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Maharashtra accounts for 39,544 of the total 72,330 new infections in the country, the state’s highest tally so far. India’s total active caseload reaches 584,055.



India reported over 72,000 Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours ending 9 am on Thursday, the highest daily spike since 11 October 2020. Maharashtra accounted for 39,544 of the total 72,330 new infections, the state’s highest tally so far.

With the additional cases, the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country reached 1,22,21,665 while the death toll soared up to 1,62,927. India’s total active caseload reached 5,84,055. It now comprises 4.78 percent of the country’s total positive cases.

According to the health ministry, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Punjab, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh continue to show a steep rise in daily new Covid cases, accounting for 84.61 percent of the cases reported in a span of 24 hours. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Punjab cumulatively account for 78.9 percent of the total active cases in the country. Maharashtra alone accounts for more than 61 percent of India’s active caseload. With 227 deaths, Maharashtra also saw the maximum casualties followed by Punjab with 55 deaths.

Meanwhile, the third phase of the Covid-19 vaccination, which covers everyone above the age of 45 years, was kicked off on Thursday with the Centre deciding to conduct the drive on all days of April, including gazetted holidays, and at all public and private centres. The Union government wrote to all the states and union territories and asked them to make necessary arrangements for this, the health ministry said. The Centre has also warned that the situation is going from “bad to worse” and urged states to achieve 100 percent vaccination coverage of those above 45 in surge districts within the next two weeks.

“This decision is in line with the graded and proactive approach employed by the government of India along with the states and UTs for Covid-19 vaccination,” the ministry said. The vaccination exercise will continue to be regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level, it mentioned.

More than 6.5 crore vaccine doses have been administered across the country so far to frontline workers, healthcare workers, people above 60 and those above 45 years but with specified co-morbid conditions.

On the other hand, Sri Lanka and Africa have claimed a delay in vaccine supplies from India. Sri Lanka will not receive its due of a million doses of Covishield from the vaccine manufacturing company Serum Institute of India (SII) within the timeline earlier pledged, The Sunday Times reported on Thursday. “We are unable to meet that commitment, leave alone in mid-March and April,” a top source from the Pune-

based Institute told The Sunday Times on conditions of anonymity. “This (agreement) is one of several additional capacities we were to fulfil on behalf of AstraZeneca and the Indian government. The fire did not affect production as such, but due to increasing commitments, we need to ramp up our capacity. Hence this delay.”

Africa CDC also alleged that the delays in vaccine supply from India could be ‘catastrophic’. Briefing the media, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Dr John Nkengasong said that officials hope the problems at the SII will only be temporary otherwise it would definitely impact the continuity in the vaccination drive in Africa.

Meanwhile in Delhi, following a surge in Covid cases, schools will remain closed for all classes in the new academic session till further orders. “It is clarified that students of any class should not be called physically in school for the academic session 2021-22 till further orders. However, teaching learning activities may be commenced from 1st April 2021 for the students through digital modes for the new academic session,” the Directorate of Education (DoE) said in an official order.

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Punjab CM sets 2 lakh a day vaccine target for April




Even as he noted with satisfaction that the Covid numbers in the state appeared to have plateaued, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday ordered strict enforcement of Covid appropriate protocols to prevent any super spread events, along with an increase in daily vaccination doses to 2 lakh per day, and a special control room to be set up for effective in-person monitoring of home isolation cases.

Citing figures on mortality and positivity, the Chief Minister said that the restrictions currently in place are showing results, and the same needed to be implemented strictly, particularly in Mohali and other big cities showing high rates of transmission and cases.

He pointed out that the state’s positivity rate stands at 8.1%, even though positivity in the age group of less than 40 years had come down from 54% (September 2020) to 50% (March 2021). The curbs, coupled with strong efforts by all concerned, helped reduce the percentage of mortality in the age group below 60 years from 50% (September 2020) to 40% (March 2021), and should be strictly adhered to, he added. However, he reiterated his demand that the Centre should allow vaccination for under 45 in areas with more cases since the UK variant is infecting younger people more. He directed Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to pursue the matter with the Central government while Dr KK Talwar stressed that patients of kidney and liver disease, who are under 45 years, should at least be allowed to be vaccinated.

The Chief Minister was chairing a virtual meeting with several ministers, senior administrative and police officials as well as medical/health experts to review the Covid and vaccine situation in the state.

Making it clear that there is no scope for complacency, he said the special control room with a dedicated team could utilise ANMs, ASHA workers, interns from medical colleges to move beyond just telephonic to more in-person monitoring. GMCHs should provide students to RRTs at District Level immediately, he further directed the Health Department.

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While addressing the biannual IAF Commanders’ Conference (AFCC-21) at Air Headquarters, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated Indian Air Force for its befitting response to the “sudden developments in Eastern Ladakh” and appreciated its focus on “reorienting for the future” on Thursday. He also advised the Commanders to draw up long-term plans and strategies for capability enhancement to counter future threats.

He expressed happiness that the conference coincides with the birth anniversary of the Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, DFC. Speaking about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Rajnath appreciated the role played by the IAF in assisting other government agencies in their task, as per an official statement from the defence ministry.

Referring to changing international geopolitics, he observed that the perceptible shift of focus from Trans-Atlantic to Trans-Pacific has become more obvious in the recent past. “Changing dimensions of war would now include advanced technologies, asymmetric capabilities and info-dominance, and IAF’s future preparations must include these aspects.”

The Defence Minister emphasised the need to promote ‘atmanirbharta’ in defence infrastructure, adding that the IAF’s order for LCA would result in a substantial boost to the domestic defence industry and will be a game-changer from the indigenisation perspective. With ANI inputs

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Kolkata: The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday issued a notice to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sayantan Basu for delivering an inflammatory statement, which is “an open threat to Bengal and its people”.

The EC asked Basu to explain his stand regarding his statement within 24 hours, failing which the Commission “shall take a decision without further reference to you”. According to the quote attached in EC’s statement, Basu said: “… I, Sayanatan Basu, am here to tell you that don’t try to play too much. We will play the game of Sitalkuchi. They killed 18 year old Ananda Barman, a first time voter, in the morning. He was the brother of the BJP’s Shakti Pramukh. We did not have to wait for long… (barely audible) Four of them were known the way to heaven. There was a dialogue in the film ‘Sholey’ you know – if you kill one we will kill four of you. Sitalkuchi witnessed it – if you kill one we will kill four of you.”

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EC issues 24 hrs campaigning ban to BJP’s Dilip Ghosh over Sitalkuchi violence remark




The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday imposed a 24-hour ban on West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh from election campaigning for making “highly provocative and inciteful remarks” in connection with Sitalkuchi violence.

In its order, the Commission sternly warned Ghosh and advised him to desist from using such statement while making public utterances during the period when the Model Code of Conduct is in force. The ban imposed on Ghosh will be valid till 16 April. The EC has issued a notice to Ghosh on Tuesday over his remark on the killings of four men at Sitalkuchi in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district and asked him to clarify his stance on the issue by 10 am on Wednesday.

Ghosh had remarked that there will be a “Sitalkuchi-like incident everywhere”. After his reply, the Commission noted that it has “carefully considered the reply of Dilip Ghosh and is of the considered view that he has violated clauses (1) and (4) of Part I of ‘General Conduct of Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates’ and made highly provocative and inciteful remarks which could adversely impact law and order thereby affecting the election process”.

In his reply, the BJP state president had submitted that “it was never his intention to make any statement which would be in contravention of the Model Code of Conduct and the Representation of People Act/Indian Penal Code”.

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Seven decades after the founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh Syama Prasad Mookerjee represented the Calcutta South East Lok Sabha constituency, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is engaged in a vigorous battle to preserve his ideological legacy by seeking to win the Assembly constituencies that were part of the seat the party ideologue represented. The BJP appears determined to contest Assembly seats in Kolkata and its surroundings with renewed vigour and regain the glory that came with Jan Sangh winning the seat in the country’s first Lok Sabha election.

A senior BJP leader said Bhawanipore is the place where Syama Prasad Mookerjee settled down and Rashbehari has a famous Kalighat temple, a place of faith for Hindus. He said both the seats hold special significance for the party.

He said the party intends to win all seats in the state capital region but is giving special focus to Bhabanipur and Rashbehari constituencies apart from other assembly seats that would have been part of Calcutta South East. These include Behala Purba, Behala Paschim, Kolkata Port and Ballygunge.

Rudranil Ghosh, BJP candidate from Bhabanipur, said that Shyama Prasad Mookerjee’s house is in Bhabanipur and he was not just the founder of Jan Sangh but an ideologue. “We have to free that thought from the reign of others. It is not okay to have that thought reigned in by other political parties. Thus this fight has to be won to give Mookerjee his due,” he said.

Rashbehari assembly, which has Kalighat temple, has found a mention in the speeches of almost all top BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Local BJP leaders have referred to “restrictions on Durga Puja immersion” in 2017 imposed by the Trinamool Congress government, which were later lifted by Calcutta High Court.

The court had allowed immersion on all days including Muharram day till 12 am.

The BJP leaders are also laying stress on the party’s pitch on nationalism.

The party has fielded Lt General (retired) Subrata Saha, who has given a lot of push to domestic defence manufacturing. Lt Gen Saha was responsible for perspective planning, force modernization and capability development. A former Deputy Chief of Army Staff, he created the Army Design Bureau in 2016. Post-retirement, he was the Founding Director-General of the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM).

“Saha will do surgical strike on Trinamool (TMC) goons,” said Vijaya Rahatkar, a BJP national secretary, while accompanying Lt Gen (retd) Saha in his campaign.

Lt Gen (retired) Saha has also served as GOC of Srinagar-based 15 Corps.

“When they see son of soil risen to a position, they take pride. They think our son has served the nation and now give him an opportunity. Youngsters are keen to take selfies. Probably they don’t see someone from an army background every day,” he said during his door-to-door campaign.

He is also laying stress on basic facilities like education and health services.

“There is Adiganga behind Kalighat which is choked with garbage. All of us are culturally associated with Adiganga,” he said.


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News Plus


NewsX was recently joined by five young leaders from Global Youth India who expressed their views, vision and goals towards the country.



Five young leaders from Global Youth India joined NewsX for a special interview which was titled, ‘What They Think: Youth Vision and Leadership in India’. These young emerging leaders talked of their expectations, hope and vision for the country.

The first panellist was Jyotismita Khataniar, an undergraduate student of sociology at Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi. She is a fierce feminist and has a keen interest in European and South Asian politics and different forms of humanitarian issues revolving around the division. She is the co-founder of ‘Feel to Heal’ mental health forum and the president of Sri Venkateswara College Chapter-Global Youth. “The Youth can take the right action only when they are in the right headspace,” she said.

Talking about her forum and the main focus of the same, Jyotismita said, “The youth can take the right action by being in the right headspace. We can be change-makers and rather than being a liability, we can be essential assets of the country only when we have the access to proper healthcare. I want to make this forum as intersectional as possible so that people coming from different backgrounds can feel inclusive and realize that they are being heard and understood.”

On a concluding note, Jyotismita shared a message of belief and hope. ‘’I believe that ‘little act of kindness’ goes a long way and kindness is one of the most important traits that a human can have and develop,” she said.

Next was Ashraf Nehal, a third-year student at the University of Delhi who has been writing on Politics and International Politics. He is also a Parliamentary Researcher with the AICC and is also a Research Associate with Red Lantern Analytica whereby he is researching China. As a policy enthusiast, he believes that the government must follow a policy-centred approach rather than a political one. He joined Global Youth during his 2nd year and has been serving as the Deputy Chairperson of the Brazil Forum.

When asked about the challenges faced by India and how they can be addressed, Ashraf commented, “Youth today is not very much aware of the policies, be it international or domestic, although we have youths who are interested in politics. I have been working with all the national political parties but into the policy cell. I myself frame the parliamentary question and briefs but there exists an age gap as I cannot put in my opinion there. We need to be aware of the point of policy. We have zero representation of the youth in the United Nations and Parliament. In the United Nations, there is only one post for the youth that also a virtual presence, but I do not see any action taking place there. Same thing goes for Parliament and we need our weightage to be there.”

Ashraf’s idea of changing the world is based on the belief of youth participation, be it in international or domestic policies. “Global Youth has been very instrumental here as it is us who are dealing with the Ambassadors, Commissioners and the Embassy.” When asked about where he sees himself in the next 10-15 years, he commented, “I will be guiding others as I have been guided in the Global Youth”.

The third panellist for the session was Sehaj Malhotra, a second-year student of Political Science at Lady Shri Ram College for the University of Delhi. She truly believes in the power of young people who can cohesively shape a better world, with wide-ranging interests in human rights law, gender justice, sustainable development and social entrepreneurship, she strives to create an equal and inclusive space for all. When asked if there is an issue she sees around her that she’d like to fix and resolve, she said, “There are a lot of problems that persist and require addressing timely, but one specific thing which I have noticed during the pandemic is the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on work culture on the Indian youth.”

She went on to explain the solution to the mentioned problem: “I feel there is a partnership and cooperation that is required, be a partnership with government, be it a public-private partnership which is required to invest and to encourage aspects like youth entrepreneurship and India as a country requires more skilling when it comes to youth, the right kind of skills, the right kind of training, which integrates us properly into the job market.”

The fourth panellist was Kavya Uniyal, an undergraduate student at Kirori Mal College, Delhi University, majoring in History and Political Science. Hailing from Uttrakhand, she is an advocate of the rights of the LGBTQ Community. Talking about joining the Global youth and her experience so far with the organisation, she said: “It was in the pandemic that I decided to channelise my energy in the right direction and do something productive. I got to know about Global Youth from a few friends of mine and decided to join. I was recruited in the International Legal Council and I currently serve as the events head at the organisation.”

On the challenges and issues that prevail in the country, Kavya said, “I have always been a firm believer that human beings are an heir to the legacy of dignity and self-worth and there can’t be any compromise when it comes to human dignity. However, there are people coming from certain section especially the LGTBQ community who have been denied the same.”

Quoting Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, she said, “Right to life and liberty is not created by the Constitution rather it is recognised by the Constitution and hence is an inalienable natural right.” She further brought into light the recent judgement by the Delhi High Court wherein the honourable court ruled that same sex marriages can’t happen between heterosexual people.

“The LGBTQ community and the members have been fighting over this legislation as the Centre has made its stance very clear and has vehemently opposed the idea, stating that marriage is a union between a biological male and biological female. I think the decision is problematic because we are implying that heterosexual people who have difficulty in conceiving a child will be denied the right to marry whoever they want to. I think it’s high time that we should let people be.”

The fifth panellist was Nandiinii Singh, an undergraduate student studying political science at Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi. She serves as the chairperson of the India-UK Youth Forum, Global Youth. She has been keenly observing the education sector and the impact of the relevant policies, particularly in navigating the gap between Indian education and employment. She started by sharing her journey with Global Youth and said. “It began in 2019 in my first year of college.”

When asked about a problem that is close to her heart and that she hoped to fix, she responded, “Something that I have been studying, researching and closely following especially during the pandemic is the disconnect that I have sensed between the education and the employment sectors, there is a definite mismatch between what the formal education system is equipping with and the needs of employability and the focus.”

“In the next five to 10 years I definitely see myself dedicatedly working towards the cause I just highlighted, and that I think would be in the public service field,” she added.

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