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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Daily briefing: Air India disinvestment; Covid-19 vaccination in India; and more

The top stories this morning: Disinvestment of Air India; India's plan for Covid-19 vaccination; Jharkhand scholarship scam probe; and much more.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 15, 2020 8:32:17 am
A look at the top news on December 15, 2020.

The Big Story

Multiple expressions of interest were received for debt-laden Air India following the government’s second attempt at disinvesting its stake. Among the contenders were the Tata Group, a consortium comprising several of the airline’s employees, and a US-based investment firm. The Tata Group’s bid, sources say, has not been placed through its affiliate airlines, Vistara or AirAsia India. Tata Airlines?

From the Front Page

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has initiated a statewide probe into a scholarship scam, based on the findings of an investigation by The Indian Express. He has “given his approval” for the state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to initiate a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) into the scam in which poor minority students were duped by a nexus of middlemen, school authorities, state officials, and bank staff.

“The law has come, it has been nearly a year, but what has ‘God’ done?” Chandrahar Das, who had spent three months in a detention camp for “foreigners” in Assam two years ago, died on Sunday at the age of 104 in Assam’s Cachar district. “All he wanted was to die an Indian… We are still ‘foreigners’ in the eyes of the law. The Citizenship Amendment Act did nothing for us,” his daughter said.

There has been an “alarming” trend of Caesarean section deliveries in the last five years in India, especially at private healthcare facilities, as per estimates of the National Family Health Survey 2019-20. This is due to the rise in institutional deliveries, and hospitals’ motivation for making money, experts say.

Police dump soil to create an additional barrier to stop farmers from entering the national capital, on Monday, December 14, 2020. (Express Photo: Abhinav Saha)

Only in Express

The Centre has asked states to prioritise candidates below the age of 50 for Covid-19 vaccination based on data generated at the district level during screening for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). India is planning to vaccinate healthcare and frontline workers, followed by people above the age of 50 before those less than 50 years with comorbidities.

Lieutenant Governor of J&K Manoj Sinha speaks to The Indian Express on a range of issues, from the unraveling of the now-annulled Roshni Act to the timeline for Assembly elections and restoration of 4G services. In just over four months since he took oath, Sinha has visited all 10 districts in Kashmir and six out of 10 in Jammu to take stock.

British writer John Le Carré, whose Cold-War tales redefined spy novels, has passed away. His work as a spy helped create a murky moral universe of British secret service operations that was far from the prevalent notion of spying as an act of glamorous daredevilry — an idea established by Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. Le Carré, who termed Bond as “an international gangster”, made his plump detective quite the opposite.

Must Read

With tens and thousands of Punjab farmers protesting in Delhi, women back home have not only been taking charge of the fields, but protest morchas too. “We wind up our household work and even take part in the morcha… We have asked men in our families to stay in Delhi. We are here to guard the fields.”

Voters based in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Germany, France and South Africa may be the first to benefit from the Election Commission’s proposal to grant postal voting rights to NRIs. The EC has also said it is ready with the system for elections next year in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Doctors at a Delhi hospital are reporting a serious but rare fungal infection triggered by Covid-19. They say Mucormycosis fungus — which causes loss of eyesight, removal of the nose and jaw bone, and 50 per cent mortality in cases where it affects the brain — has been witnessed in more than 12 cases now.

ICYMI

The government has said many parties were in favour of doing away with the winter session of Parliament due to the pandemic situation, and it thinks it would be appropriate to have the Budget session in January

The NIA on Monday opposed granting bail to Elgaar Parishad accused Father Stan Swamy, the 83-year-old Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist lodged in Taloja Central Jail

Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals plans to kick off early- to mid-stage human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate “soon”, enrolling around 620 participants.

And Finally…

A letter from a 11-year-old Bahraini citizen has caught the attention of F1 champion Lewis Hamilton. It is a plea to save his father’s life, who has been sentenced to death. Hamilton said the letter “really hits home”, and “definitely won’t let it go unnoticed”.

Delhi Confidential: Congress’ West Bengal in-charge, Jitin Prasada, is in the state for three days to kick off the party’s campaign ahead of the Assembly elections. His first stop is a visit to the residence-turned-museum of Rabindranath Tagore. Interestingly, here’s his Tagore connection.

In our latest episode of 3 Things, we look at how child malnutrition has worsened in many states, why strict anti-cattle slaughter laws can be disastrous for dairy farmers, and the temporary lockdown of IIT-Madras.

Until tomorrow,

Aaron Pereira and Leela Murali

Express Cartoon by EP Unny

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