10 November 2020
A) NGT bans crackers in areas with poor air quality
The Delhi government on Thursday decided to ban firecrackers in the national capital. The Delhi government on Thursday decided to ban firecrackers in the national capital. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 9 November has directed that there would be a total ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers between November 10 and 30 in all cities and towns across the country where the average ambient air quality in November fell under the poor and below category. A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also directed that in places across the country where the ambient air quality fell under the ‘moderate’ or below category, only green crackers would be permitted to be sold, and timings for the use and bursting of crackers would be restricted to two hours. The green panel specified that data from November 2019 would be calculated to ascertain the average ambient air quality for both the instances. The Tribunal in its order also noted that Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Delhi and Chandigarh, among others, had already prohibited the sale and use of firecrackers to protect vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, and persons with co-morbidities.
B) Bombay High Court denies interim bail to Arnab Goswami
The Bombay High Court on 9 November has refused to grant interim bail to journalist Arnab Goswami in the 2018 case of abetment to suicide. A division bench of justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik said observations made by this court were only prima facie and restricted to this application and shall not affect the trial court in any manner. The editor-in-chief of Republic TV has also filed for regular bail before the Alibaug sessions court. The Bench has been hearing Goswami’s plea for immediate release from November 6. There was a special hearing on Saturday, which went on for the whole day despite Diwali vacations. Goswami was sent to judicial custody on November 4 after being arrested by the Raigad police from his house in Mumbai the same day. He, along with two others, has been accused of abetting the alleged suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik.
C) 15th Finance Commission submits its report to President
The 15th Finance Commission said it has taken the unique requirements of each of India’s 28 States on board and come up with State-specific considerations in its report submitted to President Ram Nath Kovind. The main report, titled Finance Commission in Covid Times depicts on its cover a set of scales to denote the balance between the Union and the States. The Commission has also presented two more volumes as part of its submissions. The first one focuses on the state of the Union government’s finances, with an in-depth scrutiny of key departments, the medium-term challenges facing the Centre, and a roadmap for the future. The other volume is entirely dedicated to States, with the finances of each analysed at great depth. The panel has come up with State-specific considerations to address the key challenges that individual States face, as per a statement issued by the Commission after its meeting with the President. The report is expected to be presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon, and will be available in the public domain once it is tabled in the Parliament by the government.
D) People’s Conference asks for early hearings on Article 370 petitions
The Peoples Conference, headed by Sajad Lone, on 9 November had submitted a plea before the Supreme Court seeking an early hearing of the pending petitions contesting the measures taken by the Centre since August 5 last year in Jammu and Kashmir, including the abrogation of provisions of Article 370. Allow the present application on behalf of the petitioner for an early hearing of the present petition and the other petitions and fix an early date for hearing, read party spokesman Adnan Ashraf Mir’s plea. He said the petitions ought to be heard and disposed of urgently as significant changes to the rights of the residents of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir have already been brought about by the Centre.
E) Covid Watch: Numbers and Developments
The number of coronavirus cases reported from India stood at 85,60,170 with the death toll at 1,26,748. Stating that Covid-appropriate behaviour is still our best bet, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday interacted with State Health Ministers and senior officials of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana and Kerala to review the Covid-19 situation and preparedness. He said that of the total active Covid-19 cases in the country, 0.44% of the patients were on ventilator support, 2.47% were in ICU, and 4.13% occupied oxygen-supported beds. He added that India had the highest recovery rate and one of the lowest fatality rates globally.
A) Pfizer says Covid-19 vaccine 90% effective in Phase 3 trial
There has been a major development in the battle against coronavirus: a vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 infections in ongoing Phase 3 trials, according to a statement released by the companies on 9 November. Protection in patients was achieved seven days after the second of two doses, and 28 days after the first, according to preliminary findings. The first set of results from our Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19, Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. Based on supply projections, the companies said they expect to supply up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021. Since the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine uses messenger-RNA (mRNA) technology, it will need to be stored and distributed at minus 70 degrees Celsius a big challenge for India and other developing countries with under-developed cold chain infrastructure. On the other hand, viral vector (adenovirus) vaccines typically have less stringent refrigeration requirements, and can be shipped at 2-8 degrees Celsius. The vaccine candidates being developed by Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Sanofi/Novavax, for instance, use viral vector technology.
B) Biden campaign urges federal body to approve transition of power
President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign urged the Trump political appointee who heads the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to approve an official transition of power despite President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede. The GSA has not yet certified the election result though it has been called by all major news outlets based on projections. The Trump campaign, meanwhile, has planned a spate of lawsuits in several states to challenge the results and vote counts. The Biden campaign warned that U.S. national security and economic interests depended on a clear signal that the country would engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power. GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, appointed to the job by Trump in 2017, has not yet determined that a winner is clear, a spokesperson said, delaying the Biden team’s access to millions of dollars in federal funding and the ability to meet with officials at intelligence agencies and other departments. The spokesperson declined to say when a decision could be made.
Indian-American physician Dr. Vivek Murthy on November 9 was named one of the three co-chairs of the Covid-19 task-force that will guide President-elect Joe Biden on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 2,36,000 lives in the country. Dr. Murthy, 43, a former U.S. Surgeon General, along with two other co-chairs — Dr. David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith — would lead a team of top public health experts who will advise Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris on the deadly virus.