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

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

Editorial

Update debate: On WhatsApp and privacy

WhatsApp’s decision to delay the update of its privacy policy, following a backlash from its users, is an implicit acknowledgement of the increasing role played by perceptions about privacy in the continued well-being of a popular service. Problems for the Facebook-owned app started earlier this month when it announced an update to its terms of service and privacy policy, according to which users would no longer be able to opt out of sharing data with Facebook. February 8 was kept as the deadline for the new terms to be accepted. This triggered a mass exodus from WhatsApp, the likes of which it has never encountered, not even in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which did bring a lot of bad press to its parent, or when the messaging app’s co-founders called it quits a few years ago. The WhatsApp policy update has clearly spooked many users, who, concerned about their privacy getting compromised, have shifted to alternative platforms such as Signal and Telegram. In

Editorial

Private space: On public notices under Special Marriage Act

The Allahabad High Court ruling that people marrying under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, can choose not to publicise their union with a notice 30 days in advance may not exactly be a judicial pushback against problematic anti-conversion laws enacted by several BJP-ruled States. But it serves to get a major irritant out of the way of couples wanting to marry against the wishes of their parents or their immediate community. Many intercaste and inter-faith marriages have faced violent opposition from those acting in the name of community pride or those raising the bogey of ‘love jihad’. Hindutva activists have been targeting Muslim men marrying Hindu women, especially if the women have converted to Islam prior to the marriage. The court said that mandatorily publishing a notice of the intended marriage and calling for objections violates the right to privacy. According to the new order, if a couple gives it in writing that they do not want the notice publicised, the Marriage Officer

Double ignominy: On the second impeachment of Donald Trump

Terror trail: On Pakistan action against terrorists

Final blow: On U.S. policy reversal on Cuba

A safety net: On Union Education Ministry's directive

Bridging the Gulf: On Gulf reconciliation summit

Gearing up: On vaccines and public trust

Other Articles