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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Daily Briefing: Open to aiding vaccine drive, EC chief says; SC asks Centre if new farm laws can wait until it hears matter

From Sonia Gandhi's meeting with 23 senior leaders who had written to her, to the growing human-tiger conflict in Gadchiroli district; here are today's top stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 18, 2020 8:59:14 am
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Good morning!

The Big Story

Although no official assistance has been sought, the Election Commission is open to helping the government distribute vaccines for Covid-19, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told The Indian Express at an Idea Exchange. The unprecedented crisis requires an “exceptional and extraordinary response”, he said. The Health Ministry recently said the vaccination drive will be similar to the election process.

From the Front Page

In several developments on the standoff between the government and farmers over three central farm laws, the Supreme Court Wednesday asked the Centre if the legislations could wait until it hears the matter; Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said those stopping supply trains to soldiers cannot be farmers; and a 37-year-old died of a heart attack at Tikri border.

In its probe into the scholarship scam, unearthed by The Indian Express, the Central Bureau of Investigation has tracked IP addresses to locate where the online forms of “several fake beneficiaries” were filed — all are in Jharkhand’s Chatra district. A few people have been questioned, and some inputs are being investigated, the agency said.

Electric fences put up by villagers to protect their crops and homes from wandering pachyderms claimed three more elephants in Assam’s Chirang district this month, with the last one on Wednesday. Officials said the one killed on Wednesday was pregnant.

A person donning a Santa Claus costume sanitises the selfie point at CSMT on Thursday.

Only in Express

The three armed forces contributed Rs 203.67 crore from a day’s salary of their personnel to the PM-CARES Fund. The Indian Army contributed Rs 157.71 crore, the Indian Air Force Rs 29.18 crore and the Indian Navy Rs 16.78 crore. The information was provided to The Indian Express under the RTI Act.

The violence at Wistron’s manufacturing facility in Karnataka has prompted the Centre to go into damage control mode. But why the Centre? Officials cite three reasons: (1) it comes close on the heels of the Centre’s push for the smartphone manufacturing-focussed PLI scheme; (2) the incident has caused a flutter amongst Taiwanese investors; (3) the violence coincides with labour unrest at a Toyota plant near Bengaluru.

Bitcoin has crossed $20,000 in value. So, should you invest? Well, you need to consider a number of factors before investing — the cryptocurrency’s price has always been volatile, and there is no clear explanation for its current rally.

Must Read

Sonia Gandhi will meet some of the senior Congress leaders who had written an unprecedented letter to her four months ago seeking sweeping changes in the party’s organisation. Saturday’s meeting will be the first attempt at rapprochement from both sides.

Years after their population dwindled due to hunting and poaching, tigers are finally making a comeback in Gadchiroli district. From just one or two transient tigers about five years ago, the district now has at least 22. But the return of the big cats comes with a hefty price — human life. This year alone, the district has seen five human deaths in tiger attacks.

A 31-year-old official with a leading private bank was found dead on Thursday, his body chopped into 12 pieces, packed in two suitcases and thrown into a nullah. A sticker on the bag helped the police trace its seller, and subsequently the accused. The victim’s right hand is still missing.


“Bangladesh is a major pillar of our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina in a virtual interaction on Thursday.

Calling it a “good order”, the Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the judgment of the Allahabad High Court dismissing charges filed against Dr Kafeel Khan under the stringent National Security Act. The Uttar Pradesh government had challenged the order.

In a show of solidarity with agitating farmers, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, along with other AAP MLAs, tore up copies of the Centre’s three new farm laws in the Assembly on Thursday.

Suvendu Adhikari has quit the Trinamool Congress, and about a dozen other rebel TMC MLAs and leaders are believed to be preparing to resign and walk with him to the BJP.

After a complaint was lodged against Karan Johar for allegedly organising a party last year where drugs were used, the NCB has now issued a notice to the filmmaker over a viral video shot at the same party, which features several prominent Bollywood actors.

And Finally…

“Judaange, Ladaange, Jeetange!” reads the page-one headline of the first issue of ‘Trolley Times’, a four-page bi-weekly newsletter circulating among farmers at the Singhu and Tikri borders. But why the name ‘Trolley Times’? The idea of the newsletter, published both in Punjabi and Hindi, was born inside a farmers’ trolley at the site of the agitation.

Delhi Confidential: From PM Modi invoking Guru Nanak at the foundation-laying ceremony of the new parliament building, to re-circulating a booklet on the BJP and the Sikh community — the government is pushing hard to project “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s special relationship with Sikhs”.

In today’s episode of the 3 Things Podcast, we’re looking at the acquittal of 36 foreign nationals who attended the Tablighi Jamaat event; the controversial “love jihad” case in UP, where a couple was detained when they went to register their wedding; and finally, what the Supreme Court said while acknowledging the farmers’ right to protest.

Until tomorrow,
Leela Murali and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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