Dramaticpoliticaldevelopments over the past few days in Belarus
Election Commission announced, Alexander Lukashenko was the winner of Sunday’s election.
His main rival, SvetlanaTikhanovskaya, rejected the results and called for a recount.
Ms. Tikhanovskaya entered the race after her husband and a popularYouTuber, SergeiTikhanovsky, who was to contest against Mr. Lukashenko, was detained and barred from contesting for allegedly inciting unrest.
Protests broke out in the capital, Minsk, which was met with a violent security crackdown.
At least 2,000people were detained and dozens injured.
Svetlanafled to neighbouring Lithuania.
There are serious doubts on fairness of election.
In recent years, Belarus, a geopoliticalally of Russiawithcultural links, has shown a willingness to work closer with the West.
His bet was to raise the strategic profile of his landlocked country at a time when the contest for influence in Eastern Europe between Moscow and Washington was hotting up.
Moscow immediately sensed an opportunity to cement ties with Belarus, which is an important transit route of Russian gas to Europe as well as a buffer between Russia and European powers.
More than a vaccine, it is about vaccination
Everyone eagerly asks: will we get a COVID-19 vaccine this year or only next year?
During a pandemic, expecting vaccines the same year or the next, illustrates the power of technology, human hope, media hype — all at unprecedented frenzy.
In India, 2 candidates have advanced considerably.
It is safe and immunogenic (stimulates anti-coronavirus antibody) in laboratory animals and humans, to be re-confirmed in a phase 2 trial; phase 3 will assess the vaccine’s safety and protective efficacy against COVID-19.
Pune’s Serum Institute of India (SII) is testing Oxford University-AstraZeneca’s vaccine using a Trojan horse approach
Spiking chimpanzee adenovirus type 5 with coronavirus spike glycoprotein genes.
When injected, adenoviruses are detected and devoured by immune system cells patrolling for invading microbes.
The smuggled genes force these cells to synthesise and spew out spike protein that is immunogenic.
This adenovirus is harmless in humans.
Both company-owners have invested heavily, without extramural research support, or advance purchase contract by the government.
Both seem to have the best interests of fellow Indians first in their hearts; profit comes second.
Some wealthy nations made bilateral financial agreements with manufacturers in order to hog vaccines.
Global public good should not be hijacked by wealthy nations.
Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, created COVAX — a funding facility to ensure up-scaling vaccine production and its access to low income countries as soon as regulatory approvals emerge.
COVAX will support the SII with funds to bring down selling-price to $3 per dose.
With good news on supply side, what about the delivery side?
India’s Universal Immunisation Programme is a vaccine-delivery platform for children and pregnantwomen, funded by the central government but implemented by State governments.
However, the COVID-19vaccineis for all age groups, necessitating an innovative platform, prioritised on the basis of need.
The first step is policy definition leading to a plan of action blueprint.
The time to create them is now — it costs nothing, but will save time when a vaccine becomes available.
Vaccine availability will be limited at first
Priority: senior citizens, those with medical co-morbidities, front-line workers.
Area-wiseestimates of the numbers who need vaccination on a priority basis are necessary.
Now is the time for State governments to capture all such data.
All those who must rebuild essential activities, i.e. economic, educational, trade, transport, sociocultural and religious, must be protected.
A more ambitious aim is to break the novel coronavirus transmission and eradicate the disease altogether.
With India’s notable representation in decision-making bodies of the World Health Organization, India is uniquely positioned to play a crucial role in advocating global eradication of COVID-19.
A practical method is vaccination camps, supervised by a medical officer, staffed by health management and local government, and having the list of people who need vaccination.
Enumerationandregistration of eligible persons can be started now.
Vaccination by appointments will ensure that vaccination is without overcrowding and with minimum waiting time.
Post-injection, vaccinated subjects should wait for half-an-hourin case of immediate side effects; emergency drugs to tackle side effects should be readily available.
As it would be a new vaccine, all side effects must be documented for first and second doses; medical events during the month following each dose must be captured through phone calls, and analysed to check full safety of the vaccine.
In India, careful documentation of all side effects in all individuals, senior citizens, those with co-morbidities, and children must supplement trial data on vaccine safety.
Shutting the door on Huawei
The U.K. has finally decided to ban the Chinese company.
UK has banned all mobile providers from buying new Huawei 5G equipment after the end of this year as well as removing all of Huawei’s 5G kit from their networks by 2027.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the U.K.’s decision
China “strongly opposed” the U.K.’s “groundless” ban and warned that it would “take measures to safeguard” the “legitimate interests” of Chinese companies as “anydecisions and actions must come at a cost”.
Trump administration had made it clear that the U.K.’s “special relationship” with the U.S. was under the scanner.
Not only would their securityandintelligence ties have been in jeopardy but crucial trade negotiations would have been hampered too.
For the Trump administration, the U.K.’s change of stance is a major diplomatic win as it might also convince fence sitters to make a final decision.
For Huawei, a domino effect across Europe might pose a serious challenge given that almost a quarter of its sales come from the European market.
So what once looked like a battle which the U.S. was waging on its own has suddenly been joined by a number of other players.
The Indianresponse is being closely watched.
Last year, India had allowed Huawei to participate in 5Gtrials which could not happen because of the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
India is signalling that it is willing to bear economic and technological costs if it means limiting Chinese involvement in critical infrastructure.
A self-reliant foreign policy
Self-reliance is the theme of India’s 74th Independence Day.
This concept is commonly associated with the economy and production of key goods and services within the country in light of the global ‘supplyshock’ caused by the pandemic.
From the foreign policy point of view it is about time-testedaxiom of ‘strategic autonomy’.
India has historically prided itself as an independentdevelopingcountry which does not take orders from or succumb to pressure from great powers.
The need for autonomy in making foreign policy choices has remained constant.
Bipolar: 1947 to 1991
Unipolar: 1991 to 2008, when the U.S. entered a long cycle of economic crises and China caught up with it in overall power
Multipolar: present times
In moments of crisis, India has reinterpretedfreedom and shown flexibility for survival.
During the 1962war with China, the high priest of non-alignment, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, had to appeal to the U.S. for emergency military aid to stave off the Chinese from “taking over the whole of Eastern India.”
In the build-up to the 1971war with Pakistan, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had to enter a Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union to ward off both China and the U.S.
And in Kargil in 1999, India welcomed a direct intervention by the U.S. to force Pakistan to back down.
In all the above examples, India did not become any less autonomous when geopolitical circumstances compelled it to enter into de facto alliance-like cooperation with major powers.
Rather, India secured its freedom, sovereignty and territorialintegrity by manoeuvering the great power equations and playing the realpolitik game.
Non-alignment 2.0 with China and the U.S., as they slide into a new Cold War, makes little sense when India’s security and sovereignty are being challenged primarily by the former rather than the latter.
Fears in some quarters that proximity to the U.S. will lead to loss of India’s strategic autonomy are overblown because independent India has never been subordinated to a foreign hegemon.
Diversificationis the essence of self-reliance.
A wide basket of strategic partners, including the U.S., with a sharper focus on constraining China, is the only viable diplomatic way forward in the current emerging multipolar world order.
How the tiger can regain its stripes
On International Tiger Day, July 29, authorities proudly declared that India should “celebrate” the increase in tigers from about 2,000 in 1970 to about 3,000 now.
This is an annual growth rate lower than 1% after 50 years of incredible, sometimes heroic, efforts.
Even a back-of-the-envelopecalculation can show that India has the potential to hold 10,000 to 15,000 wild tigers.
What is lacking is a pragmatic plan to get to that goal.
Malenad landscape of about 25,000sq km in Karnataka.
There were only around 70 tigers in this landscape in the early 1970s. There are now about 400wildtigers in Malenad.
The substantial increase of tigers that followed, against all odds, was due to the work of dedicated foresters and conservationists under the leadership of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Two legal instruments that enabled tiger recoveries in India were the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, which reinforced Project Tiger.
Around 2000, things began to change.
This mission drift in tiger protection overlapped with the upsurge of emancipatory politicalmovements for the release of wildlife habitats for cultivation and exploitation by loosely defined “forest-dwellers”.
The tiger extinction in Sariska Reserve caused a public outcry in 2005, leading to the appointment of a Tiger Task Force (TTF) by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Excessive funding of a few reserves while neglecting large areas with greater recovery potential became the norm.
Another feature of this emergent government monopoly over tiger management was the lack of data transparency and rigorous, independent tiger monitoring.
The tiger was fully bound in red tape.
India needs to get out of this tiger circus.
The role of the forest bureaucracy should be once again restricted to wildlife law enforcement.
Merging Project Tiger with other Central schemes for wildlife conservation would be a good first step.
The vast reservoir of talent and energy in society should be drawn in to engage with these diverse domains, by involving private enterprises, localcommunities, NGOs and scientificinstitutions.
India’s tiger conservation needs a reboot to match the scale of the country’s aspirations in other domains — a new vision that encompasses the talents and aspirations of a growing number of citizens who want to save tigers without turning the clock back on material progress.
PM Modi launches 'Transparent Taxation - Honoring the Honest' platform
Better road engineering and increased public awareness will reduce road accidents by about 50 pct: Nitin Gadkari
Electric mobility gets a boost; Govt allows registration of electric vehicles without pre-fitted batteries
Assam govt to roll out Arunodoi scheme to provide financial assistance to around 17 lakh families from Oct 2
Bangladesh to get largest ever dollar 3.1 billion loan package from Japan
Full dress rehearsal at Red Fort today for 74th Independence Day celebrations
Govt distributes over 3 Cr N95 masks, 1.28 Cr PPE kits to states, UTs, Central Institutions
Ayush Minister Shripad Naik tests positive for coronavirus
Air India stops flights to Madrid, Milan, Copenhagen, Vienna & Stockholm
Russia, Brazil agree to cooperate in production & marketing of world’s first registered coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V
The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download
Date: 08 August 2020
New Education Policy 2020 | ToI
The policy is comprehensive, holistic, far sighted and will certainly play a great role in the nation’s future growth of the nation.
I must commend the TSR Subramanian Committee in 2016 and the K Kasturirangan Committee for having done a stellar job.
It seeks to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society.
It rightfully balances the rootednessandpride in India as well as acceptance of the best ideas and practices in the world of learning from across the globe.
I note with great satisfaction that one of its loftiergoals is to bring two crore out-of-school children into the school system and reduce dropouts.
Reduction in the burdensome syllabus, focus on vocational education and environmental education
Bringing in a single regulator to look after all institutions barring medical and law colleges.
The policy gives a fillip to holistic education by envisioning the convergence of science and arts streams.
The focus on ethics and human and Constitutional values will go a long way in the creation of an enlightened citizenship essential for deepening our democratic roots.
Increasing the school-going years from 3 to 18 instead of the prevalent 6 to 14.
Setting up a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.
Importance of nutrition to the all-rounddevelopmentofchildren: energy-filled breakfast +nutritious mid-day meal
Mother tongue plays a highly critical role in the overall development of the child.
Mother tongue, which a child hears right from the moment he or she is born, provides personalidentity, connects with culture and is crucial for cognitive development.
When world leaders call on me, they prefer to speak in their mother tongues even though they are proficient in English.
Great scholars prefer to write and speak in their mother tongues.
There would be no imposition of any language and no opposition to any language.
This educationpolicy was long overdue.
Now focus needs to shift to its efficient and effectiveimplementation.
States and the Union government have to work together to make the change happen in the classrooms.
While NEPaims to increase public investment in education from the current 4.3% to 6% of GDP, we must have a time frame for this to be implemented.
After the landslide
The results of the Sri Lankan parliamentary elections were foretold from the time of the February 2018 local election sweep by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.
Voters, who had decided in 2015 to throw out an authoritarianRajapaksaregime and opted for a seemingly bold challenger in Maithripala Sirisena, had by then already tired of the dysfunctional relationship between him and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The last straw was the failure of this duo to prevent the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage despite credible, real time intelligence from India.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was elected last year on a majoritarian Sinhala Buddhist plank built around his reputation as the architect of the 2009 military victory over the LTTE, is a recent politician, and more powerful than the PM under the Constitution.
Mahinda continues to nurse the ambition of becoming president once again.
The Gotabaya-Mahindagovernment has already shown that it will wear its majoritarianism on its sleeve.
Earlier this year, Sri Lanka withdrew from Resolution30/1 of the UN Human Rights Council, under which it had committed to fix accountability for war crimes and provide justice and reparations to the Tamil minority.
The Tamil National Alliance has shrunk in this election.
Mahinda paid no heed to India’s entreaties after the civil war ended to devolve more powers to Tamil areas.
The brothers Rajapaksa are even less likely to pay attention now.
Sri Lanka’s new ruling clan is sharply aware of India’s own majoritarian turn, as well as its troubles with China on the LAC and in the region.
That the Rajapaksaswill continue using Beijing as a counter-weight to Delhi is a reality that cannot be wished away.
Dreadedcommunity spread has India well and truly in its grip.
1.5millioncases till July 28
Added a whopping 5,00,000infections in just nine days
This is an average of 50,000freshcases recorded each day.
India has breached the 20-lakhbarrier and fatalities have touched the 41,000 mark.
The country that has been fighting to rapidly ramp up its poor healthcare infrastructure is now snapping at the heels of Brazil, which has more than 2.8 million cases, and the US, which is leading the list of worst-hit countries with fivemillion cases.
And if the experts are to be believed, the community spread has only just begun and the next million cases may take just a little over two weeks if infections continue to spread at the same rate at which they are now.
Expert opinion has it that the country needs to shift its focus on the war against the pandemic to rural India, which has multiple challenges of a high population density, patchy administration and a tottering healthcare infrastructure.
Till August 5, the country had just tested 16,617peoplepermillion, which is a paltry 1.66 per cent of the population.
Compare this to other nations like the US, which has tested 18.8 per cent of its population, Russia20 per cent, South Africa five per cent and the UK 25 per cent.
The Government’s excuses of overpopulation and being a poor country hold no water as even a country like Brazil, which has a much lesser GDP than ours, has tested 6.3 per cent of its population.
Moreover, a small country like Iran has tested three per cent.
If we are to beat the pandemic, we have to ramp up our testing and take it up to five per cent at least, which is around 32 million more people.
Right now, while the urban centres are bending the curve, unexpected hotspots are emerging, which need to be contained lest they set off a ripple effect that can lead to a “viral” blast.
Also, what is needed is a national protocol for a standardised response, better guidance and a balanced allocation of resources.
The silver lining in the dark cloud is that the recovery rate in the country is continuously rising and the fatality rate has remained much below the global average.
Plus, we have come a long way from the time we faced a shortage of simple things like hand sanitisers to the more complex PPEs and ventilators.
The two indigenous vaccines are showing promise and developers are preparing to begin simultaneous phase 2 trials that study immune response and additional safety in a large population.
In some more good news, pharma major Lupin has launched its Favipiravir drug at a very reasonable price.
Given our population, we will have recurring waves.
Atleast 18 people killed in plane crash at Kozhikode airport in Kerala
162 people have been injured. 15 of them are in serious condition.
Centre asks States, UTs to conduct Corona test of all grocery shop workers, street vendors to control pandemic
PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra today
Gujarat Govt announces New Industrial Policy in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan
India to host ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in 2021; Women's T-20 postponed till 2022
Hockey team captain Manpreet Singh, players tested COVID-19 positive
Bangladesh to construct memorial for Indian soldiers martyred in 1971 liberation war
OCI card holders from USA, UK, Germany, France can visit India: Home Ministry
Sarpanches, Panchayats representatives should perform their responsibility for villages development: N S Tomar
Today is 78th anniversary of Quit India movement
The movement had begun from Gawalia Tank in Mumbai. The day is observed as August Kranti Day every year.
Serum Institute enters into partnership to accelerate manufacture, delivery of Covid19 vaccines for India
Serum Institute of India has entered into a new landmark partnership with Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the production of up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for India and other low and middle income countries.
Independence Day 2020: Govt Schemes generating employment for youth
Skill Development Minister Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey said, under the skill India mission government is provident employment as well as opportunity of self employment to the youth of the country.