India Dangerously Slow on Booster Shot Policy; Teni Loses It, Indicating Trouble for BJP in UP
RSS warms to Mamata, Centre’s semiconductor mission, Aadhar threat to secret ballot, WTO has implications for MSP, farmers’ movement ‘suspended’, not withdrawn, and did Dada fib about Virat Kohli?
A newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, Sushant Singh and Tanweer Alam | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
December 16, 2021
In their summit meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin “floated a possible three-way summit with India, evidence of their broader geopolitical ambitions,” reports the New York Times. Putin was in Delhi last week. Of course, trilateral summits have taken place earlier too. Meanwhile, China’s People’s Liberation Army has carried out a “real combat drill” involving anti-nuclear, chemical and biological warfare in Tibet. News of the day-long exercise in late November was published on an official PLA portal on Tuesday. The Chinese military media rarely mentions drills that involve non-conventional weapons, observes Hindustan Times.
At the WTO, the US, China and 84 other members ― representing over 90% of global trade ― agreed to align their economies on online consumer protection, electronic contracts and paperless trading. India was the biggest economy to oppose the initiative. It wants to build its digital infrastructure and ecosystem before locking itself into binding international rules.
India has lost a dispute at the WTO which will have serious repercussions on farm subsidies and the debate on making MSP a legal right, and moves towards sugarcane pricing, vital for UP polls. Even if the government does not procure but only sets prices for private buyers, it would constitute a trade-distorting subsidy.
The cabinet has committed Rs 76,000 crore under an independent India Semiconductor Mission to encourage manufacturers of chips and displays, which are in short supply due to the pandemic and a surge in demand for electronics, smart cars and IoT devices. However, the plan seems to focus on fabrication, the need for which has been felt from January, but not on the present crisis ― raw materials shortages.
Anil Ambani’s Reliance Capital has failed to pay Rs 534.64 crore interest on non-convertible debentures in which the Employees Provident Fund Organisation had invested Rs 2,500 crore, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday.
In an RTI reply, the Jammu and Kashmir administration reported that only 89 Kashmiri Pandits were killed by militants in 30 years, against 1,635 people of “other faiths”. If “other faiths” means mostly Muslims, the number killed by militants is nearly 20 times more than that of Pandits. Some 1.54 lakh people, including Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, had left the Valley since militancy began ― 53,958 Hindus, 11,212 Muslims and 5,013 Sikhs. The number of Kashmiri Pandit casualties is not even half the figure stated by the National Conference-Congress government in J&K in 2010 ― 219.
Covaxin recipients may be eligible for early access to booster doses, the expert panel on immunisation told the New Indian Express. The WHO recommends that recipients of whole inactivated virus-based vaccines should get boosters, along with the immuno-compromised. Covaxin and two Chinese shots are in this category. Of nearly 135 crore shots administered in India, 10.7% doses were of Covaxin. Last week, the Health Ministry told a parliamentary standing committee that a third dose can be administered nine months after the second.
Speaking in Chitrakoot yesterday at the Hindu Ekta Mahakumbh, a three-day congregation of saints and seers, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat gave a call for ‘ghar wapsi’ to bring converts back to Sanatan Dharma.
Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni lashed out at reporters yesterday, abusing them, calling them “thieves” and lunging at one of them. They were asking him about the SIT concluding that the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, for which his son is accused, was done by design. Reporters accused him of scuffling with them and snatching a cameraman’s mobile phone. In the Lok Sabha, the Opposition has sought Teni’s dismissal.
At a book launch, Chief Justice NV Ramana said, “The concept of investigative journalism is, unfortunately, vanishing from the media canvas. It is true at least in the Indian context.”
Significantly, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait has said that the farmers’ movement has been suspended, not withdrawn.
About 10 lakh public sector bank employees, including officers, are on strike for two days. The Centre has not assured them that the proposed Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill will not be tabled in the current session of Parliament. ATMs will work but will not be replenished.
Villagers from a Maoist-hit block in Chakradharpur in Jharkhand have started a postcard campaign seeking more work under MNREGA from PM Narendra Modi. Villagers from all 11 panchayats of Sonua block will send postcards in batches of 500 to the PMO, demanding an increase in the MGNREGA budget for 2022-23, a hike in minimum wages and guaranteed work for 200 days, not the present 100 days.
Group Captain Varun Singh, the sole survivor of the chopper crash which took the life of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, has died.
UNESCO has accorded heritage status to West Bengal’s Durga Puja festival. Check out the amazing range of other activities designated as intangible heritage.