In bad faith: On the ongoing farmers agitation

The NIA’s decision to summon people associated with the ongoing farmers agitation as ‘witnesses’ in a sedition case is definitely out of the ordinary, even if not entirely surprising. Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu and farmers’ leader Baldev Singh Sirsa are among 40 people it has summoned in connection with a fresh case registered on December 15, 2020 against Sikhs for Justice, a U.S.-based organisation that is banned by India. Others summoned include functionaries of Khalsa Aid, a Sikh charity that provided material support to agitating farmers, and those who organised a community kitchen for them. The insinuation of the NIA in the very act of summoning them as ‘witnesses’ follows statements by BJP leaders that linked the agitation to Khalistani separatism. Law officers of the government told the Supreme Court last week that anti-national forces that had infiltrated the protests were misleading the farmers. This portrayal of critics of a government policy as either misled and ignorant or
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Top of the heap: On India's series win against Australia

On a magical Tuesday, India’s cricketing history gained a luminous chapter even as the shadows lengthened at Brisbane’s Gabba. When Rishabh Pant’s winning four aptly concluded a tense pursuit of 328 on a nerve-wracking fifth day of the fourth Test, Ajinkya Rahane’s men seized the series at 2-1 to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. As far as role-reversals go, this was stunning in its execution and jaw-dropping in its impact. It was a verdict that seemed improbable after India’s 36, its lowest ever Test score, during the debilitating loss in the first game at Adelaide. But India progressed despite losing personnel to injuries or personal reasons. Skipper Virat Kohli took paternity leave while other regulars had to be benched following a spate of injuries. Yet, Rahane’s men persevered, right from the established Cheteshwar Pujara and R. Ashwin to the latest rookies in the squad — Shubman Gill and Washington Sundar. At various points, the experienced professional and the fresh debutant
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Editorial

Whatever it takes: On govt. powers to combat vaccine hesitancy

Faith in entities is often an act of personal commitment not amenable to falsification, but trust in a scientific process can be established with confidence-building measures and full disclosure of all relevant data. Any mass campaign that involves voluntary effort on the part of the public can succeed only when transparency and open communication channels are the tools of choice. If the poor rate of uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine in most of the States in the country is any indication, the government has not taken the people of the country along, in what is a purely voluntary exercise, but one vested with great power to retard the pace of the epidemic. For instance, Tamil Nadu, a State perceived to be largely health literate, and relatively well-equipped with health infrastructure, achieved only over 16% of its targeted coverage on the launch day. On the second day of vaccination, the compliance further dropped; in some States, vaccination was suspended. A marked favouring of the

Editorial

Poison and prison: On political importance of Navalny

Russian authorities have repeatedly tried to play down the political importance of Alexei Navalny, the opposition politician who was poisoned in Siberia five months ago, saying he is unpopular. President Vladimir Putin, while answering questions from reporters in December on the poison attack, said, ‘who needs him anyway’. But the arrest of the 44-year-old Kremlin critic upon his return to Moscow on Sunday — he left the country in a coma from the near-fatal chemical attack — only belies such claims. The authorities diverted his plane to a different airport on the outskirts and detained him before he could get past the passport control, while riot police were deployed to stop his supporters from entering the arrival zone of another airport. Russian authorities had warned that he would be arrested if he returned from Germany, where he was recovering from the poison attack, as he had been wanted since late December for violations of his suspended sentence from an embezzlement case. But

Editorial

Injecting confidence: On India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive

India began the largest vaccination drive in its history with over 2 lakh people vaccinated across the country in 3,350 sessions on the first day. Covishield manufactured at the Serum Institute of India was available in all States whereas only 12 States had vaccination sites where Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin was administered. In the first tranche of vaccines, there are 11 million doses of Covishield and 5.5 million of Covaxin that will be administered to healthcare workers, sanitation workers and municipal workers in the coming days. The first day of the vaccine programme, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, included ceremonial inoculations across the country. It is significant that India has not lagged behind any other country in ensuring that frontline personnel stand to get vaccinated. It is only a year since the first reports of the novel coronavirus pandemic approaching India surfaced and that just 12 subsequent months of uncertainty, tragedy and upheaval have resulted in

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