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Daily Current Affairs 22.09.2022 (Rules for identifying criminals, What ails the current approach to Ayurveda and what needs to be done, With ₹19,500-crore PLI plan, sun shines on solar cell units, ADB pares India FY23 GDP growth forecast to 7%, from 7.5%, The ambit of fraternity and the wages of oblivion, A risky new status quo)

Daily Current Affairs 22.09.2022 (Rules for identifying criminals, What ails the current approach to Ayurveda and what needs to be done, With ₹19,500-crore PLI plan, sun shines on solar cell units, ADB pares India FY23 GDP growth forecast to 7%, from 7.5%, The ambit of fraternity and the wages of oblivion, A risky new status quo)

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1. Rules for identifying criminals

What do the recently notified rules of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 state? Is there scope for misuse?

On September 19, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notified the rules governing The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022. The Act was passed in March by the Parliament. Until rules are notified, an Act cannot be implemented or come into force.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under MHA will be the one-stop agency for storing and preserving the data of arrested persons. The State governments can also store the data, but it shall provide compatible application programming interfaces for sharing the measurements or record of measurements with the NCRB.

The notified rules state that samples of those detained under preventive Sections such as 107, 108, 109, 110, 144, 145 and 151 of the CrPC shall not be taken unless such person is charged or arrested in connection with any other offence punishable under any other law.

Vijaita Singh

The story so far:

On September 19, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notified the rules governing The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022. The Act was passed in March by the Parliament. Until rules are notified, an Act cannot be implemented or come into force. The legislation would enable police and central investigating agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples including retina and iris scan of arrested persons.

What is the legislation about?

The Act seeks to repeal the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, which is over 100-years-old. The old Act’s scope was limited to capturing of finger impression, foot-print impressions and photographs of convicted prisoners and certain category of arrested and non-convicted persons on the orders of a Magistrate.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill when it was introduced in Parliament said that new ‘‘measurement’’ techniques being used in advanced countries are giving credible and reliable results and are recognised world over. It said that the 1920 Act does not provide for taking these body measurements as many of the techniques and technologies had not been developed then. The Act empowers a Magistrate to direct any person to give measurements, which till now was reserved for convicts and those involved in heinous crimes. It also enables the police upto the rank of a Head Constable to take measurements of any person who resists or refuses to give measurements.

As per the rules, “measurements” include finger-impressions, palm-print, footprint, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavioural attributes including signatures, handwriting or any other examination referred to in Section 53 or Section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974). Though it has not been specified, analysis of biological samples could also include DNA profiling.

What about concerns that the Act will be misused?

When the Bill was debated in Parliament in March this year, the Opposition members termed it “unconstitutional” and an attack on privacy as it allowed the record of samples of even political detainees.

However, the rules notified on September 19 state that samples of those detained under preventive Sections such as 107, 108, 109, 110, 144, 145 and 151 of the CrPC shall not be taken unless such person is charged or arrested in connection with any other offence punishable under any other law. It can also be taken if a person has been ordered to give security for his good behaviour for maintaining peace under Section 117 of the said Code for a proceeding under the said Sections.

The rules do not mention the procedure to be adopted for convicted persons.

Who will be the repository of the data?

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under MHA will be the one-stop agency for storing and preserving the data of arrested persons. The State governments can also store the data, but it shall provide compatible application programming interfaces for sharing the measurements or record of measurements with the NCRB. The rules state that the NCRB will issue Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for collection of measurements which would include specifications of the equipment or devices to be used, specifications and the digital and physical format of the measurements etc. The rules said that in case any measurement is collected in physical form or in a non-standard digital format, it shall be converted into standard digital format and thereafter uploaded in the database as per the SOP. Only authorised users could upload the measurements in the central database in an encrypted format.

What are the provisions for destruction of records in case a suspect is acquitted?

The procedure for destruction and disposal of records are yet to be specified by the NCRB. The rules state that any request for destruction of records shall be made to the Nodal Officer who is to be nominated by the respective State Government. The nodal officer will recommend the destruction after verifying that such record of measurements is not linked with any other criminal cases.

2. What ails the current approach to Ayurveda and what needs to be done

Valuable observations on health need to be delinked from outdated theories, implausible conjectures and superstitions. A dispassionate sifting through of the contents of Ayurveda’s ancient treatises is a prerequisite for their prudent practical use

The National Medical Commission has proposed to integrate modern medicine with other branches such as Ayurveda and Homeopathy by establishing departments of Integrative Medicine Research in medical colleges. In this article dated July 11, 2022, G.L. Krishna elaborates on the need for a reform in the practice and teachings of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda, India’s traditional medicine, has been in practice for close to three millennia. Even today, this ancient system serves the health-care needs of millions of Indians. The adaptation of a traditional knowledge-system for current use comes with its challenges, which, if dealt with lackadaisically, can endanger the welfare of its users. A few challenges that the Ayurveda establishment has for long failed to skilfully address are discussed here.

Speculations versus facts

Ayurveda’s ancient treatises, for obvious reasons, cannot be expected to retain relevance in their entirety. They contain useful portions alongside obsolete ones. Therefore, a dispassionate sifting through their contents is a prerequisite for their prudent practical use. Valuable observations relating to health promotion and illness management need to be carefully sifted from outdated theories, implausible conjectures, and socio-religious superstitions.

An example would make this point clear. While documenting its observations on the benefits of physical exercise, an Ayurveda classic notes: “A sense of ease, improved fitness, easy digestion, ideal body-weight, and handsomeness of bodily features are the benefits that would accrue from regular exercise.” These observations are as valid today as they were 1,500 years ago when they were first documented. But, such continued validity cannot be claimed for the physiological and pathological conjectures the same text contains.

On urine formation, for instance, the text posits that tiny ducts from the intestines carry urine to fill the bladder. This simplistic scheme of urine formation has no role for the kidneys at all. Needless to say, this very outdated idea can have no place in current medical education except as an anecdote from history. Placing such conjectural ideas side by side with modern physiology and implicitly equalising the truth value of both is a serious malaise that has been plaguing the current approach to Ayurveda. Teachers of Ayurveda physiology have the unenviable job of constantly grappling with the difficulty of reconciling ancient speculations with established scientific facts.

Factors responsible

Two main factors — one theoretical and the other epistemological — have led to this sad situation. The tridosha theory of Ayurveda is a rough-and-ready model that the ancients devised to systematise their medical experience. Clinical features of illnesses and therapeutic measures to manage them were all classified on the basis of this heuristic model. In the absence of a cogent understanding of the biological processes underlying health and illness, speculations on these topics were also woven around the same model. The theory thus has aspects that are heuristically tenable alongside those that are merely conjectural. Recasting the theory in a way that retains the relevant aspects while jettisoning the obsolete parts is a priority area in Ayurvedic research. The research centres under the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) have remained oblivious to this important work and their omissions have resulted in retaining the theory, lock, stock, and barrel. Consequently, outdated pathophysiological conjectures have become fossilised in the current approach to the subject.

The other factor that has been instrumental in choking the renewal of Ayurveda is the widespread belief among its academics that ancient texts, by virtue of their being divined by sages in deep yogic states, retain timeless relevance. This notion of epistemic superiority has its roots in the hugely influential memorandum on the Science and Art of Indian Medicine authored by G. Srinivasa Murti. The memorandum formed part of two reports: of the Usman Committee (1923) and later, of the Chopra Committee (1948). The flawed idea, antithetical to the yukti-vyapashraya (reason-based) character of classical ayurveda, has kept the field from demystifying its theories and achieving the reforms long overdue. In short, the belief in epistemic superiority has dethroned ancient medical writings from being revisable scientific treatises into being dogmatic scriptures.

A century ago, P.S. Varier of the Arya Vaidya Sala Kottakkal noted that the “ Sareerasthana (section on body structure and function in the Ayurvedic classics) must firstly be revised and made clearer and the remaining parts must be suited to it ( sic). Secondly, after this, the other important works should also be corrected. Necessary additions must be made either by translations or by collaboration with experts in portions still deficient.” Ironically, Varier’s submission also forms part of the Usman Committee report alluded to earlier. His suggestions though appear to have fallen on deaf ears. More recently, scholars such as Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya and Priyavrat Sharma have also drawn attention to the myth of epistemic superiority that has rendered Ayurveda texts non-revisable. But the Ayurveda establishment and its research centres have stayed intellectually inept to address the issue. What can enhanced funding do in a field that lacks a vibrant intellectual resource?

A renewed plea to reform

A recent article in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics has renewed the plea to reform and update Ayurveda. Titled “Confessions of an Ayurveda Professor”, the article is authored by Kishor Patwardhan, a faculty member of Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. Prof. Patwardhan has candidly admitted that the anatomy and physiology contained in the Ayurvedic classics is mostly outdated and that the official approach to this subject is misguided. He has also disclosed the ecosystem-influences that made him adopt a wrong approach to the subject and the ill-effects this approach has had. While implicitly retracting his book Human Physiology in Ayurveda, he has called for a thorough change in the curriculum.

This article also points out the flawed approach of making ancient concepts sound relevant by super-imposing current scientific findings upon them. In addition to resulting in a travesty of truth, such misinterpretations in a practical field such as Ayurveda carry the risk of leading to dangerously wrong clinical choices. While petitioning for a scientific scrutiny of Ayurveda’s foundational theories, the professor hopes that Ayurveda students get to unreservedly study current anatomy and physiology.

The basic truth

The Ministry of AYUSH must wake up and take cognisance of the points made here. Academics drawing handsome salaries from government-run AYUSH institutes need to see how sinful it is to hand over an unprocessed proto-science to gullible youngsters and then mislead them into believing that it is a super-sophisticated advanced science. As a medical system, Ayurveda is valuable immensely for its observations, only marginally for its theories, and not at all for its speculations. The sooner the establishment comes to terms with this basic truth, the better.

3. With 19,500-crore PLI plan, sun shines on solar cell units

The project is expected to save India close to 1.37 trillion in imports; Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is also anticipating direct investments of around 94,000 crore for the project

The Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a ₹19,500-crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to incentivise manufacture of domestic solar cell modules to reduce the industry’s reliance on Chinese-made panels. This follows the ₹4,500-crore tranche cleared in November 2020.

Bidders for projects will be given PLI to set up and run manufacturing facilities that will span the entire production cycle of modules from making the polysilicon cells, ingots, wafers and panels to assembling modules that are used to produce electricity.

The PLI will be disbursed to firms after they set up their manufacturing units and the money disbursed over five years.

Officials from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the nodal body tasked with administering the programme, estimate manufacturing capacity worth 65,000 MW of fully and partially integrated solar PV modules to be installed over five years.

The bulk of the allocation, of nearly ₹12,000 crore, is to incentivise the setting up of integrated manufacturing facilities because there is no installed capacity in India to manufacture polysilicone and wafers (the raw material for solar panels).

This would bring in a direct investment of around ₹94,000 crore, directly employ about 1,95,000 persons and indirectly around 7,80,000 persons. It would save India close to ₹1.37 trillion in imports, they estimated.

India has committed, as part of climate commitments, to a target of installing 5,00,000 MW of electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel-based sources by 2030 and this translates to 280,000 MW to 300,000 MW from solar electricity alone. “We would need nearly 30-35 GW (IGW = 1000 MW) of modules. With these schemes, we expect to have 70-80 GW of capacity, which would take care of our domestic requirements as well as exports,” Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi, Secretary, MNRE said.

Production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme:

To make India a manufacturing hub, the government recently announced the PLI scheme for mobile phones, pharma products, and medical equipment sectors.

  • Notified on April 1 as a part of the National Policy on Electronics.
  • It proposes a financial incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in the electronics value chain.

Key features of the scheme:

  • The scheme shall extend an incentive of 4% to 6% on incremental sales (over base year) of goods manufactured in India and covered under target segments, to eligible companies, for a period of five (5) years with financial year (FY) 2019-20 considered as the base year for calculation of incentives.
  • The Scheme will be implemented through a Nodal Agency which shall act as a Project Management Agency (PMA) and be responsible for providing secretarial, managerial and implementation support and carrying out other responsibilities as assigned by MeitY from time to time.

Eligibility:

  • According to the scheme, companies that make mobile phones which sell for Rs 15,000 or more will get an incentive of up to 6 per cent on incremental sales of all such mobile phones made in India.
  • In the same category, companies which are owned by Indian nationals and make such mobile phones, the incentive has been kept at Rs 200 crore for the next four years.

What kind of investments will be considered?

All electronic manufacturing companies which are either Indian or have a registered unit in India will be eligible to apply for the scheme.

These companies can either create a new unit or seek incentives for their existing units from one or more locations in India.

  • However, all investment done by companies on land and buildings for the project will not be considered for any incentives or determine eligibility of the scheme.

4. ADB pares India FY23 GDP growth forecast to 7%, from 7.5%

Lender says inflation has been more persistent than expected leading to sharper monetary tightening, and eroding consumers’ purchasing power

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) cut its forecast for India’s economic growth in 2022-23 to 7%, from 7.5% estimated in April, terming it a “modest downward revision” driven by higher-than-anticipated inflation and monetary tightening.

The lender also raised its inflation projection for India for this year to 6.7%, and widened the current account deficit (CAD) estimate to 3.8% of GDP. The ADB sees the CAD narrowing to 2.1% of GDP in 2023-24, while inflation is anticipated to slow to 5.8% as demand pressures from strengthening economic activity are seen offset by easing supply bottlenecks.

India’s first-quarter growth of 13.5% reflected strong growth in services, but GDP growth forecasts were being revised downward as price pressures were expected to adversely impact domestic consumption and sluggish global demand and elevated oil prices would likely be a drag on net exports, the bank said. The ADB pegs FY24 growth at 7.2%.

Observing that inflation had turned out to be more persistent than expected, and led to a sharp tightening in monetary policy, the ADB said price gains were eroding consumers’ purchasing power. “Sticky core inflation will adversely impact spending over the next two years if wages fail to adjust,” it warned.

“Subsidised fertiliser and gas, the free food distribution programme, and the excise duty cuts will help offset some of the effects of high inflation on consumers, but the tax on packaged food products will likely be a burden on consumers already dealing with rising inflation,” the ADB noted in its update.

China concerns

China’s economy would grow 3.3% in 2022, slower than the rest of developing Asia for the first time in three decades, the ADB said in an update to its Asia Development Outlook (ADO) on Wednesday, less than the 5% forecast earlier, marred by lockdowns triggered by its zero-COVID strategy, property sector problems and weaker external demand.

South Asia outlook

The lower growth outlook for India along with a sharp contraction in Sri Lanka would translate into slower growth for South Asia, at 6.5% in 2022, from 7% projected earlier, the Asian lender said. India accounts for 80% of the region’s economy.

The ADB also expects inflation in South Asia to be pushed up by higher energy and food costs to 8.1% in 2022, faster than the 6.5% estimated earlier.

“The revision mainly reflects the pattern of inflation in India,” it added.

5. Editorial-1: The ambit of fraternity and the wages of oblivion

‘These principles of liberty equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy,’ said B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly, in 1949.

It is often forgotten that ‘fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation’ is, along with Justice, Liberty and Equality, among the basic values inscribed in the Preamble of the Constitution of India whose first line asserts, ‘We, the People of India’ have solemnly resolved to ‘secure’ to all the citizens of India.

The responsibility of the individual citizen

B.R. Ambedkar provided its rationale with remarkable foresight: ‘We must begin by acknowledging the fact there is a complete absence of two things in Indian society. One of these is equality’ and as a result of it we would enter into ‘a life of contradictions’ on January 26, 1950.

However, practical adherence to this commitment was given shape only by the Forty-Second Amendment (1976) in Article 51A (e) on Fundamental Duties.

It makes it the duty of every citizen of India ‘to promote harmony and the spirit of common among all the people of India, transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.

Significantly, the responsibility for bringing this about does not rest with the state but seems to be the responsibility of the individual citizen. We, therefore, need to comprehend the meaning and relevance of this pious wish. How has it become a political principle of relevance?

A poet summed it up neatly: Unka jo aqeeda hai who ahl-e-sayaaasat jaanen; Mera paigham mohabbat hai, jahaan tak pahunche (The politicians’ creed, the politicians know/ (Mine is the message of love, be it heard afar)

The idea of fraternity is based on the view that people have responsibilities to each other. It was defined after the French Revolution in the following terms: ‘Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you; do constantly to others the good which you would wish to receive from them.’ The vagueness of the definition suggests that, despite its place in the revolutionary slogan, the idea of fraternity was not clearly understood. It is generally seen as an emotion rather than a principle.

In the Indian context however, as understood and articulated by B.R. Ambedkar, there is a sense of the imperative in the emotion. This is reflected in the wording of this section of the Preamble where the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation both necessitate this emotion, and thereby lend a sense of urgency to it. It thus becomes an essential ingredient of citizenship that can be evaded or neglected at the cost of the concept itself.

The shape of inequality

An aggravating factor, often overlooked, is the shape that inequality takes in different segments of our society. It is economic on one plane; on others it is regional, caste and religious. Some are spelt out, others understated, still others assumed. Sociologists have identified nine categories of people who are determined to be socially and/or politically and/or economically excluded. These particularly include Dalits, Adivasis, women and religious minorities.

Recent studies on religious minorities who constitute around 20% of India’s population have traced discrimination relating to them to perceptions that relate to the very origins of thinking that brought about the partition of August 1947. They argue that violence was not merely accidental but integral to the foundation of the nation and that the need for fraternity coexisted with the imperative need for restoring social cohesion in segments of society.

Much blame for the haste displayed by decision-makers has been written about on the basis of the documentation made available subsequently and, at this distance of time, its validity cannot be dismissed altogether.

A primary concern of the Constitution-makers related to cohesion and integration of the units of the new Republic formally described as ‘A Union of States’. In the words of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, ‘the inspiration and the stimulus came from above rather than from below and unless the transplanted growth takes a healthy root in the soil, there will be a danger of collapse and chaos.’ This was amplified by V.P. Menon as the integration ‘of the minds of the people’.

In a speech in the Constituent Assembly on December 22, 1952, B.R. Ambedkar dwelt on what he called ‘Conditions Precedent for the Successful Working of Democracy’. He listed these as: absence of glaring inequalities; presence of an opposition; equality of law and administration; observance of constitutional morality; avoidance of tyranny of majority over minority; a functioning of moral order in society, and public conscience.

Over time, uneven development has characterised the States of the Indian Union. Regional and linguistic diversity characterises them. And so does uneven economic development and progress, resulting in uneven levels of education, employment, social cohesion and contentment.

Question for the leadership

Seventy-five years on, a candid assessment of the state of the Republic makes us cogitate on evidence of regional diversity, assertion of linguistic identity and emergence of diverging political orientations. While the first two are physical and social realities, the third is a product of thriving diversity. Each is real, each is also disconcerting from the viewpoint of federal governance hitherto practised, and each seeks accommodation in a divergent framework.

Where does this take fraternity? Article 51A(e) of the Constitution does not differentiate between citizens on any of the categories mentioned above and makes it an all-encompassing duty. Its ambit therefore is universal; its observance, by the same logic, has to begin at the base of the ladder of citizenship rather than the top but does not spare the leadership from the obligation to promote and practise it.

Has this been done in practice? How often have social and political leaders of opinion promoted fraternity, incidentally or specifically, locally, within the region or nationally? The record is depressing; hence the ease with which non-fraternal patterns of behaviour seem to emerge in our society. Does this promote national integration, rhetoric apart? Was the bloodshed of 1947 (‘10 million or one in every 35 persons in the subcontinent’) a forerunner of lesser ones that followed?

6. Editorial-2: A risky new status quo

India and China appear to be mending fences, gingerly. Relations have been icy since China launched multiple incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in mid-2020. After years of inconclusive military talks and halting “disengagement” from sites of confrontation, the rivals made inching progress last week. They completed disengagement in an area known as Patrolling Point 15 (PP15), pulling troops back to create a demilitarised buffer zone, and their leaders met in person at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Samarkand.

The tentative conciliatory steps between two nuclear-armed rivals are important; but they also carry risks, especially for India.

Despite the latest round of disengagement, the LAC remains deeply unsettled. Observers have pointed out that the buffer zones produced by the crisis inhibit India’s ability to patrol its own territory. And India and China have tacitly agreed to postpone settlement at two other confrontation sites, including a particularly tactically valuable area known as Depsang. The buffer zones and Depsang’s status both suit China’s objectives because they limit India’s military activities near the LAC, which analysts judge had partly motivated China’s initial incursions in 2020.

Similarly, the military threat on the border is not only undiminished, but has actually grown over the course of the crisis. The reinforcements that each side deployed since 2020 have not returned to garrison. Even if future rounds of talks continue “disengagement and de-escalation,” and reduce those forces, returning to the status quo ante is now impossible. Both sides have raced to build permanent military infrastructure near the border, to help them surge forces to the border. Unsurprisingly, China seems to have outpaced India in building these roads, helipads, and communications nodes.

China still claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own, and just as it has pressed its maritime claims once its growing capabilities permit, its military build-up may portend increasing pressure in coming years. Even without a deliberate attack, the increasing capabilities and mobility on both sides of the border means that a crisis can more quickly escalate to a large military stand-off anywhere on the LAC, and possibly even trigger a conflict.

Strategic implications

As vexatious as the tactical picture may be on the border, the strategic implications are more dire. For over two years, the land border has become the overwhelming priority in India’s military competition with China. India has reassigned one of three originally Pakistan-facing Strike Corps to the China front. It has deployed its newest artillery, fighter jets, and drones to the China border.

At the same time, India has not significantly improved its capabilities or posture in the Indian Ocean region. Granted, a suite of impressive new capabilities — from cruise missile-equipped fighters and U.S.-origin naval helicopters to a brand-new indigenously-built aircraft carrier — are inching towards fruition. But these programmes were all initiated before the border crisis, when the Indian military was incrementally modernising its capabilities for the Indian Ocean.

Whether or not by design, this must delight Beijing. As India and China jostle for security and influence in Asia, the contest in the Indian Ocean will inevitably intensify. Their respective capabilities to project military force across the Ocean, to coerce or defend smaller regional States, and to establish an enduring strategic presence there, will determine the Asian balance of power. With the border crisis, China seems to have successfully fixed India’s gaze to the land border, at the expense of that more consequential competition over the Indian Ocean.

Disengagement at PP15, and especially continued “disengagement and de-escalation,” has the potential to ameliorate this strategic trap. A progressively less urgent threat will tempt New Delhi to de-emphasise military readiness on the border. This could be a golden opportunity for Indian planners to work towards long-term military modernisation and political influence across the Indian Ocean region. But a likelier and riskier outcome is that decision makers will prioritise other, more politically salient issues, like gaining quick wins in the campaign for Atmanirbharta in defence industry — which may come at the expense of modernisation.

Paradoxically, then, a cooling crisis on the border may teach India the wrong lesson: that the short-term expedient of greater readiness is enough to see off the Chinese threat. In fact, and especially for the strategic prize of the Indian Ocean region, the challenge posed by China cannot be met without long-term growth in Indian national capacity. That, in turn, requires coherent strategic assessments and the political will to balance readiness with modernisation.

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