Booster Shots and Omicron: Many Questions

THERE is much discussion these days on whether to introduce booster shots in India, both generally in response to the Covid pandemic and in the specific context of the Omicron variant of the virus. So far, recommendations for boosters by many experts are being made based on very thin evidence about effectiveness of boosters for protection against infection or transmission and, importantly, against serious disease, hospitalisation and death, which are the primary objectives of vaccination programmes.

Data Privacy Bill: Commercialising Our Data And Weakening Our Privacy

THE world is far more interconnected than ever before, with 60 per cent of the world’s population connecting to the internet. With wireless connectivity and cheap smartphones, the number of Indians connecting to the internet today is more than 70 per cent of the population. While most people may believe that they connect to the internet, in reality, they connect to either Google or Facebook and to each other via these digital monopolies.

Not Omicron but the Greed of Capital Threatens the World

OMICRON, a new SARS-CoV-2 strain, first detected in the Gauteng province of South Africa, has been acknowledged by WHO as a “variant of concern”. Already, cases have been reported from other countries, making clear that Omicron is unlikely to be contained geographically. If it outperforms Delta in creating new infections, it may then replace Delta as the dominant variant in Covid-19 infections, as Delta has done to the earlier variants.

Global Warming and the Hypocrisy of the Rich Countries

FIGHTING global warming is not just providing a path to net-zero carbon emissions for all countries. It is also about how to meet the energy needs of the people while doing so. If fossil fuels are to be given up as they need to be, countries in Africa and a significant part of Asia, including India, need an alternate path for providing electricity to its people. What is the course open to the poor countries if they do not use the fossil fuel route that the rich countries have used? And how much will such a route cost, and who will pay the bill?

COP26 Under-achieves, India Disorganised

COP26 came to a close on November 13, nearly 24 hours after originally scheduled. The final plenary got stuck at the final draft of the COP statement, now named Glasgow Climate Pact. For hours, viewers of the live telecast saw country after country making final remarks on the text, most expressing serious disappointments, but saying they would accept the statement in the spirit of compromise and so that they would not have to leave Glasgow empty-handed.

India and Glasgow COP26

WELL into the second week of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, the climate summit is shrouded in a dense fog of uncertainty, confusion and broken or empty promises, while activists both inside as observers and outside fume and fret in sheer frustration. As the days wind down to the conclusion this weekend, various multi-lateral agreements between voluntary sets of countries which are not binding at the level of the COP, are being pushed and signed.

Can the Developing World Stand Up to The Global North at COP-26?

AS delegations from 192 countries head to Glasgow for the 26th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it is important to underline some of the key issues before the global south as a whole, including India in particular. These nations face a double challenge in Glasgow. On the one hand they are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change which is a result of emissions from the rich countries of the global north and the continuing inaction of the latter to mitigate climate change.

Electricity Act Amendment 2021 & The Physics of the Impossible:

THE coal crisis in the country led to a significant shortfall of power generation, especially in the Northern region leading to hours of load shedding. However, certain private power producers like Adani Power made windfall profits. Facing blackouts, some state distribution utilities such as Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, were forced to buy power at exorbitant prices from the power trading platform Indian Energy Exchange (IEX).

Current Power Cuts Due to Criminal Negligence in Government’s Planning

THE Modi government has created an artificial electricity shortage during the festival season, which normally sees a high electricity demand. With the opening of the economy post-Covid-19 second wave, power demands were expected to pick up in October. This, coupled with the festival season, would obviously see a large up-tick of power consumption. Currently, there is a shortfall during the evening peak hours of about 7,000 MW, most of it in Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Bihar. Many others are staring at impending blackouts.