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Is India Prepared Enough to Fight Coronavirus Pandemic?

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Is India Prepared Enough to Fight Coronavirus Pandemic?

Coronavirus a term that brings a chill down the spine of every human being as the cure to this fatal virus is yet to be discovered. With Italy, Spain, Germany and Iraq facing the highest death rates and the increase in the number of positive cases each day, it is essential to look at the preparedness at the country level to fight this pandemic.

In India, COVID – 19 infection remains low relative to its population size. Despite being second in population after China, accommodating more than 1.37 billion people, India as on March 26 has reported 14 deaths with 625 active cases. If we look into the active cases around the world, it has almost reached 5,00,000, taking the lives of around 21,000 people.

Government claims that they were among the first countries to respond to the outbreak with preparations starting from as early as January 17, 2020, says Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. It was just after a week of China reporting it’s first death from coronavirus. Late in January, the World Health Organisation declared it as a global health emergency that India was already prepared to tackle.

On March 6, 2020, there were 31 positive cases, and by March 10, more than 600,000 people had been tested for the virus at various airports and seaports. More than 27,000 people living in the areas bordering with Nepal were put under observation.

Along with this, the Health Minister said that screening labs were set up in Iran to test the returnees reports. Not only this, but medical personnel were also being trained for the potential outbreak with isolation wards being set up in state-run hospitals. As on March 23, India has 114 functional labs for COVID-19 testing.

Despite that, testing in India had not been up to scale when compared to its relatively large population. Many believe India is likewise trying beneath the scale since it fears that its under-resourced and public health framework could be overwhelmed by patients.

India could be purchasing time to load up on testing units and include separation and medical clinic beds. An unexpected spike can effectively overpower existing medical clinics in cases. It isn’t evident whether there are surplus supplies of covers, gloves, outfits, medications and ventilators.

In the past few days nation witnessed, 32 out of 37 states had announced statewide lockdown; all non-essential services were on hold.

At a news briefing, Balram Bhargava Director-General at the Indian Council of Medical Research said the country has a test capacity of 60,000 to 70,000 per week. The numbers of cases in India are relatively low, but most of the positive cases have been connected to overseas travel. It may be because coronavirus may thrive in colder conditions, meaning that it might not spread so quickly in India where temperatures are often more than 30 degrees Celsius.

Since 29.4 per cent of the urban population lives in slums, it is difficult for them to wash hands on a regular basis and maintain the said level of hygiene. The proposition of social distancing proved to be difficult, with 455 people living per square kilometre in India.

PM Modi on March 23, 2020, announced a total lockdown for 21 days starting from March 24, in a bid to curb the virus with the various states’ government ordering the shut down of schools, universities and encouraging on social distancing.

Even with the lockdown, the livelihood of daily workers was severely affected by government urging the employers not to cut out daily wages despite the lockdown and help those in need.

Though WHO claims that the coronavirus has not reached to the community level in India yet; India is not prepared enough to handle this pandemic despite having many measures and cautions in place.

Other Challenges

In the event of a major outbreak, India will face additional challenges. The quality of its public health system is tremendously uneven. Existing hospitals can be easily overwhelmed by a sudden spike in admissions. It is not clear whether there are adequate supplies of masks, gloves, gowns, drugs and ventilators.

Experts say that India is yet to establish a 21st-century health management system, so we will have to bear the consequence of that gap.

India has a prompt detection, plus effective triage ensure that milder infections are taken care of at home, and hospital admissions are reserved strictly for critical patients. However, authorities are right now after the lockdown is struggling to keep people stay put in the house.

Moreover, the Indian mentality of believing everything that is prevalent over social media without validating is yet another problem which will help in spreading misleading information about the virus. India needs to strategise nimbly and communicate openly and transparently to prevent the spread of infection – 24-hour hotlines.

As assured by the health ministry, as of now, there is no need to panic; however, India needs to be very vigilant and open about the spread and containment of the infection.

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All You Need To Know About National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

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National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

On July 26, 2021, Lok Sabha passed a bill under the ministry of Food Processing Industry. The bill is titled as National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021. The main motive of this bill is to address issues with the Food Processing Industry, Entrepreneurship and one Institution for National Importance. With the passing of this bill, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) and National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) is now merged as Institutions of National Importance, and it aims at providing various research and advancement in learning about the Food Industry and its associated branches. The bill was first introduced in the house in February 2019 but was pending due to protest by the opposition.

Significance of Institutions of National Importance (INI)

With the passing of this bill, the institutions enjoy greater autonomy through which they can carry out various courses, research attracting skilled faculties and students from all over the country and overseas. Good standards in education will be adopted to improve the present and future of education in this branch and sector, overcoming the technological gap in the country. This law aims to improve and introduce new changes in food, bio-nanotechnology, cold chain technology etc. The desired efforts will be taken in terms of human resources and infrastructure developments, labs for research etc. Liberty to open centres anywhere in India is also granted to INI and include courses regarding food technology certification and improving the workforce of the country.

Some other important features of this act are the Institution has been authorized with the Board of Government, Senate and other acting Authorities. The Council of Board will include 16 members from different branches from the same field. The Head will be Chairperson, who will be a skilled person from the Food Industry, the Director, Dean and Registrar. Members appointed from Centre and State Governments, Members from FSSAI and Council of Agriculture Research, as mentioned in the bill. The 16 members of the board will carry out work of taking administrative decisions, creating annual budgets and paths for institution progress as an organization, establishing departments, their appointment terms of services, faculties etc. The Board of Council also holds power to grant Honorary Degrees and Diplomas. The Senate shall be the principal academic body of the Institute, consisting of the people such as Director as the Chairperson; Registrar; Full-time skilled level Professor; and Three academically skilled Individuals nominated by the board from the field.

The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Mr Pashupati Kumar Paras, expressed his gratitude to PM Modi for this landmark step in this industry from his Twitter handle, indicating new opportunities in Food Technology Industries. Therefore, this Act looks promising on paper with new opportunities and in Educational Development. Amidst the Pegasus Spyware and repeal of the farm laws, this looks positive from the Modi Government.

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Fake News: Accountability Of News Organisations

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Fake News II News Aur Chai

Fake news is false news stories or hoaxes, which are deliberately released to misinform and to create chaos in society or among readers. Fake news is one of the main reasons behind the disruption of peace in society and it becomes more dangerous in volatile places. Fake news is generally shared with propaganda to mislead the audience by hiding or twisting the truth. However fake news isn’t new to the web, it recently became an enormous problem in today’s digital world. Fake news mostly comes from sites that are bogus or have sensationalized stories.

Most of the users do not check the facts before sharing the information on their social media, which can be a reason for widespread fake news. So, it is important to differentiate between fake news and authentic news to maintain harmony in society and to avoid false news and its repercussions.

Fake News Stories

  • On 2nd April, a team of doctors, health workers, and revenue officials were attacked by the family members of a 65-year-old man who died of COVID-19 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh because of the fake video which claimed that healthy Muslims were being injected with the virus, reiterating the risks and physical manifestations of misinformation.
  • On March 22, 2020, Mr. Modi’s new term ‘Janta curfew’ has sparked a buzz on the Internet. Social media users started interpreting PM Modi’s concept of ‘Janta curfew’ in their own ways. Social media was flooded with a certain ‘scientific explanation’ behind the curfew as to how it will break the chain of transmissions of the deadly coronavirus infection. The claim was found out to be misleading. PM Modi, while announcing the curfew, didn’t mention this particular ‘scientific’ logic behind it.
  • Rumours were circulated on WhatsApp groups about a kidnapping gang operating in India’s western state of Maharashtra in 2018. The rumors eventually cause a mob lynching, that killed five migrant workers because they were suspected of being kidnappers.
  • On November 13, 2016, when the government of India has demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and planned to replace them with new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes, rumors were spreading about Rs 2000 notes. Rumors claimed the new higher denomination currency comes with a Nano-GPS chip which acts as a reflector, giving precise location coordinates of the currency to permit every note to be tracked. However, the RBI officials had dismissed these as false and said the new Rs 2000 note does not have a Nano-GPS chip as is being claimed on social media, WhatsApp.
  • In the pandemic situation, where vaccination has become crucial, in a series of viral videos it was seen that people are claiming that magnet was attracted to the arms of alleged COVID-19 vaccinated recipients. This kind of fake news can create misconceptions about vaccines and people may not take their jab of vaccines. The Centre has declined the claims that Covid-19 vaccines can make people ‘magnetic’. It has also dismissed theories about microchips in coronavirus vaccines.

Need of Accountability

False information on social media can cause huge problems. It is often done to influence political processes. Need for Accountability increases in such situations because the false information provided by certain news organizations can create a ruckus in society. Before publishing the news, it is necessary to check the facts.

If the news organizations, shared misinformation unintentionally they must remove the content right away and they should apologize to the readers. If fake news is spread with propaganda to create chaos in society, then the news organization should be punished under the law. The information must be checked before sharing it with other people.

 

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Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained

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Pegasus II News Aur Chai

Pegasus is a spyware that can hack the victims’ mobile phones and read their SMS messages and emails. The Pegasus spyware is owned by an Israeli software company named NSO Group. According to the various reports, this company has targeted more than 50,000 phone numbers at the Global level, of which 300 are in India for surveillance.

The news broke out after the 17 media partners investigated. This investigation brought into the picture information about a leaked database of mobile telephone numbers of Indian Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, business people, government officials, scientists, activists and many influential personalities of the nation.

Pegasus Spyware and India

According to the report by the agency, the Israeli company which sells Pegasus around the world says that its clients are confined to ‘vetted governments”, believed to number 36. The NSO Group also says that ‘the target list in India is not ours, never was.’ Their refusal of the leaked database has created a loophole in understanding this case.

This whole case has violated the integrity of democratic institutions. According to the report by the agencies, after the mobile phones of the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and various other leaders were hacked under the Pegasus spyware surveillance. Multiple tweets were made against the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in India. This whole case has become one of the major threats in the political arena and the Indian Democracy.

Though at the start, it was used for national security purposes. The explosive expansion of surveillance technology vendors has become a vast human rights and a global security issue. If such surveillance technologies increase, it might cause a lot of problems to countries around the globe. Hence, as a precaution, all these countries need to work on regulating this technology.

According to the reports by the agency, one of the targeted phones by the Pegasus spyware was of the former election commissioner of India, Ashok Lavasa. Various such people and such opposition leaders were somehow against the BJP government having their phones hacked with the NSO-owned spyware. All these instances and the names in the leaked list have pointed figures towards the Modi Government.

The Modi government’s stand on this case was put forward in Lok Sabha by two serving ministers, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel. These two leaders were also featured in the leaked database. The recent Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the BJP government in the parliament by saying, “the expose was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” She even said, ‘any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.’

This case has adjourned the parliament proceedings due to the protests inside and outside the house of parliament by the opposition party.

Pegasus Spyware and World.

 In the statement given to the agency, Access Now, an organisation defending the digital rights of global users, said it was outraged that products sold by NSO were allegedly “used to hack and invade the private communications” of thousands of people across the globe.

At a global level, France’s Emmanuel Macron was targeted in the Pegasus spyware case. As the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was hacked, the investigation was carried out and later on was published which was directed by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden.  After this case came in front of the whole world, the Pegasus spyware surveillance came into the picture.

If this continues for some more time, it will ruin India’s Democratic values at a global level. As well as this might become a huge technological threat between the different nations around the globe.

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