PM Re-writes History on Defence Self Reliance

IN his latest Mann-ki-baat address on June 28, 2020, the prime minister expressed some extraordinary views on defence manufacturing and self-reliance before independence, since then, and he took office in 2014. His own words, as per the official transcript in English, were:  “Before independence, in the realm of the defence sector, our country was ahead of many countries in the world. There used to be a multitude of ordnance factories. Many countries that lagged behind us then, are ahead of us now.

Privatisation in Space: Lurking Dangers & Poor Prospects

AS part of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package announced by the government supposedly to boost the Covid-impacted economy, the finance minister declared that all sectors of the economy would henceforth be open for the private sector, and that public sector undertakings (PSUs) would work mainly in strategic sectors and would be privatised in others. One of the areas thrown open to the private sector was space.

With Covid Surge, Amit Shah Starts Blame the Opposition Game

WITH more than 3.5 lakhs infected with Covid-19, India is already among the top four countries in the world affected by the pandemic. But that is not all. When we look at a pandemic, we need to look at not just the total infected, but the speed with which the infections are spreading.  India now has the third highest number of daily deaths and new cases, again confirming the speed at which the Covid-19 pandemic is moving in the country. This is unlike other countries, where lockdowns flattened the curve, and then brought down the number of new infections.

Despite the Pandemic No Will to Public Health in India

IT is extraordinary that the current pandemic has not brought forth a wave of support for enhancing India's public health infrastructure. While a section (only a section, mind you) of the intellectual class, and some leading figures of industry and commerce, have expressed their support for the idea, the extent to which the idea has not caught the public imagination is truly surprising. Surprising because everywhere else in the world, public health has become a real demand, echoed widely by many sections of public opinion.

Environment & Covid-19 in India

WORLD Environment Day 2020 comes at a unique time this year, right in the middle of perhaps the worst pandemic the world has seen in over a century. Due to lockdowns and other restrictions the world over, pollution of air and water has dropped, bird song has been heard in cities after ages, and wildlife has been making surprise appearances in urban areas. Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are estimated to have declined by around 17 per cent in April 2020 compared to 2019, about half of this due to reduction in surface transport.

US Abandons Open Skies for New Age Space Weapons

WITH the US walking out of the Open Skies Agreement, the US is signalling to the world that it intends to return to days of Pax Americana that existed post Second World War, when it was the sole possessor of nuclear weapons. It has already walked out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 under George Bush Junior, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) under Trump. The only nuclear arms control treaty that still remains in place, is New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which provides a rough limit and parity on the US and Russia’s nuclear arsenals.

US Declares Vaccine War on the World

DONALD Trump launched a new vaccine war this week, but not against the virus. It was against the world. The US and UK were only two hold-outs in the World Health Assembly on the declaration that vaccines and medicines for Covid-19 should be available as public good, and not under exclusive patent rights.  Having badly botched his Covid-19 response, he is trying to redeem his electoral fortunes in the November elections this year by promising an early vaccine.

LG Vizag Styrene Leak: Corporate-Regulatory Collusion Unabated

THE horrific leak of Styrene vapour from the LG Polymers plant in Vizag in the early hours of May 7, 2020, causing at least 13 deaths and serious injuries to several hundreds of people near the plant, has revived memories of the Bhopal Gas Disaster in December 1984. Like in Bhopal, the LG plant was once in the city suburbs, but dense habitations had been allowed to come up in its vicinity.

US Trade War on China Takes a Corona Viral Turn

THE Trump administration has expanded the trade war against China to now include the Covid-19 pandemic. With more than a million already infected in the US and about sixty thousand dead, Trump’s assertions in February that this is just a small flu has now been replaced by China did it, even talking about making China pay reparations. A part of this is Trump’s dire need to scapegoat someone, or some country, for the US total incompetence in handling the Covid-19 epidemic. But that is not all.