- Centre invites applications for citizenship from Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who have taken shelter in India
- GST Council exempts import duty on COVID-19 related supplies including drug used in treatment of Mucormycosis till Aug 31
- Centre in regular touch with national and international manufacturers to augment availability of Corona vaccines
- Production capacity of Covaxin to be doubled by next month
- India, US discuss vaccine partnership aimed at expanding access and ensuring supply
- Wheat procurement during current Rabi Season touches an all time high of over 400 Lakh Metric Tonnes
- Dominica Court stays repatriation of fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi
- Total COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in India exceeded 20.86 crore
- National COVID-19 recovery rate improves to 90.80 per cent
- Japan extends COVID-19 state of emergency in Tokyo, nine other regions for three more weeks
- US President releases his first annual budget; sets out 6tn spending plan
- Second BRICS Sherpas' and Sous Sherpas' meeting convened
- China’s energy guzzling digital sector may disrupt country’s plans of peaking climate carbon emissions by 2030
- Panghal, Shiva Thapa storm into finals of Asian Boxing Championships in Dubai
- Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikath miss out on Tokyo Olympics 2021 qualification
No child’s play
- Children are the last human frontier COVID-19 threatens to engulf.
- The second surge has seen quite a number of children infected.
- India, like the rest of the world, is now gearing up to prepare to save children in the next surge.
- Lessons from the first two surges have chastened the Government and steps are already afoot to provide separate neonatal and paediatric wards in hospitals.
- Contingency measures are on for oxygen, monitoring equipment, ventilators and medicine.
- Medical and paramedical staff are undergoing re-orientation to handle young patients.
- Bharat Biotech of Covaxin fame is also ahead of the curve in coming up with a vaccine for the 2-18 age group.
- In fact, it has got approval for stage 2 and 3 human trials already.
- With 40 per cent of the population in this age group, vaccination becomes imperative.
- Should the location and names of the infected children be revealed on social media posts for help?
- There are many NGOs handling awareness campaigns to keep children safe.
- Nearly half of the population below 18 lives in the countryside.
- There are issues with hygiene, availability of potable water and nutritious diet.
- As yet, no data shows that the third surge will affect children, but it is equally important they be immunised.
- It is more important to inoculate their parents first.
- Both medical workers and parents need to realise that most children may not be able to recognise COVID-19 symptoms; how then to diagnose at the earliest?
- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), after 35 years of its existence, has almost become a relic of the past.
- An organisation that was launched for regional cooperation has been dying a slow death ever since its inception on December 8, 1985.
- It was to bring together the 21 per cent of the world’s population living in South Asia.
- The idea was to help the region by economic cooperation.
- South Asia remains one of the most impoverished regions in the world.
- The interaction among SAARC nations, which share a common heritage and history, is dismally low.
- Pakistan’s obsession with Kashmir made it impossible to make it a workable entity.
- The result was that no SAARC leaders’ meeting took place after Kathmandu in 2014 till 2020.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the initiative on March 15, 2020, as India led from the front. It hosted a virtual meeting of the SAARC leaders.
- India pledged $10 million to a fund to fight Corona and other nations followed suit.
- India also donated vaccines to the member nations.
- At the ground level, the SAARC Disaster Management Centre has set up a website (http://www.covid19-sdmc.org/) for SAARC countries.
- A special cell in the Ministry of External Affairs is coordinating and monitoring with SAARC countries.
- Hope this revives SAARC and regional cooperation gets a new lease of life.
- The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to transfer ₹99,122 crore of surplus to the Centre comes as a windfall to the government.
- The payout is almost double the ₹53,511 crore that the Finance Minister had budgeted for by way of dividend receipts, including from nationalised banks and financial institutions.
- That the RBI has generated a surplus that is over 73% higher than what it posted for the previous 12-month period ended June 2020.
- The RBI’s annual report, released on Thursday, shows that a sharp 63% contraction in expenditure was a major factor in boosting the surplus, especially as income fell by 11%.
- However, the biggest contributor in real terms was the ₹50,629 crore of exchange gain realised by the central bank from its foreign exchange transactions.
- The central bank, which admits to intervening in the foreign exchange market to smoothe volatility, clearly had a very busy time mopping up the record foreign direct investment inflows that exceeded $81 billion (at a gross level) in the last financial year, as well as the sizeable portfolio investments from overseas.
- However, both the Centre and the central bank need to be cognisant of the risks in making a habit of banking on these surpluses to cushion the government’s coffers.
- With the government facing the likelihood of overshooting its budgeted borrowing, given the higher spending needed to bolster vaccinations, health care and direct fiscal support, the RBI’s balance sheet could swell in size this year too.
- It would behove policymakers to remember that the central bank is ultimately the lender of last resort to the nation as a whole and can ill-afford to be less than adequately funded to meet every conceivable contingency.
Atmanirbharta’s bitter pill
- Over the last few weeks, as India has struggled to cope with the second Covid wave, foreign friends have delivered much-needed lifelines.
- These oxygen cylinders and oxygenators are helping us tide over the greatest irony: They’re supplying the breath of life to suffering Indians living in a country that produces so much oxygen that it exports it.
- Aid, whether received or offered, should be divorced from national pride.
- In a disaster there’s no need to gloat about contributing to or feel shame in drinking from the trough of human kindness.
- A world without compassion is a world without the bonds that hold civilisation together: Religion, family and law to name a few.
- More than once the Centre has used the pandemic as a backdrop to underscore how India has emerged as a self-sufficient power that the world can take inspiration from.
- There’s no doubt that over the last year we’ve built up capacities at an admirable pace, but to have certified ourselves as the ‘most successful country in saving lives’ was to let hubris script the endgame.
- States are competing to bargain with vaccine producers who hold the cards in a supplier’s market.
- Millions of doses of vaccines are needed urgently to guarantee India’s economic security.
- A government less consumed with its national image would have signed advance procurement contracts with leading international vaccine manufacturers to ensure adequate stocks.
- India even patiently waits in the court of WTO, hoping for a receptive hearing on a plea seeking a waiver on medical technology related patents.
- The Covid crisis has forced the government to swallow a bitter pill: If India is to succeed in creating atmanirbhar business behemoths at home, it will have to increase and not decrease its integration with global value chains.
In two minds
- Not everyone is enthused about the biggest sporting event of the world, due in a couple of months in Tokyo.
- Less than a fortnight ago, Roger Federer spoke about the uncertainty looming over the Olympics, saying ‘athletes need a firm decision’ and that he is in two minds about the event.
- There are two diametrically opposite voices emerging from Japan.
- As the coronavirus pandemic rages across the island nation, a BBC report stated that only 1.9% of the population has been fully vaccinated while COVID-19 infections and current deaths stand at over 7,00,000 and 12,000, respectively.
- Hospitals are overwhelmed and fully aware of that grim context; a majority of Japanese citizens emphasised that the Olympics should either be postponed or cancelled while their collective voice found resonance through opinion polls.
- As a counter, local officials and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held firm that the Games will be conducted from July 23 to August 8.
- The quadrennial showpiece championship originally slated for 2020 was postponed by a year during the first wave of the pandemic, and organisers believe that an event with a staggering $15.4 billion budget cannot afford another reworking of the dates.
- The Olympics has always been about striving for the impossible as evident in its motto — faster, higher, stronger — which defined the Games ever since its modern version commenced at Athens in 1896.
- It braved past the gaps caused by the World Wars as the 1916, 1940 and 1944 events were shelved and also coped with the Cold War years when the Western and Eastern blocs took turns to boycott the 1980 and 1984 Games.
- But the pandemic is a bigger obstacle even while vaccination drives continue at varied speeds.
- People do yearn for normalcy and sport offers that illusory thrill of everything being fine with the world.
- Despite best practices and bio-bubbles, sportspeople are vulnerable to the virus and the Olympics with an expected attendance of 11,091 athletes, can be a logistical nightmare.
- The IOC is walking on the razor’s edge in its bid to conduct the Olympics in a reluctant nation, where even an event partner, Asahi Shimbun daily, sought the cancellation of the Games citing the strain on the health sector.
- So far, the most pessimistic of the experts have been the ones being proved right.
Q.) Which major vaccine company has said that its Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 is 100% effective in preventing symtomatic infections in 12-17 year olds after two doses?
- Johnson and Johnson
Q.) France recently recognised its role in a 1994 genocide in which country?