The News Editorial Analysis 16 October 2021

The News Editorial Analysis 16 October 2021

Tackling terror: On J&K civilian deaths.

Civil society, political forces must do their best to remove fear among minorities in J&K.

The News Editorial Analysis 16 October 2021

The uptick in the number of deaths of civilians, including those of the minority community after terror attacks recently is a major setback when the number of violent incidents in the Kashmir Valley was the lowest in five years. Orchestrated allegedly by a shadowy force calling itself The Resistance Front (TRF), termed by security forces as being set up by the LeT, the killings have resulted in fear gripping the Valley’s minority Hindu and Sikh communities. Notwithstanding statements from mainstream political parties and separatist organisations condemning the violence, many Kashmiri Pandit and Sikh employees abstained from work or took leave temporarily, worried about their security.

This is an unfortunate outcome that calls to mind the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits due to terror attacks in the early 1990s. The reversal of this dangerous trend requires not only a reassurance of security from the Government for members of the minority communities such as the Pandits and the Sikhs but also a commitment for solidarity with the victims from the various political forces and civil society. The targeted nature of the killings by a “faceless” terror group suggests that its aim was to use the disquiet in the Valley with the recent administrative and political measures to foment communal discord and violence.

Beyond the condemnation from the polity, civil society in such situations must take the initiative to foster communal amity and to mobilise people across communities against hatred. In this regard, the recent appeals by some masjids in Srinagar requesting the public to show solidarity with the victims and to prevent the furthering of fear among Kashmiri Pandits is a welcome step indicating an intention to not let the situation deteriorate to what happened in the early 1990s. The UT administration followed up with a strong crackdown on the insurgency seeking to isolate and quell the militant network that is allegedly responsible for the attacks. While the reactions from the polity and civil society and the administrative actions by the Government are necessary, they are not sufficient to restore normalcy in the Valley. The suspension of the polity with the absence of an elected Assembly, and the stasis and alienation that had set in since the abrogation of J&K’s special status, its bifurcation and designation as a Union Territory would make the job of administration even more difficult. An immediate renewal of political dialogue to address this along with the restoration of Statehood and the complete resumption of political and press freedoms will help create the environment to isolate and tackle terror in the region.

Gati Shakti can cut logistics costs if it can convince all States to come on board

PM Gati Shakti, a ‘national masterplan’ for multi-modal connectivity, seeks to do exactly this. It will subsume the Rs 110 lakh crore National Infrastructure Pipeline that was launched in 2019.


Context: With the Gati Shakti National Master Plan that he launched on October 13, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expanded on the familiar theme that India’s slowing economic growth engine can find renewed momentum through major infrastructure upgrades that will cut logistics costs for industry and raise all round efficiency.

 PM Gati Shakti Plan:

  • Massive Inter-departmental partnership: 16 central government departments, including Railways, Roads and Highways, Petroleum & Gas, Power, Telecom, Shipping, Aviation and others will be part of this initiative.
  • Centralized portal: All existing and planned initiatives of various departments will be included in one centralised portal to enhance the visibility of each other’s activities providing critical data while planning and execution of projects.
  • Geo-tagging different modes: It will use geo-mapping and real-time data in one centralised portal, especially the ones which have multi-sectoral and multi-regional reach.
  • Integrating Industry, energy and communication in planning:
    • Connecting 11 industrial corridorsand 2 new defence corridors – in Tamil Nadu & UP. 
    • Extending4G connectivity to all villages is another aim. 
    • Addinggas pipeline network, transmission network & renewable capacity.
  • PM Gati ShaktiNational Master Plan fixes targets up to 2024-25 for all infrastructure ministries:
    • For Road Transport and Highways Ministry:
      • achieving National Highways of 2 lakh km,
      • completion of four or six-lane national highways of 6000 km along coastal areas and
      • All state capitals in north-east to be connected with 4-lane national highways or 2 two-lane national highways.
    • Railways: by completing additional lines and implementation of  2 DFCs
      • To handle cargo of 1,600 million tonnes from 1,210 MT currently,
      • decongesting 51% of the Railway network.
    • Civil Aviation:to double the existing aviation footprint to have a total of 220 airports, heliports & water aerodromes by 2025 by building additional 109 such facilities.
    • In Shipping:to have total cargo capacity to be handled at the ports at 1,759 MMTPA from 1,282 MMTPA in 2020.
    • The gas pipelinenetwork: It is aimed to be doubled to 34,500 km by 2024-25 by building an additional 17,000 km long trunk pipeline connecting major demand and supply centres for industries, as per the plan.
    • Power lines:
  • the total transmission network by 2024-25 is targeted to be 4.52 lakh circuit km and
    • therenewable energy capacity will be increased to 225 GW from 87.7 GW presently.

The importance given in the plan to rail-road multimodal connectivity:

  • Reducing Logistics costs: The cost of logistics to GDP that has prevailed at about 14%. Reducing it to an aspirational 8%.
  • Reducing emissions: There is also the challenge of reducing vehicular emissions from road freight growth in order to meet climate change commitments and containing input costs due to extraordinarily high taxes on diesel.
  • Reducing turn-around time: A similar fillip to efficiency in port operations can increase cargo handling capacity and cut vessel turnaround time.
  • End decades of bureaucratic entanglementsand working in silos when it comes to infrastructure projects.
  • Planned development: Earlier, the wide gap between macro planning and micro implementation, problems of lack of coordination, lack of advance information, thinking and working in silos were leading to hampered construction and wastage of budget.

 Importance of State- Centre partnership:

  • It projects maximum investments towards NIP sectors such as energy, roads, urban infrastructure and railways for FY 2021 and 22, with about ₹8.5-lakh crore to be invested by either side annually, besides ₹4.5-lakh crore per year from the private sector.


Economic slowdown: The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt in terms of lost jobs, depressed wages and consumption.

  • Significantdelays to projects can often be traced to incompatible and hostile land acquisition decisions that alienate communities or threaten to violate environmental integrity.
  • Land acquisition:Convincing citizens that they stand to benefit from such grand plans through better social welfare, lower service costs and higher efficiencies, and respecting federal boundaries while dealing with the States are other imperatives.


  • Government is pinning their hopes on infrastructure projects for a new deal outcome that will boost jobs and demand for goods and commodities, besides attracting major investments
  • Evidently, States have a crucial role in all this, considering that key pieces of the plan such as port linkages and land availability for highways, railways, industrial clusters and corridors depend on political consensus and active partnership.
  • Higher share of freight for the railways — is articulated also by NITI Aayog.

 TB deaths up in pandemic: WHO

Tuberculosis deaths rise for the first time in more than a decade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of global progress in tackling tuberculosis and for the first time in over a decade, TB deaths have increased, according to the report. In 2020, more people died from TB, with far fewer people being diagnosed and treated or provided with TB preventive treatment compared with 2019, and overall spending on essential TB services falling.

The first challenge is disruption in access to TB services and a reduction in resources. In many countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from tackling TB to the COVID-19 response, limiting the availability of essential services.

The second is that people have struggled to seek care in the context of lockdowns.

“This report confirms our fears that the disruption of essential health services due to the pandemic could start to unravel years of progress against tuberculosis,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This is alarming news that must serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need for investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease.”

TB services are among many others disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but the impact on TB has been particularly severe.For example, approximately, 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020 (including 214 000 among HIV positive people).

The increase in the number of TB deaths occurred mainly in the 30 countries with the highest burden of TB. WHO modelling projections suggest the number of people developing TB and dying from the disease could be much higher in 2021 and 2022.

Challenges with providing and accessing essential TB services have meant that many people with TB were not diagnosed in 2020. The number of people newly diagnosed with TB and those reported to national governments fell from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.

WHO estimates that some 4.1 million people currently suffer from TB but have not been diagnosed with the disease or have not officially reported to national authorities. This figure is up from 2.9 million in 2019.

The countries that contributed most to the global reduction in TB notifications between 2019 and 2020 were India (41%), Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%) and China (8%). These and 12 other countries accounted for 93% of the total global drop in notifications. There was also a reduction in provision of TB preventive treatment. Some 2.8 million people accessed this in 2020, a 21% reduction since 2019.  In addition, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB fell by 15%, from 177 000 in 2019 to 150 000 in 2020, equivalent to only about 1 in 3 of those in need.

Global investment for TB falls

Funding in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that account for 98% of reported TB cases remains a challenge. Of the total funding available in 2020, 81% came from domestic sources, with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa) accounting for 65% of total domestic funding.The largest bilateral donor is the Government of the United States of America. The biggest international donor is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The report notes a fall in global spending on TB diagnostic, treatment and prevention services, from US$ 5.8 billion to US$ 5.3 billion, which is less than half of the global target for fully funding the TB response of US$ 13 billion annually by 2022.  Meanwhile, although there is progress in the development of new TB diagnostics, drugs and vaccines, this is constrained by the overall level of R&D investment, which at US$ 0.9 billion in 2019 falls far short of the global target of US$ 2 billion per year.

Global TB targets off track

Reversals in progress mean that the global TB targets are off track and appear increasingly out of reach, however there are some successes.  Globally, the reduction in the number of TB deaths between 2015 and 2020 was only 9.2% – about one quarter of the way to the 2020 milestone of 35%.Globally, the number of people falling ill with TB each year (relative to population) dropped 11% from 2015 to 2020, just over half-way to the 2020 milestone of 20%.However, the WHO European Region exceeded the 2020 milestone, with a reduction of 25%. This was mostly driven by the decline in the Russian Federation, where incidence fell by 6% per year between 2010 to 2020. The WHO African Region came close to reaching the milestone, with a reduction of 19%, which reflects impressive reductions of 4–10% per year in South Africa and  several other countries in southern Africa, following a peak in the HIV epidemic and the expansion of TB and HIV prevention and care.  

“We have just one year left to reach the historic 2022 TB targets committed by Heads of State at the first UN High Level Meeting on TB. The report provides important information and a strong reminder to countries to urgently fast-track their TB responses and save lives,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “This will be crucial as preparations begin for the 2nd UN High Level Meeting on TB mandated for 2023.”The report calls on countries to put in place urgent measures to restore access to essential TB services. It further calls for a doubling of investments in TB research and innovation as well as concerted action across the health sector and others to address the social, environmental and economic determinants of TB and its consequences. The new report features data on disease trends and the response to the epidemic from 197 countries and areas, including 182 of the 194 World Health Organization (WHO) Member States.

Aim is to make India a strong military power on its own strength: Modi

PM formally launches 7 new DPSUs, incorporated after dissolution of OFB

Under the initiative of AtmanirbharBharat, the goal is to make India a strong military power globally on its own strength and also develop a modern indigenous defence industry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday.Formally launching seven new Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU), incorporated after the dissolution of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), on the occasion of Vijayadasami, he stated, “As India enters 75 years of Independence, we are completing projects that were stuck for a long time. The decision to revamp 41 Ordnance Factories, the launch of seven new companies, is a part of that journey. This decision was pending for the last 15-20 years. I am confident that these seven companies will become a major base of India’s military strength in the times to come.”

Today, there was more transparency, trust, and technology-driven approach in the defence sector than ever before. Defence exports have increased by 325% in the last five years. “While competitive cost is our strength, quality and reliability should be our identity,” he asserted.

On June 16, the Union Cabinet approved a

The over 70,000 employees of the OFB (Group A, B & C) belonging to the production units and also the identified non-production units have been transferred  masse to the new DPSUs on terms of foreign service without any deputation allowance initially for a period of two years.

‘Strategic asset’

Speaking at the event, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh observed that the infrastructure and skilled manpower of the OFB were an important and strategic asset of the country, but in the last few decades, “concerns have been raised regarding high costs, inconsistent quality and delay in supply of OFB products by the armed forces. ”The new structure will help overcome these various shortcomings in the existing system of OFB and encourage these companies to become competitive and explore new opportunities in the market including exports,” he noted. The seven new companies are Munitions India Limited, Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited, Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited, Troop Comforts Limited, Yantra India Limited, India Optel Limited, and Gliders India Limited.

Fall in stubble burning incidents in Punjab & Haryana, says panel.

This, however, is a preliminary analysis as harvesting is still on, says CAQM

There is a 70% reduction so far in instances of stubble burning in Punjab and 18% in Haryana from last year, according to a report on Friday by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM).

Last year in Punjab there were 4,216 instances of burning from September 15-October 14 and 1,286 in the same period this year. There were 596 in Haryana last year compared to 487 this year, a press statement by the CAQM claimed.

In eight districts of Uttar Pradesh, there were 22 instances of burning this year compared to 42 last year.

This, however, is a preliminary analysis as harvesting is still under way and the day-to-day variation in the number of fires is extremely high.

Dr. Ravinder Khaiwal, who closely tracks pollution trends and its impact on health, at PGIMER, Chandigarh, and monitors data from a NASA satellite that can detect thermal radiation, told The Hindu that when comparing data till October 15 in Haryana, there’s an increase in fires by 24% and till October 13 — a 30% decrease in fires. Similarly, in Punjab, a comparison till October 15 shows a reduction by 5%, whereas till October 13 it was a reduction of 67%. “Because we are far from the peak of harvesting there will be a significant variation every day and we will have to wait for a few weeks to know if there are fewer fires this year than in previous years,” he told The Hindu.

Decrease in paddy area

Dr. Khaiwal added that he was optimistic there would be a decrease in fires this year because of a decrease in the area allotted to paddy sowing this year. “There are several initiatives taken such as the increased use of happy seeder [harvesting equipment] and the use of bio-decomposers but this will take time for results to show. Also, it is important to underline that meteorological conditions play a significant role in worsening pollution.”

The CAQM made a similar observation last week reporting that a 7% decrease in the area allotted to paddy and moving crops away from the popular variety PUSA 44 (that leaves behind more stubble in its wake) along with measures by Governments of Punjab and Haryana would likely to reduce fire count instances.

Over the years it has been observed that fire counts increase when there is too little time between the paddy being ready for harvesting and the right time to sow wheat. This year, excessive moisture in northern India due to an overhanging monsoon and a delay in the markets opening for trading, may further squeeze the time available for farmers to harvest and sow, further forcing them to set their fields alight.

This year the major districts in Punjab that reported instances of burning were Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Patiala and Ludhiana that accounted for 72% of burning events. In Haryana, Kaithal, Karnal and Kurukshetra accounted for 80% of the instances.

Fines imposed

Of the total 1,795 sites where burning had been reported, 663 fields had been inspected by officials and fines, or “environmental compensation” as they are called, were imposed on 252.

“Harvesting will be at its peak in the next few weeks and State Governments were taking steps to improve efficacy of enforcement and implementation to effectively tackle the problem of stubble burning,” the CAQM statement noted.

Compassion cannot be forever, says SC

Court passes order on Kashmiri migrants.

Compassion cannot continue in perpetuity, the Supreme Court said in an order holding that Kashmiri migrants who retired as government officers cannot stay in official accommodation indefinitely.

The order was passed by a Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and A.S. Bopanna in applications filed by retired officers occupying government accommodation in Delhi and Gurgaon. Some of these officers had been victims of terrorism and served in critical intelligence offices.

“Applicants are occupying the government accommodation at the cost of other government servants who are waiting in queue for allotment of a government accommodation to discharge their official duties. The compassion shown to Kashmiri migrants has to be balanced with the expectations of the serving officers to discharge their duties effectively,” the recent order said.

The court struck down as arbitrary an office memorandum allowing government accommodation to retired employees who were Kashmiri migrants.

It said post retirement, the government employees, including Kashmiri migrants, were granted pensionary benefits including monthly pension. The classification made in favour of government employees who were Kashmiri migrants stood on the same footing as that of other government employees or public figures.

There cannot be any justification on the basis of social or economic criteria to allow Kashmiri migrants to stay in government accommodation for indefinite long period, the court noted.

The court said statements like these employees would return to the Valley when the situation improved was “open-ended statement capable of being interpreted in different ways”.

However, the court found it reasonable that Kashmiri migrants were allowed government accommodation for a period of three years from the date of retirement so as to make alternative arrangements within such period.

If an alternative accommodation was not available for them at their instance, they were at liberty to move to the transit accommodation or to avail cash amount in lieu of transit accommodation, the court said. The court concluded that a government employee, who is a Kashmiri migrant, would thus not be entitled to retain government accommodation for a period exceeding three years, may be in Delhi or in the National Capital Region or for that matter anywhere in the country.

“The three-years period can also be considered as cooling-off period for the officers who were in active intelligence work so that they can resume normal life but the excuse of once working for intelligence agency is not a valid ground to occupy the government accommodation for indefinite period,” it said.

The court also referred to the submissions made by Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan that the various benefits given to Kashmiri migrants include financial aid for rehabilitation.The court recorded Ms. Divan’s submission that, after the withdrawal of Article 370 from the Constitution, Kashmiri migrants have started moving back to the Valley.

She had referred to the Union Home Ministry statement in the Lok Sabha in March 2021 that nearly 3,800 persons had returned back to the Valley in the past few years to take up the PM package jobs. More than 500 migrants had returned to Kashmir for taking up jobs under the rehabilitation package after the withdrawal.

Another nearly 2,000 migrants were also likely to return under the same policy in the year 2021 on successful completion of the selection process, the court referred to the government’s statement.



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