THE appointment of Dr Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), as a deputy director general (DDG) of the World Health Organisation is a welcome development. She joins Jane Ellison of the UK as one of the two newly appointed DDGs and will be in overall charge of programmes, while Jane Ellison will be in charge of ‘corporate affairs’. The WHO elected Tedros Adhanom of Ethiopia as the new director general (DG) at the World Health Assembly in May 2017, to replace the outgoing incumbent, Dr Margaret Chan.
THE Las Vegas mass shooting by a lone gunman, with a death toll of 59 and 527 injured, raises many questions. Why is the person involved – a 64-year Stephen Paddock – not being considered a terrorist by the police and the US administration? Why is gun violence so much higher in the US than any other country? And for the rest of the world, does the US invasion of other countries have any correlation with its gun violence? Or does reaching for the gun to shoot so easily, also encourage violence as a mode of “solving” international problems?
THE Bakhshali Manuscripts, a collection of 70 odd leaves of birch bark, containing a wealth of mathematical methods, have finally been dated. The oldest of the three samples tested was written as early as the 3rd-4th century, placing it almost five centuries earlier than where most scholars had placed the manuscripts. This makes the Bakhshali Manuscripts the oldest recorded use of a large dot, the precursor of our current form of zero. The other two fragments were dated as late 8th, and 10th century compositions, a gap of five to six centuries between the earliest one.
BOTH the horses in the race for India’s impending acquisition of single-engined fighter aircraft have now been officially identified, with the deal to be struck under the new “strategic partnership” route incorporated into the Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) 2016. The competitors are Lockheed Martin of the US in partnership with Tata Advanced Systems for the F-16 Block 70/72, and Saab of Sweden in partnership with the Adani Group for the JAS-39 Gripen E, the latter MoU having been signed just during the past fortnight.
ON September 3, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – or North Korea, as it is usually called by the media – tested a hydrogen bomb, with a yield estimated to be around 120 kilotons, eight times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. This, combined with the recent ICBM tests that show North Korea can reach the western shores of the US with its missiles, is not just a game changer between the US and North Korea stand-off . It is virtually game over. The US has failed in its attempts to stop North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programme.
THE Adanis are again in the news, this time for importing transmission equipment from Japan, China and South Korea, hiking its price through an Adani intermediary in Dubai, and transferring the difference to the off-shore haven, Mauritius. According to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the foreign exchange illegally transferred to Mauritius, through a company controlled by Gautam Adani's brother Vinod Adani, was to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore.