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7.6.21 Editorials

The Chief Minister of Delhi last month warned the Union government about a new strain of the novel coronavirus that has been observed in Singapore that was said to be extremely perilous for children and could visit India as part of a third wave. This triggered a strong denial from the authorities in Singapore that there was any ‘Singapore variant’, and they reserved the right to invoke against the Chief Minister a domestic law, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, against the online circulation of fake news. During this excessive over-reaction to a comment by the Chief Minister, India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, declared that “irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships” — a wise and pertinent observation.

Inappropriate statements

It is improbable, however, that Mr. Jaishankar similarly cautioned his Cabinet colleague, the Home Minister, against the latter’s many derogatory statements with reference to Bangladesh prior to and during the Bharatiya Janata Party’s unsuccessful campaign in the election for the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. The Home Minister had described illegal Bangladeshi immigrants as vermin that he would push into the Bay of Bengal, and then implied that poor people in Bangladesh were starving, which drew a stinging public rebuke from the Bangladesh Foreign Minister. In this year, the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s liberation and the birth centenary of the father of the nation Sheikh Mubibur Rahman, irresponsible comments from those who should know better are profoundly inappropriate.

Diplomacy with Bangladesh

India’s relations with Bangladesh, one of the most populous Muslim countries in the world, are acutely sensitive. As a neighbour nearly surrounded on all territorial sides by India, there are the inevitable bilateral problems of long duration, including a perennially favourable balance of trade for India, drought and flood in the 54 transboundary rivers flowing from India to Bangladesh, and the smuggling of goods and vulnerable human beings across the approximately 4,100 kilometre land border.

The turbulent history of Partitions; East Bengal that became East Pakistan and then Bangladesh, attended by enormous bloodshed and the abuse of human rights, has left emotional wounds that will take many generations to heal. There are those in Bangladesh who believe that separation from Hindu India in 1947 was more significant than the break with Pakistan in 1971, there remain about three lakh ‘Biharis’ in Bangladesh who have failed thus far to be resettled in Pakistan, and there is the presence of militant Islamist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, that have linkages and support from outside Bangladesh.

In contrast to these circles, who take confrontation with India as part of their basic credo, are those who regard their Bengali roots and traditions as being of equal validity as their religious affiliation, and treasure the linguistic and cultural ties with adjacent India. It will take time for these inherent fractures in Bangladeshi society to be resolved, and it is for India to show patience and sympathy to this entirely internal process of healing.

As quid pro quo for India’s benign attentions and support, New Delhi’s expectations are that a neighbour will keep India’s concerns in mind when devising and pursuing its policies, and this understanding is implemented with severity or laxity depending on the regime in New Delhi.

Favourable steps

After decades of pro-Pakistani military and civilian governments following 1975, Mujibur Rahman’s daughter Sheikh Hasina, elected for a third consecutive term since 2008, has consolidated her position as unquestioned leader in Bangladesh. She has maintained vigilant supervision over Muslim fundamentalist terrorists as well as on Northeast militant movements sheltering in Bangladesh, with the result that the pacification of India’s Northeast has been greatly facilitated.

She has permitted a considerable degree of connectivity between India and its Northeast by land, river and the use of Bangladeshi ports, and Indian investments in Bangladesh have been encouraged. There are at least 100,000 Indian nationals now living and working in that country. To complete the ties of economic integration, the day will come when, along with free movement of commerce and capital, the movement of persons on the lines of Nepal and Bhutan will have to be considered.

For India to note

As the leading mid-wife of Bangladesh’s liberation struggle and its sole economic supporter in that nation’s early years of independence, New Delhi should view with satisfaction Bangladesh’s coming graduation in 2026 from ‘least developed’ to ‘developing country’ status, and its steady progress as one of South Asia’s leading performers in human development indicators. Its eventual membership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership cannot be ruled out.

To a certain degree, both India and Bangladesh depend on each other for security and stability. Responsible individuals on both sides of the border, whether in government or the Opposition, must be actively discouraged from words and actions detrimental to the consolidation of the existing cordiality. This is where Mr. Jaishankar’s dictum is applicable to members of his own party as well as the Opposition. What is sauce for the goose is equally sauce for the gander.

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1.Perilous (Adj)-full of danger or risk. खतरनाक

2.Pertinent (Adj)-relevant and appropriate. उचित, उपयुक्त

3.Improbable (Adj)-not likely to happen or be true. असंभव

4.Derogatory (Adj)-showing strong disapproval and not showing respect. अपमानजनक

5.Vermin (N)-extremely unpleasant, annoying, or dangerous people. अपराधी

6.Rebuke (N)-an expression of sharp disapproval or criticism.

7.Centenary (N)-the hundredth anniversary of a significant event. शताब्दी

8.Perennially (Adv)-in a way that continues for a long or apparently infinite time; permanently. हमेशा, निरंतर

9.Turbulent (Adj)-characterized by unrest or disorder or insubordination. कलहकारी, अशांत

10.Affiliation (N)-association, connection, relationship, confederacy. ताल्लुक़, संबद्धता

11.Linguistic (Adj)-relating to languages, words, or linguistics. भाषा-संबंधी

12.Quid Pro Quo (N)-a favour or advantage granted in return for something.

13.Benign (Adj)-pleasant and kind. अनुकूल, हितकारी

14.Laxity (N)-lack of strictness or care. ढिलाई, बेपरवाही, शिथिलता

15.Pacification (N)-the action of bringing peace to a place. शान्तिस्थापन

16.Ruled Out (Phrasal Verb)-to stop considering something as a possibility.

17.Detrimental (Adj)-causing harm or damage. नुकसानदेह, हानिकारक

18.What's Sauce For The Goose Is Sauce For The Gander (Idiom)-used to say that one person or situation should be treated the same way that another person or situation is treated.

🛑It has long been recognised that strident criticism of government will not amount to an attempt to excite disaffection and disloyalty towards government. Yet, the archaic and colonial view that an intemperate attack on an incumbent ruler should be met with fierce prosecution for sedition prevails among many in power even today. In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court has quashed a criminal case registered in Himachal Pradesh against journalist Vinod Dua by invoking the narrowed-down meaning of what constitutes an offence under Section 124A of the IPC, the provision for sedition, set out in Kedar Nath Singh (1962). Every journalist, the Court has ruled, is entitled to the protection of that judgment, which said “comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of actions of the Government, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence, would not be penal”. The law on sedition has come a long way from the formulation of British-era judges Comer Petheram and Arthur Strachey that “feelings of disaffection” towards the government connote “absence of affection... hatred, enmity, dislike, hostility... and every form of ill-will towards the government” to the more rational reading that only a pernicious tendency to create public disorder would be an offence. Yet, it appears that every generation needs a judicial iteration of this principle, and that is because of two reasons: that Section 124A remains on the statute book and that powerful political figures and their minions are unable to take criticism in their stride.

Enacted to put down journalistic criticism of the colonial administration from an increasingly vocal press, Section 124A is essentially a provision which seeks to protect the government’s institutional vanity from disapprobation using the interests of public order and security of the state as a fig leaf. It has often been criticised for being vague and “overbroad”. Its use of terms such as “bringing (government) into hatred or contempt” and “disloyalty and all feelings of enmity” continues to help the police to invoke it whenever there is either strong criticism or critical depiction of unresponsive or insensitive rulers. The explanation that disapproval of government actions or measures with a view to altering them by lawful means will not amount to an offence is not enough to restrain the authorities from prosecution. The mischief lies in the latitude given to the police by an insecure political leadership to come down on the government’s adversaries. It is unfortunate that the Bench did not go into the aspect of political motivation behind the police registering FIRs without checking if the required ingredient of incitement to violence is present. The Court’s verdict brightens the hope that the section’s validity will be re-examined. For now, it is a blow for free speech and media freedom.

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1.Disaffection (N)-a state or feeling of being dissatisfied, especially with people in authority or a system of control. असंतोष

2.Intemperate (Adj)-having or showing a lack of self-control. असंयमी

3.Incumbent (Adj)-(of an official or regime) currently holding office. पदधारी, पदग्राही

4.Quashed (V)-reject as invalid, especially by legal procedure. अभिखंडित करना

5.Disapprobation (N)-an expression of strong disapproval. अस्वीकृति, नापसंदगी

6.Connote (V)-(of a fact) imply as a consequence or condition.

7.Pernicious (Adj)-having a very harmful effect or influence. अहितकर

8.Iteration (N)-the repetition of a process or utterance.

9.Minions (N)-a follower or underling of a powerful person, especially a servile or unimportant one.

10.Adversaries (N)-one's opponent in a contest, conflict, or dispute. विरोधी

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🛑DHFL back in the black, posts Rs 97-crore net profit in March quarter

Subrata Panda | 07/06/2021 | 6 hours ago


Mortgage lender Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL) has reported a net profit of Rs 97 crore on a standalone basis in the quarter ending March of FY21 compared to a loss of Rs 7,634.89 crore in the year-ago period.


However, revenue from operations of the housing finance declined 14 percent to Rs 2,034.53 crore in Q4FY21 compared to Rs 2,387.58 crore in Q4FY20.


For the full year, DHFL, which is reeling from insolvency, has reported a loss of Rs 15,051 crore, while total income for the year stood at Rs 8,802.79 crore. The company reported a negative net worth of Rs 20,637.05 crore.


DHFL became the first financial services company to be referred to insolvency back in 2019. While the committee of creditors (CoC) to DHFL, as well as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Competition Commission of India (CCI), have given their approval to the resolution plan put forward by the Piramal Group, the plan is awaiting the National Company Law Tribunal's (NCLT’s) approval.


“The net worth of the company is fully eroded, rendering the company unable to comply with the regulatory requirements of the RBI in respect of the Net Owned Fund (NOF)”, the auditor’s report said.


The company has incurred losses aggregating to Rs 15,051 crore (including other comprehensive income) during in FY21, and has accumulated losses due to which its net worth has been fully eroded, it added.


However, these standalone financial results are drawn on going concern basis under the ongoing Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP), the outcome of which cannot be ascertained immediately.


Therefore, the company's ability to remain as a “going concern” depends upon the outcome of the ongoing CIRP, the auditor’s report noted.

🛑Covishield shows better antibody response than Covaxin, says study

Sohini Das & Ruchika Chitravanshi | 07/06/2021 | 6 hours ago


Indian health care workers who were administered Covishield have shown better antibody response than the Covaxin recipients, revealed a recent study.


The study, published in an online archive for unpublished manuscripts in medical sciences medRxiv, showed that after two shots of the vaccines, 98 per cent recipients of Covishield showed antibody response, while the same was 80 per cent among Covaxin recipients.


The study published by a group of doctors - Awadhesh Kumar Singh, Sanjeev Ratnakar Phatak, Ritu Singh, Kingshuk Bhattacharjee, Nagendra Kumar Singh, Arvind Gupta, and Arvind Sharma – has not been peer-reviewed yet. The researchers have declared no competing interest and that no funding was received for this cross-sectional study.


The study was aimed at analysing the antibody response after two complete doses of Covishield and Covaxin in Indians.


“We assessed the humoral immune response after the completion of two doses of both ChAdOx1-nCOV (Covishield) and BBV-152 (Covaxin) vaccines in Indian health care workers,” the authors said. ALSO READ: Centre provides over 24.60 crore COVID vaccine doses to States, UTs


A pan-Indian cross-sectional coronavirus vaccine-induced antibody titre (COVAT) study was conducted that measured Sars-CoV-2 anti-spike binding antibody quantitatively 21 days or more after the first and second dose of two vaccines in both Sars-CoV-2 naïve and recovered health care workers.


Among the 515 health care workers (305 male and 210 female), 95 per cent showed seropositivity after two doses of both vaccines. Of the 425 Covishield recipients, 98.1 per cent showed seropositivity, and of the 90 Covaxin recipients, 80 per cent showed seropositivity.


Seropositivity means having the presence of antibodies in the blood serum.


Experts felt that antibody developed or not developed is a binary variable. What needs to be examined is the difference between mean or median titre between the two groups.

Samiran Panda, head of epidemiology and communicable division at the Indian Council of Medical Research, which is a co-developer of Covaxin, told Business Standard, “Antibody developed or not developed is a binary variable (above a predefined laboratory cut-off). However, what is the result from a quantitative comparison - also needs to be examined - is the difference between the mean or median titre between the two groups.”


He further added that these comparisons allow for population level inference (not for any particular individual), provided the sample of participants in the study is drawn randomly from the total population of interest.


“Any arbitrary draw of a sample brings in a bias and does not allow extrapolation of inference on a larger universe of people,” said Panda. ALSO READ: Rahul Gandhi slams Centre for fighting for blue tick amid vaccine shortage


Moreover,immunity is not only guided by the humoral arm of immunity but also the cellular arm, he explained.


“Finally, it should also be appreciated that immunity is guided not only by the humoral arm of the immunity (determined by neutralising antibody titres, etc) following vaccination, but also by the cellular arm, which determines immune memory,” he said.


The researchers said the primary aim was to analyse the antibody response (seropositivity and median antibody titre) following each dose of both vaccines and its correlation to age, sex, blood group, body mass index (BMI), and comorbidities.


“While no difference was observed in relation to sex, BMI, blood group, and any comorbidities, people above 60 years or those with Type 2 diabetes had significantly lower seropositivity rates,” the authors said.


Both vaccine recipients had similar solicited mild to moderate adverse events and none had severe or unsolicited side effects.


“Both vaccines elicited good immune response after two doses, although seropositivity rates and median anti-spike antibody titre was significantly higher in Covishield, compared to Covaxin arm,” they concluded.


This is, however, not an efficacy analysis of both the vaccines. Efficacy analysis would mean whether those vaccinated get symptomatic Covid or not.



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