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Editorial Today (English)

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.Apt judicial check on executive excess

It is heartening that the higher judiciary has been checking the executive’s excess by striking down charges under draconian laws, the National Security Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) brought against individuals involved in activity that disturbed law and order but did not merit invoking these laws. In the most recent example, the Guwahati High Court rejected use of UAPA against someone who was protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, in 2019.

The Allahabad High Court, found The Indian Express, had struck down 20 of 20 instances of charges being framed under the National Security Act in instances of communal violence. This shows two things. One, the executive has been framing charges under laws meant to tackle extraordinary threats to national security against those whom it wanted to punish by lengthy and knotty legal procedure that entailed loss of freedom in the interim, and the lower judiciary has willingly played along.

Two, the higher judiciary fulfils, often enough, its role of checking and balancing such excess on the part of the executive and the lower judiciary. But, at times, even the high court would seem to feed, rather than rein in, the intolerance that underlies use of special legal provisions for ordinary crimes. The higher judiciary must lay down process and procedure that entails a cost for judges at lower levels who collude in misuse of the law by the executive against its opponents.

In other words, it is not enough for high courts to reverse wrongful charging of individuals under draconian provisions: they must, alongside, proactively prevent miscarriage of justice by acting against policemen, civil servants and politicians who are responsible for needless invoking of the draconian laws.

  1. Don’t just authorise vaccines, make them

It is not enough for the government to authorise for emergency use additional candidates for vaccination against Covid-19. These are in desperate short supply and rich EU nations are unable to procure them for love or money. Vaccines have to be made. And the government has done precious little to increase vaccine supply. Defeating the pandemic is not a commercial venture. It is a national – in fact, global – emergency that calls for liberal, imaginative use of public funds to do whatever it takes to contain the virus.

The government should ask all vaccine makers to set up additional capacity, ask pharmaceutical companies that are used to following good manufacturing practices to set up vaccine and vaccine ingredient manufacturing capacity, and back these requests up with a mixture of public funds and bond issuances guaranteed by the State. If our diplomatic effort can rope in funding from abroad, bilateral or multilateral, well and good.

Just as Indian industry rose to the challenge of making personal protective equipment, sanitisers and ventilators, they can more than meet the challenge of meeting our countrymen’s desperate need for vaccines, and the world’s. If intellectual property rights stand in the way, breach them. Encourage bright young biotechnology wizards of Indian origin powering research in the world’s best labs to come to India and save the world, by setting up startups that reverse engineer the adjuvants, lipids and other materials that go into vaccines, with the State providing the needed capital and legal ring-fencing.

Issue compulsory licences. Channel the moral outrage voiced by the Pope and assorted statesmen over vaccine inequity to back this India-led vaccine drive. Shame the Americans into lifting export restrictions on vital vaccine ingredients. This is the time to think big and act bold, to leverage India’s unique capabilities on the pharma front and increase vaccine supplies manifold. The rich world has been fighting for a larger slice of a small vaccine pie. India must make that pie big.

3.Back to basics: Snags in accessing tests, critical care beds, oxygen supply during first wave’s peak, have resurfaced 

With India reporting 1.8 lakh daily infections and the second wave appearing to surpass the worst of the first wave, health systems are struggling to cope with the sudden onrush of patients. States like Maharashtra, MP, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh may be currently facing the brunt but their experiences serve a warning to others to start bolstering their healthcare defences to avoid getting swamped. Unlike the first wave that took months to peak in mid-September, this one started manifesting in mid-February and has skyrocketed over the last two weeks catching every unprepared state by surprise.

Doctors are far more confident now of saving lives and treatment protocols are largely standardised though differences over plasma therapy, remdesivir and other drugs persist. They especially highlight the importance of early diagnosis and timely basic medical interventions like oxygen supply and steroids in reversing severe infections. But the sudden spurt has created a situation where getting tested and securing admission to hospitals is proving tough in many cities. Forced to improvise, UP government has ordered roping in senior MBBS students for Covid duties. The situation calls for proactive government actions and effective communication.

Critical care bed positions in hospitals must be advertised widely and telemedicine facilities expanded to allow patients to get timely medical help. Testing capacity has now touched 14 lakh daily tests – nearing the peaks achieved last September and October during the first wave’s zenith. But the increased contagiousness, evident from a twofold rise in detected infections from September’s peak, requires a proportionate scaling up of testing capacity. Otherwise, precious time is lost in diagnosis itself. Equally vital is scaling up oxygen supply to hospitals, a chronic problem last year too. With Centre in talks with industrial oxygen suppliers, address this scarcity urgently.

Suspicion that death counts are being fudged, with Covid protocol cremations reportedly outnumbering the official death counts in Gujarat and MP, doesn’t help. Instead, more studies are needed to understand the peculiar dynamics of the current surge, for instance the double mutant strain detected in 61% of Maharashtra samples. The effectiveness of locally available vaccines against mutations must also be gauged. Spared the worst in the first wave, spurting cases in tier 2 and 3 cities and small towns, first noticed in Maharashtra in February, demand a countrywide ramp-up of healthcare capacity.

4. Afghan exit: US troop pullout on 9/11 will create a tricky situation, India needs to prepare

In a big move, the US has decided to bring back all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11 this year, marking an end to the longest war that Washington has been involved in. True, the new timeline goes beyond the May 1 deadline that Trump administration had negotiated with Taliban last year. Nonetheless it signifies that Biden administration is committed to the pullout. As per Washington officials, the decision was made in view of the assessment that the US now faces greater threats from other regions of the world. This is most likely code for China.

In any case, the new pullout date should add further momentum to intra-Afghan talks. Biden administration has also proposed a transitional peace government for Afghanistan including Taliban and pitched for a UN-led conference to discuss a unified approach. This indicates Washington’s desire to step back and facilitate a more plurilateral approach. Taliban could use this opportunity to push for an all-out battle for control, which would be disastrous for both Afghanistan and the region.

At the very least, Taliban are going to be part of Afghanistan’s future governance structure. But a large number of Afghan youth today were born after the US military intervention in 2001 and have seen a relatively liberal Afghanistan where women actively participate in public life. It’s unlikely they will be amenable to Taliban’s puritanical outlook. Meanwhile, India has contributed tremendously to Afghanistan’s development in the last two decades. Therefore, it makes sense for New Delhi to use this goodwill and reach out to the moderate factions of Taliban. This will also help counter Pakistan’s influence over the Islamist group and its strategy of using Afghanistan as strategic depth against India. A tricky situation looms over Afghanistan. India would do well to get its ducks in a row.

5. The quest to beat Covid-19

On Wednesday, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government decided to postpone the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) examinations for Class 12 students — a review meeting on June 1 will decide subsequent dates. The government also decided to cancel Class 10 board exams — and said results would be deter-mined by an objective criteria developed by the board. The decision comes in the wake of a record number of daily Covid cases across the country — many states and cities have already imposed restrictions; schools in 11 states are closed; health systems are strained; and lives are at stake.

This has been a disruptive year for students — away from their schools and friends, forced to cope with new ways to study online, with their universe restricted to their private rooms and homes. For underprivileged students, the struggle has been even greater — without the same levels of access to digital learning, and somehow studying in settings where the idea of a private room is an unthinkable luxury. And for all those in the crucial classes of 10th and 12th, after studying for months, Wednesday’s decision will come across as demotivating. But there is no choice, and the government has taken the right call. It should also consider cancelling, instead of just postponing, the Class 12 exams and getting all stakeholders — central universities, board officials, school associations, parent and student representatives — to come up with an alternative evaluation structure for the transition to higher educational institutions.




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