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Daily Briefing: SC highlights India’s digital divide, asks Centre to ensure ‘flexibility’ in vaccine policy; record low GDP contraction for FY20-21

Read the latest on Supreme Court's hearing of Centre's covid handling, India's GDP contraction at 7.3 per cent, our Idea Exchange whose guest this week was Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and more.

The Big Story

“…wake up and smell the coffee and see what’s happening across the country.” That was Justice D Y Chandrachud drawing the government’s attention to the digital divide hampering the Covid vaccination drive. Hearing a suo motu matter on issues relating to COVID-19 management, the bench headed by him also pressed the government over the differential pricing of vaccines for the States and the Centre. 

Only in the Express

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who was the guest at this week’s Idea Exchange, said the Centre left vaccine procurement to states after finding it difficult to frame an uniform policy due to the conflicting opinions as well as demands of states.

With the ‘Save Lakshadweep’ campaign intensifying, the BJP leadership is likely to ask the archipelago’s Administrator Praful Khoda Patel to go slow on implementing his sweeping proposals, according to sources. Home Minister Amit Shah also assured a BJP delegation that no measures will be carried out without taking the people into confidence. 

From the Front Page

India’s GDP contracted 7.3 per cent—a record low—for the full financial year 2020-21. This is nevertheless a marginal improvement from the earlier estimate of 8 per cent contraction in the second advance estimates released in February.

After several letters back and forth over West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay’s deputation, the IAS officer retired from service  after declining the three-month extension given to him, and had been appointed Chief Adviser to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Holding the Central Vista Project to be of national importance, the Delhi High Court dismissed a petition which had sought a stay on construction on it in the midst of a pandemic, calling it “motivated” and imposing on the petitioners a cost of Rs 1 lakh.

Must Read

Amid growing murmurs in the BJP over Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s handling of the Covid second wave, BJP national general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh held one-on-one meetings with ministers and party leaders in Lucknow and sought their “feedback”

Under the PM Cares scheme, Karnataka received 2,913 ventilators but reports suggest that more than 40 per cent of them are lying unused as hospitals lack staff with specialised training.  

At least 26 convicts lodged in jails across Maharashtra have refused to apply for emergency parole despite being eligible, with some worried how they will survive during the Covid lockdown. Others fear they will become a burden on their families in this difficult time.

Covid variants will now be accorded Greek alphabet labels after several countries and agencies asked the World Health Organisation to consider ‘easy to pronounce’ and ‘non-stigmatising’ labels. So samples earliest documented in India (October 2020) will be called Delta.

And Finally…

Goa will soon start premarital counselling sessions for couples registering for marriage due to a rise in the number of divorces and annulments of marriage, the state law minister said. 

In today’s podcast episode, we discuss how a remote village in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region is struggling with the coronavirus.

 

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