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Daily Briefing: Covid curve climbs in six states; MPs attend Tibet event, China envoy writes to them

Days after an FIR was registered against Kalicharan for hate speech and for allegedly derogatory remarks against Mahatma Gandhi, the Chhattisgarh Police has arrested the religious leader from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
December 31, 2021 7:57:57 am
A look at the top news today, January 1, 2022.

Good morning,

Big Story 

Calling for “heightened vigilance” leading into the new year in the backdrop of a “sharp increase” in Covid cases over the last four days, the Centre has said that the spike being reported from several urban districts is likely part of the global rise pushed by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The Union Health Ministry has red-flagged nine urban districts and six “emerging states of concern”, including Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, West Bengal, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. 

Although the government has not described it as such, there are now unmistakable signs that India has entered the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The surge in cases that has started is unlikely to subside or change course over the next few days. Not surprisingly, the sharpest increases in cases are being seen in the major cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai and others. The reproduction number or R, an indicator of how quickly a disease is spreading in the population, has crossed 1 in all these megacities.  

Only in the Express 

The Uttarakhand government started work on a tiger safari facility in Corbett Tiger Reserve months before it received forest clearance in September from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, and strikingly much beyond the scope of the Rs 24.60 crore project that was approved. Documents reviewed by The Indian Express show the state embarked on a construction spree worth at least Rs 157 crore — six times the approved project cost of Rs 24.60 crore — without any legal, administrative, or financial sanction. 

From the Front Page 

A week after a group of Parliamentarians, including Union MoS Rajeev Chandrasekhar, attended a dinner reception hosted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, the Chinese Embassy in Delhi has expressed “concern” over their participation and asked them to “refrain from providing support to the ‘Tibetan independence’ forces”. China’s unusually worded letter is being seen as an undiplomatic move by Delhi, as foreign diplomats writing to MPs in India in this manner has not happened in the recent past.

Days after an FIR was registered against Kalicharan for hate speech and for allegedly derogatory remarks against Mahatma Gandhi, the Chhattisgarh Police arrested the religious leader from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, triggering a war of words between leaders of both states. At a ‘Dharam Sansad’ held on December 25-26 in Raipur, Kalicharan delivered a speech abusing Mahatma Gandhi and “promoting tensions between different communities”.  

Must Read 

A light-and-sound show at Chittorgarh Fort has brought the Rajput factor back into the spotlight in Rajasthan politics. The show was forced to stop mid-way after local BJP MP CP Joshi and some members of the Rajput community objected to a section in its script involving the 13th century Delhi sultan Alauddin Khilji and Mewar queen Rani Padmini. The BJP leaders were quick to target the Gehlot-led Congress government in the matter.

A forensic examination of last week’s blast inside a washroom at the Ludhiana district court complex has revealed the use of around 1.5 kg of RDX packed in a plastic container along with a significant amount of shrapnel, indicating the intention to cause significant damage and loss of life.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb A Drabu on the delimitation exercise in the union territory: “Far from seeking to end the non-existent discrimination against Jammu, the Commission has introduced an imbalance in the regional representation.”

What can we expect from the world of technology in the new year? Well, for starters, we will finally experience the metaverse in some form, which until now was merely a widely discussed idea. And one of enablers of the metaverse will be access to high-speed, low-latency and zero-downtime 5G networks. While the metaverse is still more meta and less verse, where 5G technology could make significant impact will be in sectors like automobiles and medicines.

And Finally

From Simone Biles, to Virat Kohli — the pandemic year locked them in quarantines but athletes around the world found resilience to call time on people-pleasing and discovered their moral voice to say NO. There were also some breakthrough performances that will stand the test of time. As the year draws to a close, we take a look at some of the biggest highlights of 2021. 

Delhi Confidential: During a recent media interaction, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar surprised many with his language skills. After declaring that he can take questions in English, Hindi and Punjabi, he went on to interact with a reporter in Tamil, revealing that he has passed his school certificate course in the language. 

In today’s episode of the ‘3 Things’ podcast, we discuss the highs and lows of Indian politics in the year gone by. 

Until tomorrow, 

Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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