Read The Hindu Notes of 2nd May 2019 for UPSC Civil Service Examination, State Civil Service Examination and other competitive Examination

The Hindu Notes for 2nd May 2019
  • Topic Discussed: The Hindu Notes of 2nd May 2019
  • The saviour’s burden

    The SP-BSP combine has willy-nilly emerged as the strongest opposition to the BJP

  • It’s a wonder of this Lok Sabha election that the most unexpected of alliances, between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh, is holding up against multiple challenges while elsewhere in the country, the national Opposition presents a fragmented picture.
  • Overcoming the odds

  • Indeed, the responsibility of shoring up the Opposition against the powerhouse combination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah has come to rest on the shoulders of Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati who helm the SP and the BSP, respectively. History and conventional wisdom suggested that the alliance was an impossibility, and if it happened, it would collapse under the weight of its contradictions. The bitter past between Ms. Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav (Akhilesh Yadav’s father and founder of the SP) aside, the SP and the BSP had also to contend with decades of debilitating hostilities between their core voters, the Yadavs and the Jatavs. That all this baggage was overcome, and a big push for the alliance came surprisingly from the rank and file of the two parties, speaks to the survival imperatives confronting the partners and their cadre. The BJP had driven each party to ruin and they had no choice but to unite against the behemoth.
  • Though the SP and the BSP teamed up to a collective rhetoric of national interest, the truth was that Ms. Mayawati and Mr. Yadav needed a way out of the existential crisis they faced. Yet today, the rhetoric has got invested with an urgency, a larger meaning beyond the borders of U.P., more so in the context of the Congress irresponsibly wrecking alliance possibilities in other States. With Opposition unity in shameful disarray across the country, the SP-BSP partnership has willy-nilly become the sole stumbling block between the BJP and its ambition to wrest a second term via a bounty of seats in U.P. The SP-BSP combine is a spectacular force capable of inflicting heavy losses on the BJP. And considering 71 of the BJP’s 2014 Lok Sabha seat share of 282 came from U.P, the significance of a reversal here cannot be overemphasised.
  • As the Lok Sabha election enters mid-point in U.P., the alliance looks in no hurry to unravel. On the contrary, the partners have stunned audiences at their joint rallies with a crackling chemistry that might have appeared scripted were it not for the fact that at least one of the actors, the mercurial Mayawati, is too much of her own person to perform to command.
  • In itself it was a surprise that Ms. Mayawati agreed to campaign for Mulayam Singh Yadav. But she did more. A quarter century of enmity got erased as she shared the stage with him and lavished praise on Yadav senior’s stellar leadership qualities. At another rally, a charming scene between Ms. Mayawati and Dimple Yadav attested to the blossoming of new relationships and the well-being of the alliance. The BSP chief embraced Yadav junior’s wife, also a candidate from Kannauj, and the adopted “daughter-in-law” sealed the deal by touching the senior woman’s feet. There was a time when Ms. Mayawati and Mr. Akhilesh Yadav were bua-bhatija (aunt and nephew) to their opponents who used the term as a taunt, to indicate they were a quarrelsome pair. Surreally, the BSP chief has now not only appropriated the insult but made the Yadav family her own.
  • Specific challenges

  • Will the bonhomie last? For all the serial photo-ops by the mint-fresh extended family, the alliance is in fact extremely fragile and stalked at every stage by myriad challenges. On a recent tour of Western U.P, I found that the formidable arithmetic of the alliance wasn’t necessarily making its fight easy. Each seat was hotly contested and the prognosis in local parlance was 50-50 — meaning the BJP and the alliance were equally placed for a victory. Two factors appeared to have complicated what on paper was a walkover. First, the Jats, a community that had voted nearly en masse for the BJP in 2014 and 2017, were not fully on board with the alliance despite its seat-sharing deal with the Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). The pitch was queered further by the presence of the Congress, now bolstered by the unexpected induction of Congress general secretary, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, into the U.P. campaign.
  • Undoubtedly piqued by the Congress’s exclusion from the Opposition alliance, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had declared at the time that the Congress wasn’t a pushover and would play on the front foot. This was clearly not an idle boast as could be seen from the Congress choosing to field candidates who could cut into the alliance votes, especially where the party’s candidate was a Muslim, as in Saharanpur, Moradabad, Badaun, Bijnore and so forth. The obvious gainer from this would be the BJP, unless Muslim voters were able to muster extraordinary acumen and decide overwhelmingly in favour of the alliance. Past data shows that a united Muslim vote is a myth. A split Jat vote across western U.P. posed a similar threat to the alliance.
  • When I travelled in the same parts in February 2017, ahead of the Assembly election, it was to find the community still trapped in the spell cast by Mr. Modi in 2014. The assumption that Jats felt remorse for betraying the RLD and their leader Ajit Singh, was not borne out. Two years on, it was evident that community loyalties had not fully returned. Jat vote consolidation was visible only on the two seats contested by Mr. Singh and his son, Jayant Chowdhary. The vote was split vertically on other seats despite the three-way alliance between the SP, the BSP and the RLD. The Jat attraction to Mr. Modi was strong, and distressingly, most conversations with community leaders and voters, deceptively cordial in the beginning, ended in a tirade against Muslims. This despite an admission that tensions had cooled between Jats and Muslims and the mahoul (atmosphere) had improved considerably from the time of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal conflagration. One often heard refrain was that the RLD had made a political compromise and there had been no real change of heart.
  • This is a warning sign equally to the SP-BSP pact. The alliance’s future depends upon a lasting understanding between the partners and a seamless transfer of votes between their respective constituencies. The alliance has been helped in this election by a confluence of factors, among them farmer distress across communities, and a feeling, among Muslims and Dalits, of being overrun by the Yogi Adityanath Government. Farmers, both Jats and Muslims, are facing the triple whammy of delayed payment for sugar cane, mounting debt and an inability to dispose of their unproductive cattle. This commonality is one reason for the reduction of Jat-Muslim tensions.
  • As against this there is the looming Modi factor, and the mesmeric pull of toxic Hindutva, now represented by the likes of terror-accused Pragya Singh Thakur. The alliance has to hold strong, and prove that it is an alliance of substance and not merely a one-off arithmetical wonder. It needs to do this for itself, and even more because failure is not a option. Against all expectations, the SP and the BSP have come to represent the only viable Opposition to the BJP and it is a responsibility that cannot be carried lightly.
  • Standing up for Julian Assange

    Ensuring his freedom is essential to uphold free speech and media freedom on a global scale

  • The arrest of Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks, in early April in London, is an attack on free speech and media freedom on a global scale. Except for a statement by some prominent Indians condemning his arrest and few other voices of condemnation, reaction in India has been muted.
  • The near silence could well be the result of the lack of information about Mr. Assange and the kind of journalism WikiLeaks has spearheaded since its inception in 2006. It is equally possible that the Indian public too has fallen prey, hook, line and sinker, to the venomous and disingenuous disinformation campaign unleashed against Mr. Assange even before he was granted asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London seven years ago.
  • Incisive breaks

  • Mr. Assange, the latest inmate of Belmarsh Prison (also known as the “British version of Guantánamo Bay”) is, for his supporters, the “first media hero of the 21st Century”. In its daring attempts to hit at the powerful, WikiLeaks has collaborated with some of the best mainstream media organisations across the world on the diplomatic cables. These include The Guardian, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El Pais and The Hindu.
  • WikiLeaks has thrown light on how war can dehumanise people with the release of footage of the 2007 ‘Collateral Murder’ video that showed U.S. soldiers in Iraq laughing at hapless civilians and journalists from a military helicopter even as they continued raining bullets on their victims. This riled the U.S. administration, as did the other exposés by WikiLeaks, be it with the Iraq or the Afghanistan war logs. These ‘benign’ wars were proven by WikiLeaks to not be so benign after all, and this obviously didn’t go down well in Washington.
  • But it has not always been about the U.S and the wars. The story on Daniel Arap Moi , former Kenyan President and his family’s corruption was the anti-secrecy website’s first big story, which received international attention when Mr. Assange gave the story to The Guardian.
  • WikiLeaks also published a cache of emails of the Syrian government and its opponents. The release of emails sent by the top echelons of the government and even its opponents has caused a lot of embarrassment to both warring parties.
  • The website, in 2016, released almost 300,000 emails of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s and his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, even as Ankara grappled with the aftermath of a failed military coup.
  • The couple of exposés around the Democratic Party in the U.S. in 2016, as a tranche of emails sent and received by U.S. presidential contender Hillary Clinton, and, then emails of Mrs Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, had a significant impact not only on U.S. domestic politics, but also exposed the faultlines in the Democratic Party’s ruling clique. But some of these exposés which lacked editorial discretion did lead to some erosion of support for Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks around the world.
  • Multiple attacks

  • Mr. Assange is a veteran of some bruising battles against organised attacks, institutional, technological and propaganda. That the website has been the target of relentless attacks would not come as a surprise, but it has also weathered boycotts and a denial of service by companies such as PayPal, which refused to allow WikiLeaks to seek donations using the service.
  • So what is the crime that Mr. Assange has actually committed? His lawyer Barry Pollack says: “The factual allegations … boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identity of that source... Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges.”
  • Closer home, in early March, Attorney General of India K.K. Venugopal told the Supreme Court that the Rafale documents that were published by this newspaper had been “stolen” from the Defence Ministry. Mr. Venugopal had sought an investigation to find out if their publication should be deemed a crime, and a violation of the Official Secrets Act. The Editors Guild, separately, and the Press Club of India, the Indian Women’s Press Corps and the Press Association said his statements had “the potential of sending out a chilling effect to one and all in the media”.
  • It is precisely this “chilling effect” that the U.S. is hoping to have on every single journalist across the globe by attempting to have Mr. Assange in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison in the U.S. for years. For the exposés that Mr. Assange has spearheaded, the U.S. intends to make him an example, asserting its prosecutorial authority over a person who is not even a U.S. citizen.
  • Even in Sweden, there is no longer a case against Mr. Assange. The fact is the international arrest warrant over allegations of sexual assault and rape that Sweden had put out against Mr. Assange was suspended by Swedish prosecutors. They suspended the investigation and applied to revoke the European arrest warrant way back in May 2017. Sweden is, however, considering reopening the investigation.

  • His complex legal issues continue. A British court, on Wednesday, May 1, sentenced Mr. Assange to 50 weeks in jail for jumping bail when he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy. On Thursday, May 2, the U.S. will also begin its attempt to extradite him, which is said to be a protracted process. But it is encouraging that British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has unequivocally said: “The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government.”
  • If therefore Mr. Assange should be a free man, there is need to build an international campaign against his continued incarceration. It is after all to ensure that journalism, free, fair and courageous, cannot be allowed to be trampled upon by the U.S. and the U.K., two democracies, which otherwise claim to be the best of the breed.
  • Power shift

    Inspired by the ruling on Delhi, the Madras HC bats in favour of elected regime in Puducherry

  • The Madras High Court verdict that the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry should not interfere in the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory is a serious setback to the incumbent Administrator, Kiran Bedi. She has been locked in a prolonged dispute over the extent of her powers with Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, who says she has been disregarding the elected regime and seeking to run the Union Territory on her own. The court has laid down that “the decision taken by the Council of Ministers and the Chief Minister is binding on the Secretaries and other officials.” Inspired by the Supreme Court’s appeal to constitutional morality and trust among high dignitaries, the High Court has also reminded the Centre and the Administrator that they should be true to the concept of democratic principles, lest the constitutional scheme based on democracy and republicanism be defeated. The judgment is based mainly on the principles that were laid down in last year’s Constitution Bench decision on the conflict between the elected regime in the National Capital Territory (NCT) and its Lt.Governor. The five-judge Bench had ruled that the L-G has to either act on the ‘aid and advice’ of the Council of Ministers, or refer to the President for a decision any matter on which there is a difference with the Ministry, but has no independent decision-making powers. The High Court also says the Administrator is bound by the ‘aid and advice’ clause in matters over which the Assembly is competent to enact laws. The L-G’s power to refer any matter to the President to resolve differences should not mean “every matter”, the court has cautioned.
  • Justice R. Mahadevan, who delivered the Madras High Court judgment, is conscious of the difference in status between Delhi and Puducherry. The Puducherry legislature is the creation of a parliamentary law, based on an enabling provision in Article 239A of the Constitution, whereas the NCT legislature has been created by the Constitution itself under Article 239AA. The Supreme Court had described the NCT as sui generis. At the same time, the NCT Assembly is limited in the extent of its legislative powers, as it is barred from dealing with the subjects of public order, police and land. However, looking at the Business Rules as well as other statutory provisions on Puducherry, the judge has sought to give greater credence to the concept of a representative government. He has set aside two clarifications issued by the Centre in 2017 to the effect that the L-G enjoys more power than the Governor of a State and can act without aid and advice. In view of the Constitution Bench judgment on Delhi, he has differed with another Madras High Court decision of 2018 in which the LG’s power to act irrespective of the Cabinet’s advice was upheld. In the event that the latest judgment is taken up on appeal, a key question may be how far the decision of the five-judge Bench on the limits of the Delhi L-G’s powers would indeed apply to Puducherry.
  • The cost of resistance

    India must brace for the economic shocks from uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance

  • Even though antimicrobial resistance is acknowledged by policymakers as a major health crisis, few have considered its economic impact. Now, a report from the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG) puts the financial fall-out in perspective. Titled “No Time to Wait: Securing The Future From Drug Resistant Infections”, it says in about three decades from now uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance will cause global economic shocks on the scale of the 2008-09 financial crisis. With nearly 10 million people estimated to die annually from resistant infections by 2050, health-care costs and the cost of food production will spike, while income inequality will widen. In the worst-case scenario, the world will lose 3.8% of its annual GDP by 2050, while 24 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030. Nations must acknowledge this eventuality, the IACG says, and act to fight it. For high- and mid-income nations, the price of prevention, at $2 per head a year, is extremely affordable. For poorer countries, the price is higher but still modest compared to the costs of an antibiotic apocalypse.
  • India first published almost nine years ago the broad contours of a plan to fight antimicrobial resistance. The difficulty has been in implementing it, given the twin challenges of antibiotic overuse and underuse. On the one hand, many Indians still die of diseases like sepsis and pneumonia because they don’t get the right drug at the right time. On the other hand, a poorly regulated pharmaceutical industry means that antibiotics are freely available to those who can afford them. The IACG report acknowledges these obstacles, and calls for efforts to overcome them. Some steps can be initiated right away, it says, such as phasing out critical human-use antibiotics in the animal husbandry sector, such as quinolones. But these steps cannot be driven by regulation alone. A multi-stakeholder approach, involving private industry, philanthropic groups and citizen activists is needed. Private pharmaceutical industries must take it upon themselves to distribute drugs in a responsible manner. Philanthropic charities must fund the development of new antibiotics, while citizen activists must drive awareness. These stakeholders must appreciate that the only way to postpone resistance is through improved hygiene and vaccinations. It is a formidable task as India still struggles with low immunisation rates and drinking water contamination. But it must consider the consequences of a failure. While the 2008-09 financial crisis caused global hardships, its effects began to wear off by 2011. Once crucial antibiotics are lost to humankind, they may be lost for decades.
  • The smokescreen of an infiltrator-free India

    The real aim of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is to segregate non-citizens on the basis of religion

  • The BJP’s poll promise to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in a phased manner in other parts of the country is only a smokescreen to hide its real agenda of using the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to segregate non-citizens on the basis of religion and subjecting only the Muslims among them to anti-immigration laws of the country.
  • At present, Assam is the only State in the country to have an NRC, which was compiled way back in 1951. The process of updating the 1951 NRC in Assam has been on since 2015 under constant monitoring by the Supreme Court. The complete draft of the updated NRC in Assam published on July 30, 2018 excluded the names of over 40 lakh of the total 3.29 crore applicants. The Supreme Court has fixed July 31 for publication of the final NRC list after disposal of all claims and objections.
  • No definition of infiltrators

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill incorporates the BJP’s articulated ideological position vis-à-vis undocumented immigrants in respect of three countries — Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The ideological position of the ruling party is that undocumented immigrants belonging to Hindu and other religious minority groups in these three countries cannot be treated as “illegal migrants” in India and need to be granted citizenship, while the Muslims among them are “infiltrators” must be identified and driven out.
  • The BJP introduced the Bill in Parliament in 2016 when the NRC was being updated in Assam. The objective of the Bill is very clear: to remove the “illegal migrant” tag on members of six religious groups — Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsis — from these three countries and reduce the requirement of residency in India to six years to make them eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
  • However, in its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the party has dropped Parsis from the list. “Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and Christians escaping persecution from India’s neighbouring countries will be given citizenship in India,” the manifesto promises.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have been harping on updating the NRC in their election rallies “to identify the infiltrators”, and on the Bill. This is an attempt to manufacture consent of the people on the definition of “infiltrator” according to the ideological lexicon of the saffron party.
  • The problem of cut-off date

  • However, the NRC smokescreen has thickened as the BJP has not spelt out in its manifesto the cut-off date for the proposed NRC for the entire country. If the cut-off date is going to be different from that taken for updating the NRC in Assam, what will be the legal status of those included in the updated register in Assam in the rest of the country, and vice versa?
  • The cut-off date for updating the NRC in Assam is March 24, 1971, which is also the cut-off date in the Assam Accord for implementation of the core clause, Clause 5, which calls for identification, deletion of names and expulsion of “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh, irrespective of their religion. The Accord facilitated acceptance of undocumented migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan who came until this cut-off date as Indian citizens, except in respect of the stream of people who came in 1966-71 and who are to remain disenfranchised for a period of 10 years from the date of their registration as foreigners.
  • Updating the NRC in Assam on the basis of this core clause led to a broad political consensus in the State that the updated register will be a critical document for implementing this clause and addressing the apprehension of the Assamese and other ethnic communities in the State of losing their linguistic, cultural and ethnic identities due to unabated migration from Bangladesh.
  • The BJP has been pushing the campaign in Assam that 1951 should have been the cut-off date in the Assam Accord for identification of “infiltrators” from erstwhile East Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh. Though it has not taken any official position on reviewing the Assam Accord for fear of antagonising the Assamese, it has been pushing the campaign in a desperate bid to make them accept religion as the basis in place of language, culture and ethnicity for construction of an Assamese identity.
  • The Assam government recently informed the Supreme Court that it has submitted a ₹900 crore proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs for sanctioning 1,000 Foreigners Tribunals to decide the cases of those to be excluded from the final NRC list. The State has a hundred Foreigners Tribunals at present.
  • A legal shield

  • The BJP, however, needs the Bill to be first enacted as a legal shield for the large number of Bengali Hindus in Assam, in other northeastern States, and in West Bengal, who migrated from erstwhile East Bengal and after the creation of Bangladesh.
  • The BJP pushed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, notwithstanding widespread protests in the northeastern States and got it passed in the Lok Sabha. But it did not push it in the Rajya Sabha for lack of numbers.
  • To prevent its poll arithmetic going haywire in the Northeast on account of apprehensions that the Bill would make the NRC infructuous and trigger an influx of more “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh, the BJP in its manifesto promises “to protect the linguistic, cultural and social identity of the people of Northeast.”
  • Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah’s promises on the Bill cannot be discounted as mere poll rhetoric as the Ministry of Home Affairs on October 18, 2018 notified the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2018 making it mandatory for a person applying for Indian citizenship to declare her or his religion. However, the smokescreen of an infiltrator-free India without explicitly defining an infiltrator will not be able hide the real threat posed to the country’s secular fabric. If the Bill is made into an Act, it poses the threat of abusing the NRC to divide people on religious lines. The country can ill afford such a divisive agenda.
  • Fighting polio in Pakistan

    Instead of insisting on the oral polio vaccine, using the inactivated polio vaccine along with other vaccines will help

  • Last month, the polio eradication programme in Pakistan was in the news for all the wrong reasons. On April 22, a government hospital in Mashokhel in Peshawar district was set on fire after many children allegedly fell sick after being given the anti-polio vaccine. On April 23 and 24, in two separate incidents, two police officers guarding vaccinators were shot dead. On April 25, in Chaman, which borders Afghanistan, a polio worker was shot dead and her helper injured. Since December 2012, nearly 90 people have been killed in the country for working to eradicate polio. Due to recurrent threats to workers, the Pakistan government has now suspended the anti-polio drive.
  • Cases of wild poliovirus type 1

  • This is the worst time to take this decision. This year alone, eight paralysed children with wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) have been found in Pakistan. Environmental surveillance by testing sewage samples has shown 91 WPV1-positive samples, in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh. In the past week alone, 13 sewage samples were found to be positive for WPV1.
  • This is a worrying sign. With suspended immunisation activities, WPV1 will spread fast and the number of polio cases could increase and cause an outbreak. If Pakistan cannot eliminate polio, the global eradication programme is sure to stall.
  • When India eliminated WPV1 in January 2011, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a public-private partnership led by national governments with five partners, did not ask if Pakistan would be able to follow suit; it simply assumed it would. This was unrealistic. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, oral polio vaccine (OPV) coverage of 98-99% was sustained with an average of 15 doses per child from 2003. There was full cooperation from the health workers and the public. The war on polio requires such intensity and coverage and it is unrealistic to expect this in Pakistan, where polio eradication is falsely depicted as a Western agenda with the sinister motive of reducing fertility.
  • The GPEI has pinned all its hopes on the OPV and has excluded the alternate inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to eradicate WPVs. The OPV is cheap and easy to give to children, but it has to be given to them again and again in pulse campaigns since its efficacy is poor. On the other hand, the IPV is highly efficacious and needs to be given just two-three times as part of routine immunisation.
  • Risk of polio outbreaks

  • The OPV has another problem. If coverage declines (as is bound to happen in Pakistan), vaccine viruses will spread to children who are not vaccinated, back-mutate, de-attenuate and become virulent. Such viruses are called circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV). They can cause polio outbreaks. Thus Pakistan will soon be at risk of polio outbreaks by both WPV1 and cVDPV.
  • It is to avoid the emergence of cVDPV that India strives to maintain high OPV coverage through routine immunisation, Mission Indradhanush and annual national pulse campaigns. In 2018, Papua New Guinea developed a cVDPV polio outbreak as OPV coverage fell to 60%. In 2017, as OPV coverage fell to 53%, Syria had an outbreak of cVDPV polio.
  • There is yet another problem in Pakistan. With the OPV being identified as the weapon in the war on polio and with some in Pakistan believing that the aim of eradication is to reduce fertility, a vaccine is given only three or four times, not 15-20 times.
  • Hope is not lost for polio eradication provided that the GPEI relents on its insistence on the OPV and uses the IPV along with other common vaccines. IPV-containing vaccines could be included in the routine immunisation programme and given without attracting the attention of militants. The false propaganda about polio vaccination in Pakistan will then lose its sting. While near-100% coverage with the OPV is necessary, 85-90% coverage with the IPV given in a routine schedule would be sufficient.
  • If the GPEI insists on the OPV as the only weapon against polio, we have hit the end of the road in Pakistan. But the world cannot afford to lose this war on polio. India could show the way forward by giving the IPV in its universal immunisation programme (at least two doses and preferably three) and then discontinuing the infectious OPV altogether.
  • Beyond Khalistan

    By focussing only on this issue, New Delhi risks alienating the Sikh diaspora

  • India-Canada ties have deteriorated in recent years, especially given the view that the current Justin Trudeau administration is soft on individuals and organisations that support the demand for Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland. Members of Mr. Trudeau’s Cabinet, especially Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, have been accused of having links with Sikh separatists. When Mr. Sajjan visited India in April 2017, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh refused to meet him for this reason. Similarly, Mr. Trudeau received the cold shoulder during his India visit in February 2018. When Mr. Singh met Mr. Trudeau, their discussion was on the Khalistan issue, rather than on areas of mutual cooperation. Recently, Mr. Trudeau drew the ire of the Indian government when a report on terror threats avoided the words ‘Khalistani extremism’.
  • There is no doubt that some overseas Sikhs support a separate Sikh homeland, and that there is not much appetite for the same in Punjab. However, it is important to not link criticism of India on human rights issues, such as the Sikh pogrom of 1984 and extrajudicial killings in the 1980s and 1990s, with Sikh separatism. The Indian media, the government and even politicians in Punjab need to realise that Sikhs based in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. may have different political views. Similarly, non-violent support for a cause cannot be labelled as a militant activity.
  • If there is evidence of support for any violent activity, New Delhi and Canada must work together to tackle the problem. By focusing only on the Khalistan issue, New Delhi risks alienating the Sikh diaspora. India should instead reach out to the Sikh diaspora in a year when Sikhs and all other followers of Guru Nanak will be commemorating his 550th birth anniversary.
  • Critics of the Canadian government must also bear in mind that like all relationships, this is a multi-layered one. While New Delhi may be uncomfortable with the Canadian government’s approach towards the activities of certain Sikh hard-liners, it is important to bear in mind that for the year 2017, Indian students received well over 25% (over 80,000) of the available study permits. In 2017, well over 40% of the 86,022 people who received invitations for permanent residency were Indians. During 2018, this rose by a staggering 13% to 41,000.
  • It is important to handle ties with Canada with nuance. First, members of the Sikh diaspora and Sikh politicians who are vocal on human rights issues shouldn’t be labelled Khalistani sympathisers. Second, it should be remembered that the New Delhi-Ottawa relationship goes well beyond the Khalistan issue.