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.Rightly, now centred: Central vaccine procurement should be supplemented by flexible decentralised distribution
These columns had argued (‘The Central Answer’, June 4) the Centre must revert to being the bulk procurer of India-made vaccines. That’s the surest way to ramp up supplies and keep prices down. The PM’s address to the nation on Monday effected this much-needed change. New Delhi will acquire 75% of all vaccines, leaving 25% for the private sector. The central procurement will be distributed free to states – this takes care of the issues of who will pay for vaccines. There will be no price discrimination between age groups – this addresses judicial critiques. And the new policy will come into effect from June 21, after a two-week prep time to sort out details – this is in happy contrast to the policy change in late April, which was more a product of political oneupmanship between the Centre and states, and produced disastrous results.
If this welcome change of tack is followed through with some smart detailing, and if promises of higher vaccine supplies come through, India may finally be on the way to a vaccination policy it deserves and needs. First, the Centre should frame a transparent formula for allocating vaccines to states, and that formula should be public. Second, as we argued before, advance payments should be made well in advance. That means, payments for August onwards should be made now. Third, the Centre should allow states to decide distribution strategy. If states prefer door-to-door vaccinations or drive-by vaccinations or they want to further decentralise distribution through other means, they should be free to mix and match strategies that suit them best. Also, the CoWin registration system now must be made non-mandatory to allow quick-paced mass vaccination. Central procurement and flexible decentralised distribution – that’s the best option.
GoI should be commended for keeping the 25% share of the private sector in vaccine procurement. With ramped up supplies, India Inc can buy more vaccines faster and much of India’s white collar working population, especially the younger lot, can get vaccinated without putting pressure on the government system, which should aim squarely at low-income urban and rural groups. Capping private hospital administration charges is also sensible – it removes a needless source of controversy.
The PM spoke about Bharat Biotech’s intranasal vaccine. This is a potential game changer – works on a single dose and is easy to administer. If this and a vaccine for those below 18 can be cleared for use relatively quickly, India will have a vaccine policy well-armed to fight a pandemic that’s not going away anytime soon.
2.Sons over daughters: Prosperous Uttarakhand has a dismal sex ratio at birth. Seems no one’s afraid of law on prenatal tests
How are our girls faring? In a large and diverse country, anecdotal evidence cuts several ways. But one hard, remorseless, empirical reality is son preference. That distressing social bias flourishes. As against a Sustainable Development Goal of achieving sex ratio at birth of 954 by 2030, a Niti Aayog update released last week finds the national average still at a distant 899. Only rich Kerala (957) and poor Chhattisgarh (958) have reached the target in advance. Of the usual suspects Punjab has improved (890) and Haryana worsened (843) a bit. But the state that has now come under heavy scrutiny is Uttarakhand.
At 840 not only is Uttarakhand the worst performer today, its sex ratio has been declining year after year. It saw 912 female births per 1,000 male births in 2005-06. That went down to 888 in 2015-16. It is possible that like in Punjab and Haryana, in Uttarakhand, too, increasing prosperity and decreasing fertility have combined to spur more intense sex selection at birth. If so, policymakers have neglected this shift. Minus that recognition, such dangerous declines in sex ratio won’t be reversed.
Prosperity is supposed to act against social biases. If that’s not happening in some Indian states, policymakers will have to drill down and come up with specific incentives – perhaps, more attractive grants for bringing up daughters. Plus, along with the carrot, the stick must also work – sadly, the one thing that we can be sure of is that the Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 is “only a paper tiger”, as the MP high court recently observed. Offenders seem unafraid of the law. It’s a stark reminder of the chasm that can lie between progressive laws and their implementation. Uttarakhand can begin its change here.
3.A year of internal and external challenges
Irrespective of the reasons, the images of China in Ladakh and farmers at Delhi’s borders have tested the State’s strength and democratic credibility.
This week marks a year since India and China began formal military talks to resolve the standoff in eastern Ladakh. It has also been a year since the Centre promulgated three ordinances on agriculture. This means that it has been a year since India has been grappling with its most serious external security challenge in over two decades (since Kargil), and the most serious internal political mobilisation against the Centre in a decade (since the India Against Corruption movement, though the farm protests have much deeper social roots). In both cases, a resolution remains elusive and India’s capacity has come under the scanner.
Take the Ladakh situation first. After many rounds of political, diplomatic, and military talks, there was a breakthrough with both sides disengaging in the Pangong Tso area. It was a testament to the Indian Army’s ability to stand up to the People’s Liberation Army, occupy strategic heights in the Kailash range, and the ability of diplomats to leverage it to push back China. But using the leverage has meant that India’s ability to now force, or persuade, China to restore status quo ante in other areas — Hot Springs, Gogra, Depsang — is limited. Status quo is extracting a military and strategic cost, but breaking the status quo won’t be easy. The farm protests are a product of the Centre’s unilateral push on a sensitive issue, and then a maximalist position adopted by farm leaders — which, then, resulted in protests during a pandemic, refusal to negotiate with a spirit of give-and-take, and unacceptable violence on January 26. Irrespective of the reasons, the images of China in Ladakh and farmers at Delhi’s borders have tested the State’s strength and democratic credibility.