Dear Reader,

As India celebrates its 72nd Republic Day, there are good tidings from the just-launched inoculation campaign.

The ‘adverse effects’ from the vaccines, The Print reports, have been significantly lower and far less than feared, with only seven deaths and about eleven hospitalisations, amongst more than 15 lakh who were inoculated in the first week of India’s vaccination drive. Out of the seven deaths reported, six of them could not be “causally linked” to the vaccine.

Mojo Story debates the effects of India’s vaccine diplomacy in its neighbourhood and beyond, and avers that these “gestures”, even though limited, are critical for India’s standing. Especially when China is attempting a strategic stranglehold on the region.

In Kashmir, senior doctors have been at the forefront of taking the anti-Covid shots to allay fears about the after-effects of the vaccine and keep ‘vaccine hesitancy’ at bay, Kashmir Observer reports.

And among other stories from our grantees, The Ken and The News Minute bring you in-depth reports on the aftermath of the dubious Chinese loan-apps which have duped and harassed people and led to a spate of suicides.

For a selection of stories from the Foundation’s grantees this week, please read on.

I wish you a very happy Republic Day.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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Adverse events reported in just 0.08% of 15 lakh Covid vaccinations in first week

The Print reports that in the first six days of India’s anti-Covid immunisation campaign, “adverse events” post the vaccine jab have been significantly less than feared. Of the 15.37 lakh immunised until January 21, a mere 0.08 per cent exhibited adverse reactions. Amongst these, 11 people have been hospitalised and 7 deaths reported, six of which were “not causally linked” to the vaccinations.

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Diplomacy or Gesture | India gets an edge above China in gifting COVID shots to her neighbours

India’s vaccine diplomacy ‘Maitri'' has struck a chord among its neighbours, despite being short of vaccines itself. Mojo Story discusses India’s vaccine overtures with senior diplomats and concludes that such “gestures” are important, if India has to play its part in the neighbourhood, especially when China is breathing down its neck in the region.

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In Kashmir doctors take the first shot to allay vaccine fears

Amidst the widespread ‘vaccine hesitancy’, doctors in Kashmir have led the way in receiving the inoculation to show sceptics the way and to debunk myths about the after-effects of the jab. Kashmir Observer brings you the story.

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India’s instant loan app crisis is made in China

The Ken's investigative report lifts the veil on an illegal China-based online lending application scam to show how such apps have taken deep roots among desperate Indian borrowers looking to make ends meet. Despite payments gateways, NBFCs, tech companies and regulators taking action to weed out these companies, the Chinese lending apps mushroomed under different names.

Read Here

The instant loan app racket and the Chinese connection

When the pandemic struck, dubious Chinese companies exploited the immediate need for credit by giving out small loans at very high-interest rates and then luring the loan-takers into a debt trap. In a deep-reported story, The News Minute reveals actual call recordings of the threats and harassments faced by the loan takers which led to a spate of suicides.

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More from the grantees
A revolution in local politics
India Development Review interviews a researcher to understand how reservations for women in local government are bringing incremental changes in power relations and pushing back against discriminatory property rights norms in society.
Indian research can help cut nitrogen fertiliser waste
Down to Earth reports that a group of Indian scientists have found a way to improve crops by reducing wastage of nitrogen fertilisers applied to them. The scientists led by N Raghuram of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi, also identified genes that can improve crops further.
Standing on a precipice: A peep into the plight of Northeast India's transgender community
East Mojo reports on the challenges faced by the transgender community in securing housing, employment and even fundamental rights. The transgenders stress that the government hold extensive consultations with them before framing laws which affect them.
Lakshadweep’s Umbrella Riots
Live History India tells the story of how colonial-era caste clashes unfolded in Lakshadweep and how an oppressed community won their freedom to wear shirts, sing at occasions and even carry umbrellas!
Deprived of basic needs, poor children long to go back to school
Imphal Free Press delves into the problems faced by children of poor daily-wage earners during the lockdown. The children long for schools to reopen to access the one square meal they are provided and get back to reading books that are unavailable at home.
Students Speak Up Against Deteriorating Mental Health In Virtual Schools
Feminism in India speaks to students about how continuous virtual classes have affected their mental health. Living in a virtual bubble has deprived them of bonding with their classmates and sheer exhaustion has come in the way of their creative activities.
Three Decades of HDI
The Human Development Index (HDI) combines indicators of life expectancy, education and standard of living to quantify the quality of life. EPW points out that India’s HDI score is adversely affected by severe gender inequalities which it stresses should be fought on a war footing.
எங்களுக்கு திரும்ப வேலை கொடுங்க அது போதும்!
Asiaville reports from the ground in Chennai on the plight of over 700 sanitation workers who have been laid off without any prior intimation.These cleaners were the very frontline workers who worked relentlessly during the worst days of the pandemic.
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