Morning Digest: Youths at risk during second COVID-19 wave, warn experts; Gujarat Assembly passes ‘love jihad’ law, and more

The second surge of COVID-19 puts children and younger adults at high risk with the situation being very grim especially in rural and tribal areas which were spared in the first wave, warn experts even as the country has been witnessing a steady rise in cases and with the government on Thursday opening up vaccination to all persons 45 years and above.

Amid stray incidents of violence, more than 80.43% voters exercised their franchise in the second phase of polling in West Bengal in 30 seats spread across four districts.

About 77.21% of the 73,44,631 voters across 39 Assembly constituencies in Assam turned out to vote in the second phase on Thursday. These seats are in southern Assam’s Barak Valley, central and parts of northern Assam.

The Finance Ministry has strongly defended its decision to grant a higher tax-free threshold of ₹5 lakh for Provident Fund contributions by government employees, compared to private sector workers whose income on annual contributions beyond ₹2.5 lakh will be taxed from this year.

During his campaign at Dharapuram in Tiruppur district on Wednesday, Mr. Udhayanidhi read out a list of senior BJP leaders, who he alleged were sidelined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As he mentioned the name of Sushma Swaraj, he claimed that she died after being “unable to bear the torture of Modi.” Swaraj died on August 6, 2019 at the age of 67 years after suffering a heart attack.

India is much better geared to cope with the resurgence of COVID-19 cases and the economy as well as informal sector job creation is expected to continue to bounce back through this year, Tarun Bajaj, Secretary, Revenue & Department of Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry said in an interview.

The Gujarat Assembly on Thursday passed the Freedom of Religion Act, 2003 amendment Bill that seeks to penalise forcible or fraudulent religious conversion by marriage or “love jihad”, bringing in stringent provisions against forcible conversion through marriage or allurement.

The Supreme Court has said judges need not read political motives or prejudice into a PIL petition merely because the person who filed it is a politician.

The U.S.’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, will travel to New Delhi, Dhaka and Abu Dhabi during April 1-9, the State Department announced on Wednesday, confirming reports in The Hindu, from last week.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will pay a two-day visit to India during April 5-6, said Maria Zakharova, spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, in Moscow. Mr. Lavrov is scheduled to interact with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and hold talks on the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan. He will be accompanied by Moscow’s Special Envoy on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov.

The spectators swung to the beating of the drums. The Wankhede Stadium was a blaze of colours. And the cup of joy was filled to the brim in the Maximum City.


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