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.Focus on new-age textiles
The Centre’s scheme aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing of the in-demand man-made fibres, garments and technical textiles is being seen as a mixed bag. Incentives worth Rs 10,683 crore are to be provided over five years, and the targets include creation of 7.5 lakh jobs with private investment of Rs 19,000 crore. Definitely beneficial for corporates and large-scale industries, it is expected to contribute to economies of scale, but does not offer much to the micro, small and medium enterprises, which form the core of textile clusters in various states, such as Ludhiana in Punjab. Reducing the high threshold limit for investment, or offering similar incentives, could help unleash the potential of MSMEs in India’s emergence as a sourcing hub for the new-age textile material, as it has been for cotton garments.Man-made fibres, such as viscose, polyester and acrylic, are made from chemicals. Technical textiles are used for the production of personal protective equipment, airbags, bulletproof vests, and in the aviation, defence and infrastructure sectors. The shift from the primary focus on cotton is being attributed to the fact that two-thirds of the international trade today is of synthetic and specialty textiles. However, man-made fibre apparel accounts for only a fifth of India’s overall exports.The production-linked incentives are focused on enlarging and upgrading the new-age textile value chain, and not missing the bus in the changed dynamics of global trade.The budgetary outlay may prove to be inadequate as the scheme gathers steam, but the intended positives are many, such as increasing women’s participation in the formal economy since they are the predominant workforce in the textile industry. The realignment of the export strategy seeks to make Indian companies more competitive after ceding ground to countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam. The success depends on simplified procedures to claim benefits and having an open outlook on roping in smaller units and incentivising their role in enhancing the quality and quantity of production lines.
2.Afghan women repressed
As its worst fears of the suppression of Afghan women’s rights are coming true, the world is watching with horror the events unfolding in Afghanistan since the Taliban brutally regained control over the country on August 15. The hardline Islamist group has been quick to press multi-pronged levers aimed at a tyrannically regressive state of affairs. That its first fatwa is directed at curtailing their freedom and rights shows that the women hoping to be heard and treated fairly are up against a formidable wall. The Taliban order to have separate classrooms for boys and girls in coed schools (both private and government coed schools have mushroomed in the past two progressive decades) is loaded with the prospect of many girls dropping out as the infrastructure to accommodate such an arrangement is lacking. It remains to be seen how the situation eventually pans out as initial images of boys and girls separated by a cloth curtain in classrooms of higher education institutes emerge.However, the government formation has left little to the imagination: women are conspicuous by their absence from the newly formed Pashtun-dominated interim cabinet. Equally noteworthy are the intimidation and bans on the sports and work fronts, threatening to pull the women further down the social and economic order. The beating up of a couple of male journalists covering protests by some gritty women in Kabul sends a chilling message of intolerance. At the same time, encouragingly, the defiance by the women holds out hope.As of now, the Taliban have been forced to call healthcare women staff to work as the sector is crisis-ridden. With the exodus of thousands of workers and their evacuation to safer shores, the beleaguered rulers may yet have to concede more space as they get down to the job of running the country. The international community has a delicate task cut out and must employ all diplomatic pressure points at its disposal in negotiations with the new regime. It would be a shame if the huge strides made by the Afghan women since 2001 are allowed to be so ruthlessly trampled upon.
3.Terra pharma: A new drugs legislation must keep the pharma sector growing while safeguarding consumer interest
GoI’s move to draft a new law for drugs, medical devices, cosmetics and e-pharmacies recognises changing dynamics in the pharmaceutical sector, which the 1940 vintage Drugs and Cosmetics Act was inadequately addressing. DCA and its rules, through many amendments and periodic revisions, witnessed Indian pharma globally ranking third in terms of production volumes (14th in value) and become second largest in terms of workforce. Economic Survey 2020-21 estimated threefold growth for the industry from its $40 billion current market size by this decade’s end.The DCGI-headed eight-member panel drafting the new law must ensure that leading industry voices and health experts are extensively consulted. Among the present regime’s major flaws is the dual regulation by CDSCO and states. This allows malpractices wherever state officials look the other way. Given the large pharma ecosystem, comprising several thousand drug companies and manufacturing units, enforcing uniform standards and preventing circulation of substandard drugs and devices is impossible with disjointed regulatory outlooks. The Ranbaxy manufacturing malpractice episode was one among quite a few reminders that Indian pharma’s reputation and exports need continuous quality manufacturing.
At the retail end, e-pharmacies are steadying after conflicting judicial decisions and an uncertain regulatory environment on online drug sales. Still, foreign investors would need more statutory clarity even as public health worries over forged prescriptions linger. But with many traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies operating without licensed pharmacists, regulating the retail end needs a rethink. Consumer interest will also be served well by indemnity protection especially after the J&J hip implant mishaps. Plus, over-the-counter antibiotic and schedule-H drug sales remain a serious issue. A mature pharma ecosystem means prescriptions must become the norm. With the Covid pandemic, nations are recognising a robust domestic pharma sector’s importance. The new law must streamline manufacturing rules, quality control and R&D norms to help Indian companies meet new challenges.
4.Terror didn’t win: 9/11 changed democratic countries in some unlovely ways. But democracies stayed on track.
The world today may seem no safer than it was 20 years ago when Al Qaeda terrorists brought down the Twin Towers, starting a US-led and US-named global war on terror. Taliban is back. The Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies estimated in 2018 that the number of active terrorist groups was 67, the most since 1980. And as per a new report from the Costs of War project at Brown University, the US spent $8 trillion during its two-decade-long war on terror that also took 9,00,000 lives. So did terrorists win?Certainly not. Despite Taliban’s return in Afghanistan, the multiple terror groups in Africa, and the persistence of the Islamic State outfit, democracies haven’t been thrown off track. No terrorist movement nor any state that sponsors terrorism has been able to provide a better life for those they claim to represent. True, ISIS did briefly control territory in parts of Iraq and Syria, establishing its so-called caliphate. But it was short-lived, proving that nihilistic, violent movements can hardly build viable states or provide good governance.
Of course, terror groups do retain the capacity to disturb democracies. Their nuisance value has increased in the last 20 years, thanks in large measure to increasing globalisation and advent of new technologies. It’s precisely to counter this that some democracies have diluted some of their core principles. Post-9/11, Western governments reinterpreted their privacy laws, boosted surveillance and armed their security agencies with powers overriding legal checks. India, too, went the same way with terrorism given as a justification for some of its most draconian laws. Parallelly, widespread Islamophobia and refugee fatigue in some countries became enablers for right-wing populism, in the West and India.
And then, there was the rise of authoritarian China. A rise that, ironically, can also be traced back to 2001 when Beijing was admitted to the WTO. In fact, many argue that had the US not been distracted by global terrorism, its opposition to China’s WTO entry would have been stronger. China subsequently went on to strengthen its hold over the global economy and today stands ready to adopt a transactional approach to groups like Taliban.But it’s clear that mollycoddling terrorists as a state policy has disastrous consequences. Just look at the basket case Pakistan has become by following that strategy. Overall, 9/11 did change liberal democracies. But terrorists didn’t throw any democracy off track. Warts and all, that’s not such a bad record.
5.When NDA opens to women
With the Centre’s decision to allow women to be inducted for permanent commission through the National Defence Academy (NDA), one more barrier to gender equality has fallen. This is indeed “a rather delightful piece of news”, as additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati put it while appearing for the Centre before the Supreme Court (SC). The SC has consistently cleared the path for women to join the armed forces in larger numbers, while urging the forces to adopt a more proactive approach towards gender equality. The apex court had passed an interim order last month permitting women to sit for the NDA admission exam, which is now scheduled for November 4. This welcome change must now be buttressed by changes in policy, procedure, training and infrastructure, for which the Centre has sought that women’s entry be put off for year.
NDA’s policy so far has been exclusionary. The decision to induct women will, hopefully, put an end to the prejudices voiced over the years on why women are not suited for a career in the armed forces. This includes dubious reasons revolving around how women will not be accepted as leaders by a male-dominated force, or how physical constraints prevent them from a role, or that they may seek special treatment, or that the armed forces lack suitable infrastructure, or that women might be subject to various forms of harassment. None of these are the fault of women and none of these are insurmountable — in fact, they point to structural flaws within the forces itself. The Centre’s decision to admit girls to Sainik schools, along with the latest move vis a vis NDA entry, suggests that the blueprint for substantive change has been now been created.