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.Can Covaxin buck up? India’s primary vaccine under trial for children has to up its production. The wait has been too long
India’s swift crossing of the 75 crore vaccine doses landmark has been powered in large part by Covishield contributing about 67 crore of those doses. Armed with new production lines spread across multiple states, now is the time for Bharat Biotech to catch up. The significant scale-up in vaccine administration to nearly 75 lakh doses per day in September has happened despite Covaxin’s hovering around 6 lakh daily doses. In July, the Union health ministry had said it expects Covishield supplies to touch 12 crore doses a month and Covaxin 5.8 crore. Going by September vax numbers, Covishield appears to be exceeding this target and may deliver 20 crore doses in September.
We have been told the Covaxin narrative could change if production from its new plants in Malur near Bengaluru, Pune and Ankleshwar besides Hyderabad delivers to professed capacity. NTAGI officials expect these facilities coming online to deliver 10-12 crore doses per month. May they be right because safety and immunogenicity trials of Covaxin on children over two years old are on. With over 40 crore Indians below 18, this is a huge demographic to leave unvaccinated. Covaxin is the best option for them right now.
So far, Bharat Biotech has defended the delay in not matching up to GoI’s expectations stating that Covaxin’s inactivated whole virus platform has a four-month lag from manufacturing to testing and release. While SII is more in the mould of a contract manufacturer, BB enjoys pride of place in India because of a successful track record in developing indigeneous vaccines and inspiring others to emulate it. BB’s intranasal vaccine, which researchers believe may be better suited to prevent the virus from transmitting by neutralising it in the nasal passage itself, has commenced Phase 2 trials. But with official OKs for other vaccines, competition is heating up in the vaccine market. Covaxin should not assume India’s adults will wait for it indefinitely.
2.Bhashas & Bharat: The current language policy is wise, born out of pragmatism. We can’t afford linguistic extremism
On September 14, 1949, the constituent assembly adopted Hindi in Devanagari script as India’s official language. The day is observed as Hindi diwas and this week home minister Amit Shah made what appeared to be fairly standard observations on the occasion. He said that Hindi is a friend of all Indian languages and can progress only through co-existence. Simultaneously, in BJP-administered Karnataka, there were multiple protests against “Hindi imposition”. The apparent puzzle has a cause.
The constituent assembly’s debates on language were often bitter. The compromise reached was to avoid a national language, but to give Hindi primacy as official language. Also built in was the continuation of English for official communication for 15 years. It’s another matter that English could never be phased out and has only thrived. India has benefited from it. However, despite sensible compromises over language, it remains an issue that triggers parochial politics. That’s because language itself is often part of political projects. This needs to be unpacked by addressing a couple of related issues.
First, nations have evolved in their own ways and language is part of the process. For example, Switzerland, with a population of only 8.4 million has four national and official languages. Closer home, the erstwhile Pakistan began to fall apart when it tried to impose Urdu as the state language on its Bangla-speaking populace. India wisely avoided this path and today we have 22 languages specified under the Constitution’s eighth schedule. Second, Hindi is India’s most widely spoken language. Census 2011 showed that 43.63% of the people returned Hindi as their mother tongue. This includes speakers of Awadhi, Bhojpuri etc as languages are classified in terms of linguistic affiliation. There are two intertwined developments in this context. Guided by pragmatism, across India people have taken to English and an ever-increasing number of non-Hindi speakers learn Hindi.
Through a mix of wise political compromises and pragmatism of the general populace, India has achieved cohesiveness without blindly copying some other model. The existing three-language formula at the school level works and economic needs will make more Indians multi-lingual. The only danger now is a resurgence of any form of linguistic extremism. It can be avoided as long as language doesn’t become a political project. If the political class really cares about Indian languages, there should be a lot more investment in translations of a rapidly growing corpus of knowledge. Translations will enrich Indian languages. They shouldn’t be left to only global tech companies.
3.Punjab’s water crisis
Political will to arrest the slide is lacking
The groundwater level is going down by 70 cm in Punjab annually; the volume of groundwater recharged every year is far less than what is being extracted. File photo
A special Vidhan Sabha committee has reaffirmed that unceasing groundwater depletion is pushing Punjab towards desertification, which could become a reality in a decade and a half. In its report, the committee has recommended agricultural zoning and metering of the groundwater supply for arresting the slide in the water table. The panel has also suggested a water credit scheme, under which farmers and the industry will be incentivised for using the precious natural resource judiciously. The figures are indeed alarming: the groundwater level is going down by 70 cm in the state annually; the volume of groundwater recharged every year is far less than what is being extracted.Punjab’s groundwater crisis has been red-flagged repeatedly over the years, but successive state governments have desisted from taking drastic measures that could antagonise the farming community — a decisive vote bank that has become even more assertive and restless of late, especially amid the ongoing agitation against the three contentious farm laws brought in by the Centre last year. With the state going to the polls early next year, the Congress government is expected to tread warily on the committee’s recommendations. There is no denying that lack of political will has brought things to such a pass. The situation on the ground is unlikely to improve as long as political parties keep viewing the problem through the prism of electoral gains or losses.The silver lining is that the state government is banking on Israeli know-how to curb groundwater depletion and give a fillip to replenishment. Once a water-deficient country, Israel has established itself as a global leader in the water sector in recent decades, thanks largely to recycling and reuse of treated wastewater for agricultural irrigation. Israel’s holistic approach to water consumption and management can benefit Punjab in the long run. For a start, various categories of users — agricultural, domestic and industrial — need to be sensitised to their collective responsibility towards preventing the not-too-distant disaster. Taking all stakeholders along holds the key to effective water conservation. It’s time to make every drop count.
4.India’s farmers need a ‘new deal’
If farming does not generate adequate incomes, India’s farmers cannot be blamed for not making investments in augmenting production and sustainability techniques
The average farmer in India earns ₹27 per day from cultivation, according to statistics from the latest Situation Assessment Survey (SAS) which covers the period from July 2018 to June 2019. An analysis of these numbers, in this newspaper, found that unskilled manual work on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) work sites would pay more than farming. This is exactly why wage labour has replaced cultivation incomes as the biggest source of earnings even for agricultural households. If farming does not generate adequate incomes, India’s farmers cannot be blamed for not making investments in augmenting production and sustainability techniques. India is still a laggard vis-à-vis other important producers in yields for most crops. The climate crisis will pose a growing danger to the sustainability of farming practices.
Business-as-usual is not an option. Food security is a strategic objective for any sovereign country. The international market cannot meet the India’s needs if domestic production is compromised, which is what will happen if the status quo is allowed to persist. India has experienced the pain of being dependent on import for food requirements, and it is an era no one would like see return. Ironically, in all elections, there are promises of helping farmers in India — a farm loan waiver here, a little cash transfer there. It is more than clear that these have not helped. If long-term national interests are to be secured, India’s farmers need a new deal. More than anything else, agriculture needs an honest political conversation.