Edits In Short: January 14
The Hindu, January 14, 2013
Drug testing on trial – Editorial
The edit comments on India’s policy in clinical trials, which it claims “puts the cart before the horse” as far as safety of those undergoing the trials is concerned. In 2005, the government had amended the 1945 Rules to permit “concurrent phase” trials of drugs developed outside India to be conducted in the country.
What followed were more than 2,000 deaths of people during clinical trials. The Supreme Court has now shaken the government from its “deep slumber” and prompted it to initiate steps to regulate the industry. While clinical trials are imperative, regulations have to be in place to ensure that commercial interests don’t override ethics and subjects’ safety, as well as to ensure compensation. But the edit is not convinced that merely changing the rules will ensure safer trials. It calls for revoking the 2005 amendment that allows concurrent trials.
Searching for Earth’s twin – Editorial
Could there be more Earth-like planets in the Milky Way? The recent announcement at the American Astronomical Society “dramatically increases the possibility of finding Earth-sized, extra-solar planets, or ‘exoplanets’ which orbit the cooler M dwarf starts”. And then there’s the question of life on these planets, and our search for it. Given our limited knowledge of life (we really don’t know of any non-carbon based life form), it’s possible that life can exist on a planet without oxygen. So it’s possible that there’s alien life on exoplanets.
“The only limitation in identifying them, if they exist, is our technological capability. And sense of imagination.”
Two years without polio – Main Article
T Jacob John, formerly a teacher at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, writes an interesting piece on polio, and brings some rare good news about health in India. In the 1980s, 200,000 to 400,000 children were afflicted with polio paralysis annually in India. Thirty years on, the last child with wild virus polio was detected in January 13, 2013. We have passed two “high seasons” in 2011 and 2012 without a single case. He writes, “India has truly succeeded, silencing the many prophets of failure.”
Now instead of exporting the highly contagious disease, we have to prevent it from coming into India especially from our neighbours. An interesting fact is that of the five border crossings from Pak to India, entrants are given one dose of polio vaccine. India spends Rs 1000 crore a year since 2000 to prevent polio, so much so that it has eased up global funds for use in other countries that needed them more!
The Hindustan Times, January 14, 2013
At the expense of its neighbour – Editorial
The edit comments on Pakistan’s aggression at the LoC and says that one of the main reasons for the renewed assertiveness against India is the confidence Pakistan has gotten from the US’ impending withdrawal from Afghanistan. It also points out that the four blasts in Pakistan against Shias are another indication that Pakistan’s social fabric is unfolding.
“The question is then why would a country with so many problems on its hands want to pick a fight with a neighbour who is roughly six times its size.” The answer this edit feels is the Pakistan army, which has arrested Pakistan’s natural evolution and made sure that the country is in a permanent state of hostility towards its neighbours – so that it can have an unrivalled standing in the country. At its neighbour’s expense.
Casting a deadly net – Editorial
And it seems Pakistan is at it in Jharkhand too. Weapons found with Maoists in Jharkhand after the ambush of CRPF personnel in Jharkhand, which killed 13 people, have clear markings of being sourced from Pakistan.
Although India’s Maoist strategy has been criticised for being manpower-intensive and enemy-centric and only pays “lip service” to “a population-centric strategy”, “the discovery of the weapons means that the State will now have to investigate the wider linkages and get organisations like Natgrid into the picture.”
Let’s reach out in time – Editorial
Harsh Mander, Director, Centre of Equity Studies, writes that “The tallest barriers to our capacities for empathy are not for rape victims but the perpetrators. They too, are worthy of our compassion and understanding.”
He feels that the rapists themselves, especially the juvenile in this case, deserve our empathy too, because the system failed him and other such juvenile offenders. “On the streets they grow up abused, beaten and exploited by men in uniform and adult criminals.” He also feels that by creating a hyper-consumerist and hyper-sexualised world, all of us are in many ways complicit in this terrible act of violence.
The Indian Express, January 14, 2013
Terms of retreat – Editorial
America’s withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan “will reduce Washington’s burdens, but it could also set the stage for a new and violent chapter in the tragic history of Afghanistan”. The edit goes to suggest that the Afghan National Army and police forces, though trained by the Americans, are not fit to counter the stronger Taliban and other military groups. In light of all this, India must prepare itself for political and military instability in Afghanistan.
Running on fumes – Editorial
The Express crows at British environmentalist and long time anti-GM campaigner Mark Lynas’ statement supporting GM crops. Starting the edit with “the debate is over”, it says that the anti-GM arguments were based not on science, but an instinctive suspicion of technology and capitalism. It emphasises that “given the enormous and growing demands of food security… not harnessing science with solid regulation to produce more food is the real act of irresponsibility”.
A call to leadership – Main Article
In light of the most recent ceasefire violation, C Raja Mohan, contributing editor to The Indian Express and distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, writes that India must be wary of the hawkish stance taken by some inside and outside the government. He also says that there are many in Pakistan who would rather focus on India’s than Pakistan’s many internal problems. He suggests three things the UPA should do -
- Remind the armed forces that the preservation of the ceasefire on the LoC is important for bilateral relationships
- Not take the ceasefire for granted. It was always going to be difficult to maintain.
- Undertake “long overdue” reforms of the higher defence organisation of the country. The writer says that the MoD has been very weak in leading the security forces.
The Times of India, January 14, 2013
Playing With Fire – Editorial
The edit comments on the recent clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops, which have once again posed a challenge to the bilateral engagement process between the two countries.
The ISI remains “a state within a state” and is known to support anti-India terrorist, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief, Hafiz Saeed, who despite his involvement in the 26/11 terror attacks, remains a free citizen of Pakistan.
Given US’ decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2014, Islamabad is at a crucial juncture in its history. “It can either go back to its tactic of treating Afghanistan as affording strategic depth against India and continue using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Or it could genuinely crack down on all terrorist groups operating from its soil.”
Both Sides Now – Editorial
The Prime Minister has cautioned against erecting a “license-permit-quota raj” over grant of environmental clearances. This comes in the wake of the National Highways Authority moving court seeking the delinking of forest and environment clearances for highway projects. This, the edit comments, was prompted following the exit, from an expressway project, of infrastructure major GMR due to delayed approvals from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
“Contracts awarded this fiscal fall way short of the 8,800 km targeted for highway construction. Overall, delayed clearances and land-related hurdles have blocked road, power and mining projects worth Rs 2,00,000 crore. Regulatory streamlining and transparency are urgent.”
Furthermore, the edit feels, it is now essential to consider the industry’s proposal that a number of clearances be issued before the bidding of projects.
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