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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 23 October 2020

Why We Need Mobility

  • 2012 - John Urry - an authority on the subject of mobility – “Mobility and Proximity”, why at all people need to travel with the emergence of communication technology.
  • Why indeed were we so mobile – travelling and commuting, clocking up miles and being slaves to transport schedules?
  • E-commerce brings both luxuries and necessities to our doorstep.
  • For office goers the workplace is an alternate life with colleagues, canteen and cooler talk, while virtual meetings are sanitised shadows of that world.
  • For students, school life is absurdly incomplete without the action packed day of running in the corridors, hurling things around in class and being punished by angry teachers.
  • When there is a train breakdown or a bus has a flat tyre, passengers who are complete strangers until then, become a squad, often speaking in one voice.
  • ‘Bus friends’ are a separate genre.
  • The experiences had during these rides are as much a part of education and growing up.
  • Mobility is more than just movement from origin to destination.
  • When we travel, the physical proximity of others and our interactions, silent and spoken, fulfil certain needs in us as social beings.
  • We crave mobility also because it represents a freedom that we take for granted until it is threatened.
  • Women have historically fought for the freedom to be mobile, sometimes taking extreme steps like disguising themselves as men to travel on a ship which forbade women, like the 18th century French botanist, Jean Baret did.
  • The mathematician Ramanujan had to defy tradition to cross the seven seas to reach Cambridge to pursue his studies.
  • The first wheelchair was invented in 1595 specifically for King Philip II of Spain, who did not want gout to limit his mobility.

Unrest in Pakistan

  • Imran Khan government is dealing with a serious political crisis
  • 11 Opposition parties, which have now formed the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), have held two mammoth rallies, part of a plan for nationwide agitations, calling for the resignation of the PTI government over law and order, food shortages, inflation and gas cuts.
  • They have called the Prime Minister both a failure at governance and the military’s “puppet”.
  • Former PM and Pakistan Muslim League (N) chief Nawaz Sharif, speaking from London, named Army Chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa and ISI chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed for “rigging elections”, restrictions on the media, harassment of journalists, putting pressure on the judiciary and subverting other democratic institutions.
  • For the past few months, government prosecutors, on Mr. Khan’s orders, have focused on preparing cases to send as many members of the Opposition to prison.
  • Matters are under control for the moment after Gen. Bajwa has promised an inquiry report on the controversial arrest within the next 10 days.
  • However, with politics on the boil again and the PDM planning at least four more rallies this year, it is clear that Pakistan’s ruling party will find its feet held to the fire more frequently.

Sooner, better

  • Thanks to the pandemic, scientific institutions in India have been able to demonstrate their ability to rise to the occasion and show why the country should increase funding for science research and development.
  • The ICMR’s approval, recently, of two indigenously developed tests that are rapid, low-cost and have high sensitivity and specificity provides the much-needed boost to scale up daily testing without diluting accuracy.

  • After carrying out about one million tests each day for the last few weeks, India, for the first time, tested nearly 1.5 million samples on October 21.
  • While most tests done each day were the low sensitivity rapid antigen tests, the ones developed by the Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, a CSIR institute, and IIT Kharagpur will now enable the shift to more accurate tests.
  • Having locally developed tests with higher accuracy will now help States to offer tests on demand — as required in a September 4 ICMR advisory — while keeping costs low.
  • While the low sensitivity of rapid antigen tests arises from not isolating the viral RNA from the swab samples and amplification of the DNA before detection, the two indigenously developed tests follow these two vital steps, the reason why the sensitivity and specificity are far superior to that of the rapid antigen tests.
  • But, at the same time, both the tests developed locally do require minimum laboratory infrastructure to isolate the viral RNA from the samples.
  • For that reason, India has to still rely on rapid antigen tests in rural areas that have no laboratory infrastructure.
  • But the tests developed by the Indian institutions, once commercially available, can readily replace the rapid antigen tests in places where such laboratory infrastructure is in place.
  • Rapid antigen tests will become less important even in rural areas once research institutions succeed in developing protocols and tests for using saliva rather than swabs, and do not require isolation of viral RNA from patient samples before amplification and detection.
  • Field testing and validation of such protocols is now pending. Relying on saliva samples would mean non-invasive sample collection, and probably even self-collection.
  • Thus, the reliance on trained personnel would reduce and also minimise the risk of health workers getting infected.

Drive a harder bargain at the Delhi meet

  • In August 2016, just months before the United States presidential elections, then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had detailed discussions about the Paris Climate Change Agreement, with the U.S. urging India to sign it at the earliest.
  • Part of the statement they issued included the U.S.’s [developed countries] commitment to mobilise $100 billion per year by 2020 as part of a Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help developing countries such as India with climate adaptation methods and renewable technologies.
  • The ratification of the Paris Agreement was then U.S. President Barack Obama’s legacy project, and Washington was pushing for India to join before election day, November 8
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not, and announced a few weeks after Mr. Kerry’s visit that India would ratify the UN climate protocol on October 2, to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.
  • As the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, makes his way to India next week, history may just be repeating itself.
  • Pompeo is coming exactly a week before the election, and his brief is clear: to ensure that New Delhi (also Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia that are on his itinerary, from October 25 to October 30), makes a strong, public, strategic commitment to the U.S. on its plans in the Indo-Pacific.
  • In Washington on Wednesday, he said he was sure that his meetings “would include discussions about how free nations can work together to thwart threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party”.
  • Narendra Modi government has maintained that it will resolve issues with China bilaterally.
  • Even if Mr. Trump does win the election, it remains to be seen how far he will take ties with China to the brink once he dusts off his campaign rhetoric.
  • As a result, South Block must consider carefully just what it discusses and projects from the meeting with Mr. Pompeo and U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper as they arrive for the Third India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
  • On the maritime sphere, discussions will no doubt include strengthening ties in the Indo-Pacific, enhancing joint military exercises like the ‘Malabar’, where the entire Quad including Australia will participate next month in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, and completing the last of the “foundational agreements” with the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation (BECA).
  • Finally, and of most interest, will be how the U.S. and India can collaborate, if they can, on dealing with India’s most immediate, continental challenge from China: at the LAC.
  • Pompeo should be pushed on resolving trade issues with India, an area the Trump administration has been particularly tough, and perhaps commit to restoring India’s Generalised System of Preferences status for exporters.
  • The government could press for more cooperation on 5G technology sharing, or an assurance that its S-400 missile system purchase from Russia will receive an exemption from the U.S.’s Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions.

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