The cusp: on disconcerting note of coronavirus story

August has begun on a disconcerting note in India’s coronavirus story. The seven-day weekly average of cases hovers around the psychologically important 40,000 mark and there is an uptick in daily new cases with the latest numbers a little over 41,000. A major concern that has assumed national proportions is the trajectory of cases in Kerala. With nearly 20,000 fresh cases being added every day, it is of concern that if a State with an admirable track record during the earlier wave is under siege now, then many other States could be particularly vulnerable against new variants at the start of a third wave. In Kerala, the rise in cases is concomitant with a rise in testing that has increased from 130,000 a day on July 25 to 162,000 as of Monday, indicating that the infection may be rapidly spreading. Nearly 11 States are now showing a weekly increase in cases. Kerala is not the only point of concern. The national situation has prompted the Health Secretary to write to States that all
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Being Bommai: On new Karnataka Chief Minister

The new Chief Minister of Karnataka, Basavaraj Bommai, has to reconcile several conflicting factors while appointing his Council of Ministers. His predecessor B.S. Yediyurappa was ejected by the Bharatiya Janata Party high command that wants a new start in the State. The new Chief Minister is seen as aligned to Mr. Yediyurappa and both belong to the Lingayat community that is strong, numerically and economically. Mr. Yediyurappa’s heyday might be behind him, but he continues to hold significant sway among voters. Given the circumstance, the challenge before Mr. Bommai is to strike a balance between the imperatives of change and continuity. Mr. Yediyurappa had little moral scruples in pursuing political power and the Bharatiya Janata Party rode on his shoulders until recently. But the baggage that came with it has been heavy. He masterminded large-scale defections from the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) to aggregate an Assembly majority for the Bharatiya Janata Party that it had not
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Long overdue: On OBC reservation in All-India Quota medical seats

Reservation for students from Backward Classes in seats surrendered by States to an ‘All-India Quota’ (AIQ) in medical colleges run by State governments was long overdue. The Centre’s decision to extend its 27% reservation for ‘other backward classes’ to all seats under the AIQ is a belated, but welcome development, as Other Backward Class (OBC) candidates have been denied their due for years. And in concord with its keenness to balance OBC interests with those of the socially advanced sections, the Union government has also decided to provide 10% of the AIQ seats to those from the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). This is almost entirely the outcome of a Madras High Court verdict and the efforts of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which approached the court with the demand. The AIQ is a category created by the Supreme Court to free up some seats from residential or domicile requirements in some States for admissions to their medical colleges. Introduced in 1986, the AIQ comprised 15%


Elusive gold: On India’s Olympic quest

India at the Olympics has always been about feverish hopes, bruising anguish and a few medals. Since its debut at the Games in 1900, the world’s second most populous nation has ended up with either a single-digit tally or none at all. That familiar tale is being repeated a week after the Tokyo Olympics commenced and India is currently assured of three medals. One, a silver claimed by weight-lifter Mirabai Chanu in the 49kg category. And second, a minimum of a bronze guaranteed as boxer Lovlina Borgohain qualified for the semifinal in the welter-weight segment. The bout will be held on Wednesday. Badminton star P.V. Sindhu too joined the party, seizing her bronze after defeating China’s He Bingjiao 21-13, 21-15 during Sunday’s third-place play-off. Through their exploits Mirabai and Lovlina, hailing from Manipur and Assam, respectively, have revealed the rich sporting ability shimmering in the North-eastern States linked to the mainland through the chicken’s neck above Bangladesh.


Law and lawmakers: On criminal acts and legislative privilege

The Supreme Court ruling that legislative privilege cannot be extended to provide legal immunity to criminal acts committed by lawmakers ought to be welcomed for two reasons. It lays down that legislators charged with unruly behaviour that results in offences under penal laws cannot be protected either by their privilege or their free speech rights. Second, the decision revivifies the law relating to a prosecutor’s role in withdrawing an ongoing criminal case. The LDF government in Kerala has suffered a setback as it strongly favoured the withdrawal of cases against six members sought to be prosecuted for creating a ruckus in the Assembly on March 13, 2015, when they boisterously tried to interrupt the presentation of the Budget presented by the erstwhile UDF regime. Their action resulted in destruction or damage to some items, amounting to a loss of ₹2.20 lakh. Based on the Assembly Secretary’s complaint, the police registered a case and later filed a charge sheet against them for

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