1. Queries raised on DRDO’s COVID drug
Experts flag lack of published data on performance in human trials, history of drug in cancer cure
A drug developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for “emergency use” in those with moderate to severe COVID , but independent experts say that from the information so far available, the drug’s utility in COVID care has not been established.
The lack of published data on its performance in human trials, opaqueness on whether the phase-3 trial objectively evaluated the benefit from, or lack of it, of the drug and the drug’s history — of being an unapproved anti-cancer drug and therefore potentially able to harm healthy cells — some of the concerns contributing to the uncertainty, experts told The Hindu. 2-Deoxy-D-Glucose drug has historically been extensively tested for treating cancer but is so far an unapproved drug.
The Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of the DRDO, in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad, too has been studying this drug, in the context of radiation therapy for cancer.
The drug had been tested in trials and was given to Dr Reddy’s Laboratories in 2014 as part of a collaboration, according to Dr. Sudhir Chandna, Additional Director, INMAS, DRDO. The basic mechanism of the drug involves inhibiting glycolysis, or one of the ways in which cells break down glucose for energy. This approach while used to starve and kill cancer cells, could in theory work in inhibiting virus cells too, that were almost entirely dependent on glycolysis for replication.
Tests at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, last year indicated that the drug demonstrably killed virus cells after which it progressed to trials in people.
Dr Reddy’s in its application to the SEC for Phase-2 trials in June 2020, noted that while the drug was yet unapproved, it had been tried in 218 clinical trials so far as an anti-cancer drug.
Announcing the success of the drug, a press statement from from the DRDO said: “Clinical trial results have shown that this molecule helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence. Higher proportion of patients treated with 2-DG showed RT-PCR negative conversion in COVID patients.”
“Cancer cells depend heavily on glucose for their survival and hence by tagging them with 2DG we can restrict cancer cell growth. Similarly, it can also affect high glucose utilising normal cells like brain cells (neurons) and could cause brain related side effects,” Dr. Cyriac Abby Philips, who specialised in Hepatology and Liver Transplant Medicine, at Rajagiri Hospital in Kerala said in an email.
2. China’s population growth slows to lowest rate in decades
12 mn babies were born last year, the lowest since 1961, according to census
China’s once-in-a-decade population census has recorded a slowing population growth rate that will likely see China’s population peak — and be overtaken by India’s — by as early as 2025, experts said, with the number of births falling for the fourth consecutive year.
The seventh census, released on Tuesday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in Beijing, noted 12 million babies were born last year, the lowest number since 1961, a year when China was in the midst of a four-year famine unleashed by Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward policy in 1958 that devastated the farm sector and claimed millions of lives.
China’s population was 1.41 billion in 2020, according to the census, increasing by 72 million since the last census in 2010, recording a 5.38% growth in this period. The average annual growth was 0.53%.
The slowing growth rate, a consequence of China’s stringent family planning rules over decades — known as the “one-child policy” but involving a range of varying restrictions across urban and rural areas — has evoked concerns of a rapidly ageing society and the impact on China’s labour force, and fears that China will, as some experts have said, “get old before it gets rich”.
The census recorded 264 million in the age group of 60 and over, up 5.44% since 2010 and accounting for 18.70% of the population. Those in the 15-59 age group were 894 million persons, down by 6.79% since 2010 and accounting for 63.35% of the population.
Chinese experts on Tuesday acknowledged the seriousness of the problem, without linking it directly to the history of the Communist Party’s harsh family planning policies, at a time when it is planning to mark its 100th anniversary in July.
In the lead up to the anniversary, China’s Internet regulator said it had deleted more than 2 million posts containing “harmful” discussions of history, the South China Morning Post reported, with the party clamping down on any adverse commentary about its present or past.
China loosened family planning rules and allowed couples to have two children in 2016, but that has failed to mark a boom amid changing lifestyles and declining preferences, particularly in urban areas, for larger families.
“China will likely enter a period of population decline soon,” Huang Wenzheng, a fellow at the Center for China and Globalisation, in Beijing, told official broadcaster China Global Television Network. “This might be the biggest challenge the nation faces in the next century.”
The impact on the labour force and healthcare is a particular concern. China’s workforce in the 15-59 age bracket peaked at 925 million in 2011, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said previously. That number was down to 894 million in this census and would drop to 700 million by 2050, according to the Ministry.
The census did not offer a specific year for the population to peak, but experts said that could happen by 2025. “China’s population will peak in the future, but there remains uncertainty as to when specifically it will happen,” Ning Jizhe of the National Bureau of Statistics said. “For the next stage, we should continue to pay attention to changes in population growth and respond actively to risks and challenges in demographic development,” he said.
The findings from the census were not entirely dire. The census also shed light on China’s increasingly educated workforce and its rapid pace of urbanisation.
The number of people with a university education was 218 million, up to 15,467 per 100,000 of the population compared with 8,930 in 2010.
The average years of schooling for 15 and above increased from 9.08 years to 9.91 years and the illiteracy rate dropped from 4.08% to 2.67%, in part due to policies for nine years of compulsory and free education.
The urban population touched 901 million, accounting for 63.89%, up from 49.68% in 2010 with an increase of 236 million urban residents in the last decade.
India’s Population Trends
- For the study, researchers used data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017.
- The Global Burden of Disease Study is a comprehensive regional and global assessment of mortality and disability from major diseases, injuries and risk factors.
- The study was initiated in the 1990s as a collaborative effort of hundreds of experts worldwide, including researchers at the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank.
- Hampered Economic Growth: The study has predicted dramatic declines in working-age populations in countries such as India and China, which will hamper economic growth and lead to shifts in global powers.
- India Specific Data:
- India in 2100 will be the world’s most populous country.
- The number of working-age adults aged 20-64 in India is projected to fall from around 762 million in 2017 to around 578 million in 2100.
- However, India has been forecasted to have the largest working-age population in the world by 2100.
- India is also expected to surpass China’s workforce population in the mid-2020s, where the working-age population is estimated to decline from 950 million in 2017 to 357 million in 2100.
- From 2017 to 2100, India is projected to rise up the rankings of countries with the largest total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) globally from 7th to 3rd, in terms of nominal GDP.
- The country’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) declined to below 2.1 in 2019 (data taken from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017) and is projected to have a continued steep fertility decline until about 2040, reaching a TFR of 1.29 in 2100.
- TFR indicates the average number of children expected to be born to a woman during her reproductive span of 15-49 years.
- India is also forecasted to have the second-largest net immigration in 2100, with an estimated half a million more people immigrating to India in 2100 than emigrating out.
- Given the trends of countries like the USA banning work visas and India being a developing country, has the potential to offer a huge manufacturing market to immigrants who want to work here.
- Global Data:
- The world population is forecasted to peak at around 9.7 billion people in 2064 and fall to 8.8 billion by the century’s end, with 23 countries seeing populations shrink by more than 50%, including Japan, Thailand, Italy and Spain.
- By 2100, a total of 183 out of 195 countries will have TFR below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman. The global TFR is predicted to steadily decline from 2.37 in 2017 to 1.66 in 2100, well below the minimum rate of 2.1.
- Replacement level fertility is the number of children needed to replace the parents, after accounting for fatalities, skewed sex ratio, infant mortality, etc. The population starts falling below this level.
- Huge shifts in the global age structure, with an estimated 2.37 billion individuals over 65 years globally in 2100 compared with the 703 million in 2019.
- The new population forecasts are in contrast with projects of “continuing” global growth by the United Nations Population Division (UNPD).
- They highlight huge challenges to the economic growth of a shrinking workforce, the high burden on health and social support systems of an ageing population.
- As countries move toward prioritising development, fertility reduction is inevitable.
- At the same time, improved survival at all ages, especially at the older ages, would lead to the rapid ageing of the population.
- Liberal migration policies could be adopted as a temporary solution for economic growth in the context of declining working population.
- Migrants contribute significantly to labour-market flexibility, innovation and technological progress, boost the working-age population and bring new skills contributing to the human capital development of receiving countries.
- It is more important to look for possibilities of investing in technological advancements that can compensate for human shortages.
- The effect of fertility decline on women’s reproductive health rights has to be accompanied by greater economic independence which would allow women to negotiate with the system on their own terms and for better support services as well.
3. What’s happening in Jerusalem?
Following Al-Aqsa raid, Hamas fired rockets and Israel bombed Gaza in return
On Monday, Israeli armed forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Haram esh-Sharif in Jerusalem, ahead of a march by Zionist nationalists commemorating Israel’s capture of the eastern half of the city in 1967. More than 300 Palestinians were injured in the raid. In retaliation, Hamas, the Islamist militant group that runs Gaza, fired dozens of rockets that killed two Israelis. Israel launched an airstrike on Gaza in response, killing 26 Palestinians, including militants and nine children.
What led to escalation?
Tensions have been building up since the start of Ramzan in mid-April when Israeli police set up barricades at the Damascus Gate outside the occupied Old City, preventing Palestinians from gathering there. As clashes erupted, the police removed the barricades, but tensions were already high. The threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah escalated the crisis further in the last week of Ramzan.
Clashes erupted on the night of May 7 in Jerusalem between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in which hundreds of Palestinians and over a dozen police personnel were injured. The Israeli authorities had given permission to the Jerusalem Day march, traditionally taken out by far-right Zionists through the Arab Quarter of the Old City. Ahead of the march on May 10 (which was rerouted given the tensions), Israeli armed forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque with rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas to evict Palestinians, who Israel said had camped with stones and Molotov cocktail. Hamas issued an ultimatum to the Israeli troops to stand down from Al-Aqsa. By the evening, they launched rockets. Israeli strikes followed.
Sheikh Jarrah dispute
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes when the State of Israel was created in historic Palestine in 1948 (the Palestinians call the events ‘Nakba’, or catastrophe). Twenty-eight of those Palestinian families moved to Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem to settle there. In 1956, when East Jerusalem was ruled by Jordan, the Jordanian Ministry of Construction and Development and the UN Relief and Works Agency facilitated the construction of houses for these families in Sheikh Jarrah. But Israel would capture East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967. By the early 1970s, Jewish agencies started demanding the families leave the land. Jewish committees claimed that the houses sat on land they purchased in 1885 (when Jews, facing persecution in Europe, were migrating to historic Palestine that was part of the Ottoman Empire). Earlier this year, the Central Court in East Jerusalem upheld a decision to evict four Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in favour of Jewish settlers. The Israeli Supreme Court was scheduled to hear the case on May 10. But the hearing was postponed on advice from the government amid the ongoing violence in Jerusalem. The issue remains unresolved.
Jerusalem has been at the centre of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to the original 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem was proposed to be an international city. But in the first Arab Israel war of 1948, the Israelis captured the western half of the city, and Jordan took the eastern part, including the Old City that houses Haram esh-Sharif. Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, and the Dome of the Rock are situated within Haram esh-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary). One side of the compound, called Temple Mount by the Jews, is the Wailing Wall (Western Wall), which is believed to be the remains of the Second Jewish Temple, the holiest site in Judaism.
Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it later. Since its annexation, Israel has expanded settlements in East Jerusalem, which is now home for some 220,000 Jews. Jews born in East Jerusalem are Israeli citizens, while Palestinians in the city are given conditional residency permits. Palestinians in East Jerusalem, unlike other parts of the occupied West Bank, can, however, apply for Israeli citizenship. Very few Palestinians have done so.
Israel sees the whole city as its “unified, eternal capital”, a claim endorsed by Donald Trump when he was U.S. President but not recognised by most other countries. Palestinian leaders across the political spectrum have maintained that they would not accept any compromise formula for a future Palestinian state unless East Jerusalem is its capital.
- The seeds of the conflict were laid in 1917 when the then British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour expressed official support of Britain for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine under the Balfour Declaration. The lack of concern for the “rights of existing non-Jewish communities” i.e. the Arabs led to prolonged violence.
- Unable to contain Arab and Jewish violence, Britain withdrew its forces from Palestine in 1948, leaving responsibility for resolving the competing claims to the newly created United Nations. The UN presented a partition plan to create independent Jewish and Arab states in Palestine. Most Jews in Palestine accepted the partition but most Arabs did not.
- In 1948, the Jewish declaration of Israel’s independence prompted surrounding Arab states to attack. At the end of the war, Israel controlled about 50 percent more territory than originally envisioned UN partition plan. Jordan controlled the West Bank and Jerusalem’s holy sites, and Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip.
- 1964: Founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
- 1967: In Six-day Arab- Israeli war, Israeli forces seize the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank & East Jerusalem from Jordan and Sinai Peninsula & Gaza strip from Egypt.
- The United Nations grants the PLO observer status in 1975 and recognizes Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
- Camp David Accords (1978): “Framework for Peace in the Middle East” brokered by U.S. set the stage for peace talks between Israel and its neighbors and a resolution to the “Palestinian problem”. This however remained unfulfilled.
- 1981: Israel effectively annexes the Golan but this is not recognized by the United States or the international community.
- 1987: Founding of Hamas, a violent offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood seeking “to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine” through violent jihad.
- 1987: Tensions in the occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza reached boiling point resulting in the First Intifada (Palestinian Uprising). It grew into a small war between Palestinian militants and the Israeli army.
- 1988: Jordan cedes to the PLO all the country’s territorial claims in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem.
- 1993: Under the Oslo Accords Israel and the PLO agree to officially recognize each other and renounce the use of violence. The Oslo Accords also established the Palestinian Authority, which received limited autonomy in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.
- 2005: Israel begins a unilateral withdrawal of Jews from settlements in Gaza. However, Israel kept tight control over all border crossings (blockade).
- 2006: Hamas scores a victory in Palestinian Authority elections. The vote leaves the Palestinian house divided between Fatah movement, represented by President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas, which will control the cabinet and parliament. Efforts at cohabitation fail almost immediately.
- 2007: Palestinian Movement Splits after few months of formation of a joint Fatah-Hamas government. Hamas militants drive Fatah from Gaza. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appoints a new government in Ramallah (West Bank), which is quickly recognized by the United States and European Union. Gaza remains under Hamas control.
- 2012- UN upgrades Palestinian representation to that of “non-member observer state”.
- 2014- Israel responds to the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank by arresting numerous Hamas members. Militants respond by firing rockets from Gaza. Clashes end in uneasy Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.
- 2014- Fatah and Hamas form a unity government, though distrust remains between the two factions.
The Territorial Puzzle
- West Bank: The West Bank is sandwiched between Israel and Jordan. One of its major cities is Ramallah, the de facto administrative capital of Palestine. Israel took control of it in the 1967 war and has over the years established settlements there.
§ Gaza: The Gaza Strip located between Israel and Egypt. Israel occupied the strip after 1967, but relinquished control of Gaza City and day-to-day administration in most of the territory during the Oslo peace process. In 2005, Israel unilaterally removed Jewish settlements from the territory, though it continues to control international access to it.
- Golan Heights: The Golan Heights is a strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war. Israel effectively annexed the territory in 1981. Recently, the USA has officially recognized Jerusalem and Golan Heights a part of Israel.
- Palestinian Authority- Created by the 1993 Olso Accords, it is the official governing body of the Palestinian people, led by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah faction. Hobbled by corruption and by political infighting, the PA has failed to become the stable negotiating partner its creators had hoped.
- Fatah- Founded by the late Yasir Arafat in the 1950s, Fatah is the largest Palestinian political faction. Unlike Hamas, Fatah is a secular movement, has nominally recognized Israel, and has actively participated in the peace process.
- Hamas- Hamas is regarded as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. In 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian Authority’s legislative elections. It ejected Fatah from Gaza in 2007, splitting the Palestinian movement geographically, as well.
- The “two state solution” is based on a UN resolution of 1947 which proposed two states – one would be a state where Zionist Jews constituted a majority, the other where the Palestinian Arabs would be a majority of the population. The idea was however rejected by the Arabs.
- For decades, it has been held by the international community as the only realistic deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Why is the solution so difficult to achieve?
- Borders: There is no consensus about precisely where to draw the line – with Israel building settlements and constructing barriers in areas like the West Bank that creates a de facto border. This makes it difficult to establish that land as part of an independent Palestine, breaking it up into non-contiguous pieces.
- Jerusalem: Both sides claim Jerusalem as their capital and consider it a center of religious worship and cultural heritage making its division difficult.
- In December 2017, Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital and the step found support from the USA, intensifying the situation in the region.
- Refugees: Large numbers of Palestinians who fled their homes in what is now Israel, during the preceding wars as well as their descendants believe they deserve the right to return but Israel is against it.
- Divided Political Leadership on Both sides: The Palestinian leadership is divided – two-state solution is supported by Palestinian nationalists in West Bank but the leadership in Gaza does not even recognize Israel. Further, while successive Israeli Prime Ministers – Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu – have all accepted the idea of a Palestinian state, they have differed in terms of what it should actually comprise.
Global Stand on Israel -Palestine Conflict
- Nearly 83% of world countries have officially recognized Israel as a sovereign state and maintain diplomatic relations with it.
- However, at the same time, many countries are sympathetic to Palestine.
What do both parties want?
- Palestine wants Israeli to halt all expansionary activities and retreat to pre-1967 borders. It wants to establish a sovereign Palestine state in West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital.
- Palestine wants Palestine refugees who lost their homes in 1948 be able to come back.
- Israel wants it to be recognised as a Jewish state. It wants the Palestine refugees to return only to Palestine, not to Israel.
- India was one of the few countries to oppose the UN’s partition plan in November 1947, echoing its own experience during independence a few months earlier. In the decades that followed, the Indian political leadership actively supported the Palestinian cause and withheld full diplomatic relations with Israel.
- India recognised Israel in 1950 but it is also the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian. India is also one of the first countries to recognise the statehood of Palestine in 1988.
- In the 2014, India favored UNHRC’s resolution to probe Israel’s human rights violations in Gaza. Despite supporting probe, India abstained from voting against Israel in UNHRC IN 2015.
- As a part of Link West Policy, India has de-hyphenated its relationship with Israel and Palestine in 2018 to treat both the countries mutually independent and exclusive.
- In June 2019, India voted in favor of a decision introduced by Israel in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that objected to granting consultative status to a Palestinian non-governmental organization
- So far India has tried to maintain the image of its historical moral supporter for Palestinian self-determination, and at the same time to engage in the military, economic, and other strategic relations with Israel.
4. Editorial-1: Evaluate the Ladakh crisis, keep China at bay
A critical assessment of the stand-off offers New Delhi key lessons in managing the strategic competition with China
After over a year, the stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh shows no signs of resolution. Disengagement has stalled, China continues to reinforce its troops, and talks have been fruitless.
More broadly, the India-China bilateral relationship has ruptured. Political relations are marked by hostility and distrust. Reversing a long-held policy, New Delhi will no longer overlook the problematic border dispute for the sake of a potentially lucrative wider relationship; now, as India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has made clear, the relationship is conditional on quietude on the border.
Even if — a big if — disengagement continues, the relationship will remain vulnerable to destabilising disruptions. On the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and beyond, India’s military and political leaders will need to learn the right lessons from Ladakh, to ensure they are better postured to meet the challenge of Chinese coercion.
Study and findings
In a recent study published by the Lowy Institute — ‘The crisis after the crisis: how Ladakh will shape India’s competition with China’ — this writer has argued that the Ladakh crisis offers New Delhi three key lessons in managing the intensifying strategic competition with China.
First, military strategies based on denial are more useful than strategies based on punishment. The Indian military’s standing doctrine calls for deterring adversaries with the threat of massive punitive retaliation for any aggression, capturing enemy territory as bargaining leverage in post-war talks. But this did not deter China from launching unprecedented incursions in May 2020, and the threat lost credibility when retaliation never materialised.
In contrast, the Indian military’s high-water mark in the crisis was an act of denial — its occupation of the heights on the Kailash Range on its side of the LAC in late August. This action served to deny that key terrain to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and gave the Indian Army a stronger defensive position from which it could credibly defend a larger segment of its front line.
A doctrinal focus on denial will give the Indian military greater capacity to thwart future land grabs across the LAC. By bolstering India’s defensive position, rather than launching an escalatory response, such a strategy is also more likely than punishment to preserve crisis stability. Over time, improved denial capabilities may allow India to reduce the resource drain of the increased militarisation of the LAC.
The second key lesson of Ladakh is that China is more likely to be deterred or coerced with the threat of political costs, rather than material costs. Admittedly, the Chinese military’s deployment to the LAC was also large and extremely expensive. But China’s defence budget is three to four times larger than India’s, and its Western Theatre Command boasts over 200,000 soldiers. The material burden of the crisis would not disrupt its existing priorities.
In contrast, India successfully raised the risks of the crisis for China through its threat of a political rupture, not military punishment. A permanently hostile India or an accidental escalation to conflict were risks that China, having achieved its tactical goals in the crisis, assessed were an unnecessary additional burden while it was contending with the instability of its territorial disputes and pandemic response.
The corollary lesson is that individual powers, even large powers such as India, will probably struggle to shift Beijing’s calculus alone. To the extent that China adjusted its position in the Ladakh crisis, it did so because it was responding to the cumulative effect of multiple pressure points — most of which were out of India’s control. Against the rising behemoth, only coordinated or collective action is likely to be effective.
Indian Ocean Region is key
The third lesson of Ladakh — and possibly the hardest to address — is that India should consider accepting more risk on the LAC in exchange for long-term leverage and influence in the Indian Ocean Region. From the perspective of long-term strategic competition, the future of the Indian Ocean Region is more consequential and more uncertain than the Himalayan frontier.
At the land border, the difficult terrain and more even balance of military force means that each side could only eke out minor, strategically modest gains at best. In contrast, India has traditionally been the dominant power in the Indian Ocean Region and stands to cede significant political influence and security if it fails to answer the dizzyingly rapid expansion of Chinese military power.
The Ladakh crisis, by prompting an increased militarisation of the LAC, may prompt India to defer long-overdue military modernisation and maritime expansion into the Indian Ocean. To keep its eyes on the prize, New Delhi will have to make tough-minded strategic trade-offs, deliberately prioritising military modernisation and joint force projection over the ground-centric combat arms formations required to defend territory.
This will be a politically formidable task — blood has now been spilled on the LAC, and for domestic political reasons, India cannot be seen to be passive on the border. Rebalancing India’s strategic priorities will require the central government, through the Chief of Defence Staff, to issue firm strategic guidance to the military services. This response will be a test not only of the government’s strategic sense and far-sightedness, but also of the ability of the national security apparatus to overcome entrenched bureaucratic and organisational-cultural biases.
As these three lessons show, the future of the strategic competition is not yet written. Thus far, India has suffered unequal strategic costs from the Ladakh crisis. Chinese troops continue to camp on previously Indian-controlled land, and worse, India may jeopardise its long-term leverage in the more consequential Indian Ocean Region. But if India’s leaders honestly and critically evaluate the crisis, it may yet help to actually brace India’s long-term position against China.
5. Editorial-2: How to adopt a child legally
During a crisis, an outreach programme must warn everyone not to entertain any illegal adoption offers
Profiteering from child trafficking rackets knows no bounds. Today, some people are offering infants for instant adoption by selling sob stories of how the children have lost their parents to the dreaded virus. These unscrupulous people target gullible persons who fall into the trap, little realising that such adoptions are illegal. The lack of inputs for proper procedures for legal adoption and hasty sentimental considerations are exploited for exorbitant sums of money. Tough times call for tough measures. This business of criminal trading of children must be checked with an iron hand.
Protection granted by the law
According to UNICEF, India has over 30 million orphan and abandoned children. Unfortunate parental deaths added unknown numbers of orphans to the list. Many children escaped monitoring by the official machinery due to the breakdown of systems. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) law was enacted in 2015. The Juvenile Justice Rules of 2016 and the Adoption Regulations of 2017 followed to create the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) as a statutory body for the regulation, monitoring and control of all intra-country and inter-country adoptions. Furthermore, CARA became pivotal in granting a ‘no objection’ certificate for all inter-country adoptions, pursuant to India becoming a signatory to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoptions. India is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thus, protections afforded to children became a legal mandate of all authorities and courts. Laws were enacted. Machineries and mechanisms created were put in place.
The Juvenile Justice Act is a secular law. All persons are free to adopt children under this law. However, persons professing the Hindu religion are free to adopt under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956. Rehabilitation of all orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children is regulated by the strict mandatory procedures of the Adoption Regulations. Children of relatives can also be adopted under the Juvenile Justice Act, if desired. Only such children declared legally free for adoption under the Juvenile Justice Act by prescribed procedures can be adopted. Any person or organisation offering or receiving such children for adoption in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Adoption Regulations invites punishment up to three years and a fine of ₹1 lakh, or both.
The eligibility of prospective adoptive parents living in India, duly registered on the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS), irrespective of marital status and religion, is adjudged by specialised adoption agencies preparing home study reports. Upon approval, as per seniority in the adoption list, prospective children are offered and pre-adoption foster care follows. The specialised adoption agency then secures court orders approving the adoption. All non-resident persons approach authorised adoption agencies in their foreign country of residence for registration under CARINGS. Their eligibility is adjudged by authorised foreign adoption agencies through home study reports. As per seniority, they are offered profiles of children and child study reports are finalised. CARA then issues a pre-adoption ‘no objection’ certificate for foster care, followed by a court adoption order. A final ‘no objection’ certificate from CARA or a conformity certificate under the adoption convention is mandatory for a passport and visa to leave India.
Not many may know this. CARA must conduct an outreach programme on social media, newspapers and TV, warning everyone not to entertain any illegal adoption offers under any circumstances whatsoever. The legal process of adoption must be adequately publicised. The National and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights must step up their roles as vigilantes, as they are empowered by law to take effective action against those engaging in illegal activities. Social activists, NGOs and enlightened individuals must report all the incidents that come to their notice. Respective State Legal Services Authorities have the infrastructure and machinery to stamp out such unlawful practices brought to their attention. The media must publicise and shame all those involved in this disreputable occupation. Innocent children deprived of the love and care of their natural parents due to tragedies cannot fall prey to traders of human smuggling. At the same time, the police authorities need to be extra vigilant in apprehending criminals. A joint private-public venture must come into motion. Every citizen of the nation has a role to play in eradicating this unhealthy practice.