Less than 20% of Indians will get a Covid-19 vaccine shot by July 2021, according to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan who said that the Centre expects to “receive and utilise 400-500 million doses covering approximately 20-25 crore people by July 2021”. India’s current population is estimated at 130 crore.
Confirming that vaccine rollout will begin only from the third quarter of 2021, Vardhan said the first doses will be given to healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, sanitary staff, surveillance officers as also people involved in tracing and testing.
Vardhan said that since vaccine procurement will be done centrally, state governments have been asked not to enter into any deals with manufacturers — they are instead, required to send a list of people who would get the vaccine shot first. The list is expected to be compiled by the end of this month.
About the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik-V, which is being brought into India by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Vardhan said no decision had yet been taken on its Phase 3 clinical trials — all vaccines from outside India need to undergo bridging studies to prove their safety and immunogenicity in the Indian population as well.
The preliminary medico-legal report after the examination of the 19-year-old Dalit girl from Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras who was allegedly gangraped had found “signs of use of force”. The report, which is prepared by a doctor, was the first to document her state. More on the report here.
The same department that had prepared the preliminary report in its final opinion said that “there are no signs suggestive of vaginal/anal intercourse. There is evidence of physical assault”.
UP police have cited the forensic report to say there was no rape. The forensic report, which is prepared by a forensic lab, was based on samples that had been sent 11 days after the incident. Centre’s guidelines say samples should be collected within 4 days.
The BJP IT cell head had on Friday tweeted a video revealing the identity of the victim to downplay the charges of gangrape. However, news reports showed two more videos (link here) where the victim had alleged sexual violence by her attackers.
A day after the UP chief minister ordered a CBI probe, the victim’s family said they want the investigation to be supervised by a retired Supreme Court judge. Police recorded the family’s statement on Sunday.
Upper caste members of the village held a meeting at a local BJP leader’s house to demand “justice for the accused”. Another BJP leader said, “Incidents like these can be stopped with the help of good values … all parents should teach their daughters good values”.
RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary was beaten up by UP police while on his way to meet the victim’s family. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and a delegation of the Samajwadi Party met the girl’s family.
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) on Sunday walked out of the ruling National Democratic Alliance in Bihar citing “ideological differences” with ally JD(U). However, the party said it would not field candidates against the BJP.
The JD(U) had earlier refused to engage in any talks with the LJP, saying that its alliance was with the BJP and not with LJP.
LJP’s move may end up damaging the JD(U)’s prospects on several seats, say some experts.
The LJP had deployed a similar strategy in the February 2005 assembly polls when it was part of the Congress-led UPA alliance at the Centre but contested against the RJD, the principal UPA member in Bihar.
In 2015, the LJP had contested 42 seats and won two. JD(U) was then part of the opposition alliance.
The RJD-led opposition alliance had announced its seat-sharing deal on Saturday according to which RJD will contest on 144 seats, Congress on 70, CPI (ML) on 19, CPI on 6 and CPM on 4.
The opposition alliance also saw an ally, the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), walking out at the press conference called to announce the seat-sharing deal. It later said it will contest on all seats. VIP’s move is likely to benefit the BJP-JD(U) alliance.
Today is the deadline for states to agree to one of the two options presented by the Centre to make up for the GST shortfall this fiscal, with a stormy session expected at the GST Council meeting.
Agree: 21 states, largely those ruled by the BJP or by parties supporting the BJP, have agreed for borrowing Rs 97,000 crore from a special window facilitated by the RBI — the amount being the compensation due to the states on account of GST implementation. However, even these states are looking at a renegotiation of the terms of borrowing as also extending the 5 year transition period of GST compensation beyond June 2022.
Disagree: 10 states have yet to respond on either of the two options offered by the Centre — the other option being to borrow Rs 2.35 lakh crore, which includes Rs 1.38 lakh crore as revenue shortfall due to Covid-19 pandemic. If these states do not choose either option, then they will have to wait till June 2022 to get their GST compensation. These states have sought the PM’s intervention.
Pros and cons: In the first option — borrowing Rs 97,000 crore — the principal as well as the interest will be serviced from the compensation cess while in the second option — borrowing Rs 2.35 lakh crore — the interest burden will have to be borne by the states.
Who’ll prevail? According to the GST Council’s laws, any decision has to be passed by a minimum three-fourths of the members present. However, the Centre’s vote carries “a weightage of one third of the total votes cast”, with the remaining two thirds coming from the states.
In rural India, males (6 years and above) spent an average of 554 minutes (9.2 hours) in sleep and “related activities” last year, while females spent a tad extra at 557 minutes. In urban areas, males spent 534 minutes in sleep-related activities and females 552 minutes.
When it comes to eating and drinking, males in rural areas spent about 10 minutes more than an average female — 103 minutes and 94 minutes respectively. Men in cities too averaged higher than women in this category — 101 minutes for males and 97 minutes for females.
The average time spent in socialising and communication, community participation and religious practice was 143 minutes at the national level. In rural areas, males spent 151 minutes on such activities while females spent 139 minutes.
These findings are part of the Time Use Survey, a first-of-its-kind assessment conducted by the National Statistical office (NSO) between January and December 2019. Read the full story here
Why China: All four Quad members have an ongoing tiff with China — while India and Japan have territorial disputes, the US and Australia are locked in a trade war. The meeting is also likely to take up cooperation in 5G and 5G plus technologies — given the Chinese dominance in the segment.
Countering China: US has made it clear that the focus will be on China as its “tactics, aggression, and coercion increase in the region”. The China-focus was underlined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo too as he accused Beijing of “threatening the world’s economy and jeopardizing the global environment”.
Practically admitting that reports of US President Donald Trump having “mild symptoms” of Covid-19 were lies, the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows admitted that Trump not only “had a fever” but that “his oxygen levels had dropped rapidly”.
The ‘confession’ capped a series of contradictory statements from the White House, the doctors attending to Trump at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Trump himself, leading to a confusion being created about the health of the world’s most powerful man.
The doctors initially hinted that Trump was sick even before it was officially reported but later recanted, with Dr Sean Conley, the White House physician saying the president was “not yet out of the woods”.
Trump too, posted a four minute video on Twitter, saying he “feel(s) much better now” after admitting that he “wasn’t feeling so well”.
A majority of voters (53.3%) in New Caledonia, an archipelago in the South Pacific, chose to remain part of France instead of backing independence, in a referendum held on Sunday.
The second referendum in two years (56.4% had voted to keep ties with Paris last time) was part of the decolonisation process that started 30 years ago after years of violence that pitched pro-independence native activists against those willing to remain in France.
The bulk of the island’s population is made up of indigenous Melanesians known locally as Kanaks (39%) and European inhabitants, or Caldoches (27%).
New Caledonia became French in 1853 under Emperor Napoleon III and was used for decades as a prison colony. It became an overseas territory after World War II, with French citizenship granted to all Kanaks in 1957. Islanders call the main island, Grand Terre, the “pebble” of the Pacific.
A small number of people circled Islam’s holiest site in Mecca on Sunday after Saudi Arabia lifted coronavirus restrictions that had been in place for months.
The Saudi government has started allowing a maximum of 6,000 pilgrims (only Saudi citizens and residents) a day to enter the Grand Mosque in the first phase. The number will go up to 15,000 in the second phase that comes into effect on October 18.
People from outside Saudi Arabia could be allowed from November 1, the government had said.
Tata Steel. China’s Jingye Group is said to be in talks with Tata Steel, the world’s ninth largest steel producer with an annual production of over 30 million tonnes, to buy out its UK division, Tata Steel UK, according to a report by Sky News. The company, whose Jamshedpur plant was the largest in the British empire in the pre-independence years, is also the UK’s largest steel producer and had sought a £500 million loan in April from the British government, which was rejected.
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