News Wrap


During the state Assembly elections of season March-April 2021, Kolkata Airport has handed the highest number of chartered planes and helicopters, compared with any other elections in Bengal. Nine out of ten of those were hired by the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP). In March 2021, the airport had handled 140 chartered planes and helicopters. Around 30% of they were helicopters and the rest were aircraft with five to fifteen seats. The choppers used were mostly five-seater. Most of the chartered planes and helicopters were hired by political parties. Only a few were used for non-poll purposes, like air ambulances. The chartered plans were mostly used to fly leaders from Delhi to Kolkata. The helicopters were used to ferry them to the districts.

Gyanyapi Mosque
A Varanasi court on 08 April 2021, has asked the union government of India to conduct an archeological survey of the Gyanvapi area through radar technology, the directive coming on a 30 year old petition, that claimed a temple existed under the mosque at the site. The Gyanvapi mosque shares a compound with the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Sanghparivar outfits claim that Moghal emperor Aurangzeb had got a part of the Lord Kashi Vishwanath Shiva Temple demolished in 1669, and had the mosque built over a well, that contained a Shivalinga. Right-wing Hindu groups have long threatened to have the mosque razed to resurrect the supposedly buried temple. The agenda received a boost after Nov 2019 when the Supreme Court handed over to Hindus, the disputed Ajodhaya plot, where a mob had pulled down the Babri Masjid, which the Parivar claimed was built over a demolished Ram temple. According to written history, Aurangeb had been furious when the Maharani of Kutch was dishonoured during a visit to the temple and ordered demolition of a portion of the shrine. Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore got the temple re-constructed in 1780. Two centuries ago, while laying the foundation stone for the Kashi Vishwanath corridor a central scheme to renovate the shrine and beautify its neighbourhood, India's prime minister Narendra Modi had said that God had chosen him to finish what Queen Ahilyabai had started two centuries ago.

The Gyanvapi Anjuman Intezamiya (management) committee has alleged a Right-wing conspiracy to bring the masque down.

Astra Zeneca Vaccine
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), Europe's drug regulator has found on 07 April 2021, a possible link between Astra Zeneca's Covid-19 vaccine and rare blood clotting issues in adults who had received the shot, and said it had taken into consideration all available evidence. One plausible explanation for the combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is an immune response, leadings to a condition similar to one seen sometimes in patients treated with hepasin. The findings come as a major hurdle in the global fight against the pandemic. The findings are a blow to Astra Zeneca, which was a front runner in the race for making an effective vaccine against Covid-19, ever since it began working with the University of Oxford.

Source Of Covid And Who Report
A World Health Organisation—China joint study on the origins of Covid-19, says that the transmission of the virus from bats to humans, through, another animal is the most likely scenario, and that a laboratory leak is extremely unlikely. The lab leak notion was brought into the mainstream by former United States president Donald Trump and others, and which gained oxygen as Chinese secrecy and the inability to pinpoint a natural source raised suspicion. The findings offer little new insight into how the virus began to spread around the globe, and many questions remain unanswered. The team proposed further research, except the lab leak hypothesis. Transmission from bats through another animal was likely. Direct spread from bats to humans was likely. The spread of the virus through cold-chain food products was possible but not likely. Bats are known to carry corona virus. However, the evolutionary distance between these bat viruses and SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to be several decades, suggesting a missing link. Led by Dr. Peter Beri, the WHO team's mission to Wuhan, included a stop at the virology institute, where they met Chinese scientists including Dr. Shi. There was general consensus within the scientific community that the pathogen appeared to be of natural origin. The WHO team's investigating hands may have been tied by strict parameters set by its Chinese hosts. There was lack of access to raw data while in China.

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Vol. 53, No. 44, May 2 - 8, 2021