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In Focus by The Hindu

A podcast from The Hindu that delves deep into current developments with subject experts, and brings in context, history, perspective and analysis.

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Replug: Coronavirus outbreak: the view from China

The Hindu's former China Correspondent Ananth Krishnan was on holiday there for two weeks during the height of the scare around the Novel Coronavirus outbreak. He describes how life came to a standstill in Beijing and how people began to blame the government for their handling of the issue, and the economic and political challenges now being faced by President Xi Jinping in the aftermath. Guest: Ananth Krishnan, former China Correspondent, The Hindu Background reading: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/analysis-for-chinas-xi-biggest-challenge-yet-comes-laden-with-risks/article30742980.ece


29 Feb 2020

Rank #1

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COVID-19: What China and South Korea are getting right, responses to the markets crash, and a regional update

As the spread of the coronavirus dominates headlines around the world our weekly international affairs round up from an Indian perspective tackles the issue form three angles. We discuss the progress made by China and South Korea, cited by the WHO, in containing the outbreak and the measures they took, look at the crash of global markets and how financial institutions reacted, and get a brief regional update from Sri Lanka and the Maldives.Guests: James Chau, World Health Organisation Goodwill Ambassador and host of the China CurrentRaghuvir Srinivasan, Business Editor, The Hindu Meera Srinivasan, Sri Lanka Correspondent, The HinduWrite to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


13 Mar 2020

Rank #2

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Coronavirus daily update — power system concerns, guidelines for antibody testing and masks

In this 16th episode of our coverage of COVID-19–related developments, we try and cover a flurry of updates in a somewhat rapid fire way. Once again, India reported its highest single-day spike in cases on Saturday, as the Indian Council for Medical Research released new guidelines on antibody-testing and the Health Ministry seems to largely be prescribing the use of ‘homemade face protectors’.We also discuss Air India flights being chartered to repatriate foreign citizens from India but not being able to bring back Indian citizens, and the various concerns over the power grid’s capacity to deal with Prime Minister Modi’s nine-minute challenge on Sunday.(Recorded on April 4, 2020)Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


5 Apr 2020

Rank #3

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Coronavirus daily update | Perspective on World Malaria Day, repatriation of Indians in the Gulf and optimistic govt numbers on growth of cases

On World Malaria Day, we get a perspective on India’s battle with a disease that still remains a significant challenge even if it’s very much out of the news at the moment. We also have reports on Indian citizens from the Gulf who will be repatriated first after flight restrictions are lifted and on a government panel projection on the slowing of new coronavirus cases thanks to the lockdown.Recorded on April 25, 2020Guest: Kaushik Sarkar, India technical lead, Malaria No More India; Suhasini Haidar, National Affairs Editor, The Hindu; Jacob Koshy, Deputy Science Editor, The Hindu.Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


26 Apr 2020

Rank #4

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Coronavirus | One month into lockdown, a numbers comparison among States, and South Asian countries

As we complete one month of the national lockdown, we look at the government's recent statement that the growth of cases in India has been linear and not exponential thanks to the lockdown having being imposed. And while talk of national numbers is well and good, the more important datasets, perhaps, are how individual States are handling the spread of the virus, and the testing rates and strategies they are deploying. We map those divergent trajectories in this episode and look ahead to what we need to analyse moving forward.Guest: Srinivasan Ramani, Deputy National Editor, The Hindu.Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.inAlso track: https://www.thehindu.com/data/covid-19-state-wise-tracker-for-coronavirus-cases-deaths-and-testing-rates/article31248444.ece?homepage=true


25 Apr 2020

Rank #5

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Coronavirus | Expert View: The mathematics of an outbreak

Guest: Adam Kucharski, Associate Professor and Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Kucharski specialises in the mathematical analysis of infectious disease outbreaks.Host: Narayan Lakshman, Associate Editor, The Hindu


27 Mar 2020

Rank #6

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Coronavirus | Expert view | Tackling COVID-19 the Swedish way: No Lockdown

While most other countries around the world ave opted for some form of aggressive lockdown strategy Sweden adopted a more relaxed approach, keeping many establishments open. The strategy seemed to aim at defeating the disease by achieving 'herd immunity' an idea that seems to have gained some currency in India recently. How have they fared in this approach and what are the problems associated with this strategy.Interview by G. Sampath, Social Affairs Editor, The HinduGuest: Carina King, Infectious Diseases Epidemiologist with the Department of Global Public Health, at Karolinska Institute, Solna, Sweden.Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


16 Apr 2020

Rank #7

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Coronavirus daily update — Crisis in the U.S, and ‘staggered exit’ strategy post lockdown

To start off the 14th episode of our daily updates on COVID-19, U.S. Correspondent Sriram Lakshman describes the alarming numbers being reported in the United States — over 120,000 cases, with New York City death toll alone passing 1,000 — the response of the Trump administration and the economic impact that is already being felt by millions.We round it with quick updates by National Editor Suhasini Haidar on Prime Minister Modi’s call with Chief Ministers on Thursday to discuss a coordinated strategy for coming out of the 21-day lockdown, and Strategic Affairs Editor Atul Aneja, who is reporting on a looming problem in the Gulf countries — 23 Indians were diagnosed with COVId-19 in Kuwait on Thursday.Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


3 Apr 2020

Rank #8

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Coronavirus daily update | PM discusses lockdown-exit with States, ICMR cautions against using faulty rapid test kits

As the last week of the 40-day lockdown begins, the Prime Minister held a video conference with Chief Ministers on April 27, and indicated that any exit from the lockdown would be gradational in terms of resuming economic activity, with particular emphasis still being placed on bringing down the case load in ‘red zones’. The ICMR, meanwhile, has asked States to stop using antibody test kits supplied by two Chinese companies. We will discuss that with National Editor Suhasini Haidar, who has also interviewed India’s ambassador to China.Plus, a quick update on Tamil Nadu imposing more stringent lockdown measures in five cities and the reasoning behind it with T.N. Bureau Chief Ramya Kannan.Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


27 Apr 2020

Rank #9

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Coronavirus daily update — States’ strategy to exit lockdown, and the BCG vaccine hypothesis

Besides the obvious news point in the Prime Minister’s video address on Friday, there’s more to discuss about the staggered exit from the 21-day lockdown that the PM discussed with Chief Ministers on Thursday, and we’ll give you a broad overview of the factors that need to be taken into consideration in this regard. Our Tamil Nadu Chief of Bureau Ramya Kannan joins us in this discussion.We also have an update on the latest COVID-19 numbers in India and a quick explainer from our Deputy Science Editor Jacob Koshy on whether the BCG vaccine could indeed give us an immunological advantage in the battle against the novel coronavirus, as an academic study has claimed.Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


4 Apr 2020

Rank #10

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The controversy around Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s Rajya Sabha nomination

Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who retired four months ago as Chief Justice of India, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha on March 16. The nomination, coming so soon after his retirement is bound to raise questions of a quid pro quo and there will be a scanner now on judgments that he delivered and administrative actions that he took that favoured the government. In this episode, we discuss two notable instances of jurists being appointed to Parliament — both controversial instances — and what various people have said over the years about judges accepting post retirement postings.Guest: K Venkataramanan, Associate Editor, The HinduWrite to us with comments or feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


18 Mar 2020

Rank #11

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Delhi violence: an update on the latest developments

The death toll in clashed between pro and anti-CAA protesters in northeast Delhi rose to 27 on February 26 as the Delhi High Court came down hard on the police for not acting in time to halt the spread of the violence. What's been the response of the political parties and what can we expect next?Guest: Amit Baruah, Resident Editor, Delhi, The HinduAlso read | Analysis: Centre, Delhi govt. are both responsible for inadequate response to riots in city


26 Feb 2020

Rank #12

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Battling Coronavirus: How Kerala draws lessons from the 2018 Nipah outbreak

The 2018 Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala claimed 17 lives but also resulted in the State setting up a sophisticated surveillance and detection system to contain future outbreaks. In this episode, a top virologist who led the battle to contain the Nipah outbreak, speaks of the steps that Kerala can now take in containing the Novel Coronavirus, the what is yet to be learnt about the new outbreak and the lessons that other States can take.Guest: Dr. G Arunkumar, Director, Manipal Institute of Virology


10 Feb 2020

Rank #13

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How badly will the economy be affected by the COVID-19 lockdown and what can the government do to help?

In this episode, we deal with the crucial question of what this lockdown will mean for our economy and what measures the government can take to deal with it. Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman announced some measures but a full-scale economic stimulus package is still yet to come. Going briefly over the Finance Minister’s announcements today, The Hindu’s business editor Raghuvir Srinivasan goes into what a stimulus package should look like, what the government can do for individuals and companies.Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


25 Mar 2020

Rank #14

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PM Modi’s speech and where we stand now on COVID-19 in India

We start a new series today, sometimes as a stand-alone, and sometimes as a bonus episode added to our discussions on other topics, about the spread of COVID-19 in India, chronicling and discussing major developments. Today we discuss Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation. While he struck a serious and sombre tone, did we learn anything new at a policy level about India’s strategy to deals with the spread of the virus?Guests: Suhasini Haidar, National Editor, The Hindu & Jacob Koshy, Deputy Science Editor, The Hindu


19 Mar 2020

Rank #15

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Coronavirus | Expert View: Scientific awareness in the time of the COVID outbreak

It is becoming increasingly crucial for people to have awareness and knowledge about COVID-19, how the virus spreads, and the reasoning behind measures like social distancing. Especially in times of great anxiety, various conspiracies theories tend to sprout up and, in response to health emergencies, several dubious ideas on medicine and treatment also come up.In conversation with one of India’s foremost science educators, we talk about the current level of scientific awareness in India, the communication to the public about the disease, and the opportunity this sort of a situation offers for informing and educating people about virology, health and safety.Guest: T.V. Venkateshwaran, Science Educator, Senior Scientist at Vigyan Prasar, New Delhi.Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


18 Apr 2020

Rank #16

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Decoding Donald Trump’s India visit

United States President Donald Trump’s visit to India was marked by a lot of spectacle and bonhomie between him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In this episode, we analyse the impact and policy outcomes from the visit. Host: Narayan Lakshman, Associate Editor, The Hindu Guests: Michael Kugelman, Senior Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, and Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow on India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.


28 Feb 2020

Rank #17

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Coronavirus daily update — An HCQ pilot project in Dharavi, and questions over lack of testing kits

As we recorded this episode, the suspense of the Prime Minister's 10 a.m. address on April 14 loomed over us, because we were largely unsure still of the specifics of any kind of announcement regarding an extension of the national lockdown. In this episode, we bring to you update about a new pilot project in Mumbai’s Dharavi area where hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) will be administered at a community level as a prophylaxis or preventive. We also get an update on the HCQ export situation (as questions continue to be asked about availability) and we get the latest from the Health Ministry briefings and questions now about the shortage of COVID-19 testing kits. (Recorded late on April 13, 2020) Guests: Jyoti Shelar, Health Reporter, The Hindu; Suhasini Haidar, National Editor, The Hindu; Jacob Koshy, Deputy Science Editor, The Hindu


14 Apr 2020

Rank #18

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The Iowa Caucus fiasco and Trump’s impeachment acquittal: a U.S. politics round-up

In this episode we do a quick catch up with three major news events that all seemed to occur virtually simultaneously in the U.S. The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump ended with his acquittal by the United States Senate. Mr Trump then proceeded to deliver a State of the Union Speech that was something of a victory lap. Meanwhile the Democratic primary process to pick a challenger to go up against Mr Trump in the November election got off to a rocky start with controversy surrounding the Iowa caucuses.Guest: Narayan Lakshman, Associate Editor and former U.S. correspondent, The Hindu


8 Feb 2020

Rank #19

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Coronavirus | Shashi Tharoor on how the WHO has handled the COVID-19 pandemic

The WHO is facing arguably its biggest-ever crisis, with questions being raised over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States has said it will cut its funding to the WHO while many other nations are calling for reforms. Is the criticism being mounted against the WHO justified and where does the world body go from here?Interview by Ananth Krishnan, The HinduGuest: Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP, former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations.Write to us with comments and feedback at socmed4@thehindu.co.in


20 Apr 2020

Rank #20