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.Enable more: Bhavina, Nishad won Paralympic silvers for a country that does very little for its differently-abled citizens
Bhavinaben Patel’s winning silver in the women’s singles Class 4 table tennis event at the Tokyo Paralympic Games is the stuff of history. She won India’s first medal at Tokyo Games, and also India’s first table tennis medal at Paralympics. The 34-year-old wheelchair-bound athlete was followed by Nishad Kumar clinching another silver in the men’s high jump T47 event. Both are inspirational examples of what differently-abled people can achieve when given right opportunities.
Unfortunately, those opportunities are often shut out in India due to lack of supporting infrastructure. Something as basic as accessing public spaces or transport can present huge challenges for people with disabilities. As per Census 2011, India had 2.68 crore people enumerated as differently-abled out of which 20% had disabilities related to movement and 19% had disabilities related to sight. Yet government’s flagship Accessible India Campaign launched in 2015 to make transport, public spaces and IT infrastructure differently-abled friendly has moved at an excruciatingly slow pace. A parliamentary standing committee report tabled recently pointed out that just 494 or 29.7% of the total buildings identified have been made accessible by nine states and Union territories till date.
Add to this hurdles people with disabilities face in education and employment. Again as per the last Census, around 45% of differently-abled people are illiterate and only 36% are part of the workforce. Clearly, policies directed at empowering differently-abled people lack impetus – India is far from adopting a cross-sectional approach as mandated by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. An attitudinal sea change that puts disability at the centre of policy planning is the first step. Penal provisions under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act must be enforced on states and ministries that fail to meet accessibility targets. That’s the only way the huge potential of differently-abled people can be unfettered. Bhavina and Nishad’s silvers should tell their country to do much more.
2.Guarding democracy: Justice Chandrachud framed the search for truth as an aspiration in a democratic society. He’s right
The essence of democracy is in the participation of decisions in public policy by citizens, regardless of their means. That presupposes they are adequately informed. In a speech last week, Supreme Court judge DY Chandrachud framed the issue in terms of what citizens can do, but it also points to how much they are allowed to do. The speech dwells on the relationship between truth and democracy. At one level the health of any democracy rests on the foundation of governments being truthful about current state of affairs.
Chandrachud posits that the relationship between truth and democracy is both a sword and shield. In effect, a democracy depends on how effectively citizens can exercise their rights to ensure that there is a systemic effort to place the truth in front of them. In a practical sense, as the judge observed, citizens need to do their bit to ensure that the media is free. More so, in the context of strengthening public institutions. A recent development that does not further this goal is the Information Technology Rules introduced in February this year. It imposes draconian restrictions on a responsible medium that is fast growing. A consequence will be that fake news, which undermines the health of a democracy, will proliferate through other digital platforms.
Education is a key to strengthening the intrinsic strength of democracy and keeping it vibrant. Both the education system and democracy work well when children are allowed to develop a temperament that allows them to pose questions to power. This is rightly highlighted as a duty where citizens have a role and responsibility in strengthening democracy. Another area where India’s growing middle class can do more is in elections. Voting is a right in India, something that people in many other countries cannot take for granted. However, this right needs more involvement from India’s more privileged citizens.
Truth is inextricably intertwined with India’s national motto and emblem. The speech serves as a reminder to what the political class and citizens can do to realise these ideals. Framing it in the discourse of aspirations, the judge observed that the commitment to search for truth is a key aspiration of our society. The best way to realise this goal is to allow the plurality that characterises Indian society free expression. Democracy produces the best results when it creates a platform for multiple opinions. The most effective decisions come out considering multiple points of view.
3. America’s Asia policy
President Joe Biden has found himself in the uncomfortable position of facing not only the expected criticism from Republicans for his country’s hasty, botched exit from Afghanistan but also brickbats from within the Democratic Party and among the broader American public. The killing of at least 13 U.S. troops and dozens of Afghan civilians in the bomb blasts last week underscored the apparent lack of planning behind the withdrawal despite prior knowledge of its approaching deadline. The chaotic, violent scenes at Kabul airport, undergirded by the deep irony of the Taliban’s unchallenged takeover of Kabul and other Afghan territories, have also no doubt stung U.S. policymakers, especially over comparisons to Saigon in 1975. How can Mr. Biden now hope to sell the big picture of Washington’s engagement in the South Asia region to his domestic political constituents in a way that limits the reputational damage to the White House? The first step will be, at long last, to shift the American policy paradigm on Afghanistan from a boilerplate approach toward institution-building to recognising the political complexities of governing a society where tribal and ethnic loyalties supersede western norms of rational decision-making by government. In part, this means not demonising or cutting ties with the Taliban before they have had an opportunity to settle into power and announce intentions for governing Afghanistan. There must also be a recognition of the role that third parties are going to play, for better or worse. That must include everything from the Pakistani ISI’s shadowy dealings through proxies such as the Haqqani Network, China’s relentless push for access to economic projects, and India’s civilisational and ‘soft power’ links.
In the big picture, there is an unsettling question for Washington to answer, on whether in persisting with the Trump-era promise to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, Mr. Biden will be able to reassure Asian allies and partners that the U.S. will not also play a diminished strategic role in the broader Asia region. To an extent, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’s Singapore and Vietnam trip was aimed at assuaging such concerns and shoring up enthusiasm for the rules-based international order that has taken a beating. Yet, unless Washington follows up such summit meetings with ground-level engagement, for example through the Quad or deeper bilateral initiatives with friendly democracies including India, Asian powers will be hard pressed to assume anything other than Washington’s indifference toward their interests. The danger for the West of considerable blowback that could emerge thus are at least two-fold: first, Afghanistan’s cyclical transitions from western-occupied territory to abandoned nation and ultimately a breeding ground for global terror outfits is well-documented; and second, China will be only too glad to step into the breach should any new spaces be ceded in the pecking order of regional hegemony in Asia.
4. The virtue of consistency: on India’s vaccination targets
India’s focus must be on vaccinating a large number every day and not record highs
On August 27, Friday, India set a new record for a single day’s vaccination — 10.7 million doses, up from 8.3 million vaccinations on the previous two days and over 6.3 million doses on August 23-24. However, on Saturday, the numbers dropped sharply to 7.9 million; 3.4 million doses were administered on August 29, but Sundays have always registered low numbers. A similar pattern was seen on June 21 — 8.7 million doses on a single day, which dropped to 5.8 million the next day and remained nearly stable at over six million for a week; the number of doses administered fell to three million-four million doses in the first half of July. The June 21 record appeared more to coincide with the day when the revised COVID-19 vaccination strategy came into effect, i.e., the Government procured 75% of the vaccines produced and supplied them to States for free. Though the record on August 27 does not coincide with any occasion, it does suggest that the intent was more to achieve a “momentous feat” of crossing the 10-million mark; the steep fall in vaccinations the very next day gives rise to scepticism. During the pandemic, the focus should not be on setting records but on consistently vaccinating a large number of people daily and ensuring that vaccines are available at all centres every day; uncertainty in vaccine availability does not help in increasing uptake especially among the poor.
With vaccination being a safe and sure way to drastically cut the risk of hospitalisation due to severe COVID-19 disease and death, efforts should be to quickly and consistently vaccinate large numbers each day. For this, equitable and a regular supply of a large number of doses to all States is needed. One sure way to increase the number of daily doses is when the Government procures 100% of vaccines produced with no separate allocation to private hospitals. Precious time and doses were wasted between May and July 15 when private hospitals utilised only 7%-9% of vaccines produced against an allotment of 25%. The Government has belatedly revised the June 7 policy such that manufacturers will not set aside 25% of vaccines produced for private hospitals but instead supply as per demand and allot the remaining to the Government. If the rationale for allowing the manufacturers to sell vaccines to private hospitals at a higher price was to fund vaccine research, the small uptake by the private hospitals does not meet that objective. Hence, the Government should procure all the vaccines produced as this will help in better vaccine allotment to States, reduce vaccine inequity and increase uptake, and States can plan daily vaccination strategies in a more organised manner.