The Prime Minister of India and all chief ministers, ministers and MPs, who have seen more than 50 winters, will be vaccinated in the second phase of vaccinations. For India, it is neighbours first. The PM and CMs come second not because the neighbours come first. The priority lists are independent of each other. On the Indian priority list, health workers come first. But seeing the vaccine hesitancy among people, the PM and CMs will take the jabs so that people are confident the jabs are safe to take.
On the global list, it is neighbours first and so vaccines from India have reached Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries. External Affairs minister S Jaishankar has called this reaching out to neighbours with vaccines as Vaccine Maitri, where vaccine is vaccine and maitri is friendship. What about Pakistan? Pakistan has approved Chinese vaccine Sinopharm but is exploring the option of getting Covishield through Covax. Covax, as you know, is a global initiative to bring together governments and manufacturers to ensure coronavirus vaccines reach those in greatest need, whoever they are and wherever they live.
Now, that is why they say never spoil your relations with immediate neighbours. What if you feel like having chai in the dead of the night and realise there is no chai patti at home?
Donald and Melania Trump have flown back home to Florida from Washington-located White House, which has been filled in by Joe and Jill Biden. And Joe Biden began cleaning up on Day 1 itself. The White House was clean so Biden began cleaning up Trump-era policies. In all, he signed 17 directives, most reversing Trump’s policies on the wall, climate, health and minorities.
Biden vowed to reunite the US, which would mean the country at some point was united. The US has had genocides, crimes against the black people, centuries of slavery, internal strifes over wars it is still fighting on foreign soil. So Biden can, we believe, try to unite the country that has remained as divided as countries across the world, including those it has attacked in the name of bridging divisions. Can he do it? Time will tell. Going back in time, we have reason to believe in Biden’s resolve to do things.
Biden yesterday delivered an over-eight-minute speech and though he is no great orator, Biden did not stutter once. The US President was bullied through much of his childhood and early adulthood because he couldn’t complete a sentence without stuttering. Born in Pennsylvania, he later went on to live in Wilmington. But Biden was bullied everywhere he went till he was about 20. How did he overcome the stutter? With the help of his mother Catherine Eugenia Finnegan. Catherine would often tell kid Joe, “Joey, don't let this define you. Joey, remember who you are. Joey, you can do it.” In an interview Joe said, “Every time I would walk out, she would reinforce me. I know that sounds silly, but it really matters.”
His deputy Kamala Harris too has spoken at length about the influence her mom Shyamala Gopalan Harris had on her life. In becoming the first US woman Vice-President, Kamala has broken convention. And Kamala is hardly known for following convention. She married when she was about 50. Popluar Hollywood movies may not show you that but being a single woman, especially in public life, is tough in the US too. Now, Kamala has been married for about six years, but do you know how she met her husband Douglas Emhoff? Well, the couple met during a blind date in 2013. Kamala, however, didn’t go all blinded. She Googled for Douglas even though her best friend who ‘set them up’ asked her not to. The temptation to do things we have been asked not to do is hell tempting.
Douglas didn’t know that Kamala had Googled him till a few days back, when the question was thrown at her during an interview in which Douglas was also present. That revelation caught Douglas off guard. What happened next? It ended well since all is well that ends in laughter.
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All is also well when it is shaped and said as poetry. And for that reason Amanda Gorman’s poem The Hill We Climb is being widely circulated since it was delivered at the presidential inauguration yesterday.
In the poem, Gorman described herself as “a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother [who] can dream of becoming President, only to find herself reciting for one”. That is the kind of stuff dreams are made of. And you don’t need to go to sleep to see those dreams. You got to stay up.
Now, let’s head back to India. The Indian men’s cricket team also came back to India today after defeating Australia in Australia. The players have about a week to spend with friends and family because the camp for the Test series against England begins January 27. Players who are not part of the camp can of course choose to decide where and how they spend their time. Virat Kohli, however, will return as captain in the series that takes off on February 5.
Kohli, as you know, today made an appearance for the first time since he became dad Kohli to his daughter. Kohli was seen with brand-new mom Anushka Sharma. The child, to everyone’s disappointment, was not seen with the couple. So, Taimur is still going strong wherever he is going with mom Kareena Kapoor and dad Saif Ali Khan.
Saif’s Tandav has, however, been chipped to cut off the controversy that has hit the web series and its makers. The controversy has since spilled over to Pankaj Tripathi-starrer Mirzapur. The Supreme Court today issued notices to the makers of Mirzapur and Amazon Prime Video over a petition filed against the show by a Mirzapur resident. A team of Mirzapur police is in Mumbai to question the makers of the show over charges that it shows UP in a bad light. You can control what OTT content-makers show, but can you control what people want to see? People believe what they want to believe irrespective of what they see. If you know what we mean.
Let’s move over to what else was seen in Mumbai apart from UP Police officials. The Sensex crossed the 50,000-mark for the first time ever. Sensex, the Word Of The Day, for this reason is basically a portmanteau. What is a portmanteau? A word that blends the sounds and combines the meanings of two others. The two words hiding in sensex are sensitive and index.
The term Sensex was coined by stock market analyst Deepak Mohoni. You see, the Indian stock market, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), was established in 1875 but did not have any index to measure its performance till 1986. The Sensex was introduced to gauge the performance of the market. So sensex comprises 30 prominent stocks from across sectors that are traded actively in the exchange market. If the sensex value goes up, it means that there is a general increase in the prices of shares but if the sensex goes down, it means there is a general decrease in the price of shares. Now, stock prices are speculative. Though one can make informed speculations – investor discretion is advised.
After the advice, the recommendation. If you are planning to try some new cuisine, we suggest Bhangui, a traditional dish from Tripura. Today is a good day to have it since today happens to be the Statehood Day for Tripura, along with Manipur and Meghalaya. If you do not have sun-dried rice, you can postpone Bhangui to tomorrow.
For today, we will take your leave. Before we cannot leave you without telling you that five people lost their lives in a fire that broke out at Serum Institute of India plant in Pune. It wasn’t the building where the coronavirus vaccine is being manufactured. In fact, the building was an under-construction centre. SII CEO Adar Poonawalla confirmed the loss of lives through his Twitter handle.
See you tomorrow.
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