India has 2 vaccines, Covishield of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University, and Covaxin, manufactured by Bharat Biotech of Hyderabad with ICMR, on the verge of being okayed for use in emergency conditions.
Both vaccines now need the final go-ahead from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) before being put out after a committee of experts recommended it.
Though there are some misgivings on its efficacy data, Covaxin has completed two of the three phases of clinical trials. A report said some 10 million Covaxin doses are ready.
The country seems to be gearing up for the approval. Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath said vaccine delivery could be less than 15 days away. On Saturday, all states and union territories conducted a dry run to figure out the challenges in logistics and ensure smooth vaccination once the vaccine is rolled out in the country. Co-WIN application which has been developed specifically for Covid-19 vaccine drive will also be tested during the dry run. This was the second dry run. Earlier on December 28, a dry run was conducted in four states – Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat.
Under the exercise, 25 health workers got dummy vaccines at each centre. The dry run was conducted in 116 districts across 259 sites. The exercise is meant at figuring out the possible loopholes ahead of the actual vaccination drive. According to the health ministry, an important focus during the dry run will be management of any possible adverse events following immunization. Health minister Harsh Vardhan said the government has done extensive preparation for the dry run, just like elections. He has asked officials in all states to ensure that the checklist and Standard Operating Protocol are followed during the dry run.
Earlier on Friday, the Covishield vaccine being manufactured by Serum Institute of India in collaboration with Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca was recommended by an expert panel to DCGI for emergency use authorisation. There are conditions along with the recommendation. Every recipient will be given a factsheet about the vaccine prior to vaccination. The company may also be asked to report side-effects every 15 days. SEC has recommended EUA for 2 full doses of Covishield to be given with a gap of 4-6 weeks. The final approval for the vaccine by DCGI is likely to take place in a day or two.
President Droupadi Murmu gives assent to Women’s Reservation Bill
The new law provides 33% reservation of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
The Women’s Reservation Bill became law in India after President Droupadi Murmu gave her assent, days after the historic vote in the Parliament. The new law provides 33% reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women. However, the law will be imposed after the new census and delimitation.
The Women’s Reservation Bill which is officially known as Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam was passed in both the houses during the special session of the Parliament. The historic bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on September 20, with 454 MPs voting in its favour and 2 voting against it. In the Rajya Sabha, the bill was passed unanimously on September 21 with 214 MPs voting in favour of the bill.
Issuing a gazette notification, the Government of India stated that the Bill has become an Act after the approval granted by the President. The notification read that the act will come into force on such date as the central government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.
While supporting the historic bill in the Parliament, the Opposition condemned the government for not bringing the quota for women into immediate effect. Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the Parliament during the bill’s discussion that it could only come into effect after 2029 due to the pending census and delimitation.
A day after the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked that with the passage of the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam in Parliament, the nation usher in an era of stronger representation and empowerment for the women of India. He added that this is not merely legislation but a tribute to the countless women who have made the nation. He exclaimed that India has been enriched by their resilience and contributions.
CM Arvind Kejriwal announces Delhi winter action plan to curb pollution
Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi government will also deploy 530 water sprinklers in an attempt to prevent dust pollution
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday affirmed that pollution levels dropped in the national capital owing to various government initiatives as he announced the winter action plan to curb pollution.
Addressing a press conference, CM Arvind Kejriwal stated that the number of days witnessing severe pollution levels declined in the past eight years due to several initiatives of the government, like the introduction of electric buses and the EV Policy, among others.
Announcing the winter action plan in Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal stated that the Pusa bio decomposer that prevents stubble burning will be sprayed on 5,000 hectares of farmland this year against 4,400 hectares the previous year. As far as reports are concerned, the Pusa bio decomposer, developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) is a microbial solution that can turn paddy straw into manure in 15-20 days.
In addition, Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi government will also deploy 530 water sprinklers in an attempt to prevent dust pollution and 385 teams, who will be entrusted to check vehicles pollution certificates and prevent the plying of overage cars.
According to reports, in 2018, the Supreme Court banned diesel and petrol vehicles older than 10 and 15 years, respectively, in Delhi. The top court had added that the vehicles plying in violation of the order would be impounded. Further, a 2014 order of the National Green Tribunal bars vehicles older than 15 years to be parked in public places.
Arvind Kejriwal also reiterated that burning garbage in the open is banned in Delhi. He mentioned that 611 teams will supervise the implementation of the same. He also urged people to download the Green Delhi mobile application on their devices and report any pollution-causing activity to the government.
Speaking about stubble burning, the Delhi Chief Minister noted that in Punjab, they formed a government last year and the data from the last year showed that the steps taken in 6-7 months led to a 30% reduction in stubble burning.
Karnataka Bandh: Pro-Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj detained by Town Hall Police during protest
Five pro-Kannada activists were also detained after they entered the airport premises with a Karnataka flag to stage a protest.
Pro-Kannada and farmers organisations have called for a statewide bandh in Karnataka to protest against the release of Cauvery water to its neighbouring state, Tamil Nadu. During the protest, Town Hall police detained pro-Kanada activist Vatal Nagraj. Reportedly, five pro-Kannada activists were also taken into custody as they entered the Bengaluru International Airport to stage a protest.
According to reports, nearly 44 flights were cancelled at the Bengaluru International Airport on Friday owing to the statewide bandh. The airport authorities asserted that the flights were cancelled due to operational reasons and that the passengers were informed about the same in time. However, sources concerned to the matter said cancellations happened due to the effect of the Karnataka bandh since many passengers had cancelled their tickets.
Meanwhile, five pro-Kannada activists were also detained after they entered the airport premises with a Karnataka flag to stage a protest. According to an India Today report, the five detainees had booked flight tickets in order to gain entry to the airport premises.
On the other hand, normal life was affected, especially in the southern part of the state, with pro-Kannada and farmers’ organisations calling for ‘Karnataka Bandh’. Kannada Okkuta which includes factions of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, Kannada Chalavali (Vatal Paksha) and various farmers’ bodies that have given a call for the statewide dawn-to-dusk shutdown. The opposition BJP and JD(S) have extended their support to the bandh, together with hotels, auto rickshaws and hail riders associations in Karnataka.
A member from a pro-Kannada organisation in Bengaluru told PTI that they have come over here to protest against the Cauvery water issue. He added that Cauvery water sharing is a very old issue and that they should solve the problem at earliest. He further noted that all the parties of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka should sit and sort out this matter.