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.Ode to her courage: The Afghan woman standing up to Talib’s gun
In an image from Afghanistan that went viral this week, a woman in a black hijab confronts a Talib pointing a gun at her chest. Her head is held high, she is speaking up. But this is only one of the several dramatic images that have emerged of women demonstrating extraordinary courage to protest against how everything is being stripped away from them by the new regime, at the barrel of guns, beatings, whippings, religious despotisms.
Salima Mazari, who used to be a district governor until a month ago, described then the areas controlled by Taliban thus: “No women exist there anymore, not even in the cities. They are all imprisoned in their homes.” She was both acknowledging that women in large swathes of Afghanistan did not get to enter modernity even in the last 20 years, and underlining how precious the new liberties were for those who had come to enjoy them.
For those who attended coed schools and universities, became doctors and engineers and journalists and cricketers and soldiers and ministers, being told how today’s Taliban is much more progressive than its previous avatar, is salt on raw wounds. Women are protesting because they have a bleaker view of what Taliban wants to do to them, as also the determination to try to avert the worst. They are not campaigning only for themselves, but also the next generation, their daughters.
2.Airpocalypse coming: Stop farm fires. Prioritise public health & economy
All eyes are on GoI’s Commission for Air Quality Management in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas, which secured parliamentary backing last month to tackle the stubble burning menace that vitiates north India’s air quality during winter. Already late, much rests on state government-led action plans overseen by the Commission to reduce stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and UP and localised pollution in NCR. Delhi will reportedly finalise its action plan only by September 30.
More farm fires were logged in 2020 than in preceding years. Nothing in official actions this year indicates corrective measures to control the fires. If anything, poll-bound states like Punjab and UP are in a mood to appease farmers. Weak politics aside, the stubble burning imbroglio is a toxic product of bad farm policy cocktails. Subsidies have turned Punjab and Haryana, neither traditional paddy-growing areas, towards this water-intensive crop. Then to prevent groundwater depletion, both states enacted laws delaying paddy sowing towards mid-June.The resultant delayed kharif harvest was uncomfortably close to rabi sowing. This prompted farmers into stubble burning instead of other labour- or machine-intensive methods to remove paddy stalk residues left by combine harvesters (better suited for western monocropped lands), saving them money, effort and time. Machines like happy seeders, balers, mulchers, rotavators introduced for stubble management aren’t finding enough takers despite being heavily subsidised. Farmers complain these still incur significant operational costs. Delhi NCR is north India’s largest economic powerhouse and one of Earth’s largest urban agglomerations. Few other democracies will let such policy tangles linger when they hurt economic interests, quality of life and public health outcomes. Carrot-and-stick approaches to incentivise and penalise farmers were implemented haphazardly earlier. With time running out, the GoI Commission mustn’t dash hopes raised by its birth.
3.How 2001 shaped 2021
9/11 was an opportunity to create a global consensus on terror. The world failed. The disgraceful manner in which the US handled its exit from Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban is an outcome of this flawed post-9/11 architecture
Even as the 9/11 attacks were underway, 20 years ago, there was a sense that the world was about to change. And it did. It changed because there was a recognition that terrorism was a global, not just a regional or local, threat; that no power — even a power such as the United States (US) — was immune to these threats: that any State which harboured terror groups was culpable for exporting violence; and that Islamist extremism — distinct from Islam as a religion — was a threat not just to the international order but also the finest values modernity represented. It was a moment when these sound principles could have potentially led to a global consensus on terror, but within a paradigm that prioritised rights, justice and democracy while holding terror-sponsoring States and groups accountable.
But sound principles often collide with messy realities, and the US adopted an ad hoc, selective, even imperial-like approach. Wars were fought, including in places such as Iraq, where the State had actually kept extremism at bay and the US invasion ended up breeding terrorism. Civil liberties were sacrificed, in the US and beyond, at the altar of the war on terror. Unprincipled alliances were carved out on grounds of pragmatism, especially with Pakistan, the country most complicit in exporting terror. Even as the threats became more global, politics became more insular and societies turned inwards. The disgraceful manner in which the US handled its exit from Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban is an outcome of this flawed post-9/11 architecture.
4.Checking stubble burning
WITH the paddy harvesting season slated to begin shortly, it is time for states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to take stock of the measures taken to prevent the burning of crop stubble, the main reason behind the rising air pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR) during the winter months. While the states have taken steps to deal with the problem, including punitive measures, dealing with violations will be a challenge, especially for Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, in view of the ensuing Assembly elections and the importance of farmers as an electoral constituency. Chief ministers of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi should meet at the earliest to chalk out a strategy to avoid stubble burning and address farmers’ concerns.
That the problem is acute in the region has been pointed out by several studies conducted over the years in the region which confirm the impact of burning crop residue and solid biomass on air quality. Checking air pollution should also be a priority because stubble burning leads to a host of respiratory ailments, a fatal combination in times of Covid-19, when many patients have died because of a crippling shortage of oxygen.Using technology to harness agricultural waste can be a good start. Punjab has taken to the direct seeding of rice (DSR) method that yields less residue, utilises less water and makes do with labour shortage. A staggered sowing of paddy also gives the farmers more time to manage the crop residue. Delhi has installed smog towers and is pitching for the use of electric vehicles, considering that construction activities and vehicular emissions are a major factor behind pollution there. In Himachal Pradesh, Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry has come up with a technique to convert pine needles, a prime reason behind forest fires, into ethanol, a biofuel. The Commission for Air Quality has asked Delhi and neighbouring states to adopt satellite data from ISRO to chalk out an action plan in this regard. More such application of technology should be undertaken to reduce pollution and achieve the aim of clean air for blue skies.
THE Covid-19 tracker data cited by the Centre on Thursday leaves no room for doubt about the life-saving capability of vaccines. According to the tracker, developed by synergising data from the Co-WIN portal, the national Covid testing database and the Covid India portal, the effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing mortality is 96.6 per cent after the first dose and 97.5 per cent following the second shot. These encouraging figures should suffice to make the doubters shed vaccine hesitancy and get themselves jabbed at the earliest.
The second wave that peaked in May could have caused far less devastation, had more people been protected against the worst outcomes. Worryingly, less than 20 per cent of India’s adult population has been fully vaccinated so far, almost nine months after the inoculation programme was launched nationwide. More than 1 crore doses need to be given on a daily basis to achieve the stiff target of completely vaccinating all adults by the year-end. With the festive season coming up and India’s most populous state (Uttar Pradesh) going to the polls along with four others early next year, the pace of vaccination must be accelerated to ensure that the third wave is not a repeat of the second one. Considering the risk of breakthrough infection, the importance of following Covid-appropriate behaviour even after vaccination cannot be overemphasised.India can take a cue from the US, where desperate measures are being initiated to make about 25 per cent of eligible Americans – nearly 8 crore people – see reason. US President Joe Biden has asserted that this significant proportion — which is still unvaccinated — poses a threat to the gains made in the fight against Covid-19. He has directed the Labour Department to make it mandatory for all businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workers are either vaccinated or tested once a week. Companies face the prospect of paying thousands of dollars in fines per employee if they don’t comply. America’s daily caseload has crossed 1.5 lakh, almost five times India’s current figure, but we can’t afford to let the virus wreak havoc all over again.