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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Daily Briefing: Last week of House session, Oppn wants to be heard on Pegasus; Tokyo downs the curtains on Games

Despite red flags raised by officials of potential conflict of interest and propriety, contracts worth Rs 6 crore were given to firms promoted by educationist Pramath Raj Sinha by the “Railway University” even as Sinha is a member of the Board of Management of the same university run by Indian Railways.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 9, 2021 8:06:10 am
A look at the top news today, August 9, 2021.

Good morning,

Big Story

As the Monsoon session of Parliament enters its final week, there is little possibility of both the Houses functioning smoothly as Opposition parties made it clear they will continue to insist on a discussion on the Pegasus spyware issue. Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor told the Indian Express, “Rather than just continuing disruptions, we should probably seriously consider other parliamentary manoeuvres…including a vote of no-confidence.”

Express In Tokyo

The Olympics bubble didn’t burst and the Games did happen. The strangest Olympic Games ended the same way they began: in front of empty stands, in a state of emergency, and with hundreds filling the streets, imagining what it must feel like to be inside the giant cauldron that Tokyo’s National Stadium is. The Covid Games, after all, didn’t turn out to be a super spreader event and the relief was palpable in the voice of International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, when he said: “We did it”.

When it was announced that the Games would be held without spectators, owing to the pandemic, the grand fest that the Olympics is was instantly reduced to a made-for-TV event. For Nuno Duarte and his team, this meant the challenge to make sure the emotions of the venue and the feelings of the athletes reached every living room across the world got even more thrilling. 

The podium has place for only the athletes who perform in front of the world. But there’s always guiding hands and wise counsel that show the right path to a medal. The seven medals India won at Tokyo, too, owe a lot to the coaches who worked behind the scenes to ensure their wards succeeded on the biggest stage.

From the Front Page

Scheduled to end August 13, Parliament’s monsoon session has been disrupted by the row over alleged surveillance through the use of the Pegasus spyware. Accusing Lok Sabha TV of shutting it out, the Opposition says its protests are only shown on screens inside the House, and not beamed across the country. On Friday, when Lok Sabha last met, LSTV showed Opposition protests for all of 72 seconds – House proceedings lasted a total of 45 minutes over two sittings that day.

Despite red flags raised by officials of potential conflict of interest and propriety, contracts worth Rs 6 crore were given to firms promoted by educationist Pramath Raj Sinha by the “Railway University” even as Sinha is a member of the Board of Management of the same university run by Indian Railways. Sinha’s company, 9dot9, of which he is founder and managing director, has been awarded a consultancy contract for the National Rail and Transportation Institute, a deemed university of the government, according to records reviewed by The Indian Express.

Two days after CJI N V Ramana criticised the CBI for not helping the judiciary in matters relating to the security of judges, the agency said it has arrested five people for allegedly posting defamatory content against the judiciary in Andhra Pradesh. The CBI also informed that it has questioned a Member of Parliament and a former MLA from Andhra Pradesh in connection with the case.

Must Read

Mirabai Chanu, while speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange, talks about putting the heartbreak of Rio behind, missing her mother, and retaining composure in the face of pressure; coach Vijay Kumar explains the determination and discipline which lie at the heart of his 26-year-old ward’s success. “Khushi ke maare neend nahin aati. (Now I can’t sleep out of sheer happiness). We waited so many years for this,” she said during the session.

A group of 18 people, who had “inadvertently received Covishield as the first jab and Covaxin as the second”, showed better immunogenicity — the ability to generate an immune response — than those who received two doses of the same vaccine, according to a new study by the Indian Council of Medical Research. The study compared their reaction to 40 recipients of two doses of Covishield and 40 recipients of two doses of Covaxin.

And Finally

As Covid-19 continues to play havoc in different parts of the world with several of its more virulent forms, particularly the Delta variant, now driving new waves of infections, vaccines developed against the virus are the most effective scientific intervention to control the pandemic. Developed at an amazing pace, as many as 19 vaccines have already been approved for immunisation in some part of the world or the other.

Delhi Confidential: A day after the Twitter account of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was temporarily locked over a photograph he posted with the family of the nine-year-old Dalit rape victim, several of his party leaders tweeted the same photograph and a photograph posted by the National Commission of Scheduled Castes of its members meeting the victim’s family members. They called it a double standard by Twitter and asked how fearful it is of the Narendra Modi government that it is singling out Rahul’s account when government bodies did the same thing.

Until tomorrow,

Rounak Bagchi 

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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