Tag Archives: UPA-1

COVID pandemic and vaccine shortage: There is more to this than meets the eye

Newsroom24x7 Network

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

A news report titled Who destroyed India’s vaccine self-sufficiency?” published by Business standard on 17 May, credits the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court for wanting to know while hearing a PIL earlier this month “why India had to rely on just two private domestic manufacturers–Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech–to produce Covid-19 vaccines,” when the country was a global leader both in production and export of vaccines.

The BS story goes on to point out and we quote: 

“India’s self-sufficiency in vaccine production was destroyed one and half decades ago under the UPA-I government. Anbumani Ramadoss, then the Union Health Minister in Dr. Manmohan Singh’s government effectively moved vaccine manufacture and government procurement to the private sector. In January 2008, the licences of three premier public sector vaccine manufacturers were suspended citing non-compliance with WHO good manufacturing practices (GMP). These public sector units (PSUs) were: Central Research Institute (CRI), Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh, BCG Vaccine Laboratory (BCGVL) in Guindy and Pasteur Institute of India (PII), Coonoor, both in Tamil Nadu.” (unquote)

After the license of 3 PSUs had been suspended, it has been pointed out that ex-bureaucrat and member of the Planning Commission, S P Shukla, had moved the Supreme Court against the government’s decision. His contention was that the government must preserve its role in vaccine manufacture and had warned that erosion of the PSU’s vaccine-making capabilities would threaten India’s health security and bio-security. Notices were sent by the apex court which eventually did not overturn the government’s decision.

Now we would like to focus on a particular input also shared in public domain by Business Standard  through its exclusive report, and we quote:

In UPA-II, Ghulam Nabi Azad as Health Minister, tried to undo the damage. In 2010, the licences of the three PSUs were revived on the recommendations of the Javid Chowdhury Committee which held the suspension of their licences incorrect, illegal and flawed. About Rs. 49 crore was allocated for the revival of CRI, Kasauli. By 2016, government funding had made two of the PSUs GMP compliant, despite this, they did not recieve any government orders as India’s vaccine procurement had moved definitely to the private sector. So the damage wrought by UPA-1 persisted under the Modi Government.” (Unquote)

This one excerpt from the story reveals more than what it apparently tries to hide by stating “the PSUs did not recieve any government orders as vaccine procurement had moved definitely to the private sector.” Also the responsibility of NDA-1 and NDA-2 has been brushed aside by adding: “So the damage wrought by UPA-1 persisted under the Modi Government”.

Notwithstanding the causes listed, including the role of Ramadoss, who has been depicted as villain in chief in this matter, what about the failure to create a balance and divert a proportion of vaccine procurement to the public sector even after Rs 49 crore had been allocated for revival of CRI, Kasauli. By 2016 two PSUs, including CRI, had become GMP compliant. This one input is sufficient to conclude that Modi Government also deserves to be blamed because it just did not fail, after 2016 but is also responsible for letting down the nation all these years. Failure means lack of success, here, in this case, what has happened is that the concerned Ministry and officials presided over a system that was hell bent upon favouring the vested interests and ensuring the PSUs remain dormant despite pumping of huge sums from the exchequer to ensure public sector continues to play its role in vaccine production. The concerned bureaucrats are accountable and deserve to be hauled over the coals. 

Click here for rejoinder to the BS report by Anmumani Ramadoss

Rising fuel price, hole in the commoner’s pocket and national goals

Newsroom24x7 Network

When there is so much sound and fury on rising fuel prices that have hit the ceiling, we did some calculation on the basis of rising petrol price in a real time frame by breaking it into two distinct segments.

First, lets consider the period between 2004 and 2014 when Manmohan Singh was heading UPA-1 and UPA-2 as Prime Minister and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was Chair of the UPA. And then we have Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, continuously since May 2014.

In June 2004 price of petrol was Rs 35/litr
In May 2014 it was Rs 71 (Manmohan regime)
2014 May to 2021 March (7 years of Modi regime) the price of petrol has gone up from Rs 71 to 100.

To put it on a lighter note, if we take into consideration Manmohan’s ten years in office, then Modi also should get the margin and be allowed to raise the price to Rs. 140 a litre by the time his second term ends in 2024.

Fuel price is also dictated by Central Excise, road cess and VAT charged by the State Governments and is a major source of revenue that supports the budgeted expenditure on welfare and development related activities. Modi government has the option of reducing Central excise but that would bring the massive initiative aimed at HRD, building the economic infrastructure for all round progress to a screeching halt. Credit goes to Prime Minister Modi that instead of taking a populist stand, his government has curbed corruption and is working with a futuristic plan focussing on education, skill development, health, industry and agriculture sectors, self-reliance, infrastructure, defence and security.

In sharp contrast, the 10 year UPA rule is known for rampant corruption, rise of crony capitalists, middle-men and fixers and a series of scams besides dismal showing on infrastructure front. Unfortunately, Manmohan Singh did nothing to address the concern expressed by Rajiv Gandhi, who had lamented at the Congress Centenary celebration event in Mumbai in 1985 that only 15 paise of each rupee spent by the government reach the needy.

On the same page, we thought it would go a long way towards educating the masses, so we are reproducing below a post doing the rounds on social media over the past few days:

All the petrol pumps should have a board like this so that people could understand who is responsible
Basic rate 30.50
Central govt tax 19.97
State govt tax 38.55
Distributor 3.50
Total. 92.52

A loud and clear message from T3-the Panna Tiger

Lalit Shastri

T3 (1)

One salutes the indefatigable spirit of T3-the tiger, who has become a mascot for the ambitious Panna Tiger Reintroduction
Project being carried out to repopulate the Panna Tiger Reserve with Tigers. This project was taken up since not a single big cat was left in this habitat in 2009.

T3 is a true hero…. he sent a clear message to everybody when he left the Panna Park area and wandered across three districts and traveled more than 400 kilometers crossing villages and even a town as if trying to return to Pench Tiger Reserve–his original home and abode from where he had been brought to Panna. The message from T3 is loud and clear…”save the buffer areas and corridors…keep them free of poachers and the villagers who poison the waterholes, destroy the salt licks and set up snares and hook up naked wires on high-tension electricity lines to kill wildlife. When caught, they pop up the excuse that they do this to protect their crops (on land which was earlier a forest but progressively has been encroached by the unscrupulous people).”

Unfortunately, the politics of populism has allowed the population to multiply in geometric progression and this is a huge problem we are encountering in India. The population growth rate of the Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh is higher
than the national growth rate. This despite the fact that mortality rate in the State is also much higher than that of the corresponding figure of the country.

According to one of the latest sample registration system, Madhya Pradesh recorded an average total fertility rate (TFR) of 3.2., which is much higher than the national average. The total fertility rate (TFR) was highest with 6.6 per woman in Chhatarpur, followed by Tikamgarh and neighbouring Panna district with 6.1 and 5.9 children per woman respectively. A large number of these women are tribals. They belong to that section of the population that is most deprived in terms of per capita income, education, basic amenities and human resource development. These people are still in the gathering (minor forest produce collection) and foraging stage. Whatever rudimentary agriculture practices they follow, it is largely on land that is being encroached generation after generation. This is done by clear-felling and setting the forests on fire……the devastation as a consequence adds to the massive change in land use one is witnessing due to mining and other development related activities.

Today we are at the cross-roads. We are also carrying the burden of the Forest Rights Act 2006 [Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act]. During the formulation of the Bill ahead of the enactment at the behest of the Manmohan Singh led UPA-1 Government at the Centre, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had taken a strong posture against the Bill. The MoEF had then said that the approach adopted in the proposed Bill would lead to irreparable ecological damage of immense proportion. Decimation of forests as a result of enactment of the proposed Act, was also likely to lead to more frequent and intense natural calamities like floods and soil erosion that would adversely be affecting the livelihood of people. The MoEF had issued the warning that “the enactment of the proposed Bill would also leave an adverse impact on the precious biological diversity, wildlife and the natural resource base for maintenance of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen cycles.” While recognising the traditional rights of tribals over their “ancestral domain”, the MoEF had said
that the Bill was likely to cause more damage, without significant benefit to the tribals in the long run. MoEF even had emphasized that the Forests are a “national natural resource and hence the whole population of the country enjoys rights over
this natural resource either in tangible terms or intangible terms”. Therefore it is the duty of every citizen to protect the forests and environment as per the Directive principles laid down in the Constitution, the MoEF said while taking the stand that the whole issue should be looked at from perspectives of ecological science, equity and overall costs to the entire society.

Before we reach a point of no return…there is need for a post-mortem of all that we have already destroyed. It will help in charting a course which is greener, ecology friendly, conservation oriented and sustainable from the point of view of forests and wildlife, biodiversity, water table and survival of humankind. the Tiger Reserves or the protected areas that we have created will be like bowls or oasis in a vast desert if we do not mend our ways and take remedial measures on a war footing. The alarm bells are ringing loud. For those who care, these bells have started ringing at ear-splitting and sharply rising decibel. It is high time the politicians see the writing on the wall.