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‘Free coronavirus vaccines will be given in first phase to 3 crore people’: Health Minister

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Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said that free coronavirus vaccines will be given in the first phase to three crore people who have been on the frontline in the fight against the disease.

The government will give priority to 1 crore healthcare workers and 2 crore frontline workers when India begins the rollout of the Covid vaccine, he added.

“In 1st phase of #COVID19Vaccination free #vaccine shall be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that incl 1 crore healthcare & 2 crore frontline workers. Details of how further 27 cr priority beneficiaries are to be vaccinated until July are being finalised (sic),” Dr Harsh Vardhan tweeted this afternoon.

The dry run to check the best way to vaccinate people against the virus and plug loopholes in logistics and training has started in all the states today.

The activity is proposed to be conducted in all State Capitals in at least 3 session sites; some States will also include districts that are situated in difficult terrain/have poor logistical support; Maharashtra and Kerala are likely to schedule the dry run in major cities other than their Capital.

This drive will also test the operational feasibility in the use of CoWIN application in a field environment. CoWIN is a digital platform to roll out and scale up the vaccination drive.

“The DCGI will soon take a decision on the recommendation,” the Health Minister told the reporters this morning as he review the vaccine dry run at a Delhi hospital.

“There should be no rumours about the vaccine’s safety…Everything has been checked in detail. Initially when the polio vaccine was rolled out, even then rumours had floated. But once it went on the floor, all people were assured about the safety,” he asserted.

A government-appointed panel of experts on Covid has taken up the applications filed by the Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Pfizer for the emergency use approval for the coronavirus vaccines.

Serum Institute had made presentations before the panel on Wednesday regarding the vaccine ‘Covishield’ developed by Oxford University and pharma major AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech which has partnered the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for its ‘Covaxin’.

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Protesting farmer unions reject govt proposal to put farm laws on hold for 1.5 years

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The protesting farmer unions on Thursday rejected the government’s proposal to put the three contentious farm laws on hold for 18 months and set up a committee to discuss the laws.

 The central government had put forth the proposal at the tenth round of talks held on Wednesday with the 40 farmers unions’ representatives. The farmers had not given any immediate reply to the proposal saying that they would hold internal discussions first.

 In the internal discussion of Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the members decided that they wanted a full repeal of the three farm laws and a legislation for minimum support price (MSP) for which the farmers have been protesting at the Delhi borders for 58 days.

 The protesting farmers who have been at the Delhi borders since November 26 have said that the tractor march parade planned on 26 January, Republic Day, will progress as planned. There has been no headway in the talks between the Delhi Police and the farmers’ unions over the march as the farmers have stuck to their demand of holding the march on Delhi’s Outer Ring Road.

 The Centre had approached the Supreme Court to stop the tractor rally saying that the rally on Republic Day will ‘embarrass the nation.’ The Court declined to intervene in the matter saying that it is for the Delhi Police to get into the act.

 The farmers have assured that their rally will not clash with the Republic Day parade to be held at Rajpath. The farmers have also said that their movement is a ‘people’s movement’ and similar rallies will be held in many other states.

 The Supreme Court had put the three farm laws on hold ‘till further order’ and named a committee to discuss the issues.

 The farmers have rejected the committee and to take part in these discussions saying that all the four members of the committee have been in support of the farm laws. One member of the committee, Bhupinder Singh Mann, president of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) had recused himself from the committee.

source: The Statesman

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Joe Biden to propose 8-year citizenship path for immigrants

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US President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on Day One of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the country without legal status, a massive reversal from the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies.

The legislation puts Biden on track to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of President Donald Trump’s restrictive policies and mass deportations.

It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years, but it fails to include the traditional trade-off of enhanced border security favoured by many Republicans, making passage in a narrowly divided Congress in doubt.

Expected to run hundreds of pages, the bill is set to be introduced after Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the legislation and granted anonymity to discuss it.

As a candidate, Biden called Trump’s actions on immigration an unrelenting assault on American values and said he would undo the damage while continuing to maintain border enforcement.

Under the legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other basic requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization, if they decide to pursue citizenship.

For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements.

The bill is not as comprehensive as the last major immigration overhaul proposed when Biden was vice president during the Obama administration.

For example, it does not include a robust border security element, but rather calls for coming up with strategies. Nor does it create any new guest worker or other visa programs.

It does address some of the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States, and provides grants for workforce development and English language learning.

Biden is expected to take swift executive actions to reverse other Trump immigration actions, including an end to the prohibition on arrivals from several predominantly Muslim countries.

During the Democratic primary, Biden consistently named immigration action as one of his day one priorities, pointing to the range of executive powers he could invoke to reverse Trump’s policies.

Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and enough other GOP senators to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades.

That kind of major win even if it involves compromise could be critical as Biden looks for legislative victories in a closely divided Congress, where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities that involve rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending.

As a candidate, Biden went so far as to say the Obama administration went too far in its aggressive deportations.

source: The statesman

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Centre-farmers’ standoff will resolve through dialogues: Vice Prez

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Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday said that the current standoff between the protesting farmers and the Centre will resolve only through dialogues.

“We cannot forget the farmers’ efforts in increasing the food production even during the Covid times,” Naidu said while speaking at an awards ceremony jointly organised by Rythu Nestham and Muppavarapu Foundation at the Swarna Bharat Trust in Hyderabad.

He also added that he sees the possibility of a certain meeting ground.

“Restriction-free marketing of farm produce has been a long-standing demand. One country and one food zone has been the demand for a long time. The development of the country is closely tied to farmer’s progress,” Naidu said.

Comparing the farmers’ compassion with that of a mother, he said: “It is the duty of everybody to support the farmers.”

The Vice President lauded the farmers for rendering a great service to the nation during the pandemic by pro3ducing record food grains despite hardship.

He also appreciated the efforts shown by the doctors, sanitation workers, police and media personnel during the pandemic.

“Both the Centre and state governments should work as ‘Team India’ in addressing the needs of the farmers. Apart from ensuring remunerative prices, the farmers should be provided with timely and affordable credit.

“There was also a need to increase the cold storage facilities and the godowns at all levels. As a matter-of-fact, every tehsil must have a cold storage facility,” Naidu added.

Vice President pointed out that the people of India always accorded a very high status to agriculture and this was the reason why our festivals and rituals are closely associated with agriculture.

Referring to a FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) report which cautioned about the food crisis in the coming times, Naidu asserted saying, “If we support our farmers, India would not only be food secure, but would also be able to feed the world.”

Naidu emphasised for a change in perspective towards agriculture among the public and urged the youth to become proactive partners in promoting farming.

Earlier in the day, Naidu interacted with the youth undergoing training at the Swarna Bharat Trust and advised them to maintain discipline, eat healthy food and always remain fit. He said that the youth in India were highly talented and their skills need to be upgraded through regular training.

source: The statesman

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