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Daily Briefing: Need to do our best to avert lockdown, says PM; Nepal’s Oli uses Hindutva as key agenda for the next election

From crematoriums in Bengaluru bursting at the seams as Covid cases continue to rise, to former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis running into controversy after his young nephew received his second shot of the Covid vaccine; here are today's top stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 21, 2021 8:31:00 am
A look at the top news today, April 22, 2021.

Good morning, 

The Second Wave 

In his first address to the nation after the second Covid wave escalated to unprecedented levels, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on citizens not to lose heart in this adversity and underlined that all steps need to be taken to avoid a lockdown. “We have to do our best to avoid a lockdown. We have to focus on only micro-containment zones only,” he said. 

# Arguing that no other country had earmarked Covid vaccines for the “open market”, Opposition Chief Ministers and some experts raised questions on stocks and pricing. While some states said this places an additional financial burden on them, other states accused the Centre of washing its hands of the responsibility.

#   Hero MotoCorp became the first major manufacturer in the country to announce a temporary suspension of production at all its facilities amid a spurt in Covid cases. Work at Hero’ six plants across five states will come to a halt in a staggered manner between April 22 and May 1, 2021.

# The Supreme Court put on hold the Allahabad High Court order imposing “almost complete lockdown/curfew in five major cities of Uttar Pradesh”.  The state government had said a complete lockdown in the five districts was not an option. 

Only in the Express 

Unlike the US and UK which began to stockpile vaccines before launching the inoculation blitz, India, in contrast, has been largely reliant on a real-time supply of vaccines from essentially a duopoly of suppliers. With states reporting vaccine shortages, experts feel relying on limited supply from just two vaccine makers could have been easily avoided. 

From the Front Page 

Noting that “High Courts are in a crisis situation”, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde laid down a timeline for the Centre to clear names recommended by the High Court Collegiums.  It also said that if the Supreme Court Collegium reiterates a recommendation sent back by the government, the “appointment should be made within 3 to 4 weeks”.

A heavily overcrowded bus overturned on an accident-prone stretch in Madhya Pradesh, killing three migrant workers and injuring at least seven others. Local police said the bus was carrying around 100 migrant workers who were returning to their homes in villages across Tikamgarh from Delhi.  A passenger told reporters that the bus was carrying around 350 people.

Migrant workers queue up outside Pune Railway station. (Express photo by Arul Horizon)

Must Read 

Over the last few weeks, ambulances carrying the mortal remains of Covid victims have been lining up outside crematoriums across Bengaluru, as the city witnessed a steady surge in coronavirus-induced deaths. With the rise in demand, some crematoriums have had to extend their working hours till early morning, and others have begun using a token system to ensure that bodies are cremated in the order of their arrival.

Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis landed in hot water after a photograph of his nephew, Tanmay Fadnavis, in his early 20s, taking his second Covid-19 vaccine shot, was widely circulated on social media. In a statement, Fadnavis identified Tanmay as a “distant relative”. 

Free lunches, accommodation, face masks and sanitisers — these are some of the measures rice mill owners in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are promising to dissuade their workers from leaving this time amid fears of another lockdown due to the mounting Covid cases. 

Nepal Prime Minister K P Oli seems to have adopted a twin strategy of expelling dissidents from the party, and adopting Hindutva as the major electoral plank. At the centre of his new strategy are three idols of Ram, Sita and Lakshman, which will soon be installed at Chitwan’s Madi area, which Oli claims is the “real” birthplace of Ram, rather than in Ayodhya, as is generally believed.

ICYMI 

Shortly after PM Narendra Modi’s address to the nation last night, two BJP-ruled states — UP and Assam — announced that they would provide free Covid vaccination to those aged above 18 from May 1.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tested positive for Covid-19. Giving out the information on Twitter, he urged people who came in contact with him in last few days to follow required protocols.

Amid a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Portugal for the India-European Union leaders’ summit on May 8 has been cancelled. Instead, the summit will now be held virtually on the same day.

Former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter for pinning George Floyd to the pavement with his knee on the Black man’s neck in a case that touched off worldwide protests. 

And Finally 

It was his dedication to his craft that made Baboolal Goverdhan Joshi, who passed away on Tuesday due to Covid-19, one of the most prominent hockey statisticians with an unparalleled body of work. At a time when professional sports had dedicated teams to maintain statistics, Joshi was a one-man army in a sport that was bereft of any such data, especially on Indian players. 

Delhi Confidential: From Pakistan to Sri Lanka — several world leaders have reached out to PM Manmohan Singh, wishing him a speedy recovery after he tested positive for Covid-19. 

In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, we look at how India ignored red flags about the second Covid-19 wave.

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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