Reading Time: 9 mins The death of the elephant, nicknamed Saumya, in Kerala invited outrage from many sections of the society. The wild animal, which was pregnant with a calf, had eaten a pineapple stuffed with crackers. It had succumbed to its injuries standing in a river. The incident calls for a serious discussion of the prevalence of animal cruelty in India and a relook into the efficiency of various safeguards in place to eliminate the issue.
Reading Time: 10 mins In March 2020, global crude oil prices decreased to about 40%. This means that a barrel of oil costs just $25 now. This came as a result of failed talks of production cut between OPEC and Russia. This led to Saudi Arabia, the largest exporter of oil, launching a price war. While many may see this as a disadvantage, for India it is an opportunity to fill up its strategic reserve. The government had decided to buy oil worth Rs.5,000 crore at the current price of around $30 per barrel for deliveries starting in April-May. However, this opportunity does not allow the Indian economy to gain full potential as it has come amid the coronavirus outbreak that has halted most of the economic activities in the country.
Reading Time: 8 mins The USA-Russia relations received another blow on May 21, 2020, when US President Donald Trump announced that the US will be pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty (OST), a major arms control measure that aided transparency and confidence-building among 34 countries, especially between the US and Russia. The pulling out from OST by US was next in line after withdrawal from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) treaty last year by the US. Though it seems to be caused by increasing distrust between the two countries on the face of it, it is in line with the transactional approach of diplomacy by President Trump.
Reading Time: 6 mins Science is an important means by which societal empowerment is achieved. The scientific development reflects national development. Nowadays, Experts believe connecting science with societal needs will create multiplier effects. In light of this line of thought, the government may soon come up with a policy on Scientific social responsibility. The draft Scientific Social Responsibility Policy is already in the public domain for discussions.
Reading Time: 7 mins In India, the market prices are dictated by demand and supply. However, it is affected by sporadic cases of hoarding, extreme weather events, natural calamities, etc. Hence the government is empowered by certain laws like the Essential Commodities Act- to intervene to protect the consumers’ interest. The government used the EC Act to ensure rational pricing and prevent hoarding of hand sanitizers and masks- basic necessities for tackling the COVID-19 crisis. It has been used by the government over the years to protect consumers in times of shortages. This law has also seen several amendments over the years- seeing a trend of becoming increasingly stringent in its provisions. However, the Union Cabinet approved an ordinance to amend the 1955 Act- relaxing some of its provisions.
Reading Time: 10 mins India’s pharmaceutical sector is expected to be one of the very few industries that will record growth in this fiscal year amid strains from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Lockdown. Investors are looking at pharma companies as safer bets and the sudden surge in global demand for cheap and reliable drugs has presented a rare opportunity for the Indian pharmaceutical sector to transition from ‘Pharmacy of the World’ to ‘a Global Research Hub’. However, there are also issues in the way of India reaching this goal.
Reading Time: 5 mins Recently, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published its World Freedom Index 2020. It was widely discussed in India as India has dropped by two places to 142 out of 180 countries this year. India is already under a lot of criticism because of the thwarting of media voice and being unsafe for journalists. The poor ranking by RSF only strengthened the ongoing fears of journalism being unsafe in this country.
Reading Time: 9 mins Quad Plus, which includes Quad countries along with South Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam, initiated weekly video conferences since March 20 to discuss the common issues pertaining to COVID-19 pandemic. These discussions have brought Quad back into focus as one of the important groupings in the Indo-Pacific. While the expansion of the alliance to ensure international cooperation to deal with this crisis a step in the right direction, the ultimate objective of countering China’s aggression has been put on the backburner though Beijing has increased its hostility in the South China Sea and Sino-Indian borders.
Reading Time: 8 mins The COVID-19 crisis has become the centre of the USA-China tussle with each blaming the other for the global pandemic. Controversially, the virus is being claimed (by the US) to have originated from a lab in China’s Wuhan while China claims its originated in the USA- though both claims lack any evidence to support them. However, the entire issue has thrown open the question about international readiness to tackle biosecurity risks. In this light, India needs to take a look into its biosecurity preparedness and plug all the big gaps to prevent being blindsided by a dangerous biological agent- either man-made or natural- a second time.