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

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

Editorial

Double ignominy: On the second impeachment of Donald Trump

Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump has entered the record books for being the only American President to be impeached twice. The moment of ignominy came after the House of Representatives passed a motion of impeachment against him, this time for “incitement of insurrection,” following the assault on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 by a violent pro-Trump mob. His first impeachment, in 2019, was for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of justice” over his dealings with Ukraine and attempts by Congress to investigate the same, yet he survived in office owing to a Senate acquittal. On this occasion, not only did the House vote resoundingly, by a margin of 232-197, to impeach him but it passed with an unprecedented margin of bipartisan support after 10 Republicans crossed the aisle. This might signal a broader mood across Congress, particularly in the Senate, to vote differently to the outcome last time, specifically that there will be sufficient support among Republican ranks for a

Editorial

Terror trail: On Pakistan action against terrorists

In his speech to the UN Security Council (UNSC) marking 20 years since the resolutions that announced a global commitment to the war against terror after the U.S. 9/11 attacks, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar made a pitch for greater coordination between counter terrorism agencies worldwide. He highlighted the necessity to streamline the process of the UN’s top body in designating terrorists while strengthening coordination in the agencies that check their financial resources. First, the world must acknowledge that terrorist organisations use not only extortion and money laundering, drugs and wildlife trafficking to raise funds, but, in the present and future, will use loopholes in digital security and the “anonymity” provided by block chain technology to access finances. Second, in a clear reference to Pakistan, he spoke of the need to link actions between the UN and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and for countries that “wilfully provide financial assistance and safe

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

Imposing a compromise: On courts and laws

Strained ties: On Puducherry standoff

Gearing up: On vaccines and public trust

Felled by fire: On newborn deaths in Maharashtra hospital

Optimism unbounded: On signs of an economic recovery

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