News & Events
In this section, we are presenting our readers/aspirants compilation of selected editorials of national daily viz. The Hindu, The live mint,The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, PIB etc. This section caters the requirement of Civil Services Mains (GS + Essay) , PCS, HAS Mains (GS + Essay) & others essay writing competition.
1.National emergency, national response
With India recording more than 3 lakh new Covid-19 cases for the second day in a row, it is critical to become proactive, instead of being merely reactive, in combating the pandemic. It is also vital to ensure that all levels of the federal polity work in coordination. At his meeting with the chief ministers of the 10 worst-affected states, Narendra Modi’s message was simple: there would be no scarcity of resources if everyone pulled together as one nation. This is sound enough. The point is to live up to that maxim from all sides.
Mamata Banerjee evidently failed to show the cooperative spirit when she objected to allocating 200 mt of the oxygen produced in the state for use in states with rising shortage of medical oxygen. It is unfortunate the second wave struck in the midst of a heated election campaign in five states. The top leaders of the government lack conviction when they now urge people to conduct themselves in a Covid-appropriate manner, after having failed to dissuade large assemblies to hear their campaign speeches and to ensure social distancing and mask wearing at campaign events. However, the prime minister’s call to the states to take strict measures to deal with hoarding and black marketing is well taken. This is particularly important, as critical drugs are becoming unavailable due to hoarding, leading to avoidable deaths of Covid patients. Once the immediate crisis is over, it is important to understand why states did not comply with advisories and requests for information that were issued by the Centre.
The vaccination programme is vital to containing the pandemic. It runs the risk of being splintered, after the recent change in the norms for sale and distribution of the vaccines. Central oversight and coordination are vital, even after states start procuring and delivering the vaccines on their own. At an all-India level, the vaccination rate among healthcare and frontline workers is 37% and 26% among the 60-plus age group. Their coverage must go up, as a priority.
2. Act on shortage of Covid drugs, too
On top of a shortage of medical oxygen in the places that need them most, reports emerge of a shortage of assorted drugs used in the treatment of Covid. A hint of shortage leads to our ‘prudent’ citizens and ‘greedy’ merchants stocking up on the drugs in question, aggravating the shortage. The market would sort this problem out — eventually, by which time the country would have experienced much avoidable human suffering. Coordinated action by the government alone can bring fast relief.
There are three parts to the solution. One is to increase the production and distribution of Covid-related therapeutics, comprising steroids, anti-inflammatories, anti-virals, antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections, anaesthetics that are essential when patients are put on a ventilator, simple anti-pyretics to combat fever, vitamins and supplements, and a range of drugs such as ivermectin and remdesivir that have been found to have some efficacy in reducing the virus load. Even reputed hospitals are known to ask the patient’s relatives to procure the needed supplies of drugs, instead of getting hold of these directly. A nodal agency in the government should ask all manufacturers of the drugs in question to step up production to their full capacity, identify manufacturing facilities that can switch, in part or full, to manufacturing the drugs in short supply, place orders for anticipated quantities of these drugs, with the promise to make good the loss on any unsold inventories of the fiat output. The second part is swift authorisation for emergency use of new therapies as and when they come on stream.
The third part is indigenous R&D, to create new effective cures. This is tough, but the rewards would be proportionately great, as well.
3.Step up, America: Reform your vaccine policy to help the world
On February 4, US President Joe Biden delivered a speech to situate his country’s place in the world. America is back and will engage with the world to meet challenges of today and tomorrow, he said. It’s time for him to redeem his pledge in the fight against Covid-19. The US has set an impressive pace in vaccinating its people over the last three months. It’s fully vaccinated around 35% of its adult population and about 52% have received at least one dose. Its supply pipeline is adequate to vaccinate every willing adult in a month.
In this backdrop, two aspects are jarring. Last week, more than 5.2 million cases were reported globally, the most in a single week so far. Concurrently, the US is holding on to a stockpile of vaccines that it no longer needs. AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine hasn’t even been cleared by the US regulator. Yet, the country has a reserve of reportedly 20 million doses, with more in the pipeline. Those vaccines need to be used immediately in countries facing a surge. It’s not right to hoard them when just a handful of countries have consumed most of the 800 odd million doses used so far.
Second, the US has used a wartime measure, Defence Production Act, to disrupt the vaccine supply chain by preventing exports of crucial ingredients. India’s Serum Institute’s collaboration with Novavax is a victim of it. The US doesn’t face a crisis today. The DPA needs to be withdrawn. Finally, the effort at WTO by India and South Africa, among others, to dilute the stringency of intellectual property rules for the Covid-19 fight needs consideration. After all, compulsory licensing in an emergency is a WTO-compliant provision. America’s strategic interests can’t be divorced from its pandemic response globally and humanely.
4.Stick it to the man: Gender-neutral terms in cricket are welcome
Following a long conversation in Australia, the cricketing world is seeing a slow switch to gender-neutral terms like ‘batter’ and ‘player of the match’, rather than batsman and man of the match. While there have been some mutters of resistance, and predictable gripes about the ‘woke’ invasion of everything, many people on messaging forums seem to see the logic of inclusive language.
Ending the ingrained male universal in our language is important. What we say is how we think. When we use ‘mankind’ to mean humans, or ‘chairman’ implying that authority is naturally male, or ‘aam admi’ to casually exclude more than half the world, it entrenches the norm, it renders everyone else a misfit. Sure, many cricketers who are female have gamely accepted being called batsmen, but that still makes them anomalies in a world where men easily belong.
Of course changing a word here or there won’t be enough to level gender discrimination. Mithali Raj earns about 7% of what Virat Kohli makes. There are also wide gaps in sponsorship because women’s cricket is less popular than men’s. But popularity is not spontaneous, it is also created. The bias and disinterest feed themselves – less compelling camerawork and commentary make women’s sports less exciting to watch, which then provides the rationale for the difference in treatment. But as cricket and the wider world confront gender bias and get beyond it, tomorrow may be more equal than today.
5.A new social welfare toolkit
There is renewed distress. There has to be renewed effort to aid the poor by the State. The country’s poor will need money to survive, access nutrition and health facilities, continue the education of their children, and cope with rising prices on one hand and lack of income-generating opportunities on the other. It is time to roll-out a new welfare toolkit
The Centre, on Friday, announced that it would provide 5 kg free food grains to the poor for May and June, covering nearly 800 million beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The plan will be rolled out along the same lines as the PM Garib Kalyan Yojna, announced in the wake of the national lockdown last year. Friday’s announcement is welcome, and comes in the wake of a record number of coronavirus cases and deaths, lockdown-like restrictions in many states, and clear signs of economic distress. Like last year, this year too, the worst-hit is the informal sector.
The ongoing reverse migration from cities to villages — though not of the same scale as last year, yet — is an example of this distress. However, providing just food grains will not be enough for the returning migrants as well as for the vulnerable across India’s towns and villages. What they need is a basket of options to sustain themselves. The first-ever task force on migration, the working group on migration, which was formed by the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation in 2015, had several sound proposals: Ensure social protection by setting up unorganised workers social security boards; institute simple and effective modes for workers to register; improve access to the public distribution system (PDS); provide access to skill development and financial inclusion.