The News Editorial Analysis 8th Jan 2022

The News Editorial Analysis 8th Jan 2022

The News Editorial Analysis 8th Jan 2022

SC permits NEET counselling under present OBC, EWS quota

Final hearing on validity of ₹8 lakh annual family income limit in March, it says

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) counselling to proceed so as to not “dislocate” medical admissions this year.

The court also upheld the 27% reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and 10% for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) seats in accordance with a July 29, 2021 government order. There would be no further debate on this aspect.

The ₹8 lakh gross annual family income limit criterion for identifying the EWS, as originally notified by a January 2019 official memorandum and recommended for retention by the government-appointed former Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey-led Expert Committee on December 31, 2021, would be now implemented for the admission year 2021-2022.

The question of the validity of the EWS criteria, including the ₹8 lakh income threshold, which have to be implemented in this year’s NEET counselling so as not to upset medical admissions for 2021-2022, would be heard finally and decided upon by the Supreme Court in March third week, a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna noted in its interim order.

After pronouncing it, Justice Chandrachud clarified orally to the parties that “we have upheld the constitutional validity of the 27% reservation for the OBCs. On the EWS criteria, we have said for this year, the criteria which was notified earlier [January 2019] shall continue to operate to ensure that the admission process for this year shall not be dislocated”.

The judge continued, “prospectively, and for the future, we will hear the petitions finally on the EWS criteria in the third week of March and rule on that. The ruling will then apply prospectively and for the future”.

Pronouncing the operative directions in the interim order, the court noted the “urgent need to commence the process of NEET counselling” for 2021-2022.

Firstly, the court agreed with the government and the Pandey committee that the EWS criteria as stipulated in January 2019 need to be used for the NEET admissions this year so that the entire exercise is not derailed.

“Counselling for NEET PG 2021 and NEET UG 2021 shall be conducted by giving effect to the reservation provided by the notification of July 29, 2021, including 27% reservation for OBC and 10% reservation for EWS category for the AIQ seats,” it ordered.

Secondly, it directed that the “criteria for the determination of the EWS, as notified by January 2019 official memorandum, shall be used for identifying the EWS category for candidates who appeared for NEET PG and NEET UG examinations in 2021”. Thirdly, it said any further and prospective recommendations made by the Pandey committee, modifying the criteria in the January 2019 memorandum, would be subject to the final result of the adjudication of the case in court.

The case concerns petitions filed by doctors in August 2021 against the July 29, 2021 notification issued by the Directorate General of Health Services of the Ministry of Health implementing 27% and 10% reservation for the OBC and EWS categories respectively while filling 15% undergraduate and 50% postgraduate AIQ seats under NEET.

The hearings in the case saw the court raise questions about the ₹8 lakh income limit to identify the EWS category as per the January 2019 official memorandum. The court wondered whether there was any application of mind before fixing the ₹8 lakh limit , and whether it was only a “mechanical adoption” of the OBC creamy lawyer cut-off.

FCRA nod for Missionaries of Charity restored

Government, on Friday, issued orders delineating the jurisdictions and headquarters of various circles of the Forest department, post reorganisation of districts. The orders spelt out circle-wise territorial, functional and special jurisdictions.

Under the territorial forestry, Kumram Bheem Asifabad, Mancherial, Jayashankar Bhupalapalli, and Mulugu districts have been grouped under the Kaleshwaram circle, with Bhupalapally as the headquarters. Adilabad, Nirmal, Nizamabad, and Jagtial districts come under the Basara circle, with Nirmal as headquarters. Karimnagar, Rajanna Sircilla, Siddipet, Medak and Kamareddy have been brought under the Rajanna circle with Siddipet as headquarters.Bhadradri Kothagudem, Khammam, Mahabubabad, and Warangal districts have been grouped under the Bhadradri circle, with Warangal as headquarters. Suryapet, Nalgonda, Yadadri Bhuvanagiri, and Jangaon have been brought under Yadadri circle with Nalgonda as headquarters. Medchal Malkajgiri, Hyderabad, RR and Sangareddy districts come under Charminar circle with Hyderabad as headquarters.

Mahabubnagar, Narayanpet, Jogulamba Gadwal, Wanaparthy and Nagarkurnool districts have been grouped under Jogulamba circle with Mahabubnagar as headquarters.

Under special circles, Nagarjunasagar division of Nalgonda district and Nagarkurnool districts have been brought under the Amrabad Tiger Reserve with Achampet as headquarters.Asifabad and Mancherial districts, along with Khanapur division of Nirmal district and Utnoor division of Adilabad district, have been brought under the Kawal Tiger Reserve with Mancherial as headquarters.

Hyderabad will, as always, be the functional headquarters, throughout the State with regard to specific activities such as research and development and zoo parks.

NSO estimates FY22 GDP growth at 9.2%

COVID-19 could impact final numbers

India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 9.2% in the current financial year following last fiscal’s 7.3% contraction, the National Statistical Office (NSO) said in its first advance estimates of economic output released on Friday, amid concerns over the likely impact of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NSO, however, made clear that these were “early projections” that did not factor in actual performance of various indicators as well as measures that may be taken to contain the spread of the pandemic.“GDP at constant prices (2011-12) in the year 2021-22 is estimated at ₹147.54 lakh crore, as against the provisional estimate of GDP for the year 2020-21 of ₹135.13 lakh crore,” the NSO said, adding that growth in real GDP is pegged at 9.2%. “Real GVA at Basic Prices is estimated at ₹135.22 lakh crore in 2021-22, as against ₹124.53 lakh crore in 2020-21, showing a growth of 8.6%,” it added.

“The implicit GDP growth of 5.6% for H2 FY2022 built in by the NSO may not fully factor in the admittedly evolving impact of Omicron,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist at ICRA Ltd. “Our sense is that after a 6.0-6.5% rise in Q3 FY2022, the GDP expansion is set to slip below 5% in the ongoing quarter,” she added.The NSO’s GVA estimates show the mining sector outpacing others with growth of 14.3% following last year’s 8.5% contraction, followed by manufacturing which is seen expanding by 12.5% after shrinking 7.2% in the previous 12-month period.

Agriculture sector is estimated to grow at 3.9% in FY22 (3.6%). The electricity, water supply and other utility services category is estimated to grow at 8.5% (1.9%), while construction is expected to grow 10.7% (-8.6%) and trade, hotels, transport, communication and broadcasting services are projected to grow at 11.9% against a sharp contraction of 18.2% last year.

A serious lapse

An improved protocol for the PM’s travel, and a repurposing of the SPG might be necessary

The lapse in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security arrangements, which left his convoy stranded on a flyover for around 20 minutes, near Ferozepur in Punjab on Wednesday is indeed a serious one as stated by the Union Home Ministry. But by quickly blaming the Punjab government and the State police, the Central functionaries triggered a blame game that has forestalled the possibility of a fair and credible inquiry into the incident. Two parallel inquiries have been announced, one by the Centre and another by the State, both of which are on hold until Monday when the Supreme Court of India will hear a plea on the issue. Discussions on national security are always surcharged in India but at least this one involving the personal security of the Prime Minister should have been more tempered. Union Ministers and Bharatiya Janata Party functionaries turned this into yet another loyalty test, and resorted to hyperbole. India takes the security of its Prime Minister very seriously. After all, a sitting Prime Minister, a former Prime Minister, and the leader revered as the father of the nation are among the list of the country’s assassinated leaders. The Special Protection Group (SPG), with an outlay of around ₹600 crore in 2020 and around 3,000 personnel has just one job — protect one person, the Prime Minister.

The critical question that is to be probed is who made the decision that the Prime Minister could, and should, travel by road for more than 100 km, from Bathinda to Ferozepur and what inputs went into making that decision. Assuming that someone concluded that it was advisable for the Prime Minister to be on the road for nearly two hours, the process that preceded it must be probed. It was also decided that the Prime Minister should not be using a helicopter as was originally planned. The route was identified in advance as a contingency plan, but the decision to use it was made at the last moment — a version that both the State and Central governments agree on. Various scenarios involving miscommunication, misinformation and misjudgment are possible. Protesters who blocked the route were reportedly unaware of the Prime Minister’s travel. As the Union Home Minister said, accountability must be fixed, and loopholes must be plugged. Considering the mutual distrust the State and the Centre have now public, a Supreme Court-monitored probe could be a good way to get to the bottom of the matter in a credible manner. This episode must also lead to a more efficient protocol for the Prime Minister’s travel, and a repurposing of the SPG, if required. Meanwhile, loose talk, diatribe and electioneering on the issue must be shunned at all cost.

The baton of forest restoration in the net zero race

For carbon sequestration, India must revisit its policy framework and reverse fading participation of local communiti

India’s pledge to set a net zero target by 2070, at the COP26 summit, Glasgow, has again highlighted the importance of forests as an undisputed mechanism to help mitigate the challenges of climate change. Though, in more specific terms, this was already highlighted during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) framework (2013) of REDD+ for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, along with the ‘sustainable management of forests for the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks’. In a study by Griscom (2017), land-based sinks (natural climate solutions which also include forests) can provide up to 37% of emission reduction and help in keeping the global temperature below 2° C. Further, recent research has favoured a natural regeneration model of restoration over the existing much-hyped mode of tree planting as such forests are said to secure nearly 32% carbon storage, as per one report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Continued degradation

Though India is said to have increased its forest cover by 15,000 square kilometres in the last six years, the degradation of existing forests continues. As per the State of Forests Report (1989), the country had 2,57,409 (7.83% of its geographical area) under the open forest category, having a density of 10% to less than 40%. However, in 30 years (2019) this has been increased to 3,04,499 (9.26%). This means every year on average, nearly 1.57 lakh hectare of forests was degraded. This degradation highlights the presence of anthropogenic pressures including encroachment, grazing, fire, which our forests are subjected to. Having diverted nearly 1.5 million hectares of forests since 1980 for developmental activities and losing nearly 1.48 million hectares of forests to encroachers coupled with an intricate link between poverty and unemployment, India is witnessing enormous degradation of forests and deforestation. This warrants the participation of people as an essential and effective route to achieve the desired target of carbon sequestration through the restoration of forests.

Terms of engagement

In a historic departure from pursuing commercial objectives to supporting the needs of people in a participatory manner (as envisaged in National Forest Policy, 1988), India made its attempt, in 1990, to engage local communities in a partnership mode while protecting and managing forests and restoring wastelands with the concept of care and share. This concept of joint forest management spelt much hope for States and forest-fringe communities. Later, the concept of forest development agencies was introduced to consolidate the efforts in an autonomous model, which paved the way for fund flow from various other sources to joint forest management committees. The efforts to make this participatory approach operative resulted in the formation of nearly 1.18 lakh joint forest management committees managing over 25 million hectares of forest area. Most of these became active and operative while implementing various projects financed by external agencies such as the World Bank, the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) Japan, the Department for International Development (DFID) United Kingdom and the European Union (EU). The similar system of joint management in the case of national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves which existed in the name of eco-development committees initially proved effective as it could garner the support of these participating communities not only for the protection and development of biodiversity but also in the considerable reduction in man-animal conflicts and the protection of forests from fires and grazing.

However, the completion of the project period and lack of subsequent funding affected their functionality and also the protection of forests due to a lack of support from participating local communities including associated non-governmental organisations.

Except for the National Mission for Green India, in all other centrally sponsored programmes such as Project Tiger, fire management, Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH) including the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), the lack of priority and policy support to ensure the participation of local communities via the institutions of joint forest management committees slowly made their participation customary. This caused a gradual decline in their effectiveness.

Changed role now

The role of local institutions of gram panchayat or joint forest management committees is now restricted to be a consultative institution instead of being partners in planning and implementation. This indifference and alienation from the participatory planning and implementation of various schemes further affects the harmony between Forest Departments and communities, endangering the protection of forests. This is more relevant while taking up restoration activities including tree planting outside the designated forest areas where motivation and encouragement of stakeholders (especially panchayats and urban local bodies) are crucial.

As committed at Glasgow, India will have to ‘focus much more on climate change and devise strategies and programmes to achieve the net zero target’. Besides reducing the quantum of emissions in a phased manner — itself full of challenges — the approaches for carbon storage and offsetting through natural sinks such as forests need to be given equal priority.

Replicate Telangana model

To achieve net zero targets there is a need to revisit our existing legal and policy mechanisms, incentivise the local communities appropriately and ensure fund flow for restoration interventions, duly providing for the adequate participation of local people in planning and implementation through local institutions. Political priority and appropriate policy interventions (as done recently in Telangana by amending the panchayat and municipal acts for environmental concerns and creating a provision for a Green Fund, or Telangana Haritha Nidhi, for tree planting and related activities) need replication in other States. These should be supported by enabling financial and institutional support mechanisms and negotiations with stakeholders to incentivise local communities to boost efforts to conserve and develop forest resources. Though India did not become a signatory of the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, the considerations of land tenure and the forest rights of participatory communities with accelerated finances will help aid steps in the race toward net zero. This inclusive approach with political prioritisation will not only help reduce emissions but also help to conserve and increase ‘our forest cover’ to ‘a third of our total area’. It will also protect our once rich and precious biological diversity.

Mohan Chandra Pargaien is Senior IFS officer, Hyderabad, Telangana. The views expressed are personal

China defends construction, says it is within its sovereignty

India has said a bridge it is building is in an area under illegal occupation

A day after New Delhi said a bridge being constructed by China across Pangong Lake in Eastern Ladakh was in an area under “illegal” occupation for six decades, Beijing said its infrastructure “falls within its sovereignty”.

The bridge under construction connects the north and south banks of Pangong Lake, and officials said it would bolster Chinese capabilities to move troops and equipment between its garrisons on the two sides. The construction, officials said, was around 25 km on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“This bridge is being constructed in areas that have been under the illegal occupation by China for around 60 years now,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday, adding that New Delhi was “monitoring this activity closely”. India sees China as occupying at least 38,000 sq km in Aksai Chin.

“India has never accepted such illegal occupation,” he said. “Separately, government has been taking all necessary steps to ensure that our security interests are fully protected. As part of these efforts, government has also, during the last seven years, increased significantly the budget for development of border infrastructure and completed more roads and bridges than ever before.”

Asked about India’s comment on China’s “illegal occupation” at a daily press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said he was “not aware of the situation”, but defended the construction. “I want to stress that China’s infrastructure construction on its territory entirely falls within its sovereignty,” he said, “and is aimed at safeguarding China’s territorial sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the China-India border area.”

Fewer adverse reactions seen among teenagers, says NTAGI

Doctors against overuse of paracetamol post jab in children

Adverse reactions due to COVID vaccination are much lower in teenagers compared to adults, said National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) chief, Dr. N.K. Arora on Friday, adding that Covaxin, which is being given to children between 15-18 years in India, is safe and backed by science and data.

“So far over 1.6 crore children have been vaccinated and we have seen local pain as the most common adverse reaction. Painkillers are given only on doctor’s advice. Parents are advised to ensure that children don’t go on an empty stomach to get vaccinated. Also they must wait in the healthcare facility for 30 minutes after the vaccination to ensure that any adverse reaction is immediately addressed,” he said.

Doctors have also advised that in case of any adverse reactions including allergic reaction, itching at site of injection within 2 to 12 hours of vaccination etc., should be monitored and reported to the nearest health care centre.

“Under no circumstance should self-medication be encouraged,” said Dr. Arora.

No to self-medication

Doctors also advise that teenagers receiving COVID vaccines should not take paracetamol without consultation.

The caution comes amid growing concerns that some immunisation centres are advising children to take three 500 mg paracetamol tablets after receiving the COVID vaccine. “Paracetamol is not recommended as prophylaxis, before and after any COVID vaccination as we don’t know how it alters the immune response of the vaccine. A low-grade fever, muscle ache, lethargy, headache, soreness at the injection site is common in the first 2 days after vaccination, which usually subsides on its own, without any medication. However, if the fever persists or the intensity increases then paracetamol or other painkiller is advised after consultation with a physician,” said Dr. Akshay Budhraja, senior consultant, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Aakash Healthcare.

“Giving paracetamol to children (15-18 years old) who are receiving COVID vaccines is not recommended because it has the potential to cause hepatotoxicity (liver damage caused by drug exposure) in them,” added Dr. Col.Vijay Dutta, senior consultant – Internal Medicine, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre.

India to surpass Japan as Asia’s 2nd largest economy by 2030’

IHS Markit sees consumption spending doubling over a decade to $3 tn by 2030

India is likely to overtake Japan as Asia’s second-largest economy by 2030 when its GDP is also projected to surpass that of Germany and the U.K. to rank as the world’s No.3, IHS Markit said in a report on Friday.

Currently, India is the sixth-largest economy, behind the U.S., China, Japan, Germany and the U.K.

“India’s nominal GDP… is forecast to rise from $2.7 trillion in 2021 to $8.4 trillion by 2030,” IHS Markit said. “This rapid pace of economic expansion would result in the size of Indian GDP exceeding Japanese GDP by 2030, making India the second-largest economy in the Asia-Pacific region.” By 2030, the Indian economy would also be larger in size than the largest Western European economies of Germany, France and the U.K.

The long-term outlook for the Indian economy is supported by a number of key growth drivers.

“An important positive factor for India is its large and fast-growing middle class, which is helping to drive consumer spending,” IHS Markit said, forecasting that the country’s consumption expenditure will double from $1.5 trillion in 2020 to $3 trillion by 2030.

For the full fiscal year 2021-22, India’s real GDP growth rate is projected to be 8.2%, rebounding from the severe contraction of 7.3% year-on-year in 2020-21, IHS Markit said.

The Indian economy is forecast to continue growing strongly in the 2022-23 fiscal year, at a pace of 6.7%.

The rapidly growing consumer market as well as its large industrial sector have made India an increasingly important investment destination for multinationals in many sectors, including manufacturing, infrastructure and services.

India set to become hub for antiviral generics: Fitch

It cites nod to molnupiravir for COVIDIndia will become the largest global hub for COVID-19 antiviral generic drug production after the drug controller granted emergency-use authorisation to several pharmaceutical companies in the country to manufacture and market generic versions of molnupiravir, Fitch Solutions said on Friday.Increased access to molnupiravir will keep hospitalisations and deaths in India to a manageable level as Omicron infections rise, Fitch Solutions said in a report.Those granted authorisation by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) include Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Torrent Pharmaceuticals, Cipla, Sun Pharma, Natco Pharma, Viatris, Hetero Drugs and Mankind Pharma.Following the authorisation, Cipla, Sun Pharma, and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories are set to release molnupiravir capsules in the coming weeks, and the rest of the companies will follow.“This will make India the largest global hub for COVID-19 antiviral generic drug production,” it said.

Tiger cub Mangala to get cataract medicine from US

A tiger cub abandoned by its mother due to disabilities, and which has been learning lessons of hunting in a protected environment, will be receiving medicine from the USA for its cataract treatment. 

The News Editorial Analysis 8th Jan 2022

 A tiger cub abandoned by its mother due to disabilities, and which has been learning lessons of hunting in a protected environment, will be receiving medicine from the USA for its cataract treatment. 
Two forest guards, who were on patrolling duty, had found the tiger cub in the deep jungle near Mangala Devi temple in the Periyar Tiger Reserve on November 22, 2020. The cub which was barely two months old was weak and hungry and was staring at certain death. The mother had abandoned the cub as its hind legs were paralysed and it had poor vision. It was brought to Thekkady forest range office where it  slowly regained strength under the watchful eyes of two forest guards and veterinarian Dr R Anuraj. Named Mangala, the forest department has been providing it the best nutrition to help the cub gain strength and survive in the wild.  A team of veterinarians provided Mangala physiotherapy to rejuvenate her legs and it was shifted to a protected enclosure in July 2021 to be trained in hunting before releasing it in the wild. However, the cub’s poor eyesight was a big concern and an expert team of veterinarians examined the animal and recommended treatment for cataract.The plan is to import ‘lanosterol’, a medicine that can dissolve cataract, from the US. A 5ml vial of lanosterol costs Rs 16,000. The eye drops will be administered for one month and if there is improvement, the treatment will be continued for three months. A team led by chief veterinary officer Arun Zacharia is monitoring its health.

Jammu and Kashmir inks six deals with global investors in Dubai

The News Editorial Analysis 8th.. Jan 2022

Global investors are now eyeing the untapped market in Jammu and Kashmir. At least six agreements have been inked by global investors with J&K government at the Dubai Expo2020.The J&K government has signed five MoUs with Al Maya Group, MATU Investments LLC, GL Employment Brokerage LLC, Century Financial and Noon E-commerce; one LoI between Magna Waves along with Emaar Group and Lulu International at Dubai Expo.The investors will invest in J&K’s real estate, infrastructure, tourism, healthcare and employment sectors. The India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is currently hosting Jammu & Kashmir Week from January 3-13.A two-day Buyer-Seller meet is also being organised between sellers from J&K and buyers from the UAE under ‘One District One Product initiative’. The key focus sectors are agri products, processed food, handicraft and textile.

Addressing the Investors Summit, J&K Lt Governor Manoj Singh highlighted the strong business scenario in J&K. He said big business groups from the UAE had shown interest in investing in J&K, marking the beginning of a new and comprehensive partnership.“J&K has moved from a sleeping business destination to the land of opportunities and investment. J&K received investments to the tune of $2.5 billion in 2021 and showcased the enormous opportunities and business potential,” Sinha said.J&K has the capability to provide opportunity to the industries to compete, correct and collaborate with readily available abundant resources, he added.


The News Editorial Analysis 7th Jan 2022

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