News Wrap


The Indian prime minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PMCARES) Fund, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March 2020, was set up so that people can contribute and help in the government's fight against the corona virus. Apparently there is no difference between the prime minister's National Relief Fund and the PM Cares Fund. The PM Cares Fund lacks transparency, as it is not audited by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. The Right to Information Act (RTI) is also not applicable.

COVID–Cover Up
Acting under government of India orders, researchers expunged from a scientific paper the prevalence rates of the new Corona virus infection in containment zones or hotspots in ten cities, estimated through a nationwide survey. The survey to determine what proportions of people the corona virus had infected used randomly selected blood samples from 400 people, in each of 70 districts and 500 people from hotspots, in each of ten cities—Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Kolkata, Delhi, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Mumbai and Surat. The survey, conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and health research department secretary, between 11 May and 04 June 2020, sought to estimate infection prevalence rates in early May 2020. Under the directions of the DGICMR, the researchers omitted from their paper, the relatively high prevalence rates found in the hotspots, for instance, 36% in Dharavi (Mumbai); 48% in Ahmedabad; 30% in Kolkata. The ICMR, published in September 2020, described only the lower prevalence rates in other districts, ranging from 0.62% to 1.03%, and a national average of 0.73% in early May 2020. The independent surveys in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Pune showing high prevalence rate had diminished the relevance of the containment zones' result from early May 2020. Medical ethics expert view the ICMR's directive to alter the paper's content, as deleting data that is inconvenient.

Renaming History
On instructions from Uttar Pradesh Chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, the name of the museum close to Taj Mahal, is set to be changed in the manner that is con cordonant with the Hindutva ideology, which in a sense is personified by the UP Chief minister. The plan to set up a Moghul Museum was initiated by former chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav in January 2016. Situated 1.5 kms from the east gate of Taj Mahal, it is intended to show case cultural artifacts and painting of the Moghul era, as well as cuisine. Barely 70% of the Rs 141 crore project has thus far been completed. Costs have consistently increased, as all concrete material for the project had to be transported from Noida. Construction of such material is barred in the Taj Trapezium Zone. The additional funds sought are yet to be sanctioned by the finance department in Lucknow. There is no empirical evidence to justify the change of name from "Moghul Museum" to "Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum". The controversy is embedded in the conflict between what was once known as Hindu Padpad shahsahi and the rule of Shah Jehan, the Moghul.

Threat to Taiwan
Multiple Chinese aircraft flew across the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, and into Taiwan's air defense air defense identification zone on 18 and 9 September 2021, causing Taiwan to scramble jets, to intercept. China claims Taiwan, as its own territory. President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan said on 20 September 2020, that China's recent activities were a threat broader, than just to Taiwan.

Vol. 53, No. 21, Nov 22 - 28, 2020