The Hindu: October 7, 2015 02:29 IST
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015 has been awarded to three scientists for the "revolutionary treatments" they developed for devastating diseases that predominantly affect people in the developing countries. The discovery of the drug ivermectin, a derivative of avermectin, by William Campbell of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and by Satoshi Ômura of Kitasato University in Tokyo, nearly eradicated river blindness and radically reduced the incidence of lymphatic filariasis. The discovery of artemisinin by Tu Youyou of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing in the early-1970s was a decisive step in the battle against severe cases of malaria. Unlike the quest by the two Laureates for a remedy for roundworm infestation, Dr. Tu's hunt for a potent anti-malarial drug turned out to be as dramatic as the drug itself. "In keeping with Mao Zedong's urgings to explore and further improve the great treasure house" of Chinese medicine, she pored through ancient texts for leads. The secret operation, named Project 523 and announced on May 23, 1967, investigated more than 2,000 preparations before an extract from Artemisia annua (sweet wormwood) showed promise. Deftly combining traditional knowledge with modern science, she redesigned the extraction process, and purified the extract to make it both potent and safe. She was involved in isolating the active ingredient, conducting clinical trials and publishing the results. In 1973, she modified artemisinin to generate a powerful drug.
The miracle drug has prevented millions of malarial deaths. Yet, in 2013 there were 198 million cases of malaria and an estimated 584,000 deaths worldwide, over 90 per cent of them in Africa. As in the case of many other wonder drugs, resistance to artemisinin is fast emerging. As of February 2015, artemisinin resistance has been confirmed in five countries of the Greater Mekong subregion — Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. What is alarming is that artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum has been found to occur across much of Upper Myanmar "including regions close to the Indian border in the Northwest". In fact, the zone where resistance to artemisinin exists has come to within 25 km of the Indian border. Since the Myanmar-India boundary was a "path followed by resistance to chloroquine" to spread from South East Asia to the Indian subcontinent, a recurrence in the case of artemisinin-resistant malaria has to be averted at any cost. Already over 40,000 people in India die each year, and according to the World Malaria Report 2011, over 70 per cent of India's population is at risk of malaria infection. The tasks and the challenges thus remain.
· devastating adjective (VERY HARMFUL)
>causing a lot of damage or destruction:
If the bomb had exploded in the main shopping area, it would have been devastating.
> more noticeable or important, or larger in number, than others:
Research forms the predominant part of my job.
>a long search for something that is difficult to find, or an attempt to achieve something difficult:
Nothing will stop them in their quest for truth.
She went to India on a spiritual quest.
· pore over something
— phrasal verb with pore verb
› to look at and study a book, document, etc. carefully:
She spends a lot of time poring over the historical records of the church.
› skilful, clever, or quick:
Her movements were deft and quick.
She answered the journalist's questions with a deft touch.
He's very deft at handling awkward situations.
· avert verb [T] (PREVENT)
› to prevent something bad from happening:
to avert a crisis/conflict/strike/famine
The Hindu: October 7, 2015 02:36 IST
Violence as the new normal
In directing States to show "zero tolerance" to attempts to "weaken the secular fabric" of the country, the Union Home Ministry was voicing its concern at the widening social acceptance of communal violence as a normal part of everyday life. The lynching in Dadri of Mohammad Akhlaq for "eating beef" was an extreme case, but the circumstances that led to the murder were not dissimilar to those in many other parts of the country following the political mobilisation along communal lines against cattle slaughter. That the Ministry thought it fit to issue the directive despite law and order being a State subject indicates the seriousness of the situation in several States. Many Hindutva activists have projected cow slaughter as a deliberate assault on the religious sensitivities of Hindus by butchers and traders and exporters belonging to other religions. In such a situation, it would not take much effort on the part of extremist elements to portray any meal in a non-Hindu family as a grave provocation. Thus, the advisory issued by the Ministry — warning against the exploitation of religious emotions or sentiments and calling for the "strictest action as per law" against the culprits — demands the urgent attention of State governments. Law enforcers need to act at the very first sign of trouble.
However, the BJP-led government at the Centre should guard against letting this issue descend into a political slugfest with State governments run by other parties. In Uttar Pradesh, especially, the stage seems set for a blame game between the Samajwadi Party and the BJP. In its report to the Centre, the SP government avoided listing any motive for the Dadri attack. To readily grant that the violence was the result of sudden outrage over beef consumption would have been to ignore the systematic, communally charged campaign against cattle slaughter by Hindutva activists. While noting that there were allegations that Akhlaq was killed for consuming the "meat of an animal whose slaughter is banned", the report said no conclusion had been reached as yet. Evidently, the report stuck to the bare, verifiable facts, in order to prevent Hindutva elements from making political capital out of religious sentiments around the cow. Also, this has left the window open to charge the accused with attempting to instigate large-scale communal violence. The Home Ministry, in issuing the directive, might have wanted to shift the onus to the States to prevent such incidents. But, beyond apportioning blame and shifting responsibility, the Central and State governments ought to realise the potential for trouble from this campaign against beef by communally motivated elements.
> a violent attack:
He was charged with sexual assault.
UK The number of indecent assaults has increased alarmingly over the past year.
> a violent attack:
He was charged with sexual assault.
UK The number of indecent assaults has increased alarmingly over the past year.
› the responsibility or duty to do something:
The onus is on the administration to come up with a balanced budget.
Big Brother in Nepal
India is frittering away its political capital
The warmth generated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Nepal last year and India's rapid aid response after the earthquake in April, presaged deeper ties. Three million Nepalis live and work in India and an open border via a 1950 "friendship treaty" has given India a natural advantage over China as a sphere of influence. Sadly, in less than a year, relations have deteriorated so much that senior Indian officials are met with black flags, TV signals from Indian stations are jammed and the social media bristles with anti-India rhetoric. The proximate cause of this surge in India-bashing is the fortnight-long agitation by the Madhesis, inhabitants of a strip of fertile and prosperous plain running along Nepal's southern border with India, over the terms of the Constitution adopted by Nepal's parliament last month. The Madhesis' demands for more representation and autonomy have received tacit support from the Indian establishment in the run-up to the elections in neighbouring Bihar. Several people have died in the clashes — but it has been the week-long blockade of essential supplies at the border that has dangerously heightened tensions. It is widely believed that Madhesi protestors could not have imposed this blockade without India's help.
Madhesi anger may well be valid, but the Indian security establishment's transparently cynical exploitation of an extra-territorial controversy for domestic electoral gain — including urging Nepal to declare itself a "Hindu" country — is hardly exemplary statecraft for a secular country. It is also worth questioning the standards of Indian intelligence-gathering that the government was caught unawares by the terms of the Nepali Constitution. A more pro-active advisory role — one India had played relatively deftly in the 2000s — seems to have been warranted in the endgame of the Constitution-framing process.
To meddle in the internal affairs of a friendly neighbour with whom India needs to cooperate for watershed and environment management of the Himalayan ecosystem can scarcely be termed good diplomacy. India's economic gains also could be substantial if it could successfully tap Nepal's huge hydro-power potential. But, Kathmandu is desperately turning to its giant northern neighbour for alternate routes to access essential supplies and even exploring collaboration in other sectors. It was possible for India to impose a selective blockade on Kathmandu in the 1980s when the latter sought to buy Chinese weapons. Now the balance of power has changed drastically. China's state-directed investment is steadily encroaching on countries around the neighbourhood — from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to Myanmar. And India appears to have frittered away a natural advantage. Kathmandu is only too willing to extend hydro-power concessions; Beijing, suffering a slowdown, is only too keen to look outward to stoke employment and jobs. Time for some old-fashioned diplomacy perhaps?
Waste time, money, or energy on trifling matters.
(of an event) be a sign or warning that (something, typically something bad) will happen
A short stiff hair, typically one of those on an animal's skin, a man's face, or a plant.
A sudden powerful forward or upward movement, especially by a crowd or by a natural force such as the waves or tide.
Violent physical assault.
A state of anxiety or nervous excitemen
Understood or implied without being stated.
Dexterously: with dexterity; in a dexterous manner; "dextrously he untied the knots"
Interfere in or busy oneself unduly with something that is not one's concern.
Intrude on (a person's territory or a thing considered to be a right)
· fritter sth away
› to waste money, time, or an opportunity:
If I've got money in my pocket, I tend to fritter it away.
The Indian Express
Outside the club
The conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has sobering trade implications for IndiaTwelve Pacific rim countries have finally agreed on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest regional trade agreement ever, which covers countries that account for 40 per cent of the global economy. The partnership between economic powerhouses like the US, Japan, Australia, Canada and Singapore on the one hand, and Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile and Mexico on the other, is part of an attempt to balance China, which isn't part of the deal, and sets a new benchmark for trade agreements. Though the TPP still has to be ratified by lawmakers in the 12 countries — steering the agreement through Congress is likely to be President Barack Obama's last big challenge — it holds significant lessons and warnings for India.
With the WTO floundering — the Doha Development Round has been stuck for years and a breakthrough doesn't seem imminent — regional and bilateral pacts assume greater significance. But India's progress on concluding trade negotiations hasn't been great. Take for instance, the EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement, under negotiation since 2007 — in contrast, the TPP has been concluded in five years. Sending a bad signal to other prospective trade partners, India had petulantly called off the talks over the EU banning the sale of some generic drugs. But by dithering on such negotiations, India risks costly isolation from important trade clubs. The TPP, for instance, will likely affect India's exports to the 12 Pacific countries. According to one estimate, trade worth $2.7 billion will be diverted away from India. This number could increase to $3.8 billion if South Korea joins the club. The costs could be even higher if India is unable to participate in global supply chains due to the TPP's rules on standards, labour and environment policies. Further, standardisation of intellectual property regimes across the TPP countries and rules on expropriation may make it more difficult for India to attract foreign investment over, say, a Vietnam.
The TPP has altered India's bargaining power and negotiating positions. Take for instance, the bilateral investment treaty under negotiation with the US. The TPP has set a benchmark of sorts for this agreement. Spillover effects of this will be evident in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations between the Asean and six other countries, including India. Now, Delhi must help industry understand how to adapt to a post-TPP world. Further, it needs to urgently strengthen its negotiating teams and re-establish its credibility to conclude big-ticket agreements.
Sign or give formal consent to (a treaty, contract, or agreement), making it officially valid.
A sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development.
About to happen.
Testily: in a petulant manner; "he said testily; `Go away!'"
(of a person or their manner) childishly sulky or bad-tempered.
Oct 07 2015 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)
Perks From Peru
India should benefit from governments collaborating to tighten tax jurisdictions
Achallenge governments face in the wake of globalisation is that economic activities of companies span continents, but tax laws can be enforced only locally. Consequently companies are able to show most of their economic activity taking place in an accounting sense in countries with the lowest tax rate, which lowers their tax payouts. This phenomenon, Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), has led to bitter legal disputes between national tax authorities and companies, distorted economic decisions and an environment of suspicion.The good news is that BEPS is about to end on account of an extraordinary joint effort by the world's leading economies, including India.
Tomorrow, representatives of G20 governments will meet in Peru to discuss the results of collaborative efforts to end BEPS. For an India struggling to protect its tax base, this collaborative effort is significant. Individually , India would have found it near impos sible coping with BEPS. But with governments the world over committed to closing loopholes, India benefits by being part of this larger effort.
Following the meeting in Peru, governments will have to tweak some of their rules to bring them in sync. This is a necessary step to prevent companies sidestep $100 to $240 billion in taxes annually . Globalisation makes it essential for governments to be more collaborative in their approach.
The BEPS project has been two years in the making and is the outcome of growing frustration with a culture of aggressive tax avoidance.Along with BEPS, other collaborative initiatives such as automatic sharing of tax information among countries will herald a more transparent and fairer global economic environment. It is time now for the Narendra Modi government to get its domestic tax reforms in place as well, so that today's hysteria over black money becomes a thing of the past.
Become more cheerful, lively, or interesting
Twist or pull (something) sharply
An official messenger bringing news.
Exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement, especially among a group of people.
Oct 07 2015 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)
A Better Way to Avoid Multiplicity of Unions
The government reportedly is mulling a move to restrict the number of unions in an enterprise, so as to reduce the hassle of the management having to deal with multiple unions, often working at cross purposes. This is a sound move, but the gov ernment could do better than the policy it is reported to favour The government proposes that the management should deal with one union that has more than 50% of the permanent wor kers of the enterprise as members, or, in case there is no single union that qualifies in this fashion, to deal with as many uni ons together whose combined strength in the enterprise is at least 50% of the workers. There is a better idea.
The Centre for Public Policy and Critical Theory at the Shiv Nadar University suggests, as part of its labour law reform proposal, an alternative. It moots every enterprise having one recognised union in which all workers are members. Individual unions can contest elections to hold office in this officially recognised union. Unions are free to function, organising workers without affecting the work of the enterprise. However, the differences of opinion among different unions should be settled within the general body of the official union, whose leadership would represent the collective voice of the enterprise's workers be fore the management. This would reduce the hassle for the management, obviously . It will serve workers' interests better as well, on two counts: the management would not be able to play one union off against another, and unions will work in a democratic framework.
One official body to represent members of a group who mi ght hold diverse views and organise into separate subgroups that seek to influence the representative body , is the way par liamentary democracy itself works.
Think about (a fact, proposal, or request) deeply and at length.
Raise (a question or topic) for discussion; suggest (an idea or possibility)
IT is becoming increasingly common, at least in the city of Karachi, to hear of law-enforcement agencies raiding hospitals and detaining doctors and staff.
These raids are often carried out because suspected militants are thought to be receiving treatment at the hospital; in other cases, the hospital administration is believed to be involved in corruption.
A series of raids over the last few days at a number of private hospitals in the city saw suspected militants being taken into custody; in at least one case, a doctor and some members of the hospital staff were also detained, allegedly for administering medical treatment to militants.
Take a look: Doctor, wounded militants held in raids on three Karachi hospitals
In the most recent of such raids, a patient nabbed from a hospital in Karachi's Bahadurabad locality reportedly gave police information that led to the detention of suspects from other locations; the law enforcers were also told that around 100 Taliban fighters wounded in the tribal areas were being treated in various health facilities in the city.
In this particular case, police claimed to be acting on a tip from intelligence agencies that some of the staff from the hospital in question was extending treatment to militant fighters without alerting the authorities that they were required to do.
In response, police say that they are preparing a set of recommendations on administering medical treatment to patients whose injuries suggest they may be linked to militant activity.
This is very sensitive ground, and the agencies preparing these recommendations must take due care to ensure that they do not put doctors and other medical practitioners in a position where they have to violate one of the central pillars and the ethical foundations of the medical profession: their obligation to extend treatment to anyone who seeks it.
Apprehending suspected militants when they try to flee or seek treatment for injuries is a necessary part of the ongoing fight against terrorism, but doctors must not be forced into a position where they have to judge the patient first before extending medical help.
Such a dilemma also creates a perverse incentive for doctors to look for reasons to deny treatment on suspicion that the patient may be linked to militant activity.
The fight against terrorism and extremism must continue, and in times to come it will undoubtedly take us deeper into uncharted terrain. And yet, the ethical foundations of other professions, especially medicine, must be respected in the course of carrying on this fight
Keep (someone) in official custody, typically for questioning about a crime or in politically sensitive situations.
Catch (someone) doing something wrong.
Arrest (someone) for a crime.
A stretch of land, especially with regard to its physical features