21:27 GMT26 July 2021
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    India's federal government began a free vaccination programme for all adults above the age of 18 from Monday. The Narendra Modi government has now taken over the role of procurement and supply which was originally the responsibility of state governments. On the first day of vaccination, India has vaccinated more than eight million people.

    On Tuesday, the leader of India's Opposition, parliamentarian Priyanka Chaturvedi, laid into the University Grant Commission (UGC) - India's statutory education body - for asking universities and colleges to put up banners thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for starting inoculation under the revised vaccination policy.

    ​"The Government of India is starting free vaccinations for those aged 18 years and above from June 21. For this, universities and colleges are kindly requested to display these hoardings/banners in their institutions," UGC secretary Rajnish Jain wrote in a letter dated 20 June to the vice-chancellors of various universities. 

    ​UGC revealed the design of the posters which are in Hindi and English and bear the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

    On Monday, the deputy chief of Delhi's ruling party, Manish Sisodia, also claimed that the central government is putting pressure on officials in Delhi to publish advertisements in newspapers, thanking Modi for the centralised free vaccination drive.

    ​Meanwhile, several BJP-ruled states such as Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka have published advertisements in newspapers thanking the Modi government for providing free COVID-19 vaccines. Health ministry officials pointed out that BJP-ruled states performed outstandingly in rolling out the inoculations and that they accounted for around 70 percent of all the vaccinations on Monday.

    India administered more than 8.6 million COVID-19 vaccines on Monday, the highest number achieved in a single day since the drive started on 16 January. The Narendra Modi government announced it would revise the vaccine procurement policy after weeks of criticism over a shortage of doses.

    According to the new policy, the federal government will procure 75 percent of the doses from manufacturers and allocate them to states. The remaining 25 percent at the pharmaceutical firms will be bought by private hospitals.

    India registered just above 42,000 new cases in the past 24 hours, the lowest in 91 days and a long way down from last month's peak of well over 401,200. During the devastating second wave of COVID-19 which started in mid-April this year, India has reported more than 150,000 deaths - roughly half the number of deaths the country has witnessed because of COVID-19.


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