Daily Briefing: Polls first, statehood later, says PM at J&K meet; Gujarat tells business owners to vaccinate staff or face shutdown

Good morning, 

Big Story 

In his first direct engagement with leaders of Jammu and Kashmir in almost two years, many of whom were detained for long spells following the stripping of the erstwhile state’s special status and its division into two Union Territories, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured them Thursday that his government was committed to reviving the democratic process through Assembly elections as early as possible and sought their participation in the delimitation exercise. 

Only in the Express 

Speaking at an online e-Adda of The Indian Express, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said his government had managed to tackle the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic much better than the predictions of experts, ramping up testing dramatically and keeping the death rate lower than many other states

The controversial Rs 4,000-crore share allotment by PNB Housing Finance to a clutch of investors led by The Carlyle Group has prompted questions from the market regulator. However, as PNBHF’s share price doubled following the May 31 announcement, records analysed by The Indian Express show that senior executives of the company, in leadership roles, rushed to monetise a hefty chunk of their employee stock options. 

Senior Congress leader and former Jammu & Kashmir CM Ghulam Nabi Azad speaks to The Indian Express about the recent meeting between PM Modi and the leaders of J&K: “The most important issue is statehood…Secondly, I demanded that elections to the state legislature be held as early as possible.”

From the Front Page

In a bid to vaccinate the maximum number of people as early as possible, the Gujarat government has issued an ultimatum to business establishments, asking them to either inoculate their staff or face shutdown.

Already in jail over the bomb scare outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house, former police officer Sachin Waze will now face a separate “open enquiry” by investigators of the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau for alleged ownership of assets disproportionate to income. 

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During a key meeting, members of the NITI Aayog expressed serious reservations about the new entry qualification criteria for engineering colleges, which gives them the flexibility to admit students who did not opt for mathematics and physics in their plus-two course. Some suggested the need for remedial bridge courses for such students to cope in class. However, sources said that AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe defended the changes on the ground that they are in line with the new National Education Policy’s multidisciplinary approach.

Of the 3.91 lakh deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic, insurance claims have been made for only 14 per cent of them (55,276 deaths) so far,  indicating the poor life insurance penetration in the country. Nearly 88 per cent of these claims — amounting to Rs 3,593 crore — have been settled, according to Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) officials.

Nearly five months after the low-intensity IED blast near the Israel Embassy in New Delhi, four students from Kargil have been arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell in connection with the crime. While the blast case is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Special Cell had registered a case of “criminal conspiracy”.

And Finally 

During the extended coronavirus-induced lockdown, the gates of the iconic Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai remained shut for devotees. Inside, around 16,000 litres of pure ghee, used to make prasad for devotees, began to expire as the months passed. The ghee, procured for Rs 50 lakh last March before the lockdown was imposed, will now be auctioned with a rider that it should not be used for making any eatables.

In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, we look at what we know about the Delta Plus variant,  how Uttarakhand might soon be facing a constitutional crisis, and the meeting that took place between the political leaders of Jammu & Kashmir and PM Narendra Modi.

Until tomorrow, 

Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi 

Express Cartoon by EP Unny. Source

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