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Daily NEWS Summary: 30.07.2020

An assistant to the head priest at the makeshift temple Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya has tested positive for Covid-19. About a dozen police officers stationed at the Ram Janmabhoomi complex have also tested positive, although the exact number of staff infected has not been confirmed.

  • Acharya Satyendra Das, the makeshift chief priest of the temple’s makeshift courtyard, has confirmed that his assistant Pradeep Das has tested positive. Satyendra Das and other temple priests, however, tested negative.
  • Last week Uttar Pradesh Prime Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Ayodhya to review preparations for the bhoomi-pujan (opening ceremony) of the Ram temple scheduled for next week.
  • During a ritual, Satyendra Das and Pradeep Das were seen standing near the Chief Minister.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend bhoomi pujan on August 5 for the Ram temple under construction at the Babri Masjid site, which was demolished by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.
  • The temple is being built by a Trust appointed by the government to the following the Supreme Court verdict earlier this year.

Herd immunity is not a strategic option, says the Ministry of Health

On a question on herd immunity against coronaviruses, the Ministry of Health said today that it cannot be an option strategic.

  • Collective immunity is a type of indirect protection against an infectious disease like Covid-19. It only occurs when a population becomes immune either through vaccination or develops immunity from a previous infection.
  • The population of India is currently around Rs 138 million. Collective immunity in a country like India cannot be a strategic option, it can only be an outcome, also at a very high cost, he said.
  • The statement comes amid a scenario in which, although some regions are approaching infection levels required for herd immunity, the rate of disease spread remains uneven.
  • We reported yesterday, for example, that a serological survey conducted by the BMC found that 57% of people living in slums had been exposed to the virus (around 60% or more would be needed for herd immunity), but only 16% of residents of residential areas had been exposed.
  • The health ministry also said the death rate fell from 3.33% on June 18 to 2.21% on July 30, and more than one million patients have recovered.

Congress leader and former union minister Saifuddin Soz scaled a large pillar on Thursday at the door of his residence in the Friends of Srinagar settlement, even as police kept warning him. Soz has attempted to clarify that he has been “under house arrest without any formal orders” since August 5 last year. The scene outside Soz’s residence has been compared to that of a prison. The policemen on duty do not open the doors. The media are driven out and warned of the serious consequences if they do not leave the premises. Soz, eager to speak to the media, scaled the doorstep of his residence, but his interaction was interrupted by police.

  • “The government lied to the Supreme Court. If I am a free man, let me leave the place. I am not a free man. These policemen say they have orders from above” Soz shouted from behind the door.
  • The background is that the Supreme Court on Wednesday closed a habeas corpus petition filed by Soz’s wife after the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration assured the court he was not being detained nor under house arrest.
  • Congress leaders criticized the J&K administration for “lying” to the Supreme Court saying Soz was free and not detained.

Former Samata party leader Jaya Jaitly and two others were sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday by a special court in a corruption case linked to an alleged defense deal. Jaitly, his former party colleague Gopal Pacherwal and Major General S.P. Murgai (retired) were found guilty of criminal conspiracy and corruption. The case was registered by the CBI after an injection operation by the Tehelka information portal. In the sting operation, Jaitly was shown to have accepted Rs. 2 lakh from Mathew Samuel, who represented a non-existent company called Westend International. The retired major general received 20,000 rupees.

The U.S. economy shrank by an annual rate of 33% in the April-June quarter —the worst ever quarterly plunge it has recorded. The pandemic, which has shut down businesses, has thrown tens of millions out of work and sent unemployment surging to 14.7 %, the government said Thursday. The Commerce Department’s estimate of the second-quarter decline in the GDP marked the sharpest such drop on records dating to 1947. The previous worst quarterly contraction, a 10 % drop, occurred in 1958 during the Eisenhower administration.

  • U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday raised the possibility of delaying the nation’s November Presidential elections, despite the date being enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Trump, without any credible evidence, repeated his claims that mail-in voting, which many more people are set to do this time owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, could lead to election fraud.
  • The Rajasthan Speaker and the six former BSP MLAs who merged with the Congress have been issued notice by the High Court on petitions filed by the BSP and the BJP. The High Court has asked for a reply by August 11. A decision on the six MLAs may be key to the survival of the Ashok Gehlot government.
  • The number of corona virus cases reported from India stood at 16,35,438 at the time of publishing this news summary, with the death toll at 35,792.
  • Opposition parties today questioned the government for not tabling the New Education Policy first in the Parliament. The parties, however, have welcomed certain aspects of the policy, including the extension of the right to education from three to 18 years of age.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth on Thursday jointly inaugurated the new Supreme Court building of Mauritius at Port Louis. Observing that for India the most fundamental principle in development cooperation is respecting its partners.

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