India’s First COVID-19 Vaccine Gets Nod for Human Clinical Trials

News briefs compiled by Suresh Jaura*

TORONTO | NEW DELHI (IDN) – The focus of news in Indian media in the second half of June was on the start of human trials by India’s ‘first’ indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, a nod to Indian start-ups to participate in space activities, emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi on June 25, 1975, persecution of ‘dissenters’, restrictions against Chinese goods, and Russian assurances to stand-off with India against China.

DGCI allows COVID-19 vaccine for human clinical trials

The country’s ‘first’ indigenous COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN, developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR and NIV, has got the nod for human clinical trials from the Drug Controller General of India, the company said on June 28, reported PTI in The Print on June 29.

The Phase I and Phase II clinical trials of the vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, approved after pre-clinical studies demonstrated safety and immune response, would start across the country next month.

The collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) was instrumental in the development of the vaccine, the company said in a release.

The indigenous and inactivated vaccine has been developed at Bharat Biotechs BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) high containment facility located in the Genome Valley here, a release said.

Health ministry adds steroid dexamethasone in COVID-19 treatment protocol

An inexpensive, widely used steroid dexamethasone was included in the treatment protocols for COVID-19 patients in moderate to severe stages of illness among other therapeutic measures by the Union health ministry, PTI reported in WION News on June 27.

The updated protocol includes the advice to use dexamethasone as an alternative choice to methylprednisolone for managing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19. The change has been made after considering the latest available evidence and expert consultation, the ministry said.

Indian start-ups sent requests after private sector allowed in space: ISRO

Just a couple of days after the cabinet decision to allow reform in India’s Space sector and the briefing by the ISRO Chairman, many Indian start-ups have expressed interest in participating in space-based activities, said ISRO Chairman DR. K. Sivan. He added that so far there were no requests from the big players, but he was hoping to get some proposals from them, reported Sidharth MP in WION News on June 27.

Addressing journalists over a virtual press conference, Dr. Sivan said that ISRO roughly had a 3 per cent share of the $350USD global space economy. He shared a split-up of the global space economy, saying that 48 per cent of the share went to ground equipment, 45 per cent to space applications, whereas launch vehicles and satellites comprised of only 2 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved setting up of IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre) ISRO has welcomed private companies in space research and told them that risks are theirs.

They will be enabled to perform end-to-end space services,

Revisiting the Emergency on June 25, 1975

Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had imposed Emergency in India on June 25, 1975. The move threw India’s democratic polity completely out of gear as several Opposition leaders were arrested and draconian measures undertaken to stifle free speech and press. The Emergency lasted for 21 months from June 25 to March 21, 1977, reported WION News on June 26.

The Emergency was imposed after India’s President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed issued orders under Article 352(1) of the Indian constitution plunging the country into what is now known as the “darkest period” in post-Independent India.

Meanwhile, contemporary documents prove RSS leadership kowtowed to the then Prime Minister.

General knows journalism better than the anchors

General Bikram Singh took a ‘journalism’ class for an anchor who blamed army for the Chinese incursion. After the government complete foreign policy failure, the anchors as usual are on rampage against all those who are asking questions to the government. General Singh advised media to be careful of blaming everyone else whose approach is different than those in the government, wrote Vidya Bhushan Rawat in CounterCurrents on June 23.

“We must listen to those people who are showing us our weakness because ultimately that help us to improve our shortcomings. He further said that those who are speaking in a different tone with us too have served on important positions and hence media and all others should not look at them as ‘anti national’.

From freedom fighters in British India to dissenters in Free India face sedition

Considering the scope and applicability in terms of conviction, even the Supreme Court of India, in its judgements clearly said that statements against government cannot be termed as sedition, wrote Ravi Nitesh in CounterCurrents on June 22.

You just name someone, share reports, criticize heavily, organize protests and the next week you may face undesirable guests in the form of police to detain you under charges of sedition filed against you by any less known person or a political worker in any xyz district. Mostly, sedition is not alone, and added with other charges such as UAPA, defamation law or other IPC sections etc.

Section 124 (A) of IPC was made initially in the year 1870 (IPC-1860) by British against the Indians to suppress their voices of dissent and imposed against freedom of speech and expression, probably to ‘protect’ the British crown from any criticism by creating fear among freedom fighters, dissenters who were active through protests and through their newspapers. Bal Gangadhar Tilak faced sedition for his activities during the freedom struggle and later Mahatma Gandhi also faced the charge for writing an article in his newspaper Young India.

Apple, other US goods from China held up at Indian ports

Apple, Cisco and Dell products are among the goods from US companies being caught up in India’s border tensions with China, as Indian ports hold up imports from China, reported WION News with inputs from Reuters on June 24,

According to a Reuters report, customs officers at major Indian ports have held back containers coming from China, seeking additional clearances. It was not immediately clear which ports were holding back the goods.

The move comes amid heightened tensions between India and China after border clashes last week that saw at least 20 Indian soldiers getting killed in action.

Can India really give up Chinese products?

There is public anger against the martyrdom of Indian soldiers at the LAC along China. It is turning into a nationwide call to boycott Chinese products, reported WION News on June 19.

But the question now arises — can the reality live up to the rhetoric? 

Consider cricket — nothing less than a religion in India. And Vivo, a Chinese mobile handset maker, is the title sponsor for the Indian Premier League.

 The title rights for 2018-2022 period are valued at over 280 million dollars, and the Board of Cricket Control in India wants to retain the sponsorship. 

India tells two state firms to not use China telecoms gear

India has told two government-run telecoms firms to use locally-made rather than Chinese telecom equipment to upgrade their mobile networks to 4G, reported WION News on June 18.

New Delhi’s move comes amid a backlash against companies from China after the killing of 20 Indian soldiers by Chinese forces in a Himalayan border dispute.

The instruction is aimed at Chinese telecom gear makers Huawei and ZTE, after India last year announced an almost $8 billion plan, some of which was earmarked for network upgrades, to help loss-making operators Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL).

How India-Russia alliance faces its biggest threat in China

It is the differences that New Delhi needs to leverage — if it wants to keep Russia on its side, reported WION News on June 24.

The clout of China, or the authoritative regime of Xi Jinping to be precise, is growing over modern day Russia, standing to hamper its alliance with India. And New Delhi should be worried.

The China-Russia axis is not just about economics. Both countries have similar origins and the same ideological core.

In the early 20th century, both China and Russia — then known as the Soviet Union — were in the middle of communist revolutions. 

Moscow assures support to India amidst standoff with China

Moscow has assured that it stands by India in thick and thin. Top sources told WION while it supports India, it also backs New Delhi’s efforts to resolve issues with China amidst the ongoing stand-off with China, wrote Sidhant Sibal in WION News on June 18.

The development comes even has Moscow has publically reacted on the standoff at multiple levels with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov & India’s Envoy to Russia Bala Venkatesh Varma discussing the matter. 

Earlier Russian foreign minister said, ‘It has already been announced that the military representatives of India and China have made contact, they are discussing the situation, discussing measures to de-escalate it. We welcome this”.

India elected unopposed as a non-permanent member to Security Council

Registering a comfortable victory, India got elected as a non-permanent member of the 15 member United Nations Security Council (UNSC) from the Asia-Pacific category for 2021-22 term, reported WION News with inputs from agencies on June 18..

This is for the 8th time that India has been elected to UNSC, the first time in 1950-51 and most recently in 2011-12.

India hopes to utilize its eighth term to additionally construct its case for a permanent seat in United Nations Security Council, something that it has been pushing throughout recent years.

UN experts urge India to release protest leaders

UN experts on June 26 called on India to immediately release human rights defenders who have been arrested for protesting against changes to the nation’s citizenship laws, says Press Release in CounterCurrents on June 27.

“These defenders, many of them students, appear to have been arrested simply because they exercised their right to denounce and protest against the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), and their arrest seems clearly designed to send a chilling message to India’s vibrant civil society that criticism of government policies will not be tolerated,” the experts said.

Let us not forget the atrocities of racism in our country

Though the nationwide lockdown in the name of preventing coronavirus infection is still in place, the brutal oppression of innocent people by the fundamentalists based on religion or casteism is continuing unabated, wrote Asish Gupta  in CounterCurrents  on June 17.

 Is there any fundamental difference between racism in Europe or America and caste-based atrocities carried out in India?

In India, there has been a big struggle between the ruling party and the opposition over who respects Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, the framer of the country’s constitution, more. At the same time, every day, somewhere or other in India, Dalits or so-called lower castes are being attacked or killed even though Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar is a near and dear one and an idol of the Dalits. [IDN-InDepthNews – 04 July 2020].

* Publisher and Managing Director of South Asian Outlook and Indo-Canada Outlook, which have meanwhile merged with IDN.

Image source. India TV

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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