1. Vostok-2022 begins in Russia with India, China participating
U.S. criticises India’s attendance in the joint military exercise
An Indian Army contingent comprising troops from 7/8 Gorkha Rifles is participating in the multilateral strategic and command exercise ‘Vostok-2022’ which commenced on Friday at the training grounds of the eastern military district in Russia. The exercise also includes participation by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
“The exercise is aimed at interaction and coordination amongst other participating military contingents and observers,” the Army said in a statement. The exercise is scheduled to be held from Sept. 01 to 07.
The Indian Army contingent, over the next seven days, will undertake joint manoeuvres to include field training exercises, combat discussions, and firepower exercises, it said.
Russia has stated that Vostok-2022 will be conducted in two phases. Participating contingents include observers from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and other partner states including Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and Tajikistan, said Russian Deputy Defence Minister Colonel General Alexander for foreign military attachés in a briefing in Moscow.
India also defended its participation in the exercises in response to U.S. criticism. “India has been regularly participating in multilateral exercises in Russia, along with a number of other countries,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, stressing that the Vostok exercises were routine, and added that they would only include Army contingents.
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi was responding to comments by the U.S. White House Press Secretary who said that “the U.S. has concerns about any country exercising with Russia while Russia wages an unprovoked brutal war against Ukraine.”
2. Seven States cold to Centre’s crime portal
Cri-MAC was launched to share info on significant crimes across the country
At least seven States and one Union Territory have given the cold shoulder to the Centre’s online platform meant to share information and coordinate action among law enforcement agencies on serious criminal incidents, including human trafficking, data show.
The Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC) was launched in 2020 by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to share information on crime and criminals 24×7 with various law enforcement agencies and ensure a seamless flow of information among them. The application run by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) aims to help in early detection and prevention of crime incidents across the country.
West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim and Union Territory of Dadra, Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu have not uploaded a single alert on Cri-MAC since the portal was launched in March 2020.
Delhi, Assam and Haryana uploaded the maximum number of alerts on the portal, which included information on the release of a hardened criminal from jail or an incident of terror, murder, dacoity among others.
As on July 1, the number of alerts uploaded on the portal stood at 35,145 though there are 16,361 police stations in the country.
The MHA held a meeting with State nodal officers on August 17 on steps to curb human trafficking.
The Home Ministry said “Cri-MAC facilitates dissemination of information about significant crimes, including human trafficking across the country on real-time basis and enables inter-State coordination. This can, inter-alia, help in locating and identifying the trafficked victims as also in prevention, detection and investigation of crime.” In a presentation to States, the MHA said the “Government of India recognises that human trafficking is a grave crime” and attaches high importance to the efforts directed at preventing and countering it.
It said human trafficking was a highly organised crime often involving inter-State gangs.
The MHA cautioned that human trafficking cases are not registered under Sections 370/370A of the IPC by some authorities and requested to make optimal use of the penal Sections.
It urged States to sensitise and train police personnel to keep a close watch on suspicious activities and persons.
3. Indian-made HPV vaccine this year
India’s first indigenously developed vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, CERVAVAC, will likely cost ₹200-400 a shot and be commercially available later this year, Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India (SII), said on the sidelines of a launch event here on Thursday.
CERVAVAC, developed by SII, was approved by the Drug Controller General of India in July. The event also underlined the role of the Indian government, particularly the Department of Biotechnology, in facilitating trials and investments in the vaccine candidate.
CERVAVAC is a quadrivalent vaccine, meaning it is effective against at least four variants of cancer-causing Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and resulted from a partnership of DBT’s Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that supported Serum’s development efforts.
Annually, about 1.25 lakh women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and over 75,000 die from the disease in India. Close to 83% of invasive cervical cancers in India and and 70% of cases worldwide are attributed to HPV-types 16 or 18. HPV transmission is influenced by sexual activity and age. Almost 75% of all sexually active adults are likely to be infected with at least one HPV type. A vast majority of the infections resolve itself.
4. UN accuses China of Uighur rights abuses
China denounces the HRC report as a ‘patchwork of false information cooked up’ by Western nations
Associated Press Geneva
The UN accused China of serious human rights violations that may amount to “crimes against humanity” in a report examining a crackdown on Uighurs and other ethnic groups. Beijing on Thursday denounced the assessment as a fabrication cooked up by Western nations.
Human rights groups have accused China of sweeping a million or more people from the minority groups into detention camps, where many have said they were tortured, sexually assaulted, and forced to abandon their language and religion. The camps were just one part of what the rights organisations have called a ruthless campaign against extremism in the far western province of Xinjiang that also included draconian birth control policies and restrictions on people’s movement.
The assessment from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (HRC) largely corroborated earlier reporting by researchers, advocacy groups and the news media, and it added the weight of the world body to the conclusions.
Still, among Uighurs who have fled overseas, there was a palpable sense of relief that the report had finally seen the light of day.
“The report is pretty damning, and a strong indictment on China’s crimes against humanity,” said Rayhan Asat, a Uighur lawyer, whose brother is imprisoned in Xinjiang. “For years, the Chinese government has said the Uighurs are terrorists. Now, we can point to them and say, you’re the terrorists.”
Human rights groups, Japan and Germany quickly welcomed the report.
The assessment concluded that China has committed serious human rights violations under its anti-terrorism and anti-extremism policies and calls for “urgent attention” from the UN, the world community and China itself to address them.
Human rights groups renewed calls for the UN rights body, which meets next month, to set up an independent body to investigate the allegations. But China showed no sign of backing off its denials.
“The assessment is a patchwork of false information that serves as political tools for the U.S. and other Western countries to strategically use Xinjiang to contain China,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said. “It again shows that the UN Human Rights Office has been reduced to an enforcer and accomplice of the U.S. and other Western nations.”
In a sign of China’s fury, it issued a 122-page rebuttal, entitled “Fight against Terrorism and Extremism in Xinjiang: Truth and Facts,” that was posted by the UN along with the report.
5. UN inspectors arrive at Ukraine nuclear plant amid shelling
A UN inspection team arrived at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday on a mission to safeguard it from catastrophe, reaching the site amid heavy shelling that prompted the shutdown of one reactor and underscored the urgency and danger of the task.
The 14-member team from the International Atomic Energy Agency reached Europe’s biggest nuclear plant in a convoy of SUVs and vans, after months of negotiations to get inside the complex and take steps to prevent a disaster on the continent. The inspectors were led by IAEA director Rafael Grossi.
Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company, said Russian mortar shelling had led to the shutdown of one of its reactors by its emergency protection system and had damaged a backup power supply line used for in-house needs.
“There has been increased military activity, including this morning until very recently,” Mr. Grossi said during the journey.