07 April 2021
A) Vaccines being given as per ‘need’ and not as per ‘want’, says Centre.
Amid demands from several quarters that the age limit for Covid-19 vaccination be relaxed in view of the spike in cases, the Centre on Tuesday said the aim was to protect those who were most vulnerable, and the idea was not to administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it, PTI reported. During a weekly press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that many people were asking why the government wasn’t opening up vaccination for all those above 18 years. The basic aim is to reduce death through vaccination. The other aim is to protect your healthcare system. If healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics and others fall sick, who will work in hospitals? So the aim, for any country, is to protect those who are the most vulnerable. The aim is never to administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it, Bhushan said. NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul said the narrative has to be seen in a scientific way. So far, nobody doing vaccine research has shown that if given on this scale, it leads to herd immunity, he said, adding that it is not yet scientifically proven. Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray have also written to Modi requesting a relaxation of the age limit for the vaccination. Kejriwal urged him to relax the norms for opening vaccination centres and lift the age criterion for getting inoculated, reiterating that the Delhi government can vaccinate all the residents of the city within three months if the necessary permissions are granted by the Centre. Thackeray requested the prime minister to allow people above 25 years of age to receive Covid-19 shots, which he said will protect the young people from the rapid spread of coronavirus at a time when they are stepping outside their homes to earn a livelihood.
B) Assembly elections: Polling ends in Tamil Nadu with 65.11% turnout by 7 p.m, Puducherry records 78%
Polling in Tamil Nadu’s 234 Assembly seats concluded today, with the state witnessing a turnout of 71.79% by 7 p.m. In neighboring Puducherry, which is set to elect its 15th Legislative Assembly from 30 constituencies, the rate of polling gathered pace over the day to finish at an overall voter participation rate of about 78%. Kerala saw a turnout of 73.40% by 6 p.m., with the high voting percentage being interpreted as advantageous by all the parties. The Congress-led UDF has claimed that it indicates an appetite for change, while the CPI(M)-led LDF has said that it is a seal of approval for their past five years of governance. Narikurava women show their inked finger at Agaramcheri in Tirupathur district, which comes under Ambur constituency. The third phase of polling in West Bengal and Assam today saw polling percentages of 84.21% and 82.28% respectively. In all, 475 assembly constituencies across four states and one union territory saw polling.
C) President appoints N.V. Ramana as CJI with effect from April 24.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday appointed Justice N.V. Ramana as Chief Justice of India with effect from April 24. Incumbent CJI Sharad A. Bobde had recommended Justice Ramana, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, for appointment as the 48th Chief Justice of India in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Law and Justice on March 24. In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution, the President is pleased to appoint Sri. Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana, judge of the Supreme Court, to be the Chief Justice of India with effect from April 24, 2021, the Ministry of Law and Justice notification said. With this, both the Supreme Court and the government have followed the seniority norm followed in the appointment of CJIs. Justice Ramana will be CJI till August 26, 2022. He was elevated as judge in the Supreme Court on February 17, 2014 while he was the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court. Justice Ramana was born in an agricultural family on August 27, 1957 in Ponnavaram village in Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh.
D) Bharti Airtel sells spectrum worth ₹1,497 crore to Reliance Jio.
Bharti Airtel on Tuesday said it has entered into an agreement with Reliance Jio Infocomm to transfer ‘Right to Use’ for some of its 800 MHz spectrum in three circles to the Mukesh Ambani-led firm. Following this agreement, Bharti Airtel will receive a consideration of ₹1,037.6 crores from Reliance Jio for the proposed transfer. In addition, Reliance Jio will assume future liabilities of ₹459 crores relating to the spectrum, Bharti Airtel said in a statement. The sale of the 800 MHz blocks in these three circles has enabled us to unlock value from spectrum that was unutilised. This is aligned to our overall network strategy, Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel said. As per the agreement, which is subject to statutory approvals, Reliance Jio will acquire right to use spectrum in the 800MHz band in Andhra Pradesh (3.75 MHz), Delhi (1.25 MHz) and Mumbai (2.50 MHz) circles through spectrum trading. In a separate statement, Reliance Jio said it will now have 2X15MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz band in Mumbai circle and 2X10MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz band in Andhra Pradesh and Delhi circles, thereby further consolidating its spectrum footprint in these circles. The trading agreement is in accordance with the Spectrum Trading Guidelines issued by the Department of Telecommunications and is subject to the requisite regulatory and statutory approvals. The aggregate value for the right to use this spectrum is ₹1,497 crores, inclusive of present value of associated deferred payment liability of ₹459 crores, subject to any transaction-related adjustments, Reliance Jio added. Reliance Jio was the biggest bidder in the recently held spectrum auction by the Department of Telecom, acquiring 488.35 MHz of spectrum for ₹57,122.65 crore. Majority of auction payout by Reliance Jio will be for the spectrum in the 800 MHz band (₹34,491 crore). Reliance Jio was followed by Bharti Airtel which bid for 355.45 MHz of spectrum for ₹18,698.75 crore.
E) Chhattisgarh Health Minister flags erratic vaccine supply.
With a record spike in Covid-19 cases in Chhattisgarh and the Union Health Ministry also ticking off the State for failing to control the spread of the virus, State Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo today hit back, saying that the supply of vaccines have been erratic, with supplies nearly running out on Monday. Deo said with the spiralling cases, a partial lockdown in the affected districts cannot be ruled out. The State on Monday reported the highest number of 7,302 Covid-19 cases in a day and 44 fatalities. Chhattisgarh’s Durg district is the latest entrant in the top ten districts with maximum active cases. The Union Health Ministry has said the number of deaths in the State is also worrying.
F) Covid Watch: Numbers and Developments.
The number of reported coronavirus cases from India stood at 1,27,13,188 with the death toll at 1,67,190. In view of rising Covid-19 cases in Delhi, the Arvind Kejriwal government on Tuesday imposed seven hours of night curfew with immediate effect but exempted people of certain professions from it. The decision was taken after the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) reviewed the Covid-19 situation in the city. The DDMA order for curfew from 10 pm to 5 am will continue till April 30. People travelling during curfew hours will require s soft or hard copy of an e-pass which can be obtained from the Delhi government website. Those exempted from the night curfew include pregnant women, patients, those travelling to and from airports, railway stations, and state bus terminus on showing tickets, officials related to the functioning of offices of diplomats, and those holding any constitutional post on the production of valid identity card, among others.
A) Russia does not believe in ‘military alliance systems’, says foreign minister Lavrov on the subject of Quad.
A solution to the Afghan civil war should balance the ethnic and religious groups of Afghanistan and no group should be left out of the final settlement of the war, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov here on Tuesday after holding bilateral discussions with his Indian counterpart Dr. S. Jaishankar. Lavrov said India and Russia are working for stability and connectivity in the Asia-Pacific and urged that security alliances should not come up in Asia. The Taliban movement is a part of Afghan society. Decision on the settlement in Afghanistan should foresee the participation of all political, ethnic and religious groups in the country. Otherwise the solution will not be stable. This decision has to be based on balance of ethnic, political and religious interests, including in the legislative bodies, Lavrov said. Any exclusion of any group from this process will not lead to an implementable and sustainable agreement which can lead to resumption of hostilities, which is not the desire of the stakeholders, he said in response to a question after both the ministers issued press statements. Apart from the Afghan situation, the major issue on the agenda for Tuesday’s talks was the delivery of the Russian S400 missile defence system and the threat of U.S. sanctions that the delivery could attract. Though the ministers said the specific issue did not come up during the discussion, diplomatic sources confirmed that all issues were discussed. Significantly, the Indian membership in the Quad featured at the talks, according to Lavrov. Answering a question, Lavrov indirectly took up the Quad and said he has heard of an ‘Asian NATO’ and ‘Middle East NATO’ and argued that Russia does not believe in the military alliance systems.
B) Don’t team up, China cautions Japan ahead of Biden-Suga meet.
China’s Foreign Minister cautioned Japan against teaming up with the U.S to counter Beijing, as Japan speaks up more on human rights in the Xinjiang region in China and Hong Kong ahead of a U.S.-Japan summit next week. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, in a phone call on Monday evening that their two countries should ensure that their relations do not get involved in the so-called confrontation between major countries, a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said. It quoted Mr. Wang as saying that China hopes that Japan, as an independent country, will look at China’s development in an objective and rational way, instead of being misled by some countries holding biased view against China. Japanshares US. concerns about China’s military buildup and claims to territory in the South and East China Seas. However, its major trade and investment interests in China have at times reined in its criticism of its larger neighbour. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is to travel to Washington to meet President Joe Biden on April 16 in what will be the U.S. leader’s first in-person summit since taking office in January. Mr. Biden, in contrast to his predecessor Donald Trump, has stressed rebuilding ties with European and Asian allies as the U.S. prepares for competition with a rising China.
C) Beijing holds aircraft carrier drills near Taiwan.
China is holding naval drills involving an aircraft carrier battlegroup near Taiwan, which it said were aimed at safeguarding Chinese sovereignty, an apparent allusion to Beijing’s claim to the self-governed island. The navy said the exercises involving the Liaoning, one of its two aircraft carriers, were routine and assigned under an annual schedule. China has been upping its threat to take control of the island militarily with exercises and routine incursions into the island’s air defence identification zone by Chinese warplanes. The Navy’s statement late on Monday did not say when the exercises began, but it said more such drills would be held in future. It said the exercises aimed to assist in improving the ability to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, terms often interpreted as being directed at Taiwan’s democratically elected government, which has refused to give in to Beijing’s demands that it recognise the island as part of Chinese territory.