Daily Briefing: 3rd dose of Covaxin gets nod for trials; NIA searches homes of activists, lawyers in Andhra, Telangana over ‘Maoist plot’

From the Central Government rolling back the interest rate cuts on small savings schemes, to the latest on the Assembly Elections; here are today's top stories.

Good morning,

The Big Story 

It is hard to miss the political imperative of rolling back the interest rate cuts on small savings schemes. West Bengal, which still has six phases remaining in the Assembly elections, accounts for the highest collections from small savings schemes. West Bengal, in 2017-18, had registered the highest gross collections of small savings of Rs 89,991.74 crore amongst all states.

Only in the Express 

Hyderabad-based vaccine maker Bharat Biotech will soon be injecting some volunteers with a third dose of Covaxin to test its ability to prompt an immune response that could last a few years. The booster dose will be given six months after the participants had received their second dose in its ongoing trials of the Covid vaccine.  

From the Front Page 

For the first time since its inception in 2006-07, a record 11 crore turned to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as tens of thousands of migrants returned to their villages following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown. In the pandemic year, expenditure on the rural job scheme was 62.31 per cent higher than previous year.

The NIA carried out searches at the homes and offices of journalists, lawyers and civil rights activists across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in connection with a case of an alleged Maoist conspiracy against the police and the government. , CPI (Maoist) flags, party literature, machetes were among the items seized during the searches that began on Wednesday evening and continued Thursday. 

Two persons including a purported member of VHP and Hindu Jagran Manch have been detained for their alleged role in the March 19 incident at the Jhansi railway station, where four Christian women, including two nuns, were verbally harassed and forced off a train after being falsely accused of engaging in forced religious conversion.

Decision 2021

O Panneerselvam who might have expected the chair following Jayalalithaa’s death as reward for his abiding loyalty now finds it irretrievably out of reach. And it may get worse. A deputy to Chief Minister E Palaniswami now for four years, Panneerselvam is facing a tough battle in Bodinayakanur constituency near Theni.

On a whirlwind tour to campaign for half-a-dozen candidates through snaky Malabar roads far from world class, when Shashi Tharoor finally arrives in Kerala’s Nemmara, he disarms as the boy next door. EP Unny captures Tharoor and his trademark Tharoorisms on the campaign trail. 

In an interview with the Indian Express, TMC MP Mahua Moitra said, “There are many leaders who feel they did not get what they wanted out of the TMC. They have now gone to the BJP, which is generous in its incentive structure. Either they try and lure you with cash or they try and scare you with agencies.”

Must Read 

Joining the recent spate of BJP-led states, including Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, that have introduced a new ‘love jihad’ law, Gujarat has passed a bill banning forcible conversion by marriage.  “People with mentality of spreading Islam through religious conversions are indulging in such acts”, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said in the Gujarat Assembly while introducing Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2021. 

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is investigating the possible role of gangster Subhash Singh Thakur in sending the Telegram message that claimed responsibility, in the name of a purported terror group called Jaish-Ul-Hind, for causing a security scare outside the Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani.

And Finally 

A decade after the 2011 World Cup triumph, Paddy Upton, India’s mental conditioning coach and head coach Gary Kirsten’s ally, traces the journey — from the leadership of “massive-high-pressure player” MS Dhoni, the “team-man” Sachin Tendulkar, the “hand of fate” that spread in the team and to the unspoken goal of not letting Pakistan stay at Taj hotel in Mumbai for the final.

In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, we look at polling in West Bengal’s Nandigram in Phase 2 of the assembly elections, the unique history of Assam’s Barak Valley, and the Pakistan Cabinet’s rejection of the proposal to import cotton and sugar from India. 

Until tomorrow,
Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

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