India’s loss making national carrier Air India has been sold to the Tata group, the country’s largest conglomerate. The government has sold the airline to the company, which was the highest bidder at nearly $2.4bn. The Tata group originally founded the airline in 1932 before it was taken over by the government in 1953. The government had for years been trying to sell the airline, which has racked up losses worth $9.5bn.
The death of a 24-year-old Indian woman, who had set herself on fire last week after alleging harassment by police and judiciary at the behest of an MP she had accused of rape, has once again put the spotlight on the shameful treatment of women in India. The woman had accused Atul Rai, an MP from the regional Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), of raping her.
India’s excess deaths during the pandemic could be a staggering 10 times the official COVID-19 toll, likely making it modern India’s worst human tragedy, according to the most comprehensive research yet on the ravages of the virus in the south Asian country. Most experts believe India’s official toll of more than 414,000 dead is a vast undercount, but the government has dismissed those concerns as exaggerated and misleading.
Several Indian states are considering implementing a controversial two-child policy and incentivizing sterilization as a means of population control. The state of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with a population larger than Brazil, has announced draft legislation which would see anyone with more than two children denied state benefits, subsidies and government jobs. After a family has two children, there will also be incentives if one of the parents undergoes voluntary sterilization.
Major Indian states that have been virus hotpots are easing restrictions as Covid case numbers continue to fall. National capital Delhi and financial hub, Mumbai, are among the cities that are opening partially. This comes in the wake of a crushing second wave that saw hospital beds, medicines and even oxygen run short as cases spiked and deaths rose.
India’s coronavirus death toll has passed 300,000 after 4,454 new fatalities were reported in daily figures. Total COVID-linked deaths stand at 303,720, the country’s health ministry said. It is the third highest behind the US and Brazil, but experts believe the true number is much higher. India’s coronavirus surge has been showing signs of improvement in cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai but is still causing a terrible toll in rural areas.
At least 21 people have been killed and nearly 100 others missing after a monster cyclone slammed into western India, compounding the misery for millions of others who are enduring a devastating coronavirus surge. Hundreds of thousands of people were without power after Cyclone Tauktae, one of a growing number of increasingly severe storms in the Arabian Sea blamed on climate change, hammered the Gujarat coast on Monday evening.
A deadly cyclone is bearing down on India’s western coast, as authorities scramble to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people. Cyclone Tauktae, which has already killed six people in southern parts of the COVID-ravaged country, was expected to make landfall on Monday evening in Gujarat state with winds of up to 109 miles per hour. Forecasters from the India Meteorological Department warned of possible extensive damage from high winds, heavy rainfall and flooding in low-lying areas.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has failed to win a key state in elections held amid record Covid-19 deaths and cases. The BJP targeted West Bengal heavily during campaigning but the state was comfortably held by the incumbent, Mamata Banerjee, a fierce Modi critic. Elections also went ahead in Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala states as well as the territory of Pondicherry (Puducherry).
The first US emergency aid to India has arrived as the country battles a devastating surge in Covid-19 cases which has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums. A Super Galaxy military transporter carrying more than 400 oxygen cylinders and other hospital equipment and nearly 1m rapid coronavirus tests landed at Delhi’s international airport on Friday. India set another daily record rise of cases, with 386,452 new infections.