to New Delhi – Purushottam Express

34. 02810/09: Howrah to Mumbai CST – HWH-Mumbai Mail

35. 02833/34: Ahmedabad to Howrah – Express

36. 02904/03: Amritsar to Mumbai Central – Golden Temple Mail

37. 02916/15: Delhi to Ahmedabad – Ashram Express

38. 02926/25: Amritsar to Bandra (T) – Paschim Express

39. 02933/34: Mumbai Central to Ahmedabad – Karnavati Express

40. 02963/64: H. Nizamuddin to Udaipur City – Mewar Express

41. 08183/84: Tatanagar to Danapur – Express

42. 05484/83: Delhi to Alipurduar – Mahananda Express

43. 06345/46: Mumbai (LTT) to Thiruvananthapuram Central – Netrvati Express

44. 02805/06: Vishakapatnam to New Delhi – AP Express

45. 02182/81: H. Nizamuddin to Jabalpur – Express

46. 02418/17: New Delhi to Varanasi – Mahamana Express

47. 02955/56: Mumbai Central to jaipur – Express

48. 07201/02: Guntur to Secunderabad – Golconda Express

49. 02793/94: Tirupati to Nizamabad – Rayalseema Express

50. 09165/66: Ahmedabad to Darbhanga – Sabarmati Express

51. 09167/68: Ahmedabad to Varanasi – Sabarmati Express

52. 09045/46: Surat to Chhapra – Tapti Ganga Express

53. 03201/02: Patna to Lokmanyatilak (T) – Express

54. 02553/54: Saharsa to New Delhi – Vaishali Express

55. 02307/08: Howrah to Jodhpu/Bikaner – Express

56. 02381/82: Howrah to New Delhi – Poorva Express

57. 02303/04: Howrah to New Delhi – Poorva Express

58. 02141/42: Lokmanyatilak (T) to Patliputra – Express

59. 02557/58: Muzaffarpur to Anand Vihar – Sapt Kranti Express

60. 05273/74: Raxaul to Anand Vihar – Satyagrah Express

61. 02419/20: Anand Vihar to Ghazipur – Suhaildev Express

62. 02433/34: Anand Vihar to Ghazipur – Express

63. 09041/42: Bandra (T) to Ghazipur – Express

64. 04673/74: Amritsar to Jaynagar – Shaheed Express

65. 04649/50: Amritsar to Jaynagar – Saryu Yamuna Express

66. 02541/42: Gorakhpur to Lokmanyatilak (T) – Express

67. 05955/56: Dibrugarh to Delhi – Brahmputra Mail

68. 02149/50: Pune to Danapur – Express

69. 02947/48: Ahmedabad to Patna – Azimabad Express

70. 05645/46: Lokmanyatilak (T) to Guwahati – Express

71. 02727/28: Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam – Godavari Express

72. 09083/84: Ahmedabad to Muzaffarpur – Via Surat

73. 09089/90: Ahmedabad to Gorakhpur – Via Surat

74. 02245/12246: Howrah (1050) to Yasvantpur (1600) – Duronto Express

75. 02201/22202: Sealdah (2000) to Puri (0435) – Duronto Express

76. 02213/22214: Shalimar (2200) to Patna (0640) – Duronto Express

77. 02283/12284: Ernakulam (2325) to Nizamuddin (1940) – Duronto Express

78. 02285/12286: Secundarabad (1310) to Nizamuddin (1035) – Duronto Express

79. 02073/74: Howrah Jn (1325) to Bhubaneswar (2020) – Jan Shatabdi Express

80. 02023/24: Howrah Jn (1405) to Patna Jn (2245) – Jan Shatabdi Express

81. 02365/66: Patna (0600) to Ranchi (1355) – Jan Shatabdi Express

82. 02091/92: Dehradun (1545) to Kathgodam (2335) – Jan Shatabdi Express

83. 02067/68: Guwahati (0630) to Jorhat Town (1320) – Jan Shatabdi Express

84. 02053/54: Haridwar (1445) to Amritsar (2205) – Jan Shatabdi Express

85. 02055/56: New Delhi (1520) to Dehradun (2110)) – Jan Shatabdi Express

86. 02057/58: New Delhi (1435) to Una Himachal (2210) – Jan Shatabdi Express

87. 02065/66: Ajmer (0540) to Delhi Sarai Rohilla (1135) – Jan Shatabdi Express

88. 02069/70: Raigarh (0620) to Gondia (1325) – Jan Shatabdi Express

89. 02021/22: Howrah (0620) to Barbil (1305) – Jan Shatabdi Express

90. 02075/76: Calicut (1345) to Trivendrum (2135) – Jan Shatabdi Express

91. 02081/82: Kannur (0450) to Trivendrum (1425) – Jan Shatabdi Express

92. 02079/80: Bengaluru (0600) to Hubli (1345) – Jan Shatabdi Express

93. 02089/90: Yashwantpur (1730) to Shivamoga Town (2155) – Jan Shatabdi Express

94. 02059/60: Kota (0555) to Nizamuddin (1230) – Jan Shatabdi Express

95. 02061/62: Habibganj (1740) to Jabalpur (2255) – Jan Shatabdi Express

96. 09037/38: Bandra(T) to Gorakhpur – Avadh Express

97. 09039/40: Bandra(T) to Muzaffarpur – Avadh Express

98. 02565/66: Darbhanga to New Delhi – Bihar Sampark Kranti

99. 02917/18: Ahmedabad to Nizamuddin – Gujarat Sampark Kranti

100. 02779/80: Vasco da Gama to Nizamuddin – Goa Express


Indian Railways to resume services of 200 non-AC trains from June 1

New Delhi: In a major relief to people across the country, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday announced that Indian Railways will resume the services of 200 special non-airconditioned trains and bookings for them will start soon.

The announcement came a week after the national transporter started running the 15 pairs of special air conditioned trains.

In a series of tweets, Goyal said: "In a major relief to the migrant workers, 200 Shramik Special trains will run today. And in the coming days these services will be increased on a large scale."

"Besides this, Indian Railways from June 1 will run 20p non ac trains on timetable. Online bookings for the same will start soon," he said.

He also appealed the state governments to help the migrant workers and list their names and provide it to railways so that it can run more Shramik Special trains.

"Migrant workers are requested to stay at their locations, soon railways will transport them to their destination," he said in another tweet.

The Indian Railways suspended the passenger, mail and expressA train services on March 25 amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

The national transporter has started to run the Shramik Special trains from May 1 to transport the stranded migrant workers, students, pilgrims and tourists.

Till date, the national transporter has operated a total of 1,595 Shramik Special trains from various states across the country and transported more than 21 lakh passengers.

The railways also started to run the 15 pairs of Special AC trains to different parts of the country. During the nationwide lockdown, railways has also suspended the booking of the passenger tickets until further orders.

'I'm a Very Bad Promoter': Trump Defends Use of Unproven Drug as 'Line of Defence' Against Covid-19

Trump has called hydroxychloroquine a 'game-changer' drug in the fight against the coronavirus.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his taking antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a 'line of defence' against coronavirus.

"I think it's worth it as a line of defence and I'll stay on it for a little while longer. I'm just very curious myself, but it seems to be very safe," Trump told reporters at the White House, a day after he disclosed that he has been taking the drug to ward off the deadly infection.

The US president said the drug has gotten a bad reputation only because 'he was promoting it'. "So, I am obviously a very bad promoter. If anybody else were promoting it, they would say this is the greatest thing ever," he said.

"It is a very powerful drug I guess but it doesn't harm you and so I thought as a frontline defence, possibly it would be good, and I have had no impact from it," Trump said, adding that the antimalaria drug has received tremendous reviews from doctors all over the world.

There have been some great studies about it in countries like Italy, France and Spain and doctors in the US have been very positive about it, he claimed.

"Many doctors came out and said it's great," he said. "I have a doctor in the White House. I said what do you think? And it's just a line of defence," he said, adding that the drug was inexpensive.

Trump alleged that a recent study on Veteran Affairs patients was inaccurate and the drug was given to those who were on the verge of dying.

"There was a false study done where they gave it to very sick people, extremely sick people, people that were ready to die. It was given by obviously not friends of the administration and the study came out, the people were ready to die. Everybody was old, had bad problems with hearts, diabetes and everything else you can imagine," he said.

"So, they gave it. So, immediately when it came out, they gave a lot of false information," Trump said.

Separately in an interview, Vice-President Mike Pence said he is not taking hydroxychloroquine. "I'm not. But I would never begrudge any American taking the advice of their physician," he said.

"Hydroxychloroquine is a drug that's been around for more than 40 years for treatment of malaria. But, early in this process, the FDA approved what's called off-label use where physicians could prescribe hydroxychloroquine in terms they deemed appropriate. So, my physician has not recommended that, but I wouldn't hesitate to take the counsel of my doctor. Any American should do likewise," Pence said.

However, opposition leaders slammed Trump for taking the unproven drug. "It's reckless to tell people he's using hydroxychloroquine. All of the experts say at best it doesn't help. So what about senior citizens who don't go to the doctor, who take hydroxychloroquine? Listening to the president. And at worst, it hurts you. So I don't know why he did it," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told MSNBC in an interview.

"Maybe he has family or friends who own part of the company. It's not unlike the president. Someone at Mar-A-Lago, calls him on the phone tells him oh, this is a good company and he just talks about it. Maybe he did it to divert attention from all the bad things happening, and maybe he's just lying," he alleged.

Trump has called hydroxychloroquine a "game-changer" drug in the fight against the coronavirus. After Trump's repeated touting of hydroxychloroquine as a "game changer" cure for the virus, the FDA issued an advisory warning that the drug has not been "shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19."

The Trump Administration has bought millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine and stockpiled it.

India has sent several millions of doses to the US as part of its humanitarian gesture. India is one of the major manufactures of the drug, which was first synthesised in 1946 and is in a class of medications historically used to treat and prevent malaria.

It is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, childhood arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. The drug is not FDA-approved for the treatment of COVID-19 but it has been identified as a possible treatment for the infection and the US government has requested its immediate availability.


Foreign Investors Pull Out $16 Billion from India Amid Global Economic Recession Due to Covid-19

Foreign investors have pulled an estimated $26 billion out of developing Asian economies and more than $16 billion out of India, increasing concerns of a major economic recession in Asia

Amidst global economic recession due to coronavirus, foreign investors have pulled out an estimated $26 billion from developing Asian economies and over $16 billion out of India, a latest Congressional report has said.

"Foreign investors have pulled an estimated $26 billion out of developing Asian economies and more than $16 billion out of India, increasing concerns of a major economic recession in Asia," independent Congressional Research Center said in its latest report on global economic effects of COVID-19.

In Europe, over 30 million people in Germany, France, the UK, Spain, and Italy have applied for state support, while first quarter 2020 data indicates that the eurozone economy contracted by 3.8 per cent, the largest quarterly decline since the series started in 1995, it said.

In the US, preliminary data indicated that the GDP fell by 4.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, the largest quarterly decline since the fourth quarter of 2008 during the global financial crisis, the CRS said.

According to CRS, the pandemic crisis is challenging governments to implement monetary and fiscal policies that support credit markets and sustain economic activity, while they are implementing policies to develop vaccines and safeguard their citizens.

In doing so, however, differences in policy approaches are straining relations between countries that promote nationalism and those that argue for a coordinated international response.

Differences in policies are also straining relations between developed and developing economies and between northern and southern members of the eurozone, challenging alliances, and raising questions about the future of global leadership, the report said.

While almost all major economies are shrinking as a result of coronavirus, only three countries China, India, and Indonesia are projected to experience small, but positive rates of economic growth in 2020, it said.

The IMF in its recent report argued that recovery of the global economy could be weaker than projected as a result of lingering uncertainty about possible contagion, lack of confidence, and permanent closure of businesses and shifts in the behaviour of firms and household, the CRS said.

It said public concerns over the spread of the virus have led to self-quarantines, reductions in airline and cruise liner travel, the closing of such institutions as the Louvre, and the rescheduling of theatrical releases of movies, including the sequel in the iconic James Bond series (titled, 'No Time to Die').

School closures are affecting 1.5 billion children worldwide, challenging parental leave policies. Other countries are limiting the size of public gatherings.

The drop in business and tourist travel is causing a sharp drop in scheduled airline flights by as much as 10 per cent; airlines are estimating they could lose $113 billion in 2020 (an estimate that could prove optimistic given the Trump Administration's announced restrictions on flights from Europe to the United States and the growing list of countries that are similarly restricting flights).

Airports in Europe estimate they could lose $4.3 billion in revenue due to fewer flights, it said.

Industry experts estimate that many airlines will be in bankruptcy by May 2020 under current conditions as a result of travel restrictions imposed by a growing number of countries.

The loss of Chinese tourists is another economic blow to countries in Asia and elsewhere that have benefitted from the growing market for Chinese tourists and the stimulus such tourism has provided, it said.

The CRS said the decline in industrial activity has reduced demand for energy products such as crude oil, causing prices to drop sharply, which negatively affects energy producers and electric vehicle manufacturers, but generally is positive for consumers and businesses.

Further, disruptions to industrial activity in China reportedly are causing delays in shipments of computers, cell phones, toys, and medical equipment.

The factory output in China, the United States, Japan, and South Korea all declined in the first months of 2020.

"Reduced Chinese agricultural exports, including to Japan, are leading to shortages in some commodities. In addition, numerous auto producers are facing shortages in parts and other supplies that have been sourced in China," CRS said.

'Drop in Ocean of Climate Change': Study Says World Carbon Pollution Fell 17% at Pandemic Peak

The biggest global drop was from April 4 through 9 when the world was spewing 18.7 million tons (17 million metric tons) of carbon pollution a day less than it was doing on New Year's Day.


The world cut its daily carbon dioxide emissions by 17% at the peak of the pandemic shutdown last month, a new study found.

But with life and heat-trapping gas levels inching back toward normal, the brief pollution break will likely be a drop in the ocean" when it comes to climate change, scientists said.

In their study of carbon dioxide emissions during the coronavirus pandemic, an international team of scientists calculated that pollution levels are heading back up and for the year will end up between 4% and 7% lower than 2019 levels.

That's still the biggest annual drop in carbon emissions since World War II. It'll be 7% if the strictest lockdown rules remain all year long across much of the globe, 4% if they are lifted soon.

For a week in April, the United States cut its carbon dioxide levels by about one-third.

China, the world's biggest emitter of heat-trapping gases, sliced its carbon pollution by nearly a quarter in February, according to a study Tuesday in the journal Nature Climate Change. India and Europe cut emissions by 26% and 27% respectively.

The biggest global drop was from April 4 through 9 when the world was spewing 18.7 million tons (17 million metric tons) of carbon pollution a day less than it was doing on New Year's Day.

Such low global emission levels haven't been recorded since 2006. But if the world returns to its slowly increasing pollution levels next year, the temporary reduction amounts to ''a drop in the ocean," said study lead author Corinne LeQuere, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia.

It's like you have a bath filled with water and you're turning off the tap for 10 seconds," she said.

By April 30, the world carbon pollution levels had grown by 3.3 million tons (3 million metric tons) a day from its low point earlier in the month. Carbon dioxide stays in the air for about a century.

Outside experts praised the study as the most comprehensive yet, saying it shows how much effort is needed to prevent dangerous levels of further global warming.

That underscores a simple truth: Individual behavior alone ... won't get us there, Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn't part of the study, said in an email.

"We need fundamental structural change."

If the world could keep up annual emission cuts like this without a pandemic for a couple decades, there's a decent chance Earth can avoid warming another 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) of warming from now, study authors said. But getting the type of yearly cuts to reach that international goal is unlikely, they said.

If next year returns to 2019 pollution levels, it means the world has only bought about a year's delay in hitting the extra 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) of warming that leaders are trying to avoid, LeQuere said. That level could still occur anywhere from 2050 to 2070, the authors said.

The study was carried out by Global Carbon Project, a consortium of international scientists that produces the authoritative annual estimate of carbon dioxide emissions. They looked at 450 databases showing daily energy use and introduced a measurement scale for pandemic-related societal confinement in its estimates.

Nearly half the emission reductions came from less transportation pollution, mostly involving cars and trucks, the authors said. By contrast, the study found that drastic reductions in air travel only accounted for 10% of the overall pollution drop.

In the US, the biggest pollution declines were seen in California and Washington with plunges of more than 40%.