Salvaging strategy: On scaling up COVID-19 vaccinations

India’s aggressive second wave of coronavirus infections marked by over 1,50,000 cases a day and many deaths is clearly the result of irrational exuberance early in the new year. After prematurely assuming that COVID-19 was virtually over, governments made rash decisions to allow large religious gatherings and political campaigns with little regard for disease control. The lapse is now threatening a nascent economic recovery. Rather than view the crisis as a political setback, the government should focus on a mitigation strategy that will not hobble the economy, while stopping the wildfire spread of the virus. A key intervention would be to protect the labour force through a scaling up of vaccinations in industry and workplaces. Employers must also be encouraged to retain or opt for staggered working hours and work-from-home protocols. The national vaccination strategy, however, remains inscrutable and non-transparent, since more vaccines, including WHO-approved ones, remain

Save the deal: On U.S. and Iran resolving nuclear crisis

The Vienna talks between the remaining members of the Iran nuclear deal — China, Russia, the U.K., France, Germany and Iran — have raised hopes for the revival of the agreement from which then President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. in May 2018. After the initial round of talks, European and Iranian diplomats have said efforts to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is officially called, are on “the right track”. An American delegation, led by Robert Malley, the White House special envoy for Iran, is also in Vienna, though the Americans and the Iranians would not hold direct talks. All sides agree that bringing the deal back on track is ideal, but who will blink first? The U.S. wants Iran to end its uranium enrichment and centrifuge development programmes and return to the 2015 agreement, while Tehran has demanded the U.S. lift all sanctions imposed by Mr. Trump and still enforced by President Joe Biden. The agenda at Vienna, therefore, is to
Editorial

Wrong shots: On West Bengal poll violence

Five people were killed on Saturday during the fourth phase of polls in West Bengal, where the first three phases were largely eventless. While one person was allegedly killed by political rivals, four others were killed when security personnel fired more than 15 rounds in a span of two hours at Cooch Behar’s Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has concluded that the police action was necessary, and taken in “self defence,” but the political storm kicked up by the episode continues to rage. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has alleged a conspiracy by the BJP to scare her supporters and called for the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah. Mr. Shah, in turn, has said the Chief Minister’s call to gherao personnel of the Central security forces led to the flare-up. The Trinamool Congress has alleged that Central forces are restricting it and helping the BJP in the campaign. It is unclear whether the force used to control the mob was proportionate and

Editorial

Enforcing claims: On U.S. challenging India’s maritime rights

For several years now, the relationship of the U.S. and India has been marked by their sensitivity to each other’s concerns as they deepened cooperation on strategic issues, and aligned positions on multilateral issues. As a result, the April 7 press release by the U.S. Navy that announced that its 7th fleet’s Destroyer, the USS John Paul Jones, had traversed India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in order to “challenge” India’s claim that it must be notified before any military activity in these waters came as a surprise, particularly as it followed two successful visits by senior U.S. officials, including the U.S. Defence Secretary and Climate Envoy to Delhi. In the press release, the U.S. Navy said its ship had “asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s exclusive economic zone, without requesting India’s prior consent,” claiming this was “consistent” with international law, referring to the 1982 United

Editorial

A disturbing order: ASI survey in Gyanvapi mosque

The order of a civil court in Varanasi that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) should conduct a survey to ascertain whether the Gyanvapi mosque was built over a demolished Hindu temple is an unconscionable intervention that will open the floodgates for another protracted religious dispute. The order, apparently in gross violation of the explicit legislative prohibition on any litigation over the status of places of worship, is likely to give a fillip to majoritarian and revanchist forces that earlier carried on the Ram Janmabhoomi movement over a site in Ayodhya. That dispute culminated in the country’s highest court handing over the site to the very forces that conspired to illegally demolish the Babri Masjid. The plaintiffs, who have filed a suit as representatives of Hindu faith to reclaim the land on which the mosque stands, have now succeeded in getting the court to commission an ASI survey to look for the sort of evidence that they would never have been able to adduce on

Time tests ties: On India-Russia relations

Beyond zero sum: On rich countries and carbon emissions

Play time: On IPL 2021

Fits and starts: On India-Pakistan dialogue process

Mayhem in Myanmar: On the violence during Myanmar's Armed Forces' Day

South phase: On the Assembly elections in TN, Puducherry and Kerala

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