Covaxin, online schools and Taliban


A health worker injects a woman with a dose of covaxin against the coronavirus during the drive-in vaccination center at Moolchand Hospital, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI)

Views and opinions from the top commentators in Indian media

“India’s swift crossing of the 75 crore vaccine doses landmark has been powered in large part by Covishield contributing about 67 crore of those doses. Armed with new production lines spread across multiple states, now is the time for Bharat Biotech to catch up. The significant scale-up in vaccine administration to nearly 75 lakh doses per day in September has happened despite Covaxin’s hovering around 6 lakh daily doses. In July, the Union health ministry had said it expects Covishield supplies to touch 12 crore doses a month and Covaxin 5.8 crore. Going by September vax numbers, Covishield appears to be exceeding this target and may deliver 20 crore doses in September.

We have been told the Covaxin narrative could change if production from its new plants in Malur near Bengaluru, Pune and Ankleshwar besides Hyderabad delivers to professed capacity. NTAGI officials expect these facilities coming online to deliver 10-12 crore doses per month. May they be right because safety and immunogenicity trials of Covaxin on children over two years old are on. With over 40 crore Indians below 18, this is a huge demographic to leave unvaccinated. Covaxin is the best option for them right now.

Editorial, The Times of India

Left behind  

“The School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL) survey, as we call it, found that online education had a very limited reach: The proportion of sample children who were studying online regularly was just 24 per cent in urban areas and 8 per cent in rural areas. This is all the more striking as three-fourths of urban households and half of rural households in the sample had a smartphone. Aside from smartphone ownership, the multiple challenges of online study include smartphone access, adequate connectivity, recharge money, intelligible material and a conducive environment. Among parents of “online children” (those who were studying online, regularly or occasionally), only a small minority were satisfied with their child’s study material. More than two-thirds felt that their child’s reading and writing abilities were higher before the lockout than they are today — a severe indictment of online education.

Literacy is a basic tool of self-defense in a modern society. Without it, children are exposed not only to economic hardship but also to lifelong powerlessness and exploitation. Literacy is also a springboard for further study. A resurgence of mass illiteracy among children, if it is allowed to happen, could have dire and lasting consequences.

Jean Dreze, The Indian Express

Abject failure

“The preliminary post-mortem has centred on the failure of the nation-building exercise in Afghanistan — euphemism for the establishment of a Western-style, rules-based, ostensibly modernist order. President Biden’s August 31 address to the nation where he bluntly stated that the US would not undertake “major military operations to remake other countries” has been interpreted to mean that this is precisely what was being attempted in Afghanistan.

Yet, it is interesting that prior to 9/11, the Republican establishment seemed deadly opposed to persisting with Ronald Reagan’s post-Berlin Wall democracy project. In an article in early 2000, Condoleezza Rice quoted George Bush as saying that he would avoid “open-ended deployments and unclear military missions”. The former president is quoted as saying, “I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation-building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight and win wars.” Although the neo-conservatives had a strong influence on the George Bush administration, their vision of exporting democracy didn’t quite have all-round endorsement. One of the main criticisms of the misadventure in Iraq was that it was a diversion. The former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, for example, rued that “[h]uge resources were devoted to Iraq, which focussed away from nation-building in Afghanistan.”

Swapan Dasgupta, The Telegraph

Inclusive government?

“One of the Taliban’s main backers, Russia, has said that the new government announced in Kabul is not an inclusive one. It also turned down the invitation for the inauguration ceremony of the Taliban Cabinet, which, however, was cancelled eventually. The announcement followed the visit of the top Russian security official, Nikolai Patrushev, to Delhi, where he met with his counterpart, Ajit Doval.

Iran, Afghanistan’s immediate neighbor, has also rejected, albeit indirectly, the new government. In a virtual meeting of foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s six neighboring countries, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian emphasized the development of an “inclusive government reflecting diversity and will of Afghan people”.

“Emphasized on security, stability & development by formation of an inclusive gov reflecting diversity & will of Afghan ppl; dialogue instead of violence; rejection of foreign intervention,” he wrote on Twitter.

Aditi Bhaduri, The Quint

 Every week, we look at what the top commentators in the Indian media are talking about and bring to you a slice of their opinions and comments

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