News Wrap


With vaccine access deeply unequal, Nobel laurate Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Dufalo have called for “a global vaccination programme to bring Covid-19 under control”. As one of the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world, India has fully vaccinated 3 percent of its population, and is still in the middle of a nightmarish second wave, that has forced the country to stop exports of all vaccines. An estimated 100 million more people are now living in extreme poverty, compared to the start of the pandemic. The first lockdown cost India almost a quarter of its GDP. India was confronted with economic disaster and overflowing morgues and mortvaries. The moral and economic case calls for the rich countries share vaccines with the developing world. It mould only cost doller 80 billion to ensure 40 per cent of the world’s population is vaccinated by the end of 2021, and 60 percent by the first half of 2022. The International Monetary Fund has high lighted the huge economic benefits of global vaccines. Rich countries had sufficient capacity to produce only enough for themselves, and then proceeded to corner the world’s supplies. By March 2021, high-income countries accounting for 16 per cent of the world’s population had bought up 50 percent of the vaccine doses. While rich countries borrowed massively, and spent more than 20 percent of GDP to help their population ride out the crisis, poor countries could afford to spend only 2 percent of GDP.

Cyclone Yaas
After Cyclone Yaas made a landfall near Dhamra port in Odisha on 26 May 2021, about 150 km of river embankments in at least 150 spots along the West Bengal coast, were either damaged or breached. Many places in East Midnapore, Howrah, North and South 24 Parganas got marooned on 26 May 2021, after river and sea water gushed into villages; following damage to river embankment by the unprecedented high storm surge. A fisheries worker reportedly drowned in East Midnapore. River embankments in four districts were either breached or damaged. Villages and settlements in the riverine areas of these districts were inundated. The cyclone created a flood like situation in the West Bengal coastal districts. Pisiculture and cgriculture will take a hit, which is expected to deal a blow to the rural economy, amid the pandemic.

Genocidal Killings
An agreement with Germany and Namibia, announced on 28 May 2021, makes Germany officially recognize as genocide the colonial era killings of tens of thousands of people. Germany is committed to spending a total of 1.1 billion eros ( 1.3 billion US dollars), largely on development projects. The accord is the result of more than five years of talks with Nambia on the events of 1904 to 1908, when Germany was the southern African country’s colonial ruler. German General Lothar Von Trotha who was sent to what was then German South West Africa, to put to death an uprising by the Herero people in 1904, instructed his troops to wipe out the entire tribe. Histaisns say that about 65,000 Herero were killed, and at least 10,000 Nama. In the light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, Germany has asked Namibia and the descendents of the victims for “forgiveness”. Germany gained control over the country in the 1880s, and surrender the territory to South Africa in 1915. Namibia gained independence in 1990. Talks between Germany and Namibia opened in 2015, during which the German foreign minister Heiko Haas called the German colonial era events as “a genocide”, from today’s perspective.

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Vol. 54, No. 20, Nov 14 - 20, 2021