1. PM for use of regional languages in legal system to bring ease of justice
Delay in justice delivery big challenge, says Modi. ‘People’s faith in constitutional institutions gets strengthened when justice is delivered’
People’s faith in constitutional institutions gets strengthened when justice is seen to be delivered, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday even as he cited the delay in getting justice as one of the major challenges faced by the people of the country.
Mr. Modi stressed that new laws should be written in a clear manner and in regional languages to bring in “ease of justice”, so that even the poor can easily understand them and legal language doesn’t become a barrier for citizens.
Obsolete laws scrapped
He also urged the State governments to adopt a humane approach towards undertrial prisoners. The Prime Minister made these remarks while inaugurating the All India Conference of Law Ministers and Law Secretaries’ via video conference.
The two-day conference is being held at Ekta Nagar in Kevadia near the ‘Statue of Unity’ in Gujarat and is being attended by Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju among others.
Delivering the inaugural address, Mr. Modi said that people should neither feel the absence of government nor its pressure and that is his government, in the last eight years, has scrapped more than 1,500 obsolete and irrelevant laws that were a relic of British rule and reduced as many as 32,000 compliances for the sake of “innovation and ease of living”.
“When justice is seen to be delivered, then the faith of the countrymen in the constitutional institutions is strengthened. And when justice is delivered, the confidence of the common man goes up,” Mr. Modi said. Laying stress on ensuring the ease of justice for the citizen, he said, “Delay in getting justice is one of the major challenges being faced by the people of our country. But our judiciary is seriously working towards resolving this issue. In this Amrit Kaal, we will have to work together to tackle this.” Mr. Modi stated villages have been resorting alternative dispute resolution mechanism for a long time and it can be adopted at State level as well. On the importance of use of regional languages, he said, If law is comprehensible to the common man, it will have a different impact”.
2. ‘Rule of law is defence against oppressive systems like casteism’
Supreme Court judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the aspirational goal of rule of law depends not merely on the Constitution or legislation but largely on the political culture and habits of citizens, especially young legal professionals.
“We live in a society governed by rule of law. Rule of law, if understood and implemented properly, is a defence against oppressive structures such as patriarchy, casteism, and ableism. It is an aspirational goal, which is beyond you and me as individuals, but towards which all of us have our parts to play,” Justice Chandrachud, who has been nominated as the next Chief Justice of India, said on Saturday. He was addressing the convocation of the National Law University here.
He paid homage to the first woman Supreme Court judge, Justice M. Fathima Beevi. He recounted her story as that of a girl born in a small town in Kerala who broke many a glass ceiling to be appointed as Supreme Court judge.
3. Rural women warming up for Chhattisgarhiya Olympics
Fifty-year-old Jayanti Bai Dhruv — a resident of Banbagaud village in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari, nearly 95 km from Raipur — takes a moment to catch her breath. Minutes ago, she had led her team to a victory in a village-level kho-kho match, qualifying them for the next round of the inaugural Chhattisgarhiya Olympics. Though confident of clearing the remaining five rounds to become a State-level champion, she feels some kind of victory has already been achieved.
“It’s a great feeling for my teammates and myself to be playing sports after years, or even decades. That we can compete in something physically so demanding is also an encouraging sign, but more importantly, it’s a lot of fun,” says the grandmother of one with a triumphant smile on her face. Her teammates, and other women surrounding her, nod in agreement.
Children spinning tops, schoolgirls in uniform celebrating the early suspension of classes, young mothers with babies and the odd elderly man smoking a beedi in a corner, there is a motley crowd of onlookers. Neither the mugginess nor the occasional drizzle has dampened the spirit of these women, or the audience cheering them.
In the neighbouring Rudri village, Jageshwari Sahu (42), a housewife, is keenly observing two boys’ team competing in pitthool (seven stones), another game on the list of 14 categories of traditional sports the Stategovernment says it is trying to revive through the Olympics.
Some of the rules applied here are not how she remembers playing pitthool in her maternal home in Durg many years ago or when she occasionally tries her hand at it in her neighbourhood. That, however, is not a deterrent and “it’s the excitement that matters for women like us who hardly play outdoor sports”, she says. Lalita Bai Sahu, who is waiting at the registration counter nearby to submit names for race and tug of war, points out that women gathering to take part in the sporting events in Rudri are outnumbering the men. A 3:1 ratio can be seen in Banbagod as well. Sunil Sinha, 36, a sports teacher, says it has been the case in most villages he has covered so far.
What women want
It is difficult to establish a trend based on the visit of two villages but from across Chhattisgarh, there are numerous videos of women, even the elderly ones, playing sports like kabaddi, kho-kho, billas, fugdi, going viral on social media. One such video, showing women playing kabaddi in saree in Ratawa village, also in Dhamtari, went viral, leaving netizens in awe.
On why women are warming to the tournament, Banbagaud Deputy Sarpanch Chan Singh Sahu says that usually when sporting events at the community or village level are organised in his village or even the neighbouring ones, those include games such as gilli-danda or tennis or ball cricket that are still male bastions.
Launching the games on October 6, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had said, “In rural areas, children, the elderly, and youth all engage in these games for entertainment and to keep themselves fit.”
“The plains of Chhattisgarh are paddy-growing regions. This is labour-intensive farming, so women are a part of the workforce and are hence used to hard work. Most of the women stay away from addictionthat keeps them relatively fitter,” says Dhamtari Collector Padum Singh Elma.
The timing of the games is also conducive because of the festive mood setting in ahead of Deepavali. It also helps that this is the time when crops are ready, but the harvesting hasn’t begun. So, they have time to engage in these activities. However, for the subsequent rounds when they may have to travel, things may change.
K. Swati Lakshmi, the cluster president for one of the self-help groups (SHGs) in Rudri, says that working with these SHGs have also helped the women in shedding inhibitions. “These women are comfortable with the public sphere, even raising voices against alcoholism. . It’s a great platform for these women to relive their childhood and preserve their tradition for the future while getting fitter,” she says.
Mr. Sahu is also the president of the Rajiv Yuva Mitan Club that is assisting the administration in organising the games. Set to continue till January 6, the games are divided into three categories based on age requirement — up to 18 years, 18-40 years, and above 40 years.
4. Centre considering Sri Lanka’s proposal to translocate gaurs
Close on the heels of the project that translocated cheetahs from Namibia, the Indian government is considering a proposal from Colombo to export a number of gaurs, or Indian bisons, to Sri Lanka to revive the population of gavaras that have been extinct in the island since the end of the 17th century.
If the project is cleared, it would be the first such agreement between India and Sri Lanka, and part of a global trend of “wildlife or zoological diplomacy”, say experts.
Sources said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which received the request in August, has now forwarded it to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), “seeking comments” on the proposal to transport at least six specimens, including a bull and three to five cows. According to the proposal, the Sri Lankan Department of Zoological Gardens would then carry out “captive breeding a herd of about a dozen specimens over a five-year period before trial reintroduction to the wild could take place in accordance with [internationally mandated] guidelines for reintroductions”.
S.P. Yadav, Director, National Tiger Conservation Authority, said the proposal was being studied. “We’ll have to evaluate if the conditions for translocation are right, such that the animal can sustainably thrive over there,” he told The Hindu, estimating the evaluation could take a few months.
The suggestion for the proposal came from Sri Lankan conservationist Rohan Pethiyagoda, who was awarded the Linnean medal 2022 (U.K.-based equivalent of the Nobel prize for zoology) for his work on restoring fresh water and forest biodiversity. “As a scientific and cultural collaboration between our two countries, I felt this could be an immensely valuable initiative,” said Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda who handed over the preliminary request.
“India is without a doubt Sri Lanka’s closest friend, supporter and trading partner. We have a shared history, shared cultural identity, and shared gene,” he added.
Experts say that while “zoological diplomacy” had been practised worldwide, they draw a distinction between “gifts or loans” of animals in captivity to translocation and reintroduction of a species, particularly between neighbouring countries with similar eco-systems.
“Much depends on whether the conditions that caused the extinction have been removed but reintroduction has frequently been taken up between countries where the range is contiguous,” explained Mahesh Rangaran, Professor of Environmental Studies at Ashoka University
5. U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum set for Nov. 8, modest outcomes likely
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal will lead the Indian delegation to Washington next month with the U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai heading the American delegation
The U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) has been scheduled for November 8 in Washington DC, The Hindu has confirmed. U.S. trade officials are arriving in New Delhi next week to finalise issues for discussion, an Indian government official told The Hindu.
A few weeks ahead of this meeting, it appears that that the gains are most likely going to be modest and incremental in the immediate future, given the structural differences in both economies and political considerations in India and the U.S. — both of which have general elections in 2024.
The 12th TPF was held in New Delhi in November 2021, after a hiatus of four years, delivering some gains over the past twelve months, such as the resumption of sales of Indian mangoes and pomegranate arils to the U.S. following the pandemic, and the appearance of U.S. cherries on the Indian market.
Officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Christopher Wilson and Brendan Lynch, were in New Delhi in August – but the visit was not formally billed an ‘intercessional’.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal will lead the Indian delegation to Washington next month with the USTR, Katherine Tai, leading the American delegation. On the Indian side, the requests are concentrated in the services sector, while for the U.S. side goods market access and the policy environment – such as data laws and now the imminent changes to India’s competition law- are of interest.
“A mismatch between bilateral ambition and sensitivity has been an issue at times. The U.S.’s ambitions are commensurate with what you would expect for a highly developed economy,” former Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan, who retired in 2021, told The Hindu via phone on Saturday.
He was referring to the U.S. interest in negotiating on agricultural and non-agricultural market access, digital trade, competition and so forth.
“We are a developing economy and have a number of sensitivities,” he added, pointing to the need, for instance, to protect agriculture, given the large low-income rural population that is dependent on it. “These needs need to be respected and factored in,” he said.
For India, many of the historical requests on services are met with responses from USTR that point to other wings of U.S. government, such as the Congress, or to other agencies and departments, having ownership of the issue.
For the U.S. side, offering one to one market access for goods has been difficult.
“India has great access to the U.S. market,” a U.S. Government (USG) official told The Hindu, pointing to the lower tariffs in the US market.
Going into this year’s TPF , they are looking at “a number of products” in the agricultural space as “win wins”.
Among these, for the Americans, is the resolution of exports of alfalfa hay to India – an issue that is pending from last year’s TPF, the official said. The U.S. is also keen to supplement India’s ethanol and DDGS ( an animal feed product) production, with its supplies, in light of India’s blending goals under the 2022 National Biofuels Policy.
India’s requests have included high skilled worker visa numbers, fees, and recently, visa processing times; social security portability across countries; and 232 tariffs (i.e., tariffs imposed during the Trump administration on steel and aluminium) ; the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a preferential market access program offered by the U.S. to some developing countries.
For now, GSP had been of interest in previous rounds of talks. Former U.S. President Donald Trump , whose approach to trade was largely guided by differentials in overall trade balance, had taken India out of the program in June 2019.
However, New Delhi has recently signalled that the issue is no longer of significant interest. In Los Angeles last month for a ministerial meeting on the Indo Pacific Economic Forum (IPEF), a Biden administration initiative for the region, Mr Goyal had said that none of India’s exports were affected by the loss of GSP. He also said that the issue had been discussed in recent times.
“GoI continues to raise GSP, so it is of interest,” the U.S. official said.
For now GSP is off the table because the program has itself expired for all countries and has to be reauthorised by the U.S. Congress.
6. T.N. and U.P. have highest number of UG medical colleges in the country
Health Ministry data shows the States account for 11.4% and 10.9% of the total number of medical colleges respectively; number of UG medical seats in India increased by 121% in the last decade
The average annual growth of medical colleges in India from 2011-12 to 2021-22 stands at 5.9% — the highest in the last five decades, shows data from the Health Ministry. According to the data, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh (in 2021-22) have the highest share of both public and private undergraduate (UG) medical colleges followed by Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Between 2011-12 and 2021-22, the number of government MBBS seats in the country jumped by 155%, superseding private medical seats which grew by 97%. The data also indicates that the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and Germany remained the top five countries with the highest number of Indian origin doctors.
“The number of medical seats at UG level increased from 41,569 in 2011-12 to 91,927 in 2021-22, which is a 121% increase,’’ noted an analysis report on the data by KPMG for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), which was released recently.
It added that in the last decade, government medical colleges had more than doubled from 154 to 321 and private colleges grew by 61% from 181 in 2011-12 to 291 in 2021-22.
In 2021-22, Tamil Nadu (11.4%) and Uttar Pradesh (10.9%) had the highest share of both public and private UG medical colleges followed by Karnataka (10.3%) and Maharashtra (10.1%).
In terms of addition of private MBBS seats between 2017-22 — the maximum increase was in Tamil Nadu (4,110 seats), Karnataka (3,004 seats), Maharashtra (2,775 seats), Gujarat (2,170 seats), Telangana (1,900 seats) and Bihar (1,525 seats).
The report further pointed to the fact that despite the government sector being able to provide education for more than 60% of doctors, 50% of nurses/midwives were employed in the private sector, with public facilities in different States reporting high level of vacancies against the sanctioned posts.
While the rural population was about 66% of India’s total health workforce, only 33% was available in rural areas.
The country also witnessed a 74% growth in postgraduate (PG) seats and 81% growth of Diplomate of the National Board (DNB) seats between 2017-22, across government and private medical colleges.
The data analysis further states that the disparity in the availability of doctors across various States would grow if remedial measures were not put in place.
7. Start-ups to tap potential of lab-grown meat
“In 12 months, it would be possible to have a lab-grown meat burger,” said Sandeep Sharma, a scientist who’s spent over two decades in India’s leading vaccine companies and now the CEO and co-founder of Neat Meatt.
It is among the handful of Indian companies that are employing advances in cell biology and protein synthesis to solve a global challenge: how to ensure that a rising world population gets better, cheaper protein from fewer animals and diminishing cultivable land.
Some companies have bet on modifying plant products like soya, for instance, and processing it to the extent that its texture feels like meat and others, such as Neat Meatt are trying to derive cells from species that can be coaxed into meat. Unlike such plant-based meat, Neat Meatt aims to make lab-grown or so called ‘cultivated meat.’
Three kinds of cell-lines are critical to recreate meat: fibroblasts — the cells that form connective tissue and collagen — myoblasts, which form muscles and adipocytes, which make up fat tissue. “The bigger challenge is in bringing all of these together,” said Mr. Sharma whose team is developing these at centres based in Delhi University, South Campus and at the ICAR-National Research Centre for Meat.
A big challenge
Cell-lines are a group of cells derived from an animal that can be used to recreate several of their kind indefinitely. However, deriving an ideal stock is often a challenge because of which some companies have set their sights on relatively simpler life forms such as shrimp and prawn, whose texture and taste are easier to create.
Nithin Shetty of Pune-based Klevermeat faced challenges with sourcing live shrimp, from which he needed cells to create cell lines. “We have finally managed to get such shrimp and in the process of getting cell lines. Once we perfect this — and this is potentially a huge market in itself — we could consider moving on to fish such as rohu and katla,” he told The Hindu.
A summit was organised here by the Good Food Institute (GFI, India), a non-profit that works with start-ups, research bodies and government bodies to promote ‘smart protein’ or foods that are high on protein but require less land and water and aren’t reliant on slaughtering animals and sea-life. Varun Deshpande, Managing Director, GFI (India), said the export market for such meat out of India was expected to be ₹1,300 crore-4,100 crore and could create 15,000-50,000 jobs by 2030 if enabling policy conditions were present. So far, the total invested capital globally in cultivated meat is around $ 1.3 billion, the organisation added.
Cultivated meat was targeted at non-vegetarians, and those who’d want to continue to experience the taste and texture of meat but would like their meat to be ‘cruelty-free’ and in consonant with the challenges posed by climate change, said Mr. Shetty. “A kilogram of shrimp in India can cost over ₹1,000 and while cultivated meat will be slightly more expensive now, it will eventually be comparable or cheaper,” he added.
However even vegetarians concerned about the carbon footprint from cattle and methane emissions have an alternative to one of India’s most widely consumed foods — milk. Bharat Bakaraju, CEO of Phyx44, a Bangalore-based biotechnology startup, is recreating the genes that make cow milk. “If soya-based milk is one end and the real milk is at the other, we are somewhere in the middle so far,” he said.
8. Norms for foreign universities to set up campus in GIFT City
The government has notified regulations for attracting foreign universities to set up off-shore campuses at GIFT City and allowed them to repatriate profits.
The new regulations allow a foreign university or educational institution among the top 500 QS World Universities to come to GIFT City and give an undertaking to “place suitable infrastructure and facilities” to offer courses such as financial management, FinTech and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The regulations have been framed eight months after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget 2022 speech said that world-class foreign universities and institutions would be allowed in the GIFT City to offer courses and be free from domestic regulations to facilitate availability of high-end human resources for financial services and technology.
In line with this the regulations seek to address some of the hurdles foreign universities have faced in coming to India such as fee and administrative control, implementation of reservation policy and the pre-requisite that they have to be a not-for-profit entity, said people in the know. The University Grants Commission (UGC) is also preparing a regulatory framework to attract foreign universities and colleges to set up campuses across the country.
The regulations also allow the parent entity “to repatriate profit, if any, without any restriction”.
The courses or programmes offered by the foreign entity would have to be identical to those offered by the parent entity in its home jurisdiction and the same degree and diploma or certificate would have to be conferred.
These will “enjoy the same recognition and status as if they were conducted by the parent entity in its home jurisdiction”.
The International Foreign Services Centres Authority (IFSCA), which framed the regulations, would have the right to inspect foreign campuses set up in GIFT city. If an institution withdraws or discontinues a programme it would have to provide an alternative to the affected students, including reallocation.
9. Xi set for third term, China to unveil new leadership
The General Secretary will open a week-long national congress in Beijing today, where he will deliver a speech to 2,296 party delegates outlining the broad direction of the country’s policies
China’s Communist Party (CPC) will unveil its new leadership for the next five years on October 23, when General Secretary and President Xi Jinping is set to begin an unprecedented third term.
Mr. Xi will open a week-long national congress, which convenes every five years, in Beijing on Sunday morning, where he will deliver a speech to 2,296 party delegates outlining the broad direction of the country’s policies for the next five years.
Sun Yeli, spokesperson for the party’s 20th National Congress, told reporters on Saturday the event will conclude on October 22, by when it would have approved an amendment to the party Constitution and chosen the next Central Committee, which is likely to have around 370 members. As per past practice, the new 25-member Politburo and seven-member Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) will be unveiled on October 23, following the first sitting of the new Central Committee.
The constitutional amendment as well as the line-up of next leaders who will join Mr. Xi on the PBSC are expected to reflect Mr. Xi’s continuing control over the party and what the CPC calls his “core” status.
Mr. Sun on Saturday mounted a defence of the party’s record in the past decade, including Mr. Xi’s stringent “zero-COVID” regime that saw China’s growth plummet to 0.4% in the second quarter.
The party has highlighted the COVID-19 policies, its declaration of the elimination of extreme poverty last year, and the anti-corruption campaign as among Mr. Xi’s legacies. Mr. Sun noted that 4.4 million people had been investigated for corruption in the past decade under Mr. Xi.
Suggesting the zero-COVID policy would continue, he said the measures were “most cost-effective and have worked the best for the country” and were “adopted in light of China’s national realities” including a large elderly population.
The constitutional amendment, he said, would “enshrine the new ideas, thoughts and strategies on national governance”.
The party constitution was amended in 2017 to include Mr. Xi’s ideology, called “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”. Mr. Xi is the first leader since Mao to have an eponymous ideology — his was called “Mao Zedong Thought” — enshrined in the party charter while in office.
Observers have suggested the amendment could similarly shorten his ideology to “Xi Jinping Thought”, implicitly establishing Mr. Xi on a par with Mao, thereby ensuring his continued and unquestioned political dominance for the next five years, and possibly beyond.
10. Envoy summoned after Biden calls Pakistan ‘most dangerous nation’
Pakistan on Saturday summoned the U.S. ambassador for an explanation after President Joe Biden described the South Asian country as “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” and questioned its nuclear weapons safety protocols.
Mr. Biden made the apparently off-the-cuff remark late on Thursday while talking about United States foreign policy during a private Democratic Party fundraiser in California, but the White House later published a transcript of his comments, sparking outrage in Pakistan.
Washington’s relations with Pakistan have soured since last year, when the U.S. ended a two-decade war in Afghanistan.
Pakistan provided crucial logistical access, but U.S. officials believe Islamabad’s powerful military and intelligence apparatus also aided the Taliban, who swept back to power as foreign troops pulled out.
Mr. Biden was speaking about his frequent interactions with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, when he said: “Did anybody think we’d be in a situation where China is trying to figure out its role relative to Russia and relative to India and relative to Pakistan?
“This is a guy who understands what he wants but has an enormous, enormous array of problems. How do we handle that? How do we handle that relative to what’s going on in Russia?
“And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion.”
Hours after the transcript of his address was posted, Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador Donald Blome to the foreign office in Islamabad.
“I have discussed it with the Prime Minister, and we have summoned the ambassador of the United States… for an official demarche,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said during a press conference in Karachi.
“I am surprised by the remarks of President Biden. I believe this is exactly the sort of misunderstanding that is created when there is lack of an engagement.”
Mr. Zardari appeared to offer Washington some room to manoeuvre.
“It was not an official function, it was not an address to the nation or an address to the parliament,” he said.
“I don’t believe that this should negatively impact the relations between Pakistan and the U.S.”