Three Key Challenges for India in 2022; Only 64.2% Adults Vaccinated, Assurance Was 100%
Unemployment still rising, over 12,000 NGOs lose access to foreign funds, Kerala schools choose gender-neutral uniforms, and why the PM’s face glows in his car ― it’s not only because it’s brand new
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
January 3, 2022
The search ‘Heroes of Galwan Valley send New Year’s greetings’ was the second highest trend on Baidu in China on New Year’s Day. The video from Galwan, where 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers died in June 2020, was published in a coordinated manner by state media. It was presumably shot on the Chinese side and not at the spot where the clash took place. Meanwhile, Indian and Chinese soldiers exchanged sweets at the LAC at 10 spots, including at Bottleneck in Depsang, Hot Springs and Demchok, where the Chinese have ingressed into Indian territory. An official told The Hindu that the most they can hope for is that ties “stabilise” this year. And ‘silence’ in the face of Chinese actions seems to be the preferred strategy.
Kannan Gopinathan, the 35-year-old engineer who quit the IAS in August 2019 in protest against the constitutional gutting of Jammu and Kashmir and the clampdown on its people, is rendering yeoman service with a China-centric portal. Conflicting stands of the Indian and Chinese governments during the Ladakh border standoff, especially on the Galwan Valley bloodshed, had set Gopinathan wondering: “What are the Chinese reading?” The result ― after Gopinathan taught himself Mandarin and a bit of coding ― was WhatChinaReads.com. On Friday, Gopinathan compared some of the Union government’s policies to dogs chasing cars. “No one understands why dogs chase a car. What is the intention and what do they do once they reach the car?”
India’s unemployment rate hit a four-month high of 7.9% in December from 7.0% in November, its highest since 8.3% in August. Urban unemployment rose to 9.3% in December from 8.2% in Nov, while rural unemployment was up 7.3% from 6.4%, as per CMIE data.
India’s Covid-19 vaccination programme has been one of the most successful and largest in the world, asserts the Union Health Ministry, and international media reports claiming that it has missed targets are misleading. But The Hindu reminds us that in May 2021, Union minister and cabinet spokesperson Prakash Javadekar had said that all adults would be fully vaccinated by December. In the same month, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured the Supreme Court: “We expect the entire eligible population to be vaccinated by the end of the year.” In July 2021, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar had told the Lok Sabha that “it is expected that eligible beneficiaries aged 18 years and above will be vaccinated by December 2021”. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had reiterated this in another reply in the Lok Sabha. However, by December 31, only 64.2% of adults had been fully vaccinated.
The first phase of the Census and the collection of details to update the National Population Register (NPR) have been postponed at least till September, reports The Hindu. The Registrar-General of India (RGI) had in December informed the states that the freezing of administrative boundaries had been postponed till June, a senior official said on Sunday. This must be done three months before the Census. Alarmingly, Dainik Bhaskar’s front page reported yesterday that Census 2021 may be cancelled entirely, and held only in the next decade. No denial has been issued.
More than 200 eminent Indians, including five former service chiefs, have written to the President and Prime Minister seeking action against those who spewed hate against Gandhi and called for the killing of Muslims during the so-called Dharma Sansad at Haridwar.
After days of protests by doctors, who were manhandled and detained by disproportionate numbers of security forces, the Union government has done what it should have done months ago ― filed an affidavit in response to the Supreme Court’s questions on the income limit set for EWS quota, which was holding up admissions. The Centre will stick to the annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh for the EWS quota.
Over 200 Hindu pilgrims from India, the US and the Gulf prayed at the century-old renovated Maharaja Paramhans Ji mandir in northwest Pakistan on Saturday. The mandir and samadhi of Paramhans Ji in Teri village, Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was repaired last year by the provincial government after it was demolished by a mob in 2020.
The Kashi Vishwanath corridor saw a record 5 lakh pilgrims on New Year’s day, boasted official sources, and never mind the pandemic. But the president of Sankat Mochan, Dr Vishambhar Nath Mishra showed the reality ― the patch of water in the Ganga that the PM had waded into, in its natural state.
The charade of a night curfew continues in states like UP. Commentators say: “The night curfew appears to be more of a facade because it does not seem to serve any meaningful purpose.” As India braces for the third wave, an author remembers the reality and the spin of Covid in India in April.
And finally, we know why the PM’s face glows in the dark, in his new car.