THURSDAY 29 JULY, 2021 epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard FORCE MULTIPLIER SOLUTION ‘NEUTRAL’ FORCE TO GUARD BORDERS IAF formally inducted the second batch of Rafale multi-role fighter aircraft on Wednesday at Hasimara Air Force Station in West Bengal Chief secretaries, DGPs of Assam, Mizoram agree to central force deployment A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 8 On the cards: Plan to slash 25% vax quota for private hospitals S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi IN a major revision of the Covid-19 vaccination policy the Centre is contemplat, ing lowering the 25% vaccine quota earmarked for private hospitals, sources told this newspaper. The move comes in the wake of several states, including Tamil Nadu and Odisha, asking the Centre to cut the private sector’s quota to 10%, arguing its participation in the inoculation drive has been poor. Under the existing policy vaccines are , split between government and private hospitals in a 75-25% ratio. While beneficiaries are entitled to free vaccinations in government facilities, they have to pay pre-fixed charges at private centres. However, the pace of vaccination in private hospitals in most states has been very slow. Since May when Covid-19 , vaccination opened for all adults, only 7% of the jabs administered had been in private hospitals. “We feel there are not many takers for Covid vaccines in private hospitals, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 cities,” a senior health ministry official said, adding that people seem to prefer to take free shots in government hospitals. “Therefore, we are re-examining the vaccine procurement and distribution policy the official added. ,” Girdhar Gyani, director-general, the Association of Private Healthcare Providers of India, listed three reasons for low uptake in private hospitals. He said vaccine availability is low in smaller hospitals due to a condition set by Covishield maker Serum Institute to pre-book at least 3,000 doses in one go. Vaccine hesitancy in 25-30% population and a lack of coordination on part of several states in vaccine procurement for hospitals are the other P7 reasons, Gyani added. JAB-O-METER TAKE YOUR SHOT July 27 36,87,239 doses July 28 39,42,457 doses TOTAL DOSES 45,02,55,460 NATIONWIDE JULY 27 JULY 28 Fresh cases 26,689 43,654 Recoveries 42,363 41,678 Deaths 415 640 DELHI Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths JULY 27 JULY 28 77 42 02 67 61 03 $25 mn for vax programme Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US will provide $25 million to support India’s vaccination programme as the two sides held wideranging talks on further boosting cooperation in dealing with Covid-19 and its impact. NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 Snoopgate strengthens Oppn unity index Parties hold joint strategy sessions to put government on the mat in both Houses; Didi calls on Sonia and Kejriwal R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi AMID West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee chanting the coalition mantra during her ongoing visit to Delhi, the index of Opposition unity in Parliament is getting stronger with daily joint strategy meetings and back channel talks to corner the Centre over the Pegasus snoopgate. Given the scale of its footprint, it’s Pegasus that has catalysed unity within the Opposition, with leaders across the spectrum resolving to fight together against the government in Parliament. They are not stalling debate; instead they are pressing for a discussion on the matter in the presence of the prime minister or the home minister. They also want a judicial probe by a Supreme Courtmonitored committee. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who generally skips Opposition meetings, has been present at joint strategy sessions in Parliament this time around. Also, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has otherwise not been part of the strategy meetings, is also on the same page on Pegasus. Another element of the strategy is all like-minded parties giving adjournment motions on the issue in both Houses. The floor leaders of the Opposition parties have been meeting almost every day to synchronise their approach. On Wednesday, floor leaders of 14 Opposition parties met in the office of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge in Parliament. “Sitting with the entire opposition is extremely humbling. Amaz- ing experience, wisdom and insight in everyone present,” Rahul tweeted after the meeting. The 14 parties are the Congress, DMK, Samajwadi Party, CPM, CPI, National Conference, Nationalist Congress Party Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Janata , Dal, AAP IUML, RSP KCM and , , VCK. The Trinamool Congress had to skip it because it happened at the same time Mamata had scheduled her meeting with party MPs. Mamata had a busy second day in the Capital, meeting Congress president Sonia Gan- Mamata ambiguous Choosing to be cagey about being the face of a united Opposition, Mamata told reporters: “You are asking me the name of the child even before it is born.” Modi government can be defeated. “If Bengal could do it, so can P7 the other states.” dhi and AAP founder Arvind Kejriwal to drum up support for Opposition unity. For the record, she told reporters, “I don’t want to be the face of the Opposition... I am a simple worker, want to continue as a worker. we all need to work together.” Who would eventually lead the coalition would depend on the situation, she added. “Regional parties will lead the nation, we will not bow down before anyone anymore... the time has come,” she said. As for unity in Parliament, Elamaram Kareem, CPM floor leader in Rajya Sabha, said the Opposition has taken a united P7 stand on various issues. Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge (fourth from left), chairs a meeting with the representatives of 14 Opposition party leaders at his chamber in Parliament on Wednesday. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi also attended the meeting | PTI BJP uses quorum ploy to block key Parliament panel meet on Pegasus M A N I S H A N A N D @ New Delhi THE ongoing stand-off in Parliament cast its shadow on the Standing Committee on Information and Technology on Wednesday with BJP MPs exe, cuting a well scripted strategy to deny any opportunity to the Shashi Tharoor-led panel to take up discussion on the raging Pegasus issue. They also shielded absentee officials from being hauled up for contempt by ensuring the meeting could not be convened because of lack of quorum. While the meeting’s details are stated to be confidential, two panel members, BJP’s Nishikant Dubey and Trinamool’s Mahua Moitra, fought it out on Twitter over ‘verbal abuse’. Dubey accused Moitra Democracy is work in progress, says Delhi govt seeks Blinken as US takes soft line on rights suggestions on school reopening P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi IN what appears to be a softening of the US’ stand on human rights issues in India, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said every democracy is a work in progress. “Both our democracies are works in progress... sometimes that process is painful. Sometimes it’s ugly But, the strength . of democracy is to embrace it. One of the elements Americans admire the most is fundamental freedom and human rights. That’s how we define India. India’s democracy is powered by free-thinking citizens,” he said after his meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. In response, Jaishankar said the quest for a perfect democracy applies to the US as much as it does to India. “There is a moral obligation to right hitorical wrongs and our policies fall in that category. Don’t equate freedoms with non-governance or lack of governance.” A day before Blinken’s visit, a US State Department spokesperson had said the issue of hu- E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi Secretary of State Antony Blinken with PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi | TWITTER man rights would be raised, prompting a response from India. “Issues such as human rights and democracy are universal and extend beyond a particular national or cultural perspective. India is proud of its achievements in both domains,” a government source had said. Experts, too, believe the US will take care not to be too critical of India on human rights. “The US will sidestep being too harsh and critical on this as is evident from Blinken’s state- ment. US-India relations are no longer based on a narrow interpretation of issues and so-called irritants. It is a mature and broad- based relationship,” said analyst Harinder Sekhon. Sanjay Pulipaka, coordinator, East Asia Research Programme at ICRIER, is of the view that the US has a two-pronged strategy “While they have been call. ing out India through legislative and civil society reports, at the executive level the conversations have been private.” P7 India women bring some smiles in Tokyo gloom Shuttler PV Sindhu, archer Deepika Kumari and boxer Pooja Rani into next round as India endure another mixed day CHEERS... AND JEERS AS MORE INDIANS EXIT Sindhu outwitted Hong Kong’s NY Cheung 21-9 21-16 to top her group and make the last-16. Debutant boxer Pooja out-punched Algeria's Ichrak Chaib 5-0 to progress into the last-eight. Deepika stayed afloat to make the last-16 but male archers Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav suffered losses. Even B Sai Praneeth exited after losing to Mark Caljouw of Netherlands MOMOTA STUNNED, BILES PULLS OUT AGAIN Japan’s No 1 shuttler Kento Momota shocked by Heo Kwang Hee in last group match, exits Olympics American gymnast Simone Biles pulls out of another event to protect her mental health India’s women’s hockey team loses 1-4 to Great Britain, quarterfinal prospects dented KENTO MOMOTA STRENGTHENING PRESENCE ON EASTERN FRONT The jets were inducted into 101 Squadron of Eastern Air Command with the aim of strengthening IAF’s capability in the eastern sector. The first batch was inducted into ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron at Ambala on Sept 10 last year, with operational role towards western and northern borders. IAF has so far received 26 of the 36 aircraft. Arjun, Arvind produce best ever Olympic performance | P11, 12 DELHI’S Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, on Wednesday sought suggestions from parents, teachers, principals and students on whether to reopen schools and colleges in the capital or not. The government has created an email ID, firstname.lastname@example.org, where the stakeholders can send their suggestions or feedbacks in maximum 100 words. The submissions of all the stakeholders will be taken into account while taking a decision on reopening the educational institutes, Sisodia said. Over 5,000 suggestions were already received within three hours of the announcement. During the Delhi government’s ongoing special Parents-Teachers Meeting, which started on July 19 and will continue till July 31, Sisodia visited various schools and interacted with parents. He said nearly 5 lakh parents have attended the PTMs and enquired from the teachers about their children’s education and well-being. There was curiosity among a large number of parents regarding the reopening of schools, mixed with fear about the safety of their children, he said. Sisodia said the “college life of our youth has also been reduced to a small room”. “The college-going youth dream of studying proudly in a big college. However, because of the pandemic, their college campus is also confined to their home. Therefore, the youth are also curious about when and how their colleges will open,” the education minister added. EXPRESS READ 18 killed as speeding truck rams into stationary bus in UP LUCKNOW: Eighteen people were killed and 25 injured after a speeding truck rammed into a stationary double-decker bus in Barabanki, UP. The accident took place on the LucknowAyodhya highway under the Ram Sanehi Ghat area on Tuesday night. Heavy rain posed problems in the rescue operation, police said. The private bus was carrying 130 passengers to Bihar from Punjab and Haryana. of abusing him at the venue of the meeting. “By hurling the ‘Bihari gunda’ (goon) abuse, Mahua Moitra has abused the people from North India and the Hindi speaking belt,” tweeted Dubey. Moitra wondered what the fuss was about, when the meeting didn’t take place. According to Parliament staffers, perhaps for the first time in the history of Standing Committee meetings, none of the summoned officials from the ministries of home and electronics and IT turned up for the meeting. If an official is busy, he/she is represented by the next in hierarchy . When contacted, home ministry officers refused to reveal the reason behind their no-show. SUCCOUR BENEFIT EXTENDED “Had the meeting taken place, the panel could have issued contempt notices to the absentee officials. This was thwarted by BJP MPs, who refused to sign the attendance register, which is necessary to establish quorum. They also ensured that other members were not called in from the Opposition to get around the quorum by staying put at the venue until a frustrated Tharoor called it off,” a source said. TMC MPs allegedly shouted at the BJP saying “Gundaraj , hai kya, dadagiri hai kya?” BJP MPs, sources said, apprehended the panel could have issued directions on Pegasus, giving more teeth to the Opposition to go after the NDA dispensation, hence the stalling. AAP government has decided to extend its cashless surgery scheme, Delhi Arogya Kosh, to patients suffering from mucormycosis or black fungus | P4
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