Dear Reader,

We wish you health and happiness in the new year. Appropriately, the first issue of this newsletter in the new year leads with the gladdening news of the nod to two vaccines for use against the Covid-19 virus. A day that has not come too soon.

Not given to accepting anything at face value, Down to Earth raises key questions about the efficacy of the vaccines that remain unanswered. And The Wire reports on how the “breaches in protocol” and the unseemly haste seem to have raised skepticism over how thoroughly the mandatory trials and protocols were followed.The story delineates ten questions, answers to which will go a long way in establishing the credibility and efficacy of the vaccines.

When former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was nominated for a Rajya Sabha seat in March last year within months of his retirement, it raised questions of impropriety. But,The Print finds that he is just one of the 73 Supreme Court Judges who have accepted appointments after demitting office!

And, StoriesAsia talks to women farmers in Bihar’s Buxar to understand why they remain so “invisible” and how their contribution and significance is eroded by a lack of ownership rights on the land they till.

We will continue to bring you the latest and the best of our grantees work through the year. For a selection of coverage from our grantees this week, please read on.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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DCGI clears Bharat Biotech, SII COVID-19 vaccines but efficacy question unanswered

Down to Earth reports that despite The Drug Controller General of India approving the restricted emergency use of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines manufactured by Bharat Biotech International Ltd and Serum Institute of India, key questions about the efficacy results remain unanswered.

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10 Questions the DCGI Needs To Answer About the Two Vaccine Candidates Approved

“Multiple breaches of protocol” and unseemly haste have raised questions over the approval given to the two vaccines for use against Covid-19 in India. The Wire poses ten questions on the protocols followed, answers to which are critical in ensuring that the vaccines gain wide and willing public acceptance.

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Ranjan Gogoi RS seat made big news in 2020. But he is among 70% SC judges with retirement gigs

When former Supreme Court Justice Ranjan Gogoi, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in March last year, within months of his retirement from the Apex Court, its propriety was questioned. However, an analysis by The Print reveals that of the SC judges who have retired since 1999, a whopping 71 per cent, 73 out of 103, accepted assignments after demitting office. These included appointments to tribunals, human rights commissions, ad-hoc commissions, court-appointed committees, and as lokayuktas.

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India’s Invisible Farmers

Despite their critical and significant role on the farm, women in rural India are hardly counted as farmers. A recent study reports that 75 percent of rural women are engaged in farming full-time, apart from performing household chores. Their status is also affected by the fact that women are rarely the owners of their land. This denies them access to credit as well as government programmes. StoriesAsia talks to women farmers in Bihar’s Buxar district and brings you their story.

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#Ennore | Why the Tamil Nadu govt made this map disappear? | Asiaville Tamil Explainer

Asiaville reveals how the Tamil Nadu government made a 1996 map “disappear” and discreetly replaced the ‘inconvenient’ map with a new one a year later, to facilitate the construction of a petrochemical park in Ennore. The earlier map, on which the Coastal Zone Management Plan for Ennore was based, recorded the important salt-water bodies, sand dunes, mangrove forests and salt pans which were all buried in the second map.

Watch Here

More from the grantees
2020- The Year of the Pandemic
EPW recollects 2020 – The year of the Pandemic through a resource kit that brings together over 170 articles on the COVID-19 crisis published in EPW in 2020.
From Green Revolution to present – the History of Agricultural reforms in India
Suno India discusses why agriculture is still such a crucial part of the Indian economy. The episode takes listeners through the history of the sector in India and puts the current farmers’ protests in context.
The Curious Case of Markets, Masks and Hand Sanitisers
Takshashila Institute’s analysts discuss how markets rather than government or policies such as price caps helped in expanding the availability of hand sanitisers and masks manifold since the pandemic began.
Darkness under the sun: The struggles of an Assam village against 'green' energy
EastMojo reports on a case of tribal villagers in Assam’s Nagaon district being forcefully evicted from their lands to make space for a solar power plant. While India has been chasing ambitious climate targets by steadily expanding production of solar power, the story shows how people’s rights are violated even by supposedly “clean” energy projects.
One Family One Job - the scheme that hurts or heals Sikkim's unemployment issues?
Sikkim Chronicle reports on how the ‘One Family, One job’ scheme which gave government jobs to the youth, rather than helping, actually added to the woes of the youth in the Himalayan state.
कोरोना वायरस जितना ही खतरनाक है टीबी, तो मरीजों के इलाज में लापरवाही क्यों?
Khabar Lahariya reports from Mabai village in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh, on how the singular accent on treating Covid patients has resulted in the gross negligence of patients of non-Covid afflictions like TB.
पहा.. पोलिस ठाण्यातली शाळा
Max Maharashtra profiles a unique initiative at the Pundliknagar Police Station in Aurangabad. Everyday children from the nearby slums gather at the Station’s premises for free English classes offered by the police staff.
No, Reliance Jio has not entered agricultural sector after farm bills were passed
Alt News fact-checks misleading claims that Reliance Industries entered the agricultural sector after the farm laws were amended.The reality, it turns out, is a case of small traders packaging produce with catchy names to boost sales.
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