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.For sense on how vaccines are priced
An avoidable controversy has been created, alleging that Serum Institute of India is engaging in price-gouging by setting a price of Rs 400 per dose for vaccines sold to state governments and Rs 600 per dose for doses sold to private hospitals for its version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This is absurd and unfair, right at the outset. Serum Institute is being forced to sell to the central government at a price of Rs 150 per dose, which does not leave it with any surplus for investing in new capacity, vitally needed to supply the billions of doses the world needs to combat the pandemic.
Assuming that 25% of its output for domestic sales would go to private hospitals and another 25% to state governments, the average realised price from domestic sales would be Rs 325 per dose. If private sales are only 10% of the output, realised price would be only Rs 245 per dose. Private hospitals and state governments are facing higher prices because of the ultra-low central procurement price. Vaccine prices are not homogeneous things. They vary depending on assured volumes, upfront payment, duration of the contract, bundling with other products, discounts and rebates. The US, Britain and the EU made huge upfront payments and purchase commitments and obtained lower prices. The Indian government did not make any upfront payments. Serum Institute invested money in additional capacity to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine even before the vaccine successfully completed Phase 3 trials, taking a huge risk, for which the nation, indeed, the world should salute them. It is only now, with vaccine shortage staring the nation starkly in the face, that the government has come forward to fund additional vaccine capacity.
The price for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is coming out even higher. Ideally, the Centre should buy out its intellectual property rights, free up the knowhow for the vaccine to be produced by multiple players and increase supplies. Profits are what allows reinvestment to add capacity, even in the vaccine business.
2.American opportunity via climate action
Joe Biden has committed to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% from its 2005 levels by 2030, en route to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The US commitment, along with the legally binding targets set by the UK and the EU, signal a radical transformation of the global economy, technologies, associated jobs and geopolitics. India must play a proactive role as a willing and capable partner in this process, instead of playing either victim or catch-up.
Achieving these targets will call for radical decarbonisation of the energy sector, significant changes to urban planning to reduce commutes, investments in public transport, changes to architectural design and building material use, better ways to heat and cool buildings, and switching away from fossil fuels for personal mobility. This transition will change the global energy map completely. It will alter the relationship with West Asia, and as the energy choices tilt to the clean and renewable, open up opportunities for partnerships. Even as the Indo-Pacific gets entrenched as the primary site of strategic rivalry, combating climate change will necessitate cooperation between America and China in a number of areas. Oil- and gas-dependent Russia will be forced to innovate. India can be a proactive partner in all these developing areas. The India-US climate and clean energy agenda 2030 announced by Narendra Modi at the Earth Day Leaders Summit on Climate is an example of the emerging partnerships.
Every segment of the economy and trade, and not just energy, will be altered. This radical transformation will present difficult choices, but India must recognise this transition presents an opportunity for growth at the cutting edge.
3.SOS from Delhi: And Lucknow, Bengaluru, Indore, Jalandhar … Medical supply chains need urgent shoring
Times of India’s Edit Page team comprises senior journalists with wide-ranging interests who debate and opine on the news and issues of the day.
The SOS calls emanating from hospitals is the greatest crisis to hit India in decades. And we need urgent public action to mitigate the extremely stressful conditions that healthcare workers in cities and villages across India are toiling under. In the historic capital city Delhi, hospitals running out of medical oxygen every few hours are petitioning Delhi high court to replenish scarce supplies. Already, too many patients have died across cities because of inadequate oxygen. Helpless healthcare workers, patients and their families could do with greater assistance from governments.
For starters, governments and local bodies should take over the task of finding ICU beds, oxygen supply and medicines instead of forcing patients and their families to perform this onerous task, when their reserves of resilience are at the lowest ebb. Reports abound of desperate patients fruitlessly visiting countless hospitals, oxygen refuelling centres and pharmacies. States that find themselves swamped need to belatedly replicate the Tamil Nadu and Kerala triaging models that neatly segregate Covid patients based on disease severity and offer them appropriate public healthcare facilities.
More field hospitals are needed. Hospitals are convergence zones for treatments, testing and vaccination. With demand for all three services peaking concurrently, the net result is that hospitals are unable to scale up each function with healthcare workers unable to deal with the crowds thronging hospitals. Freeing up hospitals to focus on critical care requires field hospitals for those needing just oxygen supply. Makeshift first-line treatment centres and isolation centres can help those with moderate and mild symptoms and others without facilities for home care. Segregating vaccination and testing sites too will give much-needed elbow room to embattled healthcare workers.
Their finite supply and the exploding numbers of careseekers leave no option but tapping NGOs, that much harried voluntary sector which valiantly fills up the gaping holes in the social safety nets that governments leave behind. Union home ministry’s FCRA amendments have choked many NGOs but in the hour of crisis they have stood up to be counted, delivering everything from oxygen cylinders to running ambulances and food kitchens. Their manacles need loosening. With thousands of lives lost and many more hanging in the balance, accountability cannot be evaded for governance failures that exacerbated the second wave. Even if there is too much other work to do today, those who failed the people must be identified and chastened tomorrow.
4.Theatre of humanity: Both tragedy and solidarity have played out on social media, but there is more to it
As the country, caught unawares, writhes under the second wave of Covid, social media has become a space of anguish and succour. The highs and lows of human experience are out there in the open, for all to see. As they struggled with the virus, people appealed for help and amplified each other. They shared vitals in real time, requesting oxygen, medicines, beds. Others verified and shared resources. As the crisis became an emergency, hospitals themselves took to Twitter warning that oxygen levels had depleted, that it was a matter of hours. Where the system creaks and collapses, activists, political organisations and volunteers have taken it upon themselves to arrange logistics and supplies.
Others did what they could – some organised meals for those in quarantine, some offered to run errands. Experts put out explanatory threads allaying fears. Pictures on social media also gave the lie to official statistics, as pyres burnt and hospitals spilled over. It was here that people broke the news of death, grieved and consoled. These stories of individual aid testify to the failure of state capacities, and also the mobilising potential of digital networks. But while spontaneous organising is easier than ever on social media, information overload and noise also go with the territory. There has been a lot of dangerous misinformation, about everything from how the virus spreads to how to cure it or protect from it.
Of course, social media only shows us a better-off fraction of India. Those whose plight cannot make it to these platforms are also more likely to lack material protection from infection, and have less access to medical and social support. These voices remain largely unheard. There are no digital workarounds here, the pandemic has thrown real inequalities into sharp relief.
5.A universal vaccine drive | HT Editorial
For almost two months after India began its coronavirus vaccination drive, infection rates were among the world’s lowest. In this period, vaccine uptake was hampered by widespread hesitancy and many experts, as well as this newspaper, advocated for the government to abandon its tiered strategy. The suggestions were implemented eventually, but not before this devastating wave of infections gathered momentum. India also ignored several indicators that invariably foreshadow the resurgence of an epidemic: The reproduction number of the virus began inching up in mid-February, and the test positivity rate followed three weeks later. These examples underscore a basic approach policymaking needs in a pandemic: Interventions need to be proactive, not reactive.
The experiences of other countries explicitly chart out the two paths India could find itself on. It can either go down the route taken by Israel, the United Kingdom (UK) or the United States (US), where life is now returning to normal; or it can follow the path of Brazil, which has some of the highest per capita casualties for a populous country and has turned into a hotbed for dangerous new variants. All of these countries suffered large outbreaks, but the three that turned it around did so with large-scale vaccinations. These examples have been known to our policymakers for some time now and while India’s large population presents tougher challenge than these countries dealt with, the learning is clear: India must make sure the universal vaccination drive it has allowed starting May 1 is a success (and, if possible, should start the process from Monday or Tuesday) .With constraints on eligibility removed, there’s no reason why five million or even 10 million vaccine doses can’t be administered a day.