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INDIA

Shots will reach most only in late 2021, say experts

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This could burst the bubble for people who expected they would get the Covid-19 shot by the year-end, or even in the

first quarter

of 2021.

Mass immunisation

under which large sets of the country’s general population (excluding high-risk vulnerable groups) will be able to access the

vaccine

in all likelihood will only be in the second half of 2021. But for the country’s population of 1.3 bn to get vaccinated through the government programme could take a minimum of 18 to 24 months, experts told TOI, if the first round of immunisation begins by March/April.

This is assuming that there will be an approved vaccine in the market by the first quarter of 2021 in India, and with which most experts concur. Interestingly, the launch dates of vaccines are being pushed back frequently by the government.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Ladakh group withdraws call for boycotting autonomous body polls in Leh

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NEW DELHI: An influential organisation of Ladakh Sunday withdrew its call for a boycott of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council polls in Leh after the Centre assured its demands for protection of local language, jobs, land and demography will be considered positively.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also assured a delegation of the People’s Movement for Constitutional Safeguard Under Sixth Schedule for Ladakh that the Central government is committed to empower the LAHDC of Leh and Kargil and would protect the interests of the people of the Union Territory.

Shah also assured that the Centre would explore all avenues towards this objective including under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution.

In a joint statement, former Ladakh MPs Thiksay Rinpoche and Thupstan Chhewang, former J&K minister Chhering Dorje and Union ministers Kiren Rijiju and G Kishan Reddy said the delegation was assured that all issues related to language, demography, ethnicity, land and jobs will be considered positively and taken care of.

“A dialogue between a larger Ladakhi delegation comprising representatives from Leh and Kargil districts under the aegis of Peoples Movement for Constitutional Safeguard Under Sixth Schedule for Ladakh and Union Home Ministry would commence after 15 days of the culmination of LAHDC, Leh elections.

“Any decision so reached in this connection would be in consultation with the representatives from Leh and Kargil,” the statement, which came a day after the Ladakhi leaders met Shah, said.

The statement said the Centre is open to discuss protection of Ladakh’s language, demography, ethnicity, land and jobs under the 6th schedule of Constitution and other provisions while looking into issues related to Ladakhi people.

“The delegation has agreed to withdraw its call for the boycott of the ensuing LAHDC, Leh elections and promised its wholesome support to the smooth conduct of these elections,” it said.

Addressing a press conference, along with the Ladakhi leaders, Rijiju said that Union MoS for Home G Kishan Reddy, who was sitting beside him, would visit Ladakh Monday and meet a cross sections of people in the Union Territory to allay their apprehensions.

Chhewang said after the abrogation of Article 370, which gave special status to J&K, people of Ladakh have some apprehensions about their future, land, culture and jobs since there is no longer any legislative body there.

“After creation of the UT, people thought that the autonomous bodies will be empowered. Unfortunately, the kind of work should have been done, did not happen. Covid pandemic also played a role,” he said.

“Many people thought that powers of the autonomous bodies have been curtailed. There have been strong feelings of unhappiness. We were worried that such unhappiness among the youths should not go in wrong way,” he said.

The Peoples Movement for Constitutional Safeguard Under Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, he said, has been seeking the empowerment of the autonomous bodies similar to the Bodo Territorial Council in Assam under the 6th schedule of the constitution.

The former MP said after their meeting with the home minister, they now think that their apprehensions will be addressed and people’s rights protected.

Chhewang said people of Ladakh have been doing their best for the security of the nation since 1947 and even helping the Indian Army now when China is trying to making incursion (Atikraman) in Ladakh.

He praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for taking “proactive” steps during the current standoff with China, and said no government in the past has taken such decisions.

“When the Indian Army was facing difficulties to send ration to some of the heights it has captured, the people of Ladakh voluntarily delivered the ration to these posts.

“Because of the sacrifice the people of Ladakh have been making since 1947, there has been expectation that the central government would sympathetically resolve the problems of Ladakh,” he said.

The former MP also said their agitation should not be linked with issues of the Kashmir valley and they were also not in favour of a domicile law similar to UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

Rijiju said the provision of the 6th Schedule and other provisions of the constitution will be looked into to allay the apprehensions of the people of Ladakh and protect their rights

On September 22, the recently floated People’s Movement for Constitutional Safeguard Sixth Schedule for Ladakh announced the boycott of the upcoming elections to LAHDC Leh.

The LAHDC Leh is scheduled to go to polls on October 16 — the first such exercise in the region after Ladakh was carved out from Jammu and Kashmir and granted the Union Territory status on August 5 last year following the abrogation of special status to the erstwhile state.

When Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two UTs, it was announced that the UT of Jammu and Kashmir would have a legislative assembly but UT of Ladakh would not have any legislature.

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INDIA

At UN speech, UK PM speaks on vaccine distribution in partnership with India

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LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a special reference to India’s role in the manufacture and access to one of the most promising coronavirus vaccine candidates currently undergoing trials during his address to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

In reference to the vaccine being worked on by the University of Oxford, Johnson stressed the importance of equitable access of any successful vaccine because the health of every country depends on the whole world having access to a safe and effective vaccine, wherever a breakthrough might occur.

“As I speak there are 100 potential vaccines that are trying to clear the hurdles of safety and efficacy, as if in a giant global steeplechase,” Johnson said in a prerecorded speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday.

“The Oxford vaccine is now in Stage 3 of clinical trials, and in case of success AstraZeneca has already begun to manufacture millions of doses, in readiness for rapid distribution, and they have reached agreement with the Serum Institute of India to supply 1 billion doses to low and middle-income countries,” he said.

Declaring that “humanity was caught napping” as the pandemic struck and has been “scrabbling to catch up” ever since, Johnson issued a spirited defence of the World Health Organisation as the one body that marshals humanity against the legions of disease and confirmed increased investment that would make the UK the largest state donor to the UN health agency if US President Donald Trump’s exit from the multilateral body goes through next year.

He pushed for greater international collaboration to fight a common enemy such as the virus and urged countries to reach across borders and repair “ugly rifts” and “heal the world”.

“And after nine months of fighting Covid-19, the very notion of the international community looks, frankly, pretty tattered. And we know that we simply can’t continue in this way. Unless we get our act together,” he said.

“That is why we in the UK – global Britain – are one of the biggest global funders of that organisation, contributing 340 million pounds over the next four years, that’s an increase of 30 per cent,” Johnson said.

The biggest single donor to the efforts of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness to find a vaccine and contribution of up to 571 million pounds to COVAX, a new initiative designed to distribute a Covid-19 vaccine across the world, were among some of the other UK initiatives Johnson sought to highlight in his address.

He also called for honesty to reach a joint understanding of how the pandemic began and how it was able to spread as a “moral imperative”, indicating that he had no intention of finger-pointing at China.

“Not because I want to blame any country or government, or to score points. I simply believe – as a former Covid patient – that we all have a right to know, so that we can collectively do our best to prevent a recurrence,” he said.

“And as we now send our medical detectives to interview the witnesses and the suspects – bats, the pangolins, whoever – we should have enough humility to acknowledge that alarm bells were ringing before this calamity struck,” he said.

Describing the pandemic as an “immense psychic shock” to the human race, he declared it outrageous that such a “microscopic enemy” should have routed the unity of the human race as he condemned the perverse ranking of death tolls across different regions of the world.

“Covid-19 has caused us to cease other vital work, and I’m afraid it made individual nations seem selfish and divided from each other. Every day people were openly encouraged to study a grisly reverse Olympic league table, and to take morbid and totally mistaken comfort in the greater sufferings of others,” he said.

“We cannot go on like that, we cannot make these mistakes again,” he concluded.

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INDIA

Jaswant Singh played key role in improving relations with US in defence areas: AK Antony

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NEW DELHI: Former union minister Jaswant Singh was one of the most successful defence ministers, the country has seen and he played a key role in improving relations with the US especially in defence areas, said AK Antony, former defence minister while paying homage to the former.

“I’d like to pay respectful homage in the memory of late Jaswant Singh. He was one of the most successful defence ministers, the country has seen. His military background helped him strengthen our national security and modernise armed forces, said Antony.

“He played a key role in improving relations with the US in defence areas,” he added.

The former union minister passed away today morning, due to a cardiac arrest, at the Army Hospital (Research and Referral), Delhi. According to the hospital, Singh’s Covid-19 status was negative.

“He was admitted on June 25, 2020, and was treated for Sepsis with Multiorgan Dysfunction Syndrome and effects of Severe Head Injury old (Optd) had a Cardiac arrest this morning,” the hospital said.

“Despite the best efforts of the attending team of specialists to resuscitate him, he could not be revived and passed away,” it added.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Rajnath Singh also paid tributes to the former union minister.

A veteran BJP leader, Jaswant Singh, had first served in the Indian Army before joining politics. He served as a member of both the Houses of the Parliament and held several important positions in the NDA Cabinet.

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