‘CONGRESS WILL QUIT FROM MLC POLLS IF 45% FITMENT IS ANNOUNCED’ - The Daily Guardian
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‘CONGRESS WILL QUIT FROM MLC POLLS IF 45% FITMENT IS ANNOUNCED’

Lokeswara Rao

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AICC national spokesperson Dr Sravan Dasoju has demanded that Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao announce 45% fitment to all the government employees in Telangana and asked him to issue a government order in this regard. If that is done, the senior Congress leader has offered to quit from the MLC elections and assured their candidates will not ask for votes from the graduates and employees.

While addressing the media on Thursday, Dr Sravan Dasoju slammed KCR for his intentional leaks given on new PRC (Pay Revision Commission) and a 29% fitment (a formula for determining the pay of employees in revised pay scales) to government employees. He ridiculed the worthless proposal being offered by KCR and appealed to the employees not to fall in his trap again, as the fitment was not just a gift by the government, but it’s a fundamental right.

“It is to be remembered that in the past CM KCR has arrogantly described the government employees as ‘the tail of a dog’ which cannot dictate the pet animal rather the dog can only direct the tail. However, now he is trying to woo the same employees with 29% fitment and showcasing it as a superior offer compared to AP’s 27% fitment. Since Andhra Pradesh is a deficit state which has offered 27%, Telangana, which is a rich state, can afford to offer much better fitment and it should be more than the previous fitment of 43% given in 2015. Moreover, providing fitment or PRC is not a gift or charity by any CM but, it is a common administrative practice and a legitimate right of the government employees,” Dr Sravan explained.

The AICC leader, while criticizing the “chameleon acts” of CM KCR, “who always lies”, asked what is preventing him from announcing 45% fitment to all the government employees and slammed the snail’s pace of activities of the PRC. The Biswal Commission had been constituted in January 2018 and gave its report in January 2021. However, now the government has appointed a three-member committee to delay it further. “Write a letter to the Election Commission requesting it to allow the government to issue a GO in favour of employees and explain to the EC about the necessity. Congress will quit in the midst of MLC elections if you announce 45% fitment to employees. Are you ready KCR?” Dr Sravan challenged.

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Manmohan Singh tests positive for Covid-19, admitted to AIIMS

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Former Prime Minister and senior Congress leader Dr Manmohan Singh was admitted to All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Trauma Centre in Delhi after testing positive for Covid-19 on Monday.

“Former PM Manmohan Singh tests positive for Covid-19, admitted to AIIMS Trauma Centre in Delhi,” said an AIIMS official. The Covid-19 situation in India continues to deteriorate, as the country yet again reported the highest single-day spike of coronavirus cases with over 2.73 lakh fresh infections and 1,619 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday wished Dr Singh a speedy recovery after the latter admitted to AIIMS Delhi. “Wishing our former Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh Ji good health and a speedy recovery,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

On Sunday, Dr Singh had urged PM Modi to “resist the temptation to look at the absolute number of vaccinations and focus on the percentage of the population vaccinated”.

In a letter to PM Modi, the senior Congress leader had also listed out suggestions for consideration ‘in a spirit of constructive cooperation’, that included publicizing firm orders for doses placed on different vaccine producers and allowing states more flexibility to plan vaccination roll-outs.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan responded to the former PM’s letter to PM Modi over the Covid-19 situation in the country today and alleged that Congress-ruled slate governments were engaged in spreading doubts regarding the efficacy of the vaccines, thereby playing with the lives of the countrymen.

In a reply to former Prime Minister and Congress leader Dr Manmohan Singh’s letter listing out suggestions for consideration “in a spirit of constructive cooperation”, to PM Modi urging him to “resist the temptation to look at the absolute number of vaccinations and focus on the percentage of the population vaccinated”, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that history shall be kinder to him if his offer and valuable advice was followed by his party members.

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Delhi goes under complete lockdown for six days

The AAP government’s move came on the day India reported 273,810 fresh cases, the highest single-day spike so far since the pandemic broke out.

Aishvarya Jain

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The Delhi government has imposed a complete lockdown for six days, starting from Monday night, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced, amid a record rise in coronavirus cases that has severely strained the city’s resources and health infrastructure.

The Delhi government’s move came even as India reported 2,73,810 coronavirus disease cases, the highest single-day spike so far since the pandemic broke out. With this, India’s Covid tally has shot up to 15,061,919 cases. Vaccination drive will be extended to everyone above 18 in the next stage beginning 1 May, the government announced after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a series of meetings. All adults will be vaccinated in “a liberalised and accelerated phase 3 strategy of Covid-19 vaccination”.

India also reported the highest-ever single-day spike in Covid-related deaths with 1,625 fatalities. The death toll from the deadly infection stands at 178,793. Maharashtra and Delhi recorded their biggest ever single-day surge in Covid-19 cases. The five most affected states by total cases are Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.

A day after logging the highest 68,631 Covid-19 cases, Maharashtra witnessed a dip in its daily count by recording 58,924 fresh infections and 351 deaths. The overall case tally in Maharashtra now stands at 38,98,262, while the toll is 60,824. The state is now left with 6,76,520 active cases.

Uttarakhand recorded 2,160 fresh cases of Covid-19, taking the total case tally in the state to 1,26,193. With 24 deaths registered in the last 24 hours, the death toll in the state mounted to 1,892.

As many as 27 people succumbed to Covid-19 in Andhra Pradesh, even as the state registered 5,963 fresh cases. After 1.57 crore tests, the gross Covid-19 positives in the state rose to 9.68 lakh. The state now has 48,053 active cases.

Kerala registered 13,644 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking active cases past the one lakh mark, while 21 more fatalities took the toll to almost 5,000. As many as 4,305 people have been cured, taking the total recoveries to 11,44,791 while the total infection caseload mounted to 12,53,068.

Karnataka reported 15,785 new coronavirus cases, 7,098 discharges and 146 deaths in last 24 hours. The case tally stands at 11,76,850 with total death toll reaching at 13,497.

West Bengal reported the highest single-day spike of 8,426 new Covid-19 cases, while 38 people died of the infection in the state. The fresh cases took the tally to over 6.68 lakh. So far, 10,606 people have died of the disease in the state. Twelve of the latest deaths happened in Kolkata, which reported record 2,211 new cases. In the last 24 hours, 4,608 recoveries were registered across the state.

Jammu and Kashmir recorded 1,516 fresh Covid-19 cases, including 231 travellers, pushing the tally to 1,48,208, while six deaths in the past 24 hours raised the toll to 2,063. Of the fresh cases, 768 were from the Jammu division and 748 from the Kashmir division.

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COVID-19 VACCINE FOR ALL ABOVE 18 YEARS FROM 1 MAY

Under a ‘liberalised and accelerated strategy’, states and private hospitals may procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers.

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The Central government on Monday announced that coronavirus vaccine would be made available for all above the age of 18 from 1 May.

While announcing a “liberalised and accelerated phase 3 strategy of Covid-19 vaccination from 1 May’, the Centre stated that the pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of coronavirus vaccines will be made flexible in phase 3 of the vaccination drive.

This comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a series of meetings over India’s response to record daily surges in Covid-19 cases.

 Under the third phase of the vaccination drive commencing next month, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the Central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to state governments and in the open market.

Manufacturers would have to make an advance declaration of the price for 50% supply that would be available to the state governments and in the open market before 1 May. Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments, etc. would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers.

Private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50% supply earmarked for entities other than those coming through the Central government channel.

Centre, from its share, will allocate vaccines to States/ UTs based on the criteria of extent of infection (number of active Covid cases) and performance (speed of administration). Wastage of vaccines will also be considered in this criteria and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above criteria, state-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the states adequately in advance.

Currently, three vaccine candidates have been given Emergency Use Authorisation in India: two indigenously manufactured vaccines (Serum Institute of India’s Covishield developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin), and a third vaccine (Sputnik V), presently manufactured abroad but which will eventually be manufactured in India.

During the meetings held by PM Modi, he had said that the government has been working hard from over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible of time. He added that India is vaccinating people at world record pace and “we will continue this with even greater momentum”.

“Last year, during the same time, it was due to our doctors’ hard work and the nation’s strategy that we were able to control the coronavirus wave,” PM Modi said while addressing doctors via video conferencing. “Now that the country is facing the second wave of coronavirus, all the doctors, our frontline workers are confronting the pandemic with full force, and are saving the lives of millions of people,” he added.

In recent weeks, states like Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab had called for opening up vaccinations and had complained about running out of vaccine stocks.

While vaccinations have been slow compared to the Central government targets, the country has clocked over two-and-a-half lakh cases daily in the past few days.



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UK PM Boris Johnson cancels India visit due to coronavirus surge

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United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his upcoming visit to India due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic. Johnson was scheduled to visit India from 25 April on his first major visit to a non-European country since the re-election of the Conservative government in the December 2019 UK general elections.

The information about his cancellation of the trip was shared by the Ministry of External Affairs through an official statement. “In view of the prevailing Covid situation, it has been decided by mutual agreement that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will not visit India next week. The two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-UK relationship. Both leaders attach the highest importance to taking the India-UK partnership to its fullest potential and propose to remain in close touch in this regard and look forward to an in-person meeting later in the year,” said Arindam Bagchi, official MEA spokesperson, to the media.

Johnson had said in March that he would discuss India and the UK’s shared vision for a sustainable future and other issues with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his upcoming visit to India. Just hours after the UK Prime Minister cancelled his trip, Britain on Monday imposed its strictest travel curbs on India due to the exponential rise in Covid cases and the emergence of a new variant of the virus in the country. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that, effective from 3 am GMT on Friday, India was being added to Britain’s “red list” of countries, banning all arrivals from India except for UK or Irish nationals. “We’ve made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the red list,” Hancock told the parliament, after the government faced criticism for holding off the decision, pending Johnson’s trip.

Earlier, the British Prime Minister had cancelled his visit to India in January this year, when he had been invited as the chief guest for Republic Day, due to a surge in Covid cases in the UK.

The UK is also hosting the G7 summit in June, where Prime Minister Modi is a special invitee, and COP 26 later in the year.

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Manmohan Singh writes letter to PM with 5-point Covid advice

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Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote a two-page letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, highlighting five suggestions for tackling the second and more severe Covid-19 wave in India.

In the letter, Dr Singh emphasised on the vaccination programme and urged PM Modi to focus on the percentage of the population vaccinated and allow states more flexibility to plan vaccination rollouts.

His first suggestion was to publicise Covid vaccine orders placed for the next six months. “The government should publicise what are the firm orders for doses placed on different vaccine producers and accepted for delivery over the next six months. If we want to vaccinate a target number in this period, we should place enough orders in advance so that producers can adhere to an agreed schedule of supply,” said the ex-PM.

After this, he suggested that PM Modi’s government indicate how the expected supply would be distributed across the states based on “a transparent formula”. “The central government could retain 10 per cent for distribution based on emergency needs, but other than that, states should have a clear signal of likely availability so that they can plan their roll out,” he said.

The third piece of advice was to give states more flexibility in aspects like defining frontline workers and deciding who is to be vaccinated, even if they are under 45 years of age. “For example, states may want to designate school teachers, bus, three-wheeler and taxi drivers, municipal and panchayat staff, and possibly lawyers who have to attend courts as frontline workers. They can then be vaccinated even if they are below 45,” wrote Dr Singh in the letter.

He then advised the PM to proactively support vaccine producers to expand their manufacturing facilities rapidly by providing them with funds and other concessions. “I believe this is the time to invoke the compulsory licensing provisions in the law, so that a number of companies are able to produce the vaccines under a licence. This, I recall, had happened earlier in the case of medicines to deal with the HIV/AIDS disease,” he said, also supporting his point with the example of Israel, which has invoked compulsory licensing.

Finally, in light of limited supply of domestic vaccines, Dr Singh suggested that any vaccine that has been cleared for use by credible authorities such as the European Medical Agency or the USFDA should be allowed to be imported without insisting on domestic bridging trials. Those who would opt for such vaccines should be disclosed of this fact. He assured that experts believe such a relaxation is justified in case of an emergency.

“I am certain that with the right policy design, we can do much better and very quickly,” he added.

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PM Modi takes stock of pandemic situation in Varanasi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reviewed Covid-19 situation in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi through video conferencing and directed the officials to provide all possible assistance to the public.

During the discussion, PM Modi once again reiterated the need for “do gaz doori, mask hai zaroori” (two yards distance, and mask is necessary). He also asked the administration to make all people above 45 years of age aware of the vaccination campaign.

PM Modi thanked all the doctors and medical staff of the country and said that even in this hour of crisis, they are doing their duty sincerely. He asserted that we have to learn from last year’s experiences and move forward cautiously.

The Prime Minister said that the expansion and modernization of medical infrastructure in Varanasi in the last 5-6 years has helped in fighting Covid-19. Simultaneously, the availability of beds, ICU and oxygen in Varanasi is being augmented. The Prime Minister focused on the need to increase efforts at all levels in view of the stress due to the increased number of patients. He said that the Varanasi administration should step up the pace of work in all the fields in the same way it has rapidly set up the ‘Kashi Covid Response Centre’, according to the PMO.

PM Modi also emphasised on “Test, Track and Treat” and said that like the first wave, the same strategy has to be adopted to win over viruses. “He also emphasised on providing contract tracing and test reports of infected persons at the earliest. He also directed the administration to discharge all responsibilities towards the patients and their families living in home isolation in a sensitive manner,” PMO said. PM Modi praised the voluntary organisations of Varanasi for working closely with the government and said they should be further encouraged.

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