PARLIAMENT: Budget session from January 29; to continue till April 8; Budget on February 1


KS Shankar / IHN-NN 

NEW DELHI: The Budget session of Parliament will begin on January 29 with all Covid-related protocols including the shift system in place. The session, which will have a recess, will conclude on April 8. The last session was held briefly in September, the Monsoon Session, which was cut short by seven days after several MPs tested positive for Covid-19. 

As per the schedule, President Ram Nath Kovind  will deliver his inaugural address to a joint sitting of both Houses at 11am. The two Houses will meet separately for tabling of the President’s Address. The Economic Survey will also be tabled in this 30-minute sitting. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget at 11am on February 1. 

The budget session is unlikely to be a smooth affair for the government, as the Opposition is gearing up to bring up a number of issues, the farmers’ protest being the most prominent. The government is expected to face an aggressive opposition on issues like the economic slowdown and handling of Covid 19 pandemic. 

Except for the September session, the Parliament did not meet since April last following the pandemic spread. The Winter Session normally held from November was abandoned due to the Covid scenario. 

The budget session will go into recess from February 15 till March 8. During this period, the various department-related standing committees will discuss the Demands for Grants for various ministries and prepare reports. The session will conclude on April 8. 

Question Hour, suspended during the Monsoon session from September 14, to September 23 last, will resume during the Budget session. During this period, Parliament passed 2 bills and set a record in productivity. 

Rajya Sabha met for four hours in the morning while Lok Sabha sat for the second half, with both chambers and visitors’ galleries being used for members so they could observe physical distancing. 

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha will operate in shifts with the Upper House meeting in the forenoon and the Lower House in the evening between 4pm and 9pm, as per Covid protocol. The Lok Sabha will sit for five hours during the Budget session. The session is being held at a time when the government is grappling with the farmers’ agitation and the vociferous demand from the Opposition for repeal of the three farm laws. 

Revival of the economy will be the primary focus of the NDA government during the budget session. The government would face tough questions from Opposition on crucial issues such as reverse migration and the job scenario. The government would also be cornered on the three controversial farm laws and the protests against them. 

Senior Opposition leaders are also keen to have a detailed debate on the issue of employment generation and the problems of reverse migration, which saw an estimated 7 million daily wagers going to their homes largely in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. The Congress is likely to raise the border stand-off with China and seek an update on the situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). 

The Opposition is not only likely to question the government on its handling of the pandemic, but also discuss measures for the mass covid-19 vaccination drive that started on January 16 and seek more financial assistance for states to deal with the fallout of covid-19. 

With Assembly elections due in April-May in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, the Parliament proceedings are likely to be surcharged. The government is looking forward to get the Data Protection Bill and other important legislation passed. 

The debate on the President’s Address and the budget are also expected to be charged as these will be held against the backdrop of the developments since the outbreak of Covid in March 2020  In order to ensure smooth running of Budget Sessions, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said that in the first half of the session, the Parliament will meet 12 times, while 21 sittings are scheduled in the second half. 

NINE PROTOCOLS: “Everyone inside the Parliament complex, including Members of Parliament, their families and staff, Secretariat staff and members of the media would need to undergo RT-PCR tests.” The Speaker said. 

Will MPs be given priority for getting Coronavirus vaccine? The Speaker said as per the vaccination policy finalised by the Centre and states will apply to Parliamentarians as well. “We will have to wait for our turn,” he said. Even PM Modi, during his Covid-19 review meeting with CMs of various states, said that public representatives including MPs and MLAs are not on the priority list. 

The Parliament staff will undertake sanitisation of cars and other vehicles entering Parliament including various files. These are on the lines of the protocols adopted during the September 2020 session. The RT-PCR tests for MPs will be conducted on January 27-28 in Parliament House as well as North Avenue, South Avenue, BD Marg and other places in Lutyens Delhi. Emergency wards for urgent Covid care with dedicated medical teams shall also be deployed at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital for MPs. Other measures include regular fumigation and sanitization. 

According to Lok Sabha secretariat, private members’ business which usually takes place on Friday afternoons will also happen. Members will be allowed to introduce their own bills which will be debated. 

ALL-PARTY MEET ON JAN 30: Prime Minister Modi will chair an all-party meeting on January 30 during which the government will put forth its legislative agenda for the Budget session. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the meeting will be held in virtual mode, and invitation has been sent to floor leaders of all parties. All-party meeting is a customary procedure before the beginning of every session to ensure its smooth functioning. This time, it would be held a day after the session starts on January 29.—IHN=NN 


ADANI … Adani Group finally signs pact with AAI for takeover of TVM, Jaipur, Guwahati airports for 50-year-long lease


TVM: The biggest airport operator in the country, the Adani group, is taking over the operations of the busy international airport here soon, after braving several odds including resistance from leftist trade unions and even the LDF government in the state.

The Airports Authority of India made the announcement in a follow up to the group winning the auction against other bids including one from the state government. Adani would run the airport in PPP mode. The group will be taking over the operations of the Jaipur and Guwahati airports too. The concessional agreement was signed by the group with the AAI on January 19. This involves a lease for a 50-year-period.

The Adani group, which started with the development of India’s first private port, the Pipavav in Gujarat, is also acquiring a 74 per cent stake in Mumbai International Airport. The group has offered to take over the Mangalore, Lucknow and Ahmedabad airports.

Notably, the modernized Indira Gandhi international airport in New Delhi is India’s largest airport, a credit it wrested from Mumbai airport in 2015 in matching with the growth of Delhi as an international aviation hub. The Delhi airport is the sixth busiest in Asia. The Delhi airport was set up in 1962. A consortium led by the GMR Group is running the airport with the AAI having a 26 per cent stake. Indian airports carried on in old-age style for many decades under inefficient bureaucrats and money-spinning political leadership – a scenario that started changing with the involvement of private enterprise since the turn of the century. In the UPA period, some Union civil aviation ministers allegedly indulged in huge loot, resulting in a major downturn for the aviation sector in the country.

Delhi’s first airport was the Safdarjung Airport started in 1930.

TVM AIRPORT: Started in 1932, the TVM airport became an international aviation centre in 1991. It conceded ground to the Cochin International Airport (CIAL), set up in early 1990s under (india’s first) PPP mode during the term of K Karunakaran as Congress chief minister. Today, the TVM airport is the second busiest in Kerala and the 14th busiest in India. The TVM airport is spread over an area of 700 acres as against the 5000 plus acres of the Delhi airport.

The airport came into being during the reign of Sree Chithira Tirunal. Initially, it was part of the Royal Flying Club initiated by Colonel Goda Varma Raja, trained pilot and consort of Rani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi, the Rani of Travancore and Attingal Kingdom. The king’s sister was Goda Varma Raja’s wife. A Tata Airlines flight was the first aircraft to land in TVM airport in 1935. Three years later, the Travancore Royal family acquired a Dakota aircraft for its private use. Commercial operations at the airport started after Independence. International flights started from the airport started in the 1970s, mainly to the Gulf and Arabian nations. In 2018, the central government proposed privatization of several airports including the TVM hub.

The Adani group is already in Kerala, building the Vizhinjam port near capital TVM. It has invested heavily in solar projects in Gujarat and elsewhere in India, too.


Adani Group is a diversified organisation in India with combined revenue of $13 Bn comprising 6 publicly traded companies. It has created a world class transport and utility infrastructure portfolio that has a pan-India presence. Adani Group is headquartered in Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat, India. Over the years, Adani Group has positioned itself to be the market leader in its transport logistics and energy utility portfolio businesses focusing on large scale infrastructure development in India with O & M practices benchmarked to global standards. With four IG rated businesses, it is the only Infrastructure Investment Grade issuer in India.

Adani owes its success and leadership position to its core philosophy of ‘Nation Building’ driven by ‘Growth with Goodness’ – a guiding principle for sustainable growth. Adani is committed to increase its ESG footprint by realigning its businesses with emphasis on climate protection and increasing community outreach through its CSR programme, the company web site states. IHN-NN


SASIKALA … VK Sasikala set to be released next Wednesday; taken to hospital with chest pain


CHENNAI: AIADMK leader VK Sasikala is expected to be released from the Agrahara central prison in Bengaluru on January 27, Wednesday, has spent four years in jail in a disproportionate assets case. While she is expected to re-enter politics and campaign for power in the May assembly polls, Chief Minister E Palaniswami has ruled out her re-induction to the party.

Sasikala’s lawyer Raja Sethurapandian received a communication from the Bengaluru prison authorities about her impending release. However reports from Bengaluru said on Wednesday that she was taken to a hospital by jail authorities after she complained of chest pain.

Vivekanandan Krishnaveni Sasikala, 66, had taken over as AIADMK chief soon after the demise of long-time CM and party supremo J Jayalalitha in 2016. However, internal issues cropped up in the party over CM post, which ended up in Palaniswami being given the post and another claimant O Panneerselvam given the deputy CM post. A while later, Sasikala was put behind the bars following the Supreme Court reaffirming that she was guilty. 

While Jayalalitha was co-accused, her death meant only Sasikala was penalised. Sasikala was recently made to pay a fine of Rs 10crore as well.

Tamil Nadu politics is in for a major churning. While assembly polls are approaching, Palaniswami is not in the reckoning for another term if opinion polls are to be believed. Surveys said DMK will grab power under the leadership of MK Stalin, son of K Karunanidhi, former CM and DMK patriarch who died in 2018. With Jaya and Karunanidhi gone, new players are trying to grab the top political space.

A major expectation was about matinee idol Rajinikanth, who however backed out of his plan to enter politics, a week ago, also citing his ill-health. Another aspiring leader is Kamala Hassan, popular star, who has set up a political party and is seeking people’s support. 

The BJP and the Congress are not major forces in the state. The Congress has an alliance with the DMK, and hopes to share power after the May polls. Rajinikanth has said his fans could join any party. The DMK-Congress-CPIM alliance had swept the last Lok Sabha polls in the state, leaving only one seat to the AIADMK, which was won by Panneerselvam’s son. 

If Sasikala returns to politics, which is quite likely, she might be capable of grabbing major chunk of the present AIADMK led by CM Palaniswami and OPS. She is seen as a mature leader, who always remained behind Jayalaithaa and yet ran party affairs with a firm hand, courtesy the backing she got from Jaya as CM. She belongs to a powerful backward community, Thevars, just as OPS is.

Palaniswami is likely to relent later, as the AIADMK ally the BJP is putting pressure on the Dravidian party to take Sasikala along with. Palaniswami and OPS have no major mass support even though they shared power for the past over four years. Sasikala, it is reckoned in political circles, will not settle for anything other than the CM post. 

Sasikala’s husband, M Natarajan, a former PRO with the state government, died some time ago. IHN-NN


BIDEN’S DAY … Joe Biden to take over as US President at Capitol event tonight; Kamala as VP


WASHINGTON: Democrat Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris take over as President and Vice President of the United States at a glittering event at Capitol Hill here at 1700GMT (IST1030 tonight), in the shadow of a stiff resistance from outgoing President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the controversial Election to the exalted offices. Joe Biden, 78, would be the 46th President of the USA.

The 56-year-old Kamala Harris, with bright chances of becoming a future president, has a mixed parentage; his father an African and mother Indian from a Brahmin family that lived in Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai; her father a top bureaucrat in Delhi; where she did her education.

In his final comment, the outgoing president said: ”This week we inaugurate a new administration and I pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous…We extend our best wishes but we also want them to have luck – a very important word.” Notably, Trump did not acknowledge his successor by name.


In specific, the 74-year-old President stated that he was “especially proud to be the first President in decades who has started no new war.” Added he: “I go from this majestic place with a loyal and joyful heart, an optimistic spirit, and a supreme confidence that for our country and for our children, the best is yet to come.”

Joe Biden had won the November 3 presidential poll with 306 electoral college votes against Trump’s 232, but Trump is not ready to acknowledge his rival’s victory and suspects fraud was played out. He would neither meet Joe Biden before the installation ceremony nor would he attend the event. He would instead fly to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The Trump presidency was as controversial as it was rough and tough in many respects. The worst of which being the alleged lack of seriousness he displayed in handling the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed an astounding over four lakh people in the US and put the nation on top of the world Covid-hit map.

Trump had famously campaigned on a pledge to “Make America Great Again”, invoking nationalist sentiments, promising more support for native Whites, and speaking of more scrutiny for immigrants. With Covid-19 having had a free run in the initial weeks, the American economy took a heavy hit. Worse, the violence by his supporters in protest against the denial of victory to Trump on January 6 left five people dead, including a Capitol cop. Asserted Trump as he leaves office, “The greatest danger we face is a loss of confidence in ourselves, a loss of confidence in our national greatness….

Stated Trump: “To serve as the President has been an honour beyond description. Thank you for this extraordinary privilege. And that’s what it is — a great privilege and a great honour…We did much more than what we came here to do.”

 “Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated. Now, more than ever, we must unify around our shared values and rise above the partisan rancour, and forge our common destiny,” Trump said in his last message to the nation.

Listing out some of the key accomplishments of the US government from January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2021, Trump said his administration achieved more than anyone thought possible. “Nobody thought we could even come close, he said as he referred to the largest package of tax cuts, slapping tariffs on China, achieving energy independence and development of a Covid-19 vaccine in a record short span of time. We restored American strength at home and American leadership abroad. The world respects us again. Please don’t lose that respect,” Trump said.

Trump said his administration revitalized US alliances and rallied the nations of the world to stand up to China like never before.

“As a result of our bold diplomacy and principled realism”, he said, the US achieved a series of historic peace deals in the Middle East. “Nobody believed it could happen. The Abraham Accords opened the doors to a future of peace and harmony, not violence and bloodshed. It is the dawn of a new Middle East, and we are bringing our soldiers home,” he said.

Trump said as he leaves the White House after four years, he has been reflecting on the dangers that threaten the priceless inheritance all Americans share. “As the world’s most powerful nation, America faces constant threats and challenges from abroad. But the greatest danger we face is a loss of confidence in ourselves, a loss of confidence in our national greatness.”

“A nation is only as strong as its spirit. We are only as dynamic as our pride. We are only as vibrant as the faith that beats in the hearts of our people,” he said. Trump said the key to national greatness lies in sustaining and instilling the shared national identity. That means focusing on what Americans have in common — the heritage they all share.”

“At the centre of this heritage is also a robust belief in free expression, free speech, and open debate. Only if we forget who we are, and how we got here, could we ever allow political censorship and blacklisting to take place in America. It’s not even thinkable. Shutting down free and open debate violates our core values and most enduring traditions,” he said.

Trump, in the aftermath of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, has been banned by the majority of the social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. He has described this as an assault on free speech.

“In America, we don’t insist on absolute conformity or enforce rigid orthodoxies and punitive speech codes. We just don’t do that. America is not a timid nation of tame souls who need to be sheltered and protected from those with whom we disagree. That’s not who we are. It will never be who we are,” he said.

WILL REMAIN ACTIVE: The outgoing President has hinted that he will continue to have an active public life. “Now, as I prepare to hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday, I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning. There’s never been anything like it. The belief that a nation must serve its citizens will not dwindle but instead only grow stronger by the day,” Trump said.

IMPEACHMENT: The House of Representatives impeached Trump on a charge of incitement to violence, making him the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. He will face the charges after leaving office. –Agencies, IHN-NN


NRI VOTE … EC to introduce voting facility for NRIs in eight countries this year in pilot project


NEW DELHI: The Election Commission of India (EC) is going ahead with plans to facilitate voting facility to Non-Resident Indians in future Indian elections. The plan will initially be unrolled in the form of a pilot project, this year, with inclusion of eight countries – namely the US, the UAE, the UK, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Kenya and Singapore.

ECI said over a crore of Indians are settled abroad, of which some 60 lakh, retaining the Indian citizenship, are eligible to vote. However, the ECI has not finalized plans as to how this process can be done. Government employees, including diplomats posted abroad are already given facility to vote in Indian elections. This might be replicated for the general public too living in foreign countries. IHN-NN


SURVEY: Pinarayi, Mamata, Sonawal to return to power in assembly polls; DMK to wrest power in TN


NEW DELHI: Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan and West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee will return to power in the coming assembly polls, a Battle For States survey done by IANS-C-Voter opinion poll group has concluded. The survey found DMK will wrest power in Tamil Nadu. In Assam, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonawal will lead the BJP to victory again, the survey felt. In Puducherry, the AIADMK may win the election.

As per the survey, Pinarayi will lead the ruling LDF back to power with 85 seats in the 140-member state assembly. The present tally for the LDF in the assembly is 91 seats. The polls to Assam, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry will be held in April-May and the schedule is expected to be announced by the Election Commission shortly.

In the 234-seat Tamil Nadu house, the DMK-Congress alliance is projected to win big with a two-thirds majority, getting 162 seats against the 64 seats in 2016. The AIADMK of chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami can get 64 seats against its 2016 tally of 132, the survey felt.

“Vijayan remains extremely popular,” the survey noted, and said he got nearly 47 per cent support in the survey to return as CM. It said the Congress-led UDF will improve its tally to 53 from the present 47.

The Trinamool Congress will return to power, there too with a reduced number of seats in the assembly. In Assam, the BJP-led alliance will return to power with 77 seats against the present tally of 86, the survey results hinted. The UPA in Assam will raise its tally from the present 14 to 40. In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerjee can get 154 seats against the present 211 searts, the survey said, adding the BJP there can raise its strength from the present three MLAs to 102 MLAs.

The survey sample covered over 18,000 respondents in West Bengal, 15,000 in Tamil Nadu, 6,000 respondents in Kerala, 5,000 in Assam and 1,000 plus in Puducherry.


VACCINE, REACTIONS … Some cases of adverse reactions; BharatBiotech issues advisory as to who should not take the jab


NEW DELHI: With reports about side-effects in rarest of the rare cases emerging, vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech has issued an advisory suggesting that certain vulnerable people avoid taking the vaccine.

The company said on Tuesday through a posting on its web site that those suffering from allergies, fever or bleeding disorder should consult a doctor before going for the jab. Pregnant and breast-feeding mothers too may avoid taking the jab.

The death of a ward boy in Uttar Pradesh after he was inoculated led to a scare but the hospital clarified that it had nothing to to with the jab. As many as 3,81,000 beneficiaries have so far been vaccinated, and nearly 600 persons have reported adverse effects, of a minor nature, officials said on Tuesday. 

Officials said that of the 1,48,266 beneficiaries who were administered the vaccine on Monday, 8,656 were from Bihar, 1,822 from Assam, 36,888 from Karnataka, 7,070 from Kerala, 6,665 from Madhya Pradesh, 7,628 from Tamil Nadu, 10,352 from Telangana, 11,588 from West Bengal, and 311 were from Delhi.

The BharatBiotech advisory said those who have taken an injection with vaccine supplied by another firm should avoid taking Covishied for the second and last shot. They may go for the same vaccine they have used for the first time.

“Individuals who are prioritised under the public health program of the ministry of health and family welfare, will be covered under this endeavour. Informing the individuals about the offer for a vaccination with Covaxin will rest with the respective government program officials. Those offered Covaxin at pre-specified booths will have the options to receive or reject administration of the vaccine,” the advisory added. 

STATEMENT FROM DR HARSH VARDHAN:“2020 was a year of science. A year in which the wisdom and evidence of science was judiciously adopted to face an unprecedented challenge. I shared my views on the pandemic and the way ahead at the Opening Session of the 148th Session of WHO Executive Board, held via VC, today.It is remarkable how our researchers and scientists characterized a novel illness, sequenced a new virus’s genome, developed diagnostics, produced treatment protocols, and established the efficacy of drugs and vaccines against it, all in less than 12 months.Going forward I believe 2021 shall be the year of global solidarity and survival. I am confident that it will be the harbinger of a decade of collaborative action which will lead to the dawn of a new era.With the recent breakthroughs on COVID-19 vaccines, there is a renewed sense of optimism around the world. It is now of utmost importance to ensure fair and equitable access to the vaccines. World Health Organization and all its staff and members have played a crucial in catalyzing and coordinating the global response to control and contain the spread of COVID-19. I greatly appreciate Director-General and the Regional Directors of WHO for deciding to award the 2020 DG’s Award for Excellence to all members of the WHO work-force.It is indeed a very thoughtful decision and, for the exceptional contributions made by all WHO staff in supporting the pandemic response a well-deserved achievement.But it is now time to improve the functioning and efficiency of the organisation.The pandemic has placed ‘Health’ at the centre of the global agenda. It is an opportune time to overcome various shortcomings and build resilient healthcare systems.I urged all members to pledge their commitment to the decade of action to deliver sustainable, equitable development for all.Today, all Governments must rise to the challenge only then faster growth and higher living standards will be within their reach. The 2020s began with a cry of pain but, with the right policies, the decade could end with a roar.” –IHN-NN


MODI … C-Voter survey finds PM Modi has 60 per cent support while Rahul has 26 per cent


NEW DELHI: Some 60 per cent of respondents preferred Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Prime Minister while Congress leader Rahul Gandhi fetched 26 per cent support, in a C-Voter mood survey of the nation this month. Over 30,000 people were interviewed for the survey across states. In 10 states, the support for Modi was as high as 65 per cent, which an incumbent PM rarely gets.

The ten states are Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Bihar.

Curiously, support for Rahul Gandhi was higher in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Kerala has a 40 per cent concentration of Muslims and Christians in the state’s population. In West Bengal,

In West Bengal, where a big fight is unfolding between the ruling Trinamool and the BJP, some 62 per cent preferred Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. All the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies across the country.

Among other findings, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is cited as the most popular chief minister while Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal comes second and Jaganmohan Reddy of Andhra Pradesh comes out as the third-best. The chief ministers of Kerala, West Bengal and Assam have scored high approval ratings while the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry fared poor. Uttarkhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat was adjudged the least popular CM. Haryana chief minister Manoharlal Khattar is the second worst-popular and Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh as the third worst.

In Odisha, where chief minister Naveen Patnaik remains as the best choice for CM post, Modi’s approval rating has skyrocketed, at over 84 per cent.

Three states governed by BJP or its ally, namely Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar, saw their chief ministers scoring less than the national average. The chief ministers of West Bengal and Maharashtra scored above-average ranks.

Notably, the chief ministers of Kerala, Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have higher approval ratings than that of PM Modi within their respective states. Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao is seen as less popular than Modi. Chhattisgarh chief minister as also Maharashtra chief minister scored better results. Eleven chief ministers scored below national average.

Seven out of 10 most-popular chief ministers are from the non BJP-NDA ranks. Seven out of 10 worst-performing chief ministers are from the BJP-NDA ranks.


As per another ‘mood of the nation’ survey, conducted by Kolkata-based Amrita Bazar Patrika, 58 per cent of the respondents said they would vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government, while 28.1 per cent said they will vote for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Some 13.5 per cent of the respondents said they  will choose the third front of regional parties and the Left. IHN-NN


VACCINATION .. PM Modi launches vaccination drive, urges citizens to keep safety protocols on for more time

NEW DELHI: India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive was formally launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as scheduled on Saturday with a call to the nation to confidently take the step forward but still keep the Covid safety protocols going for more time.

Adar Poonawalla 

The world’s largest vaccination drive would involve, in stages, around a billion people. The phase one that started today will see inoculation done done on three crore people, mostly frontline covid-control healthcare workers and security personnel on C-duty, through over 3,000 sessions across the country.

Among those who were vaccinated on Saturday included the head of Pune’s Serum Institute, Adar Poonawalla.

Over one crore people in India were infected by the virus while 1.5lakh persons died of the pandemic so far. Maharashtra state – mainly the Mumbai and Pune metropolises – suffered the maximum deaths.

The government has set in place a vaccination helpline, 1075, which will address concerns of the general public in this respect.


VACCINATION .. Nation in full readiness for vaccination, says Union Health Ministry


NEW DELHI: The nation remained in full readiness for rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme that will be formally launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. Sadly, the build-up for the vaccination programme saw as many as 10 women dying in a road mishap on Friday, while on their way to Goa from Karnataka for vaccination.

Under the Emergency Use authorization, the vaccine will be administered only on those of age 18 and above at this stage.  women who are pregnant or not sure of their pregnancy and lactating women should not receive Covid-19 vaccine at this time. The government’s vaccination app, CO-WIN, will initially be accessible to healthcare workers alone and will be open to usage for the general public within a month.

The Union health ministry has released a list of precautions for the jabs, along with a detailed factsheet explaining various aspects of the two the vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin. Both are Indian-made and their purchase abroad will rake in big money for the nation and the Indian pharma firms.

The health ministry said adequate doses of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Pune giant the Serum Institute’s ‘Covishield’ vaccines have been delivered across states and UTs. While some states like Kerala have announced free inoculation, a dose of Covishield and CoVaxin may cost ₹200 to 300 in India. Some 1.65crore doses of Covishield and Covaxin packs have been released to states and UTs.

LETTER FROM HEALTH MINISTRY: The health ministry stated in a letter to all states and UTs that the coronavirus vaccination is now meant only for those of 18 years and above under the ‘emergency use’ authorisation. “Second dose should also be of the same Covid-19 vaccine as the first dose,” the letter written by Manohar Agnani, additional secretary, health ministry said.

“Some mild adverse effects in case of Covaxin include injection site pain, headache, fatigue, fever, body ache, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness-giddiness, tremor, sweating, cold, cough and injection site swelling. Paracetamol may be used to provide symptomatic relief from post vaccination adverse reactions, the Health Ministry stated.

GUIDELINES: If required, Covid-19 vaccine and other vaccines should be separated by an interval of at least 14 days.

“Pregnant and lactating women have not been a part of any Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial so far. Therefore, women who are pregnant or not sure of their pregnancy and lactating women should not receive Covid-19 vaccine at this time.”

The vaccine should be administered with caution in persons with a history of any bleeding or coagulation disorder (like clotting factor deficiency, coagulopathy or platelet disorder, it said.

The following conditions are not contraindicated for Covid-19 vaccines — persons with past history of SARS-CoV-2 infection and or RT-PCR positive illness, history of chronic diseases and morbidities and immuno-deficiency, HIV, patients on immune suppression due to any condition.

The government’s vaccination app, CO-WIN, will initially be accessible to healthcare workers alone and will be open to usage for the general public within a month. The Co-WIN app is the backbone of the mega vaccination drive and is designed to enable citizens self-register for the Covid-19 vaccination process,

Besides the Covid warriors, the app will effectively be used by central and state governments to implement the inoculation drive.

The Health ministry has asked programme managers to ensure that the information about precautions and contraindications for Covid-19 vaccination should be disseminated to all levels and through them to cold-chain handlers and vaccinators for ready reference.

A caution is sounded against administration of the vaccine in persons with a history of anaphylactic or allergic reaction to a previous dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and in those with immediate or delayed onset anaphylaxis or allergic reaction to vaccines or injectable therapies, pharmaceutical products, food items, among others.

In case of persons having active symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection, coronavirus infected patients who have been given anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma and acutely unwell and hospitalised patients due to any illness, the Covid-19 vaccination is to be deferred for four to eight weeks after recovery.


The road accident that killed 10 women and a man occurred in Dharwad district. Police said a minibus collided with a tipper truck along the Hubballi-Dharwad bypass near Itigatti. The daughter-in-law of a former BJP MLA Guru Siddanagouda from Davangere’s Jagalur area, Preethi Ravikumar, was among the deceased. The mini bus collided with the tipper truck  coming from the opposite direction around 8am on Friday, police said. 

The mini-bus was carrying a group of 16 members of the Ladies Club from Davangere, who were on their way to Goa for vacation. The Dharwad Rural Police said that the women had decided to visit the residence of their friend in Dharwad for breakfast and had decided to take a detour. –IHN-NN