Ethanol from Rice: Let Them Eat Cake!

A FRENCH princess sometime in the 17th or 18th century was told that the peasants were restless and complaining they had no bread. The princess was said to have uttered the legendary phrase, “well then, let them eat cake!” This phrase came to be used to highlight the disregard for the peasants, and lack of understanding of their condition, on the part of the then French aristocracy.

Public Health & Private Profits under Covid-19 Pandemic

DURING an interview with Jonas Salk, the creator of the polio vaccine, CBS newsman Edward R Morrow asked him who owned the patent for the vaccine. “Well, the people, I would say,” said Salk, “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” This is what drives science and scientists like Salk, that science must be for public good and not the private profit of companies.

Lockdown: Victory Declarations Premature In the Battle against Covid-19

THE prime minister has now extended the 21-day countrywide lockdown to 40 days, that is, till  May 3.. While doing this, no explanation has been given on what basis the lockdown has been extended, and why for a 21-day period. Instead, in a briefing, the ministry of foreign affairs claimed a significant fall in infections based on certain modelling studies done by the ICMR. The ministry of health and family welfare first denied knowledge of any such ICMR modelling studies, later claimed that this was done by certain other groups.

Indian Grid Survives a Modi 9*9 PM Emergency

THE Indian grid was tested as no grid in the world has ever been by PM’s 9-minute at 9 pm lights off call, on April 5. An unprecedented load reduction to the tune of 27 per cent or 32 Giga Watts took place and came back again, all within a span of 10-12 minutes. No grid in the world has ever seen a plunge and surge of load of this magnitude, so it was indeed a trial by fire for the Indian grid authorities, both state and national, and the generators.

India’s Testing Strategy Has to Change

AS I write this column (April 2), Covid-19 is crossing a million infected cases in the world and nearly 50,000 dead. In India, the total infected cases are more than 2,000, with 51 deaths. It is clear that all countries are affected. It is a matter of time before a set of clusters or hot spots form and Covid-19 takes off in the country. Once it takes off, we are in exponential growth with a doubling rate that very soon makes the numbers look frightening. This is where Wuhan was six weeks ago, Italy entered about 3-4 weeks back and the US is in now.

The National Coronavirus Lockdown

FOLLOWING the prime minister’s address to the nation on the evening of the March 24, the GOI strategy for dealing with the potential stage 2 to stage 3 transition of the covid-19 epidemic is now evident. They are hoping to break the transition by a full national curfew, curtailing mobility on a huge scale, in which the government itself is to shut down except for particular sectors.

Covid-19 Pandemic Poses Fundamental Challenges to all Societies

IT is now clear that Europe, particularly the core European Union countries – Italy, Spain, France, and Germany – is the new epicentre of the Covid-19 epidemic. China, followed by South Korea, managed to contain their outbreaks; the European countries did not. The US and UK numbers are creeping up, poised to take off at any moment. In the US, only the Trump administration’s lack of testing – either intentional or due to incompetence – is hiding the real numbers. As its testing scope increases, a sharp increase in numbers is already visible.

CORONAVIRUS OR COVID-19: China Supercharged Conventional Epidemic Control With Modern Science and Technology

THE novel coronavirus or COVID-19 epidemic appears to be under control in China, but could create new epicentres in South Korea, Italy and Iran. If this happens and creates multiple countries acting as new centres of the epidemic, we could be moving towards a pandemic. South Korea saw 214 new infections on February 24, though reports indicate a sharp drop in new infections. Northern Italy is now under lockdown, and has emerged as another centre of the epidemic, with people returning from Italy spreading the infections to other countries.