DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA ● REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 JOURNALISM OF COURAGE TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 TOOLKIT CONTROVERSY DEEPENS AFTER PUNJAB, DELHI TURNED DOWN PoliceatTwitter’sdoor After no from vaccine makers, afterBJPpostsflagged; states urge Centre to procure for all Oppslams‘intimidation’ Jaishankar reaches US, meetings with officials and vaccine makers on table ‘Manipulated media’ tag: Delhi Police says action routine; Cong, Left call it bid to stifle free speech EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, MAY 24 JIGNASA SINHA NEW DELHI, MAY 24 DAYS AFTER Twitter flagged some posts by ruling party leaders alleging a Congress plot to malign the Prime Minister and theCentralGovernmentas“manipulated media”, a team of Delhi Police’s Special Cell Monday — working under the Union Home Ministry — knocked on the doors of Twitter India’sDelhiandGurgaonoffices toostensiblyservethesocialmedia platform a notice. This ratchets up the controversy over tweets by BJP leaders alleging a “Congress toolkit”, which the Congress has called fake. A Delhi Police official said they had decided to issue a notice to Twitter after receiving complaints from Rohan Gupta, who heads the Congress’s social media department, and M V Rajeev Gowda, the party’s national spokesperson, over the BJP’s “toolkit” allegations. However, hours after the Delhi Police action, the Congress hitoutattheGovernmentsaying that“subjugationof freespeech”, attempts to stifle “dissenting voices” and the bid to instil fear were continuing unabated. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A team of the Delhi Police Special Cell at Twitter India’s Lado Sarai office in New Delhi, Monday. PTI Amid Twitter tussle, next up: deadline by govt to it, FB, to appoint officers AASHISH ARYAN NEW DELHI, MAY 24 JUST TWO days from deadline, social media platforms such as Twitter,FacebookandInstagram are yet to appoint a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer, and a nodal contact person as required by the government, sources have told The Indian Express. Guidelines issued in February required all significant social media intermediaries to designate executives for these roles by May 26. Social media companies that have more than 50 lakh users in India are designated ‘significant’ social media CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Potential flashpoint SINCE January, the government has repeatedly pulled up social media companies for “double standards” in dealing with India. It is unlikely these companies will stop services in India; but they could face even greater scrutiny if friction increases. AFTER GLOBAL VACCINE manufacturerstoldstatestheywilldeal onlywiththeUniongovernment, states are again demanding in chorusthattheCentreimportand distribute vaccines to all states without losing time. With increasing pressure on theCentretovaccinateallcitizens, there are expectations that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar would be able to make progress on procurement at his likelymeetingwithvaccinemanufacturersintheUS. Heleftforthe USonMondayandwillmeetsenior US administration officials including US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. After Moderna conveyed to Punjab last week it won’t sell directly to states, Delhi Chief MinisterArvindKejriwalMonday said both Pfizer and Moderna havemadeitknowntoDelhithat theywillcommunicateonlywith the Union government. Separately, Kerala Chief MinisterPinarayiVijayanMonday asked Prime Minister Narendra Moditoassessstate-wisedemand forvaccinesandfloataglobaltender. This, he said, will preclude states from competing and drivingvaccinepricesup.Inaletterto thePrimeMinister,Vijayanwrote, “Wealsoreiteratetherequestthat vaccines may be provided free to allstatesasitshouldbetreatedas a public good from which none should be excluded.” SeveralstatesincludingRajasthan, UP, TN, Punjab and Uttarakhand, and even the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, have CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 At a drive-in vaccination centre in the basement parking area of a mall in Navi Mumbai. Amit Chakravarty BMC nod to vaccination of lactating women without pre-registration TABASSUM BARNAGARWALA MUMBAI, MAY 24 ANOTHER EXTENSION TO BMC’S GLOBAL TENDER LIKELY PAGE 5 AFTER A central government directive, the BMC on Monday allowed lactating women to get themselves inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine without preregistration. TheBMCwillsoonissueacircularallowinglactating mothers to skip registering an online slot and get preference along with specially abled persons and senior citizens in vaccination centres. Until now, vaccination was not allowed for pregnant or lactating women. While lactating women are now eligible, the government is yet to approve vaccination for pregnant women. On May 19, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to all states to allow lactating women to undergo vaccination. On Monday, civic officials said that women who have deliveredababywithinsixmonths are eligible for walk-in vaccination. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said, "We have a walk-in facility for senior citizens, people slated for their second dose, and people with physical disabilities. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Jaijeet Singh appointed Thane Police Commissioner Pfizer, Moderna order books full, India looks at long and uncertain wait EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE ONFEBRUARY3,theexpertbody under India’s drug regulator declined to recommend emergency use authorisation for Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine; the American pharmaceutical giant subsequently withdrew its application. On April 13, as the second wave swelled and it was clear that India would fall far short of KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, MAY 24 MUMBAI, MAY 24 JAIJEET SINGH, a 1990-batch IPS officer, was on Monday appointed Thane Police Commissioner. Vineet Agarwal, who was Principal Secretary withtheHomeDepartment,will replace Singh as the chief of the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS). IPS officer Sanjay Saxena will bethenewPrincipalSecretaryof the Home Department. It was the ATS under Singh CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 INS Makar conducts diving operations over the wreck of Varaprada. Indian Navy It was a man-made disaster, says chief engineer of Varaprada JAYPRAKASH S NAIDU MUMBAI, MAY 24 ` 90 per kilo ` 118 per kilo ` 145 per kilo ` 72 per Dozen BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY THETUGBOATVaraprada,which sank in the Arabian Sea off MumbaiduringCycloneTauktae leading to the death of 11 of its 13 crew members, did not send out a distress signal until 5 pm on May 17, more than 12 hours after it lost its anchor and went adrift, and seven hours after it started taking in water. Francis K Simon, the ship's chief engineer PAGE 1 ANCHOR NEW DELHI, MAY 24 SUU KYI MAKES FIRST APPEARANCE AFTER THE COUP P12 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 53 BODIES IDENTIFIED, HANDED OVER PAGE 4 Beef ban to goonda Act: Lakshadweep Administrator has the UT in turmoil SHAJU PHILIP & PARIMAL DABHI THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, AHMEDABAD, MAY 24 A SLEW of proposals ranging from a ban on beef to disqualification of panchayat poll aspirants with more than two children, which form part of draft regulations for Lakshadweep cleared by its Administrator, have led to turmoil in the Union Territory. Such is the outcry over AdministratorPrafulPatel’sdraft regulations — these include introductionof ananti-goondaAct in the island territory where the crime rate is very low and establishment of a development authority with powers to acquire land for development purposes — that even CPM and Congress CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 India. BetweenFebruary3andMay 24, India has reported 1,49,017 Covid-related deaths.The shortage of vaccines has slowed or stopped vaccinations across the country — and the failure to vaccinate threatens to take away gains from the lockdowns imposed by almost all states. But it does not seem likely that India will be receiving doses from either Pfizer or Moderna any time soon. The reason: several other countries are ahead of India in line, waiting for delivery of their confirmed orders, and the two American companies, which began supplying vaccines in December 2020, are committed to delivering millions of doses to these countries through 2023. On Monday, the Union Health Ministry appeared to accept this reality. “Whether it is Pfizer or Moderna, we have been coordinating at the central level... Both CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, MAY 24 MORE THAN three weeks after it rolled out vaccination for the 18-44 age group, where slots could be booked only through onlineappointmenton Co-WIN, the Centre on Monday enabled on-siteregistrationandappointment for this age group at government-run Covid-19 vaccination centres (CVCs). However, with several states forced to shut down vaccination sites or operate a limited number of vaccination sites due to unavailability and shortage of vaccines,theCentre’sdecisionto allow walk-ins is likely to have limited impact. So far, only vaccinations for those above 45 were allowed through walk-ins, with those in the 18-44 age group having to mandatorily register and book a slot through Co-WIN. The Centre also said vaccinations at private centres will continue to be through online appointments. “This feature [of walk-ins]willnotbeavailablefor CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Wedding in the skies ends in Covid notice; probe on, crew off-rostered PRANAV MUKUL NEW DELHI, MAY 24 THE DIRECTORATE General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has launched an investigation into a case of 161 passengers on board a chartered SpiceJet flight flouting onboard Covid norms while attending a mid-air wedding ceremony on Sunday. “The crew of the flight has been off-rostered and the airline The flight hovered over Meenakshi temple. ANI hasbeendirectedtolodgeacomplaint with relevant authorities againstthosenotfollowingCovidappropriate behaviour,” a senior DGCAofficialsaid,addingthatthe aviationsafetyregulatorwasconducting an inquiry into the incident“andshalltakestrictaction”. The flight, operated by SpiceJet and chartered by a Madurai businessman, took off from Madurai and landed back in the city after a two-hour “joy CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 ‘Lack of death data prolongs pandemic... survey villages’ UMA VISHNU INSIDE -- one of the two survivors from the tugboat -- told The Indian Express that the boat sank within an hour of the distress call. ItwasanchoredoutsideJNPT on May 16 night one km from the Gal Constructor, the AFCONS barge that it had towed from its vaccine requirements, the government made a U-turn — announcingthatitwouldnotenforce the condition of phase 2 and3clinicaltrialsinthecountry for vaccines that had been cleared by US, EU, UK, and Japanese regulators, and listed by the WHO. It’s been almost a month and a half now — but despite the liberalised regulatory framework, global firms like Pfizer and Moderna are yet to enter into any purchase agreement with Centre allows walk-ins for 18+ at govt vaccine centres, admits digital divide DEATH REGISTERS in villages; kickstarting the sample survey system to find out how many died in rural areas; getting municipalities to put out daily or weekly death numbers; and mapping hotspots. TheseareamongtheproposalsthatPrabhat Jha, epidemiologistandDirectorof theCentrefor Global Health Research in Toronto, has put on the table for the Government to consider amidthesecondCovidwavethat has spread to rural areas raising questions over India’s official death toll of over 3 lakh so far. Jha, whose Million Death Study with the Registrar General ofIndiaandtheICMRisoneofthe most authoritative studiesonmortality, spoke to The Indian Express. Excerpts: One characteristic of the second surge has been a clear gap between the official Covid death toll and those laid to rest as per Covid protocol. We found this in Delhi in April. How do you then count the dead? India has about 10 million deathsoccurringayear,of which 7 million occur in the rural areas. So you have to look at counting the dead separatelyforurban and rural India. If you want to know what was the contributionof Covidto WITH deaths,thebestway PRABHAT JHA is to actually look at DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR how many excess GLOBAL HEALTH deathsoccurredina RESEARCH, TORONTO city versus deaths THE EXPRESS INTERVIEW overthesameperiodinprevious years. Unfortunately, these data are available but not released. Municipal corporations have weekly or daily data of how many people died; not whether theydiedof Covidornotbecause that’s very uncertain... RelyingonCovidasadiagnosis is not as reliable as relying on overall deaths... The situation is different in rural India because most deaths aren’t registered or recorded. It’s very easy to cremate or bury in thefieldsorinthevillages.That’s of particular concern because the first wave appeared to have been focused on some of the big cities with urban populations (while) the second wave seems to have spread all over India. In parts of Bihar and UP, bodies were found in the river, some buried in the sand, more in number than in previous years. People don’t test in villages out of fear or stigma, so how do you evolve a system to count the rural Covid dead? The only way to fill the gap in rural areas is for the Registrar General of India to conduct the Sample Registration System (SRS). What that does is take a random sample of villages all over the country from the Censusandsendteamseverysix months to ask who was born, who died. And if anyone has died, they complete a simple two-page form in the local language on what happened. That gives you information on whether there are increases in overall mortality or whether they are Covid-related... But unfortunately, no data has been releasedsince2014andthesystem is sitting idle when it is absolutely necessary. So if the SRS study were back up and running, we would find that we have some people who CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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