Using all options: On Covaxin licensing

As the second COVID-19 wave continues to ravage the country, it is now clear that universal and swift vaccination is the only way out to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. But with only 3% and 10.4% of the total population estimated to have taken the second and a single dose, respectively, the goal of vaccinating a substantial number of people to achieve immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, remains a tall order for India. Supply constraints in delivering the only two vaccines available to Indians so far — Covishield and Covaxin — (the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine has just been deployed) are one of the reasons why the pace of vaccination has fallen. Karnataka and Maharashtra have halted vaccination for the 18-44 age group to address this as well. While the manufacturers, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, have promised an augmentation in production capacity, the dependence on them till other vaccines, including those from abroad, are made available over the

Artless and heartless: On Central Vista project

The Government of India’s Central Vista redevelopment project is highly questionable as a national priority at any time, and more so in the midst of a pandemic. The project includes the construction of a new Parliament building, and new residences for the Prime Minister and the Vice President. A new Parliament building is indeed required; and there is a strong case for reorganising the existing offices of the central government. However, the architecture and timelines of the redevelopment as it is happening now are less about the need and more about an imperious obsession with grandeur. The irony is that a colossus built amid the ruins of a pandemic could turn out to be a monument to the government’s disregard for public good. The misplaced determination of the Centre to complete the project before the next Lok Sabha election in 2024 is characteristic of the showmanship that has befallen governance in India, but there is no justifiable urgency in razing to the ground a row of buildings
Editorial

Out of line: On West Bengal Governor's visit to violence-hit areas

There is little doubt that West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s visit to areas hit by post-poll violence in Cooch Behar constitutes a grave transgression of the bounds of constitutional propriety. A habitual critic of the Mamata Banerjee regime, he has been given to ignoring the principle that constitutional heads should not air their differences with the elected regimes in public. As recently as December 2020, Ms. Banerjee had appealed to the President to recall the Governor for political statements that she believed were being made by him at the behest of the BJP-led Union government. One would have thought that a fresh election, in which Ms. Banerjee’s TMC has won a resounding victory, would be a reminder, if one was needed at all, that the norms of representative government ought to be a natural restraint on Mr. Dhankhar’s gubernatorial propensity to speak out of turn and step out of line.There was a time when another West Bengal Governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, came in for some

Editorial

Cease the fire: On indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Gaza

From Israeli armed forces storming Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday morning to Israel pounding Gaza with air strikes and artillery on Thursday night in response to the rocket firing by Hamas, the Israel-Palestine conflict has escalated dangerously within days. At least 119 Palestinians, including 31 children, have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since May 10, while nine people were killed in Israel in the rocket attacks, including an Indian national and a child. For now, both sides have refused to stand down from the fighting despite international appeal. Israel cannot evade responsibility for the crisis engulfing the region. There was already resentment and frustration among the Palestinians in the occupied territories as Israel has expanded Jewish settlements and deepened occupation. Besides, Israel’s high-handedness in East Jerusalem and the move to evict Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah for Jewish settlers added to the anger, leading to clashes.

Editorial

Temporary respite: On latest retail inflation and industrial output data

The latest retail inflation and industrial output data from the National Statistical Office (NSO) offer some relief from the pall of gloom cast by the relentless second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Provisional headline inflation slowed to a three-month low of 4.29% in April, helped by softer food prices and a statistical base effect. The rate using an imputed index for the year-earlier period was 7.22%. A separate NSO release showed March industrial output jumped by 22.4%, benefiting again from the fact that the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had posted an 18.7% contraction in March 2020, when the economy was halted by the start of a nationwide lockdown. A closer look at the inflation data reveals a substantial cooling in the prices of cereals, milk and milk products, vegetables, and pulses and products. While both cereals and vegetables saw a deflationary trend widen to -2.96% and -14.2%, respectively, dairy products, which have the second-largest weight in the food and

Assam brew: On transfer of power in Assam

State action: On Centre’s role in COVID-19 fight

Protecting prisoners: On overcrowding of prisons

Vaccine skirmishes: On production of COVID-19 vaccine

On the edge: On international pressure on Israel

Lockdown gains: On need to augment health system

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