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Daily Briefing: Centre defers Class 12 boards; Covid surge, mandatory tests cast shadow over air travel

In Haridwar, organisers have roped in the services of RSS volunteers to help reign in crowds and keep Covid at bay.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
April 15, 2021 8:24:06 am
Daily Briefing: Amid Covid second wave, govt rethink on offline CBSE Board exam; 102 test positive at KumbhA look at the top news today, April 18, 2021.

Good morning, 

The Second Wave

Amid a growing chorus of student voices and state governments demanding deferment of the Board exams over the surge in Covid-19 infections in the country, the Education Ministry cancelled the CBSE Class 10 board exams and postponed the Class 12 exams. The Ministry will review the situation on June 1 to decide fresh dates for the Class 12 exam. And CBSE will prepare the Class 10 results based on an “objective criterion”.

# Meanwhile, several members of the CBSE’s governing body told The Indian Express they were not consulted and that the decision to postpone the board exams was taken at the highest level, between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top Education Ministry officials.

# Earlier this month, the Madhya Pradesh government announced weekend lockdown in urban areas across all districts. The government circular, however, exempted Damoh — headed for a by-election on April 17. Amid the frenzy of large political gatherings and roadshows, one village stands out in the district. Its residents have decided to impose a self lockdown. 

# Sputnik V stocks will likely arrive in India some time between later this month and June, as Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) begins importing 250 million doses of the Russian-made Covid vaccine. 

Only in the Express 

A year ago, when Covid-19 cases were spreading fast across jails in India, 6,740 prisoners were released on parole from Tihar jail. Now, when it’s time for them to return, jail authorities have found that 3,468 have gone “missing”.  

From the Front page

With the fifth phase of the Bengal polls knocking on the door, people of the tea belt, with around 10 lakh workers, say promises made by political parties mean little for them. The Trinamool government in January had announced a hike in minimum wage from Rs 176 (set in October 2018) to Rs 202 per day, but tea garden worker Ganga Muni says “it is a joke”. She adds that political parties know about their problems as they repeat it year after year, but no solutions come out of it once the elections are over.

 

Hitting back at Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and China’s jibe that the Quad grouping was becoming an “Asian NATO”, India, France and Australia underlined their common ground on the Indo-Pacific region at the Raisina Dialogue. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said those using terms like “Asian NATO” are playing “mind games” and New Delhi will not have others “veto” on what it is going to discuss, and with whom. However, the three did mark their differences on the current situation in Myanmar.

Must Read

How do you curtail the spread of a deadly pandemic at the mega Kumbh Mela at Haridwar, where hundreds of thousands of devotees gather every year on the banks of the river Ganga? Well, in an attempt to enforce strict Covid protocol, the organisers of the annual event have roped in the services of 1,553 RSS volunteers, appointed as Special Police Officers (SPOs) by Uttarakhand Police for the first time ever. 

The recent surge in coronavirus cases across the country appears to have cast a shadow on air travel, with the daily number of domestic passengers departing from Indian airports falling below the 2 lakh-mark for the first time in almost five months. Those closely tracking the sector almost unanimously attributed the fall in air traffic demand to the requirements of mandatory negative Covid test reports and random checks upon arrival at airports by various states. 

Decision 2021

Soon after the 72-hour ban imposed by the Election Commission (EC) on entry of political leaders into Cooch Behar ended, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived in Sitalkuchi to visit the families of the four villagers shot dead by CISF personnel at a polling booth. She vowed to hold a probe into the firing and punish the guilty once the TMC returns to power. 

As Covid cases spike across West Bengal, the state’s election commission will soon start clamping down on packed political rallies. Instead, the state’s Chief Electoral Officer is set to encourage virtual rallies for the remaining phases of the Assembly elections and reiterate instructions on campaigning amid the pandemic at an all-party meeting on Friday. 

Responding to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s comments that the poor people of Bangladesh come to India as they don’t have enough to eat in their own country, Bangladesh foreign minister A K Abdul Momen said that the minister’s knowledge of Bangladesh is “limited” and such remarks are “unacceptable”. 

And Finally 

If the Tokyo Olympics were held right now, India would equal its combined tally of the last 12 Games to win 17 medals, including four gold. The projection was made by Olympic analysts Gracenote on Wednesday to mark the 100-days-to-go countdown for the postponed Olympics, which are scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8. 

Delhi Confidential: CJI SA Bobde inaugurated the Maharashtra National Law University in Nagpur this week. Keeping with Covid times, the rest of the dignitaries attended virtually. But the absence of two other Supreme Court judges, who are also from the Bombay High Court – Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud — raised a few eyebrows in legal circles. 

In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, we look at foreign vaccines in India, the new curfew-like curbs in Maharashtra, and how the recent lockdown in Bangladesh is impacting the already-troubled economy of poll-bound Petrapole, a trading town near the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. 

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G, Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi 

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