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.Eye of the bird: To ensure 267 crore vaccine doses come through by December, make advance payments
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan’s statement that India will procure 51 crore vaccine doses by July and another 216 crore doses by December to inoculate the entire adult population this year needs concrete actions to realise a majestic goal. When vaccination started in January, the target was to fully vaccinate 30 crore citizens in various priority groups by July. This required 60 crore doses. But four months later, India has administered just over 19 crore doses. To touch 60 crore doses by July end, 58 lakh daily jabs are needed. But the past week’s best performance was 17 lakh doses dispensed on May 15.
The ‘Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National Vaccination’ strategy announced on April 19 was expected to catalyse production and supply. Centre reserved 50% of all doses, leaving the rest for state governments and private sector, with Centre deciding each state’s procurement quota. Additionally, states could import vaccines. Benefits aren’t discernible yet. But Centre’s Rs 2,472 crore payout on April 28 for 16 crore Covishield-Covaxin doses signalled course correction from earlier piecemeal-contracting blunders. Given Centre’s remit over emergency use authorisation for vaccines, too many uncertainties dog states floating global tenders. Clarity on EUA status may evince more interest from Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines.
Signalling more transparency, Centre has promised states 5.86 crore doses between May 1 and June 15. Further, it has communicated SII and Bharat Biotech’s willingness to supply states 4.87 crore doses until June-end. Such advance disclosure to states of vaccine availability was unfortunately missing earlier. Additionally, all advance payments made by Centre, states and private entities for booking vaccine doses must be published. A surety of orders and upfront capital availability will feed appetite for capacity-expansion and risk-taking, besides liability to meet commitments.
Procuring 216 crore doses in August-December requires SII, Bharat Biotech, Sputnik V, and five domestic vaccine candidates in trials to effect a quantum leap in production. They will need vast capital infusion to source raw materials and install production facilities. Haggling between Centre and states over booking advance orders will cause delays. States will be chary of buying upfront the vaccines in trials – expected to deliver a third of the 216 crore doses. Centralised procurement followed by the US, EU and African Union becomes attractive in this scenario. Vaccination will save lives and revive India’s stuttering economy. Don’t drop the ball again.
2.Heroic rescue: Still, many sank with barge P-305, and accountability must be fixed
The dramatic search and rescue operation involving five navy ships, P8I maritime surveillance aircraft, and Chetak and Sea King helicopters, launched after the sinking of barge P-305 by cyclone Tauktae, brought stories of both hope and despondency. A total of 261 personnel were on board when P-305 sank around 70km from Mumbai on Monday night. Between Monday and Wednesday, rescuers worked round the clock to find 186 survivors. Grimly, bodies were also found while the search went on. Still, it is breathtaking that the navy was able to rescue people who had jumped into the stormy sea with waves as high as 8-10 metres, some spending as many hours in the water.
That said, the bigger question is how ONGC vessels with more than 600 people on board found themselves stranded at sea during a cyclone. After all, a high alert had been issued about the cyclone since May 11. This was enough time for the vessels to be brought to safety. There are also reports that some of the rescue equipment like life rafts were not functional. While both ONGC and Afcons, the contractor that was operating the barges, have tried to pass on the blame, the inquiry committee set up by the Union petroleum and natural gas ministry must probe possible lapses at both parties’ end. Fixing systemic lacunae has to begin with fixing accountability for the specific tragedy.
What happened with barge P-305 is repeatedly witnessed in other sectors with respect to workplace and institutional safety. From several fires at hospitals in recent months to residential buildings collapsing all too frequently, the cause is usually a lackadaisical attitude towards disaster preparedness, with those responsible cutting corners. Taking safety guidelines seriously is also a cultural change India needs.
3.30 years later, the life and legacy of Rajiv Gandhi
He had seen both his grandfather and mother as PMs and grown up in a political home — yet he maintained a distinct professional identity as a pilot and attempted to live a regular urban upper middle class life, till his brother, Sanjay Gandhi’s air crash altered the trajectory of his family and Indian politics
Rajiv Gandhi was an unusual Indian politician. He had seen both his grandfather and mother as prime ministers and grown up in a political home — yet he maintained a distinct professional identity as a pilot and attempted to live a regular urban upper middle class life, till his brother, Sanjay Gandhi’s air crash altered the trajectory of his family and Indian politics. Responding to the call of his mother, Indira, over the objections of his wife, Sonia, Rajiv Gandhi entered politics — only to become prime minister within three years, as his mother fell to assassins.
This distinct background lent Rajiv Gandhi a fresh perspective when he