New Delhi: From vaccines and the Ladakh standoff to the new mutant coronavirus strain and the efficacy of the farm laws, prime time debates Wednesday were spoilt for choice. The Hindi channels discussed the 7th round of talks between the farmers and the Narendra Modi government.
With the UK giving its nod to emergency authorisation of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, Times Now’s Navika Kumar held a debate on whether India will soon approve the shot.
Asked if India already has a rollout plan for the vaccine for the first week of January, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said, “I think so… There is a large body of robust data which is peer-reviewed and shows that this vaccine is safe and effective.”
Dr Veer Gupta, member of the Royal Society of Medicine, said the UK already had a head start with the Pfizer vaccine. “We haven’t had any major incidents or worries so far… in terms of side-effects… One million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have already been given.”
Asked if the mutant strain of Covid in the UK is resistant to either of the vaccines, Gupta said, “We have a dire situation on our hands… The new mutant strain allows the virus to touch our lung receptors much more effectively than was previously thought.”
With 20 cases of the new strain found in India, Guleria said it was important for India to be vigilant and proactive rather than wait for a spike of cases.
CNN News18’s Shreya Dhoundial discussed the ongoing eight-month standoff between India and China in Ladakh, especially with winter approaching.
“Has the changed status quo at the LAC frozen into the new normal? By the looks of it, the answer is yes. And China wants India to accept it. That is not happening,” she said.
On his first-hand experience in such severe conditions, Lt Gen (Retd.) D.S. Hooda said, “The biggest challenge is psychological. The feeling of being completely cut off from the rest of the world… The loneliness that creeps over soldiers… These are major things that run through people’s mind at those altitudes.”
Former diplomat Rajiv Dogra said China targeted India because it is the “strongest” of the other south Asian countries. He added that Beijing wanted to send a message to the US that it is the next “unchallenged leader of the world”.
India Today’s Rahul Kanwal interviewed economists Abhijit Banerjee and Arvind Panagariya on whether the new farm laws “will take Indian agriculture into the future” or create more problems for farmers.
“I am very much a supporter of reform. How we will sustain paying MSP over global market prices forever is an issue that we haven’t tackled and what that does is get us to grow paddy in Punjab which is a disaster,” said Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee.
However, the law leaves us certain “key pieces” which need to be spelt out, he added.
Asked if the timing is right given that the economy “collapsed” in the first quarter, Panagariya said, “The timing of anything can be questioned. Abhijit didn’t mention labour law reforms were done in, in fact, the same parliamentary session as the farm bills. Because there was no agitation on labour laws, we didn’t hear him object to those.”
He said the agricultural reforms have been underway since 2003 and the farm laws “haven’t changed the status quo in any substantive way”. He added: “APMC markets will remain there and in fact, the central government cannot remove the APMCs — this is done under the state laws… so the Punjab government can step in and assure farmers.”
On Zee News, anchor Aman Chopra asked if farmers will abandon the demand of repealing the farm laws after the 7th round of talks.
BJP’s Zafar Islam said the government is ready to help the farmers in any way, but they do not need to protest. “But some political parties do not want the protest to end. We all know what happened in the past 70 years and how things have changed after PM Modi came to power.”
Shiromani Akali Dal’s Manjinder Singh Sirsa recalled how BJP was opposing the same changes when Congress was trying to bring in these laws. “Were Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, who had given speeches and who were the leader of opposition in parliament, lying?”
On Republic Bharat, Arnab Goswami went a step ahead and called the protesters ‘Gumrah Gang’. Goswami said there is nothing in the farm laws against the farmers and it will help increase their income.
He added that at least two-three years should be given to the law. “If even then the farmers think that it is not beneficial to them, the government is here and it will listen,” he said.
A wall of myths has been created between the government and farmers by opposition parties and that has to be broken, he said.