Daily Briefing: WHO finally clears Covaxin for global use; new coach Dravid backs Rohit as captain for shorter formats

Pakistani Authorities have not allowed Go First’s new Srinagar-Sharjah flight to use their country’s airspace, forcing the budget airline to reroute the service and add 40 minutes to its flying time.

A look at the top news today, December 15, 2021.

Good morning,

Big Story 

The World Health Organization has finally granted an emergency use licence (EUL) to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, a move that ends months of suspense over the fate of a Covid-19 vaccine that has had a tumultuous journey since the beginning of its development last year. The decision implies that indigenously developed Covaxin meets the standards set by it for protection against the coronavirus disease and also removes the uncertainty around overseas travel by Indians who have been vaccinated with it.

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Installation of 500 electric vehicle charging points by June 2022; an app that shows how far these charging points are based on the user’s location; a bid to get cab aggregators and delivery services to switch 25% of their fleet to EV and gradually scale up — these are some of the ways in which the Delhi government plans to move vehicles on the Capital’s roads away from fossil fuels. By 2024, it hopes that 25% of newly registered vehicles are electric. 

From the Front Page

After two days of headline-grabbing statements from world leaders at Glasgow came the grim reminder: the pandemic-induced decrease in carbon dioxide emissions was over, and that CO2 emissions this year were expected to return to pre-pandemic levels. The Global Carbon Project, an international research group that releases the latest trends on carbon dioxide emissions during the climate meeting every year, said emissions were expected to rise by 4.9 per cent compared to last year.

Following in the footsteps of UP and Haryana, the Madhya Pradesh government is all set to introduce a Bill that will allow the administration to recover upto twice the cost of damages caused to public and private property by an individual or a group during communal riots, protests and rallies. The Bill is likely to come up for discussion in the winter session of the State Assembly scheduled to be held November-end.

In a relief to consumers, the Finance Ministry announced a Rs 5 per litre cut in excise duty on petrol and a Rs 10 per litre cut in excise duty on diesel. Amid record-high fuel prices, this is the first cut in central excise duties in over three years. The cut in duties brings the total excise duty on petrol down to Rs 27.9 per litre from Rs 32.9 litre and that on diesel to Rs 21.8 litre from Rs 31.8 per litre.

Pakistani Authorities have not allowed Go First’s new Srinagar-Sharjah flight to use their country’s airspace, forcing the budget airline to reroute the service and add 40 minutes to its flying time, government officials said. The move was described as “very unfortunate” by National Conference leader Omar Abdullah while PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti blamed the Centre for not doing “any groundwork” before launching the service.

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Yesterday, the Indian Express reported that Sjoerd Marijne, who had coached the women’s hockey team at the Tokyo Olympics, is yet to be paid his final salary and a cash reward promised by the UP government. Now, the plot thickens. The Sports Authority of India accused the Dutchman of “data theft”, and threatened to take action against him for not returning a laptop. Hockey India said Marijne’s remarks were a “malicious attempt to paint a dark picture of Indian sports administration” and claimed the coach was owed “only a balance amount of USD 1,800”.

Earlier this year, an ancient idol of Goddess Annapurna was brought back to India, over a century after it was stolen and taken to Canada. On November 11, the 18th-century idol, carved in the Benares style, will begin an over 800 km journey from Delhi to its original home — the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, where it is scheduled to be placed on November 15.

Israel’s NSO Group, the makers of the controversial Pegasus spyware — allegedly used to target journalists, human rights activists, and Opposition leaders across the world — has been blacklisted by the Biden administration. The US government’s latest action is part of “efforts to put human rights at the centre of US foreign policy” and is “aimed at improving citizens’ digital security”. 

And Finally 

“Who do you see as the next Indian white-ball captain?” That was one of the questions for Rahul Dravid, who was appointed the new head coach of the Indian team. Dravid’s first choice was Rohit Sharma for his experience, followed by KL Rahul, The Indian Express has learnt. Dravid will take charge from the upcoming New Zealand series that starts on November 17.

Delhi Confidential: A section of BJP leaders in Karnataka blamed CM Basavaraj Bommai’s strategy of warming up to the JD(S) to split Congress votes for the party’s poor performance in Hanagal. Others said the state unit leadership’s moves to limit the role of party veteran B S Yeddiyurappa and his family in the campaign infuriated the influential Lingayat community in the constituency. But central leaders said the defeat is a lesson for the state units.

Until tomorrow,

Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.
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