In Focus by The Hindu

The Hindu

A podcast from The Hindu that delves deep into current developments with subject experts, and brings in context, history, perspective and analysis.
What’s behind the Kazakhstan unrest? | In FocusAre the provisions of the FCRA loaded against civil society? | In FocusWhat you need to know about children's vaccines and booster doses | In Focus
On January 3, India began vaccinating a section of its teenagers, with Covaxin. About 7.4 crore children, between the ages of 15 and 18, are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As of Saturday, over 2 crore children had received the first dose of their vaccine. Only Covaxin was approved for use in this age group, even though, last October, India's first DNA vaccine, ZyCoV-D, had been granted emergency use authorisation for use in children above the age of 12. Some experts have argued that since COVID-19 in children is, in general, not severe, the entire adult population should have been vaccinated first -- over 90% of the eligible population has received the first dose, but second dose coverage remains less than 70%. However, others have pointed out that now that adult vaccination is well underway and progressing, the programme needed to be opened to children as well.  India has also announced precautionary doses -- a third dose of the vaccine -- for healthcare and frontline workers as well as adults aged above 60 with co-morbidities. The move comes amidst a global surge in COVID-19 cases, with new variant of concern, Omicron, dominating. Unlike some other countries however, India will give beneficiaries the same dose they had for the first two -- either Covishield or Covaxin, without any mixing of the vaccines. So how did the children's vaccination programme come about, and how is it progressing? Do all adults need a booster dose or will only those at risk require it at present? How does the precautionary dose help protect vulnerable individuals? And will we see more variants in the future? Guest: Dr Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India  Host: Zubeda Hamid  Edited by Reenu Cyriac
6d ago
27 mins
Can India’s best stop badminton’s new superstar Loh Kean Yew? | In FocusCould the Novak Djokovic visa mess have been avoided? | In FocusWill Sudan’s military allow a successful transition to democracy? | In FocusDigital Address Code: What is it and why do we need it? | In FocusWhat next for school education? | In Focus
Schools began opening across the country in September this year, following the devastating second wave of COVID-19. By then, most of India's 24 crore students, had been out of schools for close to 18 months -- most children in kindergarten and first standard had never set foot in a classroom. The Annual Status of Education Report 2021, released last month, throws up some important facts about how students and teachers have fared over the pandemic years. Significantly, there was an increase in the proportion of children not enrolled in school, compared to pre-pandemic figures from 2018. Government schools saw a rise in enrolments, up from 64.3% in 2018 to 70.3% in 2021, while private schools recorded a dip -- from 32.4% in 2018 to 24.4% in 2021. Another important factor the survey highlighted was that online education, demonstrably, did not work for all -- while smartphone availability in homes almost doubled from 2018 to 2021, and 67.6% of students on average had a device at home, over a quarter of them had no access to it at all. But what needs to be done, going forward, in what is, arguably an unprecedented situation? A vast number of children may not be at the level that their grade and curriculum demand. What can schools and teachers do to deal with this? Do States need to frame policies and guidelines to help children get back on their feet, academically? Do we need to move away from a narrow, curriculum-driven approach that our school systems presently focus on? Guest: Dr. Rukmini Banerji, Chief Executive Officer of Pratham Education Foundation Host: Zubeda Hamid Edited by: Ranjani Srinivasan
30 mins
The Oting killings, Naga insurgency, and AFSPA | In FocusWhy has Putin amassed troops near the border with Ukraine? | In FocusWhat we know, and do not know, about the Omicron variant | In Focus
24 mins
Is India particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases? | In Focus
23 mins
What next on agricultural reforms? | In FocusWhy should we care about mental health of death row prisoners? | In Focus
The welfare of convicts who have been sentenced to death is probably the last, if at all it figures, in anyone’s list of welfare priorities. Since their entire identity gets reduced to one act -- the crime they are accused of – they are generally dehumanised, and people find it difficult to understand why we should care about the mental health of someone convicted of, say, gang-rape or a brutal murder – the ‘rarest of rare’ cases where the death penalty is invoked. But there are problems in the way the criminal justice system deals with the mental health of under-trials and prisoners, and perhaps nobody is more victimised by systemic issues than prisoners on death row. A new report, titled, ‘Deathworthy: A Mental Health Perspective of the Death Penalty’ has come up with empirical data on mental illness and intellectual disability among death row prisoners in India. The study, which is the first of its kind, has found that an alarming 62% had a mental illness and 11% had intellectual disability. Given that most of these convicts are from marginalized communities with poor socio-economic and educational indicators, the report raises some hard questions about equity, justice and the responsibility of the courts, the prison system, the State and society at large towards protecting the dignity of those deemed ‘deathworthy’. We speak with the project head and lead author of this study in this episode. Guest: Dr Maitreyi Misra, Founder of Project 39A at National Law University, New Delhi Host: G. Sampath, Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu
40 mins
What happens to your body when you breathe in polluted air | In FocusHow safe is India’s crypto gold rush for ordinary investors? | In FocusTennis star Peng Shuai’s sexual assault allegations and the Chinese Communist Party's response | In Focus
On November 2, Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai shared a post on micro-blogging site Weibo accusing a senior Communist party leader, Zhang Gaoli, of sexual assault. The post was immediately censored, and there has been no news about Peng Shuai since then. Peng, who was ranked world number 1 in doubles in 2014, is a big star in China. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and several tennis stalwarts, from Chris Evert to Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, have expressed concerns about Peng’s whereabouts and safety. They have also called on Chinese authorities to investigate her allegations. But in a strange twist, on Wednesday, Chinese state media shared an email purportedly written by Peng Shuai to WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon, in which she says that the allegations of attributed to her are not true and that she was just “resting at home and everything is fine.” Simon, in response, has questioned the authenticity of this email, and said that “Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source.” It is not often that senior Party members face public accusations of sexual wrongdoing. So, who is likely to face repercussions over these allegations – is it going to be Peng herself, for going public about a Party official, or will it be Zhang Gaoli, for causing embarrassment to the Party? And where does the Chinese Communist Party stand with regard to feminist politics and the #MeToo movement? We look for answers to these questions in this episode. Guest: Ananth Krishnan, The Hindu’s China correspondent. Host: G. Sampath, Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu
25 mins
Should there be a total ban on liquor? | In FocusThe rise and rise of Xi Jinping | In FocusHow can India keep itself relevant in Afghanistan? | In Focus