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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 07 October 2020

Grapes of wrath

  • Outcry in UP - sparked by the way in which its officials had handled the Hathras case
  • The registration of multiple police cases in Uttar Pradesh on charges of conspiracy and sedition
  • Govt’s initial attempts were all denial in nature
  • The suspects have been arrested and the FIR includes the charge of gang rape
  • Recognising that the formation of an SIT did not help undo the damage to the government’s image, the Chief Minister recommended a CBI investigation.
  • The use of penal provisions relating to sedition and conspiracy and the projection of a theory that all protests and political activity against it constitute a plot to overthrow the government
  • The only way to restore its image is to display empathy for the victim and treat protests seeking justice as legitimate.

Vanquishing viruses

  • The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
    • Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice
    • The Hepatitis C virus (HCV)
  • Choosing researchers who went after a pathogen, and succeeded in unwrapping the whole puzzle at a time when others are fighting fatigue in a daily battle against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is also a hat tip to the virologists and geneticists burning the midnight oil, for over nine months now.
  • Their work, the Nobel statement said, characterised this form of hepatitis to be a distinct clinical entity, caused by an RNA virus of the Flavivirus family, now known as HCV.
  • In fact, it was for the discovery of the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), and the development of the first-generation HBV vaccine, that Baruch Blumberg, whom the young Alter collaborated with, was awarded the 1976 Medicine Nobel.
  • However, even the isolation of the HBV only partially eliminated the risk of contracting this severe liver disease transmitted through blood.
  • The circle was only complete with the discovery of HCV.
  • According to the WHO Global Hepatitis report, HBV and HCV are major causes for mortality and morbidity, with 1.34 million deaths reported in 2015, a 63% increase from 1990, mainly due to HCV.
  • The number of deaths is also comparable to that caused by TB and higher than that caused by AIDS.
  • The discoveries (of HBV and HCV), and the development of effective screening routines, have virtually eliminated the risk of transmission via blood products in much of the world.
  • Also, with the development of effective drugs against HCV, it is possible that the threat of this viral infection will reduce, and hopefully, be eliminated soon.
  • The triumph of humanity, over the pathogens that debilitate and kill men and women is certainly a singular achievement that is worth celebrating, and showcasing this achievement will send a deeply inspiring message at a time when another virus is holding the world to ransom.

The disintegration of the criminal justice system

  • A majority government makes the laws and controls the investigative machinery, which means that not only does it define what a crime is but it can also selectively pursue only those crimes which it cares about and forget about the rest.
  • Punishment can only arise upon a judgment of conviction at the end of a trial.
  • Criminal justice system - is in shambles
  • Vikas Dubey - a notorious gangster was involved in a gunfight with police, fled, and was later captured from another State.
  • An erstwhile Supreme Court Judge felt that the State’s version of events made it appear as if it did not even care whether the encounter story was believed or not.
  • Anti-Citizenship Act protests – name and shame - all of this is before a court convicted them for these acts.
  • Where the police was not willing to register this single case of rape, it has swiftly registered at least 19 cases regarding an alleged conspiracy to use the incident for political purposes to show the State in a bad light.
  • The Crime in India data for 2019 confirm a trend that has been on display for decades now: our police are seemingly super-efficient, but our courts are super-slow.
  • This exacerbates the natural time-gap between the incident and any potential punishment, and reduces the importance of courts in the criminal justice system.
  • How does a system fill this gap between incident and eventual judgment?
  • This system where judges lose sway is where the executive gains more power.

Approaching the misinformation storm

  • In the 1980s, the penultimate decade of U.S. newspaper ascendancy, hundreds of news organisations existed to serve these sorts of towns, much like they still do in multilingual India today.
  • One would have thought that democratic access to a large variety of news from all corners of the globe would have opened up the echo chambers in towns and rural areas, but the hard fact is that the Internet has pulled the other way.
  • The travesty is that many of these organisations are not news outlets; they are social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.
  • These have no journalistic norms.
  • Anyone can say anything at any time about any topic with scant respect for the truth.
  • Everything is an opinion, but not clearly labelled as such.
  • As a result, much of the ‘news’ available on these platforms is biased.
  • Most Americans now get their news from dubious Internet sources.
  • If I show a preference for right-wing leaning posts, for instance, the algorithms are likely to provide me with ever more right-wing posts from people and organisations.
  • India might need to chart its own path by keeping them under check before they proliferate.
  • Let us remember that our courts do not legislate; they ensure adherence to existing legislation.
  • Facebook, for instance, has started to address this matter by publishing ‘transparency reports’ and setting up an ‘oversight board’ to act as a sort of Supreme Court for Facebook’s internal matters.

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