Daily Briefing: India to make US vaccines with Japan funds, Australia logistics; Covid cases up but death rate falling

From an exclusive interview with Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, to the latest on the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India; here are today's top stories.

Good morning,

The Big Story 

India will manufacture American vaccines with Japanese funding and Australian logistical support for countries in the Indo-Pacific region. The landmark partnership was announced at the first summit of the leaders of the Quadrilateral grouping.

Only in the Express

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal speaks to The Indian Express on the major achievements of his government in the last five years, the Congress’s alliance with AIUDF, protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.

From the Front Page 

Despite the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic setting off alarm bells, deaths attributed to the virus are significantly less than before. About 14 people out of every 1,000 confirmed infections have died so far. But among those who were infected from January onward, this ratio is only about 0.87 per cent.

Days after Haryana Governor gave his nod to a Bill granting 75 per cent quota in private jobs for locals, the Jharkhand Cabinet approved a similar employment policy that requires 75 per cent of private sector jobs up to a salary of Rs 30,000 per month to be reserved for local people, sources close to Chief Minister Hemant Soren said.

A cellphone recovered from the barrack of former Indian Mujahideen chief Tehseen Akhtar in Tihar jail was allegedly used to create the Telegram channel of purported terror outfit Jaish-Ul-Hind, which had claimed responsibility for parking an SUV with gelatin sticks outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai last month.

Must Read 

Flagging off a commemorative Dandi Yatra to mark the 91st anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s 1930 salt march, PM Narendra Modi hailed the “path pradarshak” (guides) of the freedom struggle, including Jawaharlal Nehru. 

He also listed the names of the “brave” leaders of the freedom struggle, from Mangal Pandey and Tantya Tope to Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh and Ashfaqulla Khan.

A 1961 untitled oil by abstractionist master VS Gaitonde went under the hammer at the Saffronart Spring Live Auction for Rs 39.98 crore ($5.5 million) — a new record for the highest price achieved for a work of Indian art in an auction worldwide. The sale of the oil painting, with layers of pigment in tones of blue, broke Gaitonde’s own previous record set in September 2020 — when an untitled 1974 oil-on-canvas by him sold for Rs 36.8 crore.

Decision 2021

Days after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was injured while campaigning in Nandigram, the TMC submitted a petition to the Election Commission alleging that the attack was orchestrated by the BJP to kill Mamata.

Who are the RSS men fostering BJP’s Bengal parivar? A crucial man behind the campaign is Shiv Prakash, an RSS pracharak deputed to the party in 2014 soon after he had overseen its sweep of Western Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. With former ABVP leader Arvind Menon, Prakash has set the framework for the BJP in the state, working behind the scenes.

The DMK’s candidate list released ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections had few newcomers — with the exception of M K Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi Stalin and senior DMK leader I Periasamy’s son I P Senthil Kumar, who got tickets along with their fathers. 

And Finally 

‘Kumbh ke mele mai bichar jana’, or getting lost in a gathering thronged by lakhs, is much more than just a Bollywood cliche. No one knows that better than Neeraj Sharma, who runs a 6×6 booth for the lost-and-found at the annual Maha Kumbh, where hundreds go missing every day. “It’s difficult to keep count. A person comes every few minutes. The number increases during evening aartis or shahi snaans,” Sharma said. 

Delhi Confidential: The Congress’ list of 30 star campaigners for the upcoming West Bengal elections had some striking omissions — most notably, the names of senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Raj Babbar were missing. 

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G, Shreyasi Jha and Rahel Philipose

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