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Policy & Politics

Covid-19 pushes the right to trigger corporate insolvency into hibernation

While the defaulting corporate debtors attain refuge from insolvency under Section 10A, it would not be out of place to expect policy decisions and amendments to put in place checks and balances on the possible misuse of Section 10A.

Ever since the ominous dark clouds of the COVID -19 pandemic spread across the world, the global economy has taken an unprecedented hit, the Indian economy being no exception. On March 24, 2020, the Central Government, declared a countrywide lockdown in the wake of the outbreak. A grinding halt in business operations and hence, revenue generation, led to a dwindling of corporate cashflows. The financial health of establishments at large, especially MSMEs, has been seriously imperiled, pushing them to the brink of insolvency. Acknowledging this, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 (“Ordinance”) came to be promulgated by the President of India on June 5, 2020, given that the Parliament was not in session and the President was satisfied of the existence of circumstances rendering such promulgation necessary. This was in line with the recent announcements made by the Finance Minister informing that the government would consider a complete suspension of the “trigger provisions” for initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“Code”) , in case the COVID-19 situation continues. Needless to state, the economic situation in the country and the grave financial stress faced by corporates, including MSMEs, has only worsened with the passage of time.

 The Ordinance:

In light of such circumstances, the Code has been amended by way of the Ordinance dated June 5, 2020, which came into force with immediate effect, suspending the initiation of fresh corporate insolvency proceedings against companies under Sections 7, 9 and 10 of the Code, by insertion of Section 10A into the Code. With this, a lot of speculation that had built up regarding the scope of such suspension ever since the announcements made by the Finance Minister has been laid to rest. The newly inserted Section 10A does not place a blanket ban on initiation of corporate insolvency proceedings, and only bars initiation in respect of defaults arising on or after March 25, 2020 till the expiry of a period of six months (i.e., till September 24, 2020) or such further period as may be notified, not exceeding one year (i.e., till March 24, 2021) (“exemption period”).

Pertinently, Sections 7 and 9 of the Code allow Financial Creditors and Operational Creditors, respectively, to make applications before the Adjudicating Authority for initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process against a defaulting Corporate Debtor. On the other hand, Section 10 of the Code provides for the initiation of corporate insolvency by the defaulting Corporate Applicant against itself. By way of the amendment, Section 10A suspends the rights of Operational Creditors, Financial Creditors as well as Corporate Applicants, to initiate insolvency under the Code, provided that the ‘default’ in question occurs during the exemption period. For the sake of complete clarity, the ‘Explanation’ to Section 10A expressly lays down that there would be no bar against such initiation of corporate insolvency proceedings against Corporate Debtors in respect of defaults that may have occurred before the exemption period, i.e., before March 25, 2020.

Lending permanency to the effect of the amendment, the Proviso to Section 10A goes on to provide that no Application shall ever be filed for initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process of a corporate debtor for a default occurring during the said exemption period.

Impact of the Ordinance:

There is no doubt that this is indeed a welcome move which would have the effect of salvaging companies from the brink of insolvency, many of whom may be facing dire financial situations owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. This provision will protect companies against having to give up the reins and handing over control of their assets and would also prevent them from being driven into liquidation. Protecting companies from going under would also in turn prevent a further increase in unemployment.

Interestingly, while the preamble of the Ordinance expressly refers to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, financial markets and the economy, and correlates it to the resultant need for such a provision to be inserted to the Code, the language used in Section 10A does not necessitate linkage of defaults occurring during the exemption period to the COVID-19 pandemic. This ensures that precious time will not be lost before the Adjudicating Authority by parties trying to prove or disprove that a particular default arose out of the economic impact of COVID-19, so long as the default occurs during the exemption period.

The amendment protects defaulting Corporate Debtors amidst this time of unprecedented economic crisis. In the absence of such a ban, firstly, an unprecedented number of solvent companies would have run the risk of being dragged into insolvency. Secondly the prospects of such companies reaching a successful resolution through a commercially viable resolution plan at the end of the corporate insolvency resolution process would also have been minute, given the dearth of potential investors. Expectedly, the potential investors would also be grappling to recover from the economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The preamble to the amendment reasonably points out that in the given circumstances, it is difficult to find an adequate number of resolution applicants to rescue the corporate person who may default in discharge of their debt obligation.

The Proviso to Section 10A also stands to reason, inasmuch as it lays down that the ban in respect of defaults occurring during the exemption period shall be permanent and not be limited only to the exemption period. Had this position not been clarified in the Ordinance, the purpose of the amendment would have been defeated. This is because availability of a remedy under the Code or not, defaults, operational as well as financial, will continue to occur as the financial burden of companies increases. Thus, the mere suspension of this right to initiate insolvency proceedings for a certain period would not have served the purpose of the amendment and the ban had to be made permanent in order to be effective in the long run. Otherwise, an aggrieved creditor would simply have awaited the expiry of the exemption period before approaching the Adjudicating Authority and initiating corporate insolvency proceedings in respect of defaults occurring during the exemption period. In fact, Corporate Debtors defaulting during the exemption period, under the threat of being dragged into insolvency once the exemption period expires, may possibly have even taken to unlawful and illegal measures such as misappropriation and siphoning off funds during this period, had it not been for the Proviso to Section 10A. Thus, the amendment essentially permanently excludes all defaults occurring during the exemption period from the purview of the term “default” for the purpose of the Code. Perhaps the use of the word “suspension” in the title of Section 10A can be misleading given the permanent nature of the amendment, insofar as defaults occurring during the exemption period are concerned.

On the flipside, however, the blanket suspension during the exemption period, as imposed under the Ordinance, may adversely impact both lending and borrowing activities in the country. In the absence of access to the remedy of initiating insolvency proceedings under the Code, lenders may feel constrained to restrict their lending activity which would also be severely detrimental to the financial health of companies.

Additionally, the lack of a deterrent of being driven into insolvency may lead borrowers to take undue advantage of Section 10A and commit defaults in their repayment obligations. This ban on initiation of insolvency proceedings may also discourage foreign creditors from investing in India.

While suspension of Sections 7 and 9 may lead to hibernation of insolvency actions between contending parties, the suspension of Section 10 leads to an odd situation wherein a defaulting company would be deprived of its opportunity to voluntarily seek resolution of its debt and consequent revival. In this regard, it is pertinent to note that as per the preamble of the Ordinance, the amendment suspending Sections 7, 9 and 10 has been brought about to prevent corporate persons experiencing distress, being pushed into insolvency proceedings. In our view, imposing a prohibition upon a Corporate Applicant from initiating voluntary insolvency proceedings under Section 10 of Code would be contrary to the preamble of the Ordinance itself, as it would cause such Corporate Applicants greater distress owing to further deterioration of its assets, and a diminishing chance of revival and resolution.

In addition to the foregoing, it would be interesting to see as to how the Adjudicating Authority and superior courts deal with the ever contentious and critical issue of determining the “date of default”. The determination of “date of default”, owing to the impact of Section 10A has become all the more critical since it directly impacts a creditor’s right to initiate insolvency proceedings, depending on whether the date of default occurs before, during or after the exemption period. Questions may arise as to whether a default in payment of a certain amount of debt occurring during the exemption period can be treated as a continuing default for the purpose of initiating insolvency proceedings under the Code after the expiry of the exemption period.

Apart from inserting Section 10A into the Code, the Ordinance has also brought about an amendment in Section 66 of the Code which deals with ‘Fraudulent trading or Wrongful trading’ by the Corporate Debtor. The Ordinance has inserted sub-section (3) inserted into Section 66, which seems to be ambiguous. It lays down that no application shall be filed by a resolution professional under sub-section (2) of Section 66, i.e., in respect of such default against which initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process is suspended as per section 10A. From the language employed in sub-section (3), it seems that it proposes to excuse lack of due diligence by a director or partner of a corporate debtor resulting in default by the Corporate Debtor during the exemption period. Such an exemption may result in directors/ partners of corporate debtors engaging in unlawful and illegal measures such as misappropriation and siphoning off funds without facing consequences under Section 66(2) of the Code and may adversely impact the realisable value for its creditors.

Conclusion:

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, was considered as a panacea for all ills plaguing the Indian financial system, which, in January, 2019, led the Honourable Supreme Court of India to observe as follows, in the landmark judgement of Swiss Ribbons Pvt. Ltd. and Ors. vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. reVported at (AIR 2019 SC 739):

“86. We are happy to note that in the working of the Code, the flow of financial resource to the commercial sector in India has increased exponentially as a result of financial debts being repaid. Approximately 3300 cases have been disposed of by the Adjudicating Authority based on out-of-court settlements between corporate debtors and creditors which themselves involved claims amounting to over INR 1,20,390 crores. Eighty cases have since been resolved by resolution plans being accepted. Of these eighty cases, the liquidation value of sixty-three such cases is INR 29,788.07 crores. However, the amount realized from the resolution process is in the region of INR 60,000 crores, which is over 202% of the liquidation value. As a result of this, the Reserve Bank of India has come out with figures which reflect these results. Thus, credit that has been given by banks and financial institutions to the commercial sector (other than food) has jumped up from INR 4952.24 crores in 2016-2017, to INR 9161.09 crores in 2017-2018, and to INR 13195.20 crores for the first six months of 2018-2019. Equally, credit flow from non-banks has gone up from INR 6819.93 crores in 2016-2017, to INR 4718 crores for the first six months of 2018-2019. Ultimately, the total flow of resources to the commercial sector in India, both bank and non-bank, and domestic and foreign (relatable to the non-food sector) has gone up from a total of INR 14530.47 crores in 2016- 2017, to INR 18469.25 crores in 2017-2018, and to INR 18798.20 crores in the first six months of 2018-2019.

These figures show that the experiment conducted in enacting the Code is proving to be largely successful. The defaulter‘s paradise is lost. In its place, the economy‘s rightful position has been regained.”

The Ordinance appears to have been promulgated with the intention of protecting companies and promoters from “no fault liability”. It is, however, necessary to ensure that Section 10A does not become a tool for regaining the defaulter’s paradise.

The insertion of Section 10A in the wake of COVID19 would most certainly provide a cushion to businesses that are facing a financial crisis or are heading for an inevitable crisis, and may also encourage creditors to adopt alternate remedies such as restructuring, negotiating settlements, etc., instead of rushing to the insolvency route. However, the impact and the longterm effects of this suspension on the financial health of the aggrieved creditors, will also need to be tended to. While the defaulting Corporate Debtors attain refuge from insolvency under Section 10A, it would not be out of place to expect policy decisions and amendments to put in place checks and balances on the possible misuse of Section 10A, and to safeguard the interests of creditors of such Corporate Debtors. The legislature and Adjudicating Authority under the Code may also need to be mindful of ironing out certain creases in the implementation of the Ordinance, which may arise on account of ban on voluntary insolvency for defaults during the exemption period, inability of lenders to file insolvency proceedings even for intentional defaults during this period, among others.

The authors are Advocates at Khaitan & Co, New Delhi. Ajay Bhargava (Partner) is part of the Dispute Resolution practice, Siddharth Srivastava (Partner) is part of the Banking & Finance/ Restructuring & Insolvency practice, Wamika Trehan (Senior Associate) and Maithili Moondra (Associate) are part of the Dispute Resolution practice at Khaitan & Co.

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Policy & Politics

Right to Internet access: Essential fundamental right

In these pandemic times, the economy worldwide has been suffering from depression. No wonder, the youth of India is facing anxious moments vis-à-vis their jobs and careers. Due to Covid-19, more than 50 % of businesses have gone online. The shift towards the virtual world is too glaring to miss as online is the only segment which is working well in the new normal. Internet access and good Internet connections are becoming an essential tool for surviving in daily activities.

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Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Opinions that, Constitution is the Soul of the nation. The preamble of the constitution is key to the Mind of the constitution. The Constitution of India is not only protected and enforcement of Fundamental Rights of Citizen of India, but it is also Plays a Vital Role in Guardian of the Government of India for Implementing Public Policies Properly. DR. Ambedkar Speaks in Drafting Committee of Constitution of India on the topic of Freedom of Speech and Expression and Its Significance in Democracy of India. Right to Internet Access is Essential Human Right emerged in Covid-19 Situations. Internet Access is an Integral Part of Freedom of Speech and Expression because using the Internet helps us to manipulates businesses on the Internet and Social Media Campaigning. Education in India landed on Online Access Platforms during the Covid-19 Pandemic with using of the Internet. Therefore, Without Internet Access, We Cannot able to fulfill our daily life goals. We cannot access Online Education Platforms.

In 2016, the Human Rights Council of United Nations General Assembly states that Right to the Internet Access is an essential human right integral allowing Individuals to access Freedom of Speech and Expression. In August 2012, the Internet Society did a survey among more than ten thousand internet users from 20 countries, of which 83% of users strongly agreed to legalize the right of internet access as a basic human right, with 13% on the opposite opinion.

INTRODUCTION

Fundamental Rights are basic rights needed for human beings to live in life. Fundamental Rights help us to eliminate poverty, inequality, and curb major problems faced in society. Fundamental rights Help in the empowerment of human beings. Fundamental Rights helps us in the empowerment of human beings. Fundamental Rights are inserted in our constitution of India and deals with Part III of the constitution of India. In the constitution of India, there are six basic fundamental rights included in the constitution. Right to Life and Personal Liberty, Right to Equality Before Law and Equal Protection of Law, Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, Right to Justice against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion, Right to Employment and Enhancement of Minorities.

In these Pandemic Days whole world economy suffering from depression. Jobs and employment problems create very rapidly. The youth of India suffer from Anxiety and fears of the future career. Due to this pandemic more than 50 % percent of the Market, Businesses are landed in Internet Market. Businesses, as well as the corporate sector, holds all over activities in online mode as well as online webinars, meetings. The major economy of India openly active on the Internet. Internet Access and good Internet connections are becoming an essential tool for surviving in daily activities. Internet Access is not only Plays a crucial role in businesses. It helps in accessing information sources worldwide. We can achieve high-quality education goals and Low-cost education with help of the internet.

Today, we see that since the month of April, the government of India Implements a lockdown phase in India. In the last six months, the government of India reopens businesses in a slow process. Schools and Colleges conduct their online classes of students. Internet access is essential for attend online classes, webinars held by subject experts, and educational study. However, backward areas of our country not access to the Internet yet. More than 40 percent of the backward population of our country does not know how to use the Internet and the Importance of the Internet in the Present Situation.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION, RIGHT TO EDUCATION AND PRIVACY UNDER ARTICLE 19 AND 21 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

Every citizen of India Has freedom of speech and expression. It means the right to express one’s own convictions and opinions freely by words of mouth, writing, printing, pictures, or any other mode. It includes the expression of own’s ideas by any communicable media or visible representation (E.g.: Signs, gestures, etc.). The freedoms guaranteed under Article 19(1) are available to citizens only and not to a foreigner or an alien enemy. The term ‘citizen’ under Article 19 means a Natural Person but not a legal person like a company or corporation.

Freedom of Opinion and Expression states that Internet Access is co-relates to this article of the constitution. Every citizen of India has freedom of opinion and expression. Citizens of India can express their own thoughts freely without any hesitation. Businesses, Education, Online Markets as well as the corporate sector are landed on the Internet during Pandemic Days.

Article 21 A of the constitution of India deals with the Right to Education is the fundamental right of every citizen of India. Children of India have the right to education till the age of 14 years. Under this Article of the constitution of India, every child of India has the right to attain compulsory education till the age of 14 years. In the Interest of Education and employment, Internet access is essential for empowerment.

Article 21 of the constitution deals with the Right to Personal liberty but the Right to Privacy includes under Article 21 of the constitution of India. Right to Privacy deals with Right to Internet Access. If the internet access links with education and uses in businesses, Trade, personal enhancement then it is dealing with the personal liberty of human beings.

In this period of the pandemic, Internet access is essential for achieve advanced educational goals in life. Online classes and webinars of students are dependent on the Internet. Good Internet access and Information diffusion are leads to empowerment of human being. Article 19 (1) of the constitution of India deals with the speech and expression of India. Speech and expression through Internet are new generations Information diffusion landed over the Informative World. United Nations General Assembly concludes that in the month of November 2015, the Right to the Internet is an essential fundamental right of every citizen in the world. Internet access is essential for the advancement of education and personal needs fulfillment in life. In August 2012, Internet Society did a survey, regarding Users of the Internet in the World. Then 40 % of the Population opined that Internet Access is the essential fundamental right of every human being in this world. Because It empowers development and Information Diffusion.

Article 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights declared that “Right to Internet Access is essential fundamental Right as Similar to Right to Education” freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.” Nowadays, unlike traditional media, the internet allows people to seek, receive and impart information rapidly and at an extremely low cost.

In 2016, a report from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly declared access to the internet to be a basic human right.

United Nations General Assembly states that the Right to development is third generation human right in developing countries. Recognition of the close relationship between the right to Internet Access and basic human right by international laws.

(4) ANALYSE THE FOLLOWING CASE LAW

Aniruddha Bhasin Versus Union of India (Writ Petition No. 1030/2020) [4]

The court held that the Right to Internet Access, also known as The Right to Broadband or Freedom to connect. This case held that suspended Internet broadband connections are temporarily permissible but permanently shut down is an abuse of power. Right to Internet Access is an integral part of Article 21 of the constitution of India. Article 21 A of the constitution of India states the Right to education but It deals with the Right to Internet Access.

The right of freedom to choose trade and profession over the Internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19 (1) of the constitution of India.

Fahima Shirin Versus State of Kerala (Writ Petition No. 19716/2019) [5]The high court of Kerala delivers the judgment on this case; Right of Internet Access is recognized as Right of privacy and Right of Education under Article 21 of the constitution of India. The court ordered the college to modernize policies so they do not discriminate based on gender or undermine student’s access to educational resources. Finding the restrictions to be “Absolutely unwarranted”. PUCL Versus Union of India (AIR 1997 SC 568) [6]The right to the Internet deals with the right to life and personal liberty. Civil liberties are essential for human development. Internet aids the citizen to express their opinion on a global platform and therefore is covered under the ambit of Article 19(1) (a) of the constitution.

MANEKA GANDHI VERSUS UNION OF INDIA (1978 SCR (2) 621) [7]

The case held that every human being has the right to personal liberty under Article 21 of the constitution of India. Any competent authority of government cannot be curtailed the Right to Personal liberty of Any Individual Citizen of India except in cases of public order emergency.

Maneka Gandhi is a Registered by the birth citizen of India have the willingness to travel abroad but an Order issued by government authority for not the issuance of Passport to travel abroad in case of public order is unconstitutional and violates Article 21 of the constitution which deals with personal liberty. Because travel to abroad in own willingness is related to personal liberty. There is no question that arises of public order.

(5) CONCLUSION: Internet Access is essential in our daily life because it is the source of Information diffusion and plays a vital role in the development of our life. The golden triangle of the constitution of India includes the Right to life and personal liberty, the Right to Freedom of speech and expression, and the Right to Equality before the law under Article 21, 19, and 14 of the constitution of India Respectively but one section of society easily accesses to the Internet and other section of society unable to access the Internet then such situation leads to digital inequality and causes unable to use of freedom of expression. Clearly, such circumstances Violate provisions of Article 21, 19, and 14 of the constitution of India.

United Nations General Assembly of Human Rights states that the Internet is an essential human right and advises countries presented in the assembly needed to make the Internet Access to the Fundamental Right of every citizen.

In this Pandemic Days, not only Internet Access but Good connection of Internet Access is essential for our education as well as business and other activities. Major backward areas of India do not access to the Internet yet. Lack of Infrastructure and lack of digital literacy causes them could not able to use the Internet. The administration wanted to make a plan in the interest of public policy and delivers Internet Access to every citizen of India.

Today, we see that the Government of India, after first rigorously implementing a lockdown across the country, has started reopening businesses, albeit slowly. Schools and colleges are conducting their online classes. Internet access is essential for attending online classes, webinars held by subject experts, and educational study. However, backward areas of our country have no or limited access to the Internet yet.

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Policy & Politics

How Covid-19 pandemic improved marine life more than any policy

Commercial fishing has slowed down due to Covid-19. Fishes have begun to display changes in behavioural patterns. Pauly’s colleagues in China have even reported that the decrease in fishing boats has led to smaller fish appearing on the ocean surface and predators becoming more active.

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“Hundreds of dead fish washed up on the shores of Juhu beach”, “Under oxygenated rivers affecting the livelihood of fishermen”: these are just a few examples of headlines we have seen reported in recent years.

Although the occurrence of such calamities can be traced back to problems dating as far back as the 1960’s, it is only in contemporary times that people have begun to witness and pay heed to the true effects of environmental degradation. Warm water temperatures and low levels of dissolved oxygen in water bodies have led to a steady decline in existing marine life. The discharge of organic and inorganic industrial waste and other effluents into rivers has come to deeply affect fish and other aquatic creatures. Many fishes are even injured in the debris.

Studies show that water pollution causes diseases such as fin and tail rot, hyperplasia, ulceration, gill disease, liver damage and neoplasia in fishes. This, in turn, can lead to health problems amongst humans who consume contaminated fish. Fish is a good source of protein and an important contributor to the human diet. It keeps the heart and brain healthy. It also helps prevent diseases like malaria and yellow fever which are spread by mosquitoes. Fish are also rich in two important minerals: iodine and selenium. And lastly, they are also important sources of income and employment in many developing regions across the world.

In 2016, an estimated 91 million tonne of fish were captured. Overfishing, known to negatively affect aquatic life, can impact entire ecosystems too. It can change how fast the fish matures and reproduces. When a bulk of fish is taken out of the ocean at once, it creates an ecological imbalance which erodes the food web and leads to the loss of many other marine animals that are dependent on fish for their survival. In the past, fishing used to be a sustainable activity. Fishermen did not have the resources or the technology to traverse deep waters. But today, deep water fishing is a multimillion dollar industry.

We are misusing our technology by overexploiting the oceans. Moreover, we are destroying entire ecosystems with our destructive practices. For example: the population of Bluefin tuna is now at 2 to 3 percent of its original level during the mid-20th century. Tuna shoals could recover if a central part of the ocean remains off-limits. Marine biologist, Daniel Pauly, believes there should be a global ban on fishing on the high seas. These international waters include all parts of the ocean that are 200 miles or more away from sovereign land. That’s about 58 percent of the ocean›s surface! Pauly believes the ban will restore about two-thirds of the world’s oceans, allowing fish stocks to rebuild without affecting fisheries that belong to less developed coastal nations. If implemented, this ban has the potential to raise the value of the world’s fisheries by 13 billion dollars.

Although the pandemic has upended our lives as humans, nature is just beginning to see the stages of recovery for the first time since the early 90’s. Noninterference has provided fishing grounds with much needed respite from years of overfishing. Commercial fishing has slowed down due to Covid-19. Fishes have begun to display changes in behavioural patterns. Pauly’s colleagues in China have even reported that the decrease in fishing boats has led to smaller fish appearing on the ocean surface and predators becoming more active. Perhaps the pandemic did have a silver lining after all.

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Policy & Politics

Big win for democracy in Jammu and Kashmir

Huge participation of voters across all the districts in the Union Territory reflects people’s conscious political choice for inclusive democracy, peace and development over separatism, despondency and exclusiveness.

ASHOK BHAN

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi in and out of Parliament loudly pronounced amongst other objectives for abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A and eventual bifurcation of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union Territories: That the natives who have been forced to live out of Kashmir shall be repatriated back in their homeland.

No matter which party/Parties have finally made it to grassroots power structure.the District Development Councils. Huge participation of voters across all the districts in the JK Union Territory reflected people’s conscious political choice for inclusive democracy,peace and development over separatism ,despondency,and exclusiveness.

People’s political wisdom and choice of democracy calls for celebration.Long live the democracy.

After successful DDC elections and its concomitant process of establishment of District development councils in each district and elections of its Chairpersons and other concerned committees the process is likely to be completed in near future.The political process has actually set in for eventual assembly elections sooner than later.Be it as May -The most important issue of reversal of Kashmiri Pandits exile deserves the foremost utmost priority.without the physical return, rehabilitation and restitution of this native population back in the Valley,peace efforts will allude and all other politico-economic process will be a smoke screen.Govt. Of India would be accused of wilful neglect and in breach of constitutional mandate for denial of right to life,liberty and dignity in their homeland to the aborigines native population of seven hundred thousand people living in exile for more than three decades.

HOW LONG ABORIGINES KPS HAVE TO WAIT TO RETURN HOME

Enough is Enough: Three decades of exile is too long and traumatic -Shiriman Pradhan Mantari.

Exiled natives are longing to return home and awaiting for accomplishment of the PM’s promises on this issue.Now that DDC elections are over and huge people’s participation especially the women and youth can be a game changer and people have preferred democracy,peace and development as future way forward than separatism,despondency and militancy.Exiled Natives are expecting the next agenda with Modi:2 hopefully is and would be repatriation and return of the aborigines Kashmiri Pandits.

Jammu and Kashmir entered a ferocious wave of terrorists violence in the 1990s, when religious radicalization and terrorism became a new weapon in a full-blown insurgency against the Indian State. The Kashmir Valley, once the center of multiculturalism became the focal point of a proxy war. Indeed, Pakistan’s premier Intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) sponsored notorious terror organizations such as JKLF,Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul-Mujahideen etc., providing them with weapons, logistical support and training facilities in so-called ‘Azad’ (‘free’) Kashmir. The objective was to annex the Kashmir Valley, and cleanse it of non-Muslim minorities. As such, the tragic event that came to be known as the mass Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits unfolded when scores of Pandits, as well as hundreds of Kashmiri Muslims, were killed by Kashmiris who had been indoctrinated by the anti-Hindu, anti-India propaganda disseminated from the Pakistani side of the LoC. After killing hundreds of Pandits including women,children & even the infants,by inflicting ethnic cleansing all most the entire population was forced to leave their ancestral homes in the Valley and had to live in refugee camps in Jammu and other parts of India .The terrorists achieved the target of demographic change they had set out and from there undertook further campaigns of religious persecution in Jammu.

The seeming silence by the political spectrum of India over the gross neglect by successive Governments on the plight of exiled natives of Kashmir is intriguing and the conspicuous callousness of Modi:2 is more palpable.

In Jammu and Kashmir, there are layer upon layers of distortions of history, self-serving myths and competing political interests. Peeling off these layers by revisiting history, without any prejudice, can only help in our search for a brighter tomorrow for Jammu and Kashmir.

The J&K policy needs to combine between what the country pursues as domestic policy on one hand and the treatment of Indo-Pakistan relations as foreign policy, on the other.

The return of the exiled Pandits back to the Kashmir Valley with pride, is a matter of enforcing India’s Constitution in Kashmir.It is important to restore and protect multiculturalism, plural ethos and the secular identity of India and the Jammu and Kashmir state.

Return, restitution and retention of exiled Pandits as a religious Hindu community, shall be the real test of the will of the central government and the governor’s administration.

No solution to Kashmir will make any headway unless the Pandits are rehabilitated, return to the Valley and are made part of the dialogue process as an important stakeholder.

It is the constitutional and political duty of the government of India and the Jammu and Kashmir government to repatriate the entire exiled Pandit community back to their homeland. It is also their duty to probe the reasons and circumstances of ethnic cleansing, fixing the responsibility for the killing of innocent citizens.

After almost ten months of 5th.August 2019 decision of abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A, a sense is gathering around that their plight as native exiled Kashmiri is being slowly forgotten. Everybody sheds crocodile tears over their suffering, but nothing by way of action is seemingly visible by the Modi-2.0 and JK Union Territory Government. The future of Pandits, as an important stakeholder and a relevant component to the resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio, is less and less talked about.

Kashmiri Pandits have an existential stake in the Valley. They have to be physically present on the soil of the Valley as living component and stake holders and day to day participants in the socio-economic, political, cultural and spiritual ethos of Kashmir valley, otherwise how will the present as well as future generations realise that Kashmir is the keystone of their heritage through millennia, finding mention even in the Indian oldest scriptures?

Kashmir was considered the abode of Saraswati, the highest seat of learning in India, and was also referred to as Sharda Peeth. So much so that students on graduating from Kashi would take four symbolic steps towards Kashmir, denoting their aspiration for higher learning. Almost the entire body of Sanskrit literature has its origins in Kashmir.

Rajatarangini, an authoritative historical tome on the royal lineage of Kashmir, written by Kalhana in the 12th century, outlines the greatness of King Lalitaditya, possibly the most powerful Indian emperor of all times, whose kingdom in the 8th century extended from the Caspian Sea in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south, and included Assam in the east. How many Indians have even heard his name? How many of us know that Srinagar was established by Ashoka the Great?

Mahayana Buddhism was spread across mid Asia, China and Japan by Kashmiri monks. Patanjali gifted his yog sutra to humanity and his. Sarangadeva is considered the father of both Hindustani and Carnatic music. Acharya Abhinav Gupta, one of the greatest scholars of all times, wrote 46 literary classics, including the renowned Abhinav Bharti. His principles of RAS are being taught in 80 universities around the world. Why educationists and policymakers are deliberately withholding such vital slices of history from our textbooks?

Kashmiri Pandits have rich heritage and their roots are engraved in the soil of the Valley for more than five thousand years. That can neither be destroyed nor obliterated by any power more so by unleashing terror and vicious campaign.

Governor Rule gives all statutory powers to the state government to do justice to this illustrious community, who are now living as refugees in their own country for the last 30 years.

It is hoped that the central government shall revisit its J&K policy by demonstrating political will and large-heartedness in dealing with the Kashmir situation and liberally fund the return, rehabilitation and security of Kashmiri Pandits back in their homeland, which is the Kashmir Valley.

To quote what former Prime Minister IK Gujral once said, “For the illustrious Kashmiri Pandit community, which has contributed a great deal in shaping the nation building a democratic, progressive and secular India, if the coffers of the country are to be emptied for them, it would still be a small price to pay.”

It is important for the state governor to rise above civil service jargon while designing a package for the return of Kashmiri Pandits. It is also imperative to hold consultations with representatives of Kashmiri Pandits, so that all aspects are taken into account and the entire gamut of present and future problems analysed threadbare and in complete detail.

Kashmiri Pandits are a religious minority, which calls for due statutory recognition. The constitution of a state minority commission shall be a good step in this direction.

The MHA being the nodal ministry, shall start a structured dialogue with Pandits, for designing a comprehensive, time-bound package for return and rehabilitation and political empowerment.It shall not take more than two years for its implementation.

Pandits believe that if the exiled community is not repatriated back to their homeland with dignity and pride now, then it will be never and eventually this illustrious community will disintegrate.

Ashok Bhan is Sr. Advocate, distinguished fellow USI And ; Chairman: Kashmir (Policy and Strategy) Group.

Prime Minister Narendra Damodar Modi in and out of Parliament loudly pronounced amongst other objectives for abrogation of articles 370 and 35-A and eventual bifurcation of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State into two Union Territories -that the natives who have been forced to live out of Kashmir shall be repatriated back in their homeland.Kashmiri Pandits are living in exile for more than three decades.

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Policy & Politics

Time to enact strict rules for our MPs and MLAs

How long will politicians be allowed to become MPs and MLAs even after having not dozens but hundred to two hundred criminal cases pending against them and still allowing them to continue as MPs and MLAs on one pretext or the other even when for other services like becoming a judge or an IAS or even a police constable there is strict police verification and one case alone is sufficient to ruin the career of the concerned aspirant?

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How long will politicians be given long rope and allowed to contest elections from jail itself? How long will MP and MLAs be allowed to misbehave in Parliament and state Assemblies and still be given long rope by not taking any action against them? How long will politicians be allowed to become MPs and MLAs even after having not dozens but hundred to two hundred criminal cases pending against them and still allowing them to continue as MPs and MLAs on one pretext or the other even when for other services like becoming a judge or an IAS or even a police constable there is strict police verification and one case alone even if it turns out to be fake is sufficient to ruin the career of the concerned aspirant?

How long will this worst discrimination between politicians and others be justified on one pretext or the other? How long will tearing of rule books be dismissed off lightly? How long will tearing of any law like the “Farm Law” be allowed to be torn of and that too right inside Parliament or State Assembly and that too by prominent members just like we saw in Delhi and other States?

How long will they be even allowed to indulge in physical violence and still spared from being permanently debarred? Why are they let off by just a reprimand or suspension for a short period of a few days or sometimes even for just a day? Why are they not seriously taken to task ever?

What message is being sent by all this? Does this not send a message that if one is a politician and an MP or MLA, he can hold the law to ransom? For how long will this pathetic state of affairs be allowed to continue?

We all saw how just days after row and being brutally manhandled during a special session of the Legislative Council, the body of the Karnataka Legislative Council’s Deputy Chairman – SL Dharmegowda was found on railway tracks at Gunasagar village of Kadur Taluk in Chikmagalur district during a special session of the Council! Why no action taken against all those who manhandled him? His brother Bhojegowda while speaking to media said that, “There was no personal or financial reasons for him to take this extreme step. He was upset about what had happened [in the council], I and other party leaders had told him not to take things to heart as these are common in politics, but he seems to have taken it very seriously.”

Needless to say, rules need to be enacted now at the earliest because such type of uncivilized behavior has become very common in politics as the brother of the deceased Deputy Chairman of Karnataka Legislative Council very rightly pointed out! This cannot be delayed any further. Supreme Court must now take suo motu action if politicians themselves don’t take any action on this!

Truth be told, it was none other than the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla who has called for a “high-level probe” into the death of SL Dharmegowda. Om Birla rightly said that, “Anguished at the sad news of demise of Deputy Chairman, Karnataka Legislative Council, Shri SL Dharmegowda. My condolences to his family. The unfortunate incident in the House, when he was in Chair, is a serious attack on democracy. It is necessary to have a high level probe through an independent agency into his death.”

Bluntly put: Why no action against those who carried out this serious attack on democracy? Just because they are politicians? Are they above the law? Why have they been given such a long rope?

Needless to say, SL Dharmegowda was at the centre of December 15 high voltage drama in the Legislative Council which saw BJP-JDS and Congress members hurling abuses and pushing each other over a row on the no-confidence motion against Chairman K Pratapachandra Shetty. During the ruckus Gowda was pulled down from the Chair (Chairman’s seat) by some Congress legislators who accused him of occupying it as Deputy Chairman against rules as part of BJP’s plan to unseat Shetty who is from the Congress. All rules of decorum were thrown to the winds and he was hackled and mercilessly manhandled! This is what he took straight to his heart but for our politicians this is normal! For how long?

We must ask ourselves: How long will politicians be allowed to have a free run in all spheres of life? How long will politicians be allowed to scream and shout at each other in Parliament and State Assemblies without any fear of facing prosecution as they stand protected by Constitution? How long will they be not held accountable just like others? How long will they be allowed endlessly to decide their own pay package and have a free run?

We must also ask: How long will politicians who rule in the State be allowed to withdraw criminal cases against MPs and MLAs from their own party? Is this not a mockery of the “due process of law” and “equality”? Is this not a blatant violation of right to equality?

We must also not hesitate to ask: Why is it that a convicted politician is barred for a limited time and that too only when he has been convicted for an offence whose punishment is more than two years’ imprisonment? Why is it that for other government jobs like for becoming a civil servant or a Judge or even a police cop or a soldier in the forces do we see that there is a proper police verification and even if someone out of jealousy files a false case still he/she is debarred from getting the concerned job while on the contrary if that same person emulates Phoolan Devi then just like her, he/she still can contest elections even from jail and become an MP and MLA? How can this be wrongly justified as most unfortunately we see right now?

As if this is not enough, it must also be asked: Why is it that politicians alone are given the long rope? Why are they not held accountable for what they do and punished just like we see in case of others? Why are they encouraged to consider themselves as being free to take the law for granted?

Few more troubling questions are: How can it be ignored that the percentage of MPs and MLAs with pending cases are increasingly steadily with time? How long will we keep ignoring this steady rise in percentage? How can it be ignored that many of them are facing very serious charges of murder, rape and what not?

While continuing in the same vein, it must also be asked: How can it be ignored that the Supreme Court said just recently that it was “surprised”, “shocked” and “sorry” to know that over 4,000 criminal cases were pending against sitting and former lawmakers — both members of parliament (MP) and members of legislative assembly (MLA)? How can it be ignored that the Supreme Court said that some of these cases date to as far back as the 1980s? How can such a burning issue be left unattended, unaddressed and play havoc with our democratic system?

It must be mentioned here that what is mentioned above arose when a Bench of Apex Court led by Justice N.V. Ramana was hearing a PIL filed by an eminent and learned advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who has sought a lifetime ban on politicians convicted in criminal cases, from contesting elections. It must be also mentioned here that Justice NV Ramana while expressing his serious concern didn’t shy away from remarking during the hearing in simple and straight language that, “So many cases are pending at the initial stage because of influence of legislators (FIRs are not filed) and they (legislators) hang the sword over investigations.”

Let us not shy away from asking: How can it be lightly dismissed that currently there are more than 4,500 cases that are pending against MPs and MLAs all over India? How can it be lightly dismissed that they are allowed to get away easily by terming them as “politically motivated”? How can they who are our law makers be allowed to continue to make a mockery of our democracy by allowing them immunity in spite of facing charge sheet in more than hundreds of criminal cases?

It must be mentioned here that the PIL which eminent lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay had filed seeking to set up exclusive courts in every district to complete the cases pending against politicians within one year and permanently bar convicted politicians from contesting elections, unlike in the present when a convicted politician is barred for a limited time and that too only when he has been convicted for an offence whose punishment is more than two years imprisonment is the crying need of the hour also. It must also be mentioned here that this PIL was filed in August 2016 in the Apex Court and the hearing of which is in the final phase as most of us know too well. It goes without saying that it is likely to give a massive push towards ensuring that politicians with criminal background are debarred from entering politics by contesting elections. But for this to happen it is the Apex Court Bench which is hearing this notable judgment which shall have the final say on this which has to catch the bull by the horns and which shall be decided within a short time in the days ahead! Which side the dice rolls will be decided by this Apex Court Bench and we must hope that we shall not be disappointed this time at last!

In hindsight, we also need to ask: How can this be allowed that Chief Ministers themselves are facing charge sheets in several cases and still be allowed to hold public office? How can it be allowed that even if convicted then they can again come back in active politics within a short span of time and again be back to business as usual? How long will the “Sab Chalta Hain” approach be allowed to carry on for MPs and MLAs?

To be sure, it must also be asked: Why is it that in the latest hearing of the case filed by eminent lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, the Central Government too had shown its “unwillingness” to bar convicted politicians permanently from contesting polls while responding to Ashwini’s argument with regard to why politicians who in various court judgments have been considered as the “supreme public servant” should not be barred forever from contesting elections when a bureaucrat or a Judge was permanently removed from the service if he or she was convicted for an offence.

Adding more to it, it must also be asked: Why is it that an aspirant for a Judge or an IAS or any other government job is promptly barred even if there is one entry in any of the FIR in any police station but the same promptness completely disappears and vanishes in thin air when it comes to MPs and MLAs? It is high time and the time bound trial of pending cases against MPs and MLAs must be taken to their logical conclusion at the earliest! There can be no more dilly-dallying on such serious issue anymore!

Of course, it is good to see that the Supreme Court Bench also directed the Chief Justices of the respective High Courts to ensure the urgent listings of such cases. But it is also concerning to see that in what can be seen as an unpalatable truth pertaining to the huge power wielded by such tainted politicians, the Supreme Court while hearing the case filed by lawyer Ashwini on 4 November 2020 while quoting from the records that it received from various High Courts lamented that, “The High Court of Kerala has specifically placed on record that the police officials are reluctant to arrest and produce the legislators. The same issue is also being faced by the Calcutta High Court.” It is high time and all this must stop now and for this to happen police must be freed from political clutches and made to function independently and their transfer, posting and promotions should not be in the hands of politicians any longer! This must be now made to happen to preserve our national interests and not political vested interests which till now most unfortunately are having the last laugh! Let’s fervently hope this happens! Only politicians with impeccable track record should be our law makers and not the other way around as we see most unfortunately right now! Supreme Court cannot be a passive player any longer on this most burning issue confronting our nation!

A bench of Supreme Court led by Justice N.V. Ramana was hearing a PIL filed by an eminent and learned advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who had sought a lifetime ban on politicians convicted in criminal cases, from contesting elections. It must be mentioned here that Justice Ramana while expressing his serious concern didn’t shy away from saying in simple and straight language, “So many cases are pending at the initial stage because of influence of legislators (FIRs are not filed) and they (legislators) hang the sword over investigations.”

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Policy & Politics

Making it happen: Transforming solar energy sector

Over the years since 2015-16, India has commissioned 38 GW of solar projects and is well on its way to achieving the most ambitious target set as a part of one of the biggest solar energy expansion programmes in the world.

Anil Swarup

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It was 2014. Consequent to the “findings” in a CAG report and subsequent endorsement of the report by the Supreme Court, all hell seemed to have broken loose in the coal sector. I was posted as Coal Secretary to clear the mess. In the following couple of years, the coal sector was resurrected. However, what I witnessed in another Ministry, New and Renewable Energy, that was under the same Minister, Piyush Goyal was nothing short of a miracle. And, the miracle man was Upendra Tripathi, an IAS officer who had already earned accolades while working in his own state, Karnataka

Upendra who had never worked in the field of energy earlier, (except in the Petroleum sector way back in early 90s) took charge as Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). This Ministry had been created by the Government of India in early 80s as a response to global oil crisis. It was beset with precarious financial situation in April 2014. Against an annual budget of Rs 1500 crore (around US $ 214 million), the subsidy arrears to the States for completed activities was INR 3300 crore (around US $ 471 Million). The Ministry was grappling to fund subsidy arrears. However, all this changed May, 2014. A new government came to power at the centre. Narendra Modi, the new PM who had written a book, “Convenient Action” as a response to Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”, called Upendra for a discussion. He wanted to know if India could have 100 GW of solar power by 2022. Upendra answered in the affirmative in the context of millions of hectares of wastelands in the country. What he did not know at that point was that, just before he had joined, his predecessor had sent a detailed letter to the Prime Minister’s office that the proposition of 100000 MW of solar by 2022 against the existing target of 20000 MW was impossible – there was no land, no money, no demand and no wherewithal.

Having promised to the PM that the target was not a challenge, Upendra soon discovered the ground reality. The challenge now was how to plan for this huge target and convince the Cabinet and other stakeholders that 100 GW of solar for India was both desirable and doable without any substantial investment from the Government of India.

The key to the solution lay in the creation of a policy ecosystem of land, labor, capital and technology and sell this dream to the global galaxy of investors as real and profitable. India did have the famous solar mission since 2010. Hence, there was some institutional mechanism already available. Upendra evolved a four-fold strategy:

(1) Making full use of two Public sector entities under the Ministry, a SECI-IREDA model of mutual cooperation for solar deployment between a developer (Solar Energy Corporation of India) an investor (Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) was created. The later invested for 50 MW of solar power in Kerala to reap financial benefit over next 30 years by selling power to the State of Kerala and SECI implemented the project as EPC contractor. This project became a pilot and a case study or future investments. This was a very practical move to demonstrate to the world at large that MNRE could find buyers, investors and developers to finance and implement bankable and profitable projects. The investment could be recovered in the first seven years and the rest of the project life of 23 years was for generating surplus.

(2) Brainstorming with colleagues and Industry brought forth the idea of a global summit of investors. This was deliberated at length and finalized. It was christened Renewable Energy–Invest or RE-Invest in brief. (Incidentally, the third edition of RE-Invest was recently held by the Government of India.) RE-INVEST became both a brand and a signature event for the Ministry which organized such an investment focused mega- event in February, 2015 with two unique and innovative add-ons — Green Energy Commitment Certificates to invest in solar projects and Green Finance Commitment certificates to finance such projects. The top ten certificates of commitment providers were handed over the certificates during the inaugural event of RE-INVEST by the Prime Minister himself. There were 462 corporates who committed to deploy 287 GW of renewable energy projects by the year 2022. 40 Financial Institutions committed up to US $ 78.75 Trillion @ one million US $/MW. This provided the blueprint for the future.

(3) On the suggestion of Industry, the idea of SOLAR PARKS, (huge centralized generation centers running into thousands of MWs) was taken up. Under this dispensation, the responsibility for proving land for the projects was with the federal and provincial governments. Land acquisition in India in those days was the most complicated procedures — time consuming and litigation prone.

(4) A scheme was launched to train 57000 Suryamitras (Friends of the Sun) as solar mechanics, constituting a workforce that the industry badly needed. The capacity building measure was financed by the Government and implemented by State Renewable Energy agencies that were brought together in a common platform called the Association of the Renewable Energy Agencies of the States (AREAS).

The rest, as they say, is history. Over the years since 2015-16, India has commissioned 38 GW of solar projects and is well on its way to achieving the most ambitious target set as a part of one of the biggest solar energy expansion programmes in the world. Recognizing the phenomenal work done by Upendra, he was chosen as the founding Director General of the International Solar Alliance, the multilateral body that has a target of mobilizing more than US $ 1000 billion by 2030 in ISA member countries and pursues more innovative ideas such as the World Solar Bank and the One Sun One World and One Grid.

Upendra Tripathy demonstrated that civil servants can be visionaries and through meticulous planning and collaborative implementation, they can make-it-happen on the ground

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

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Policy & Politics

There need be no confusion on effectiveness of Covid vaccine

Vaccination drive is a turning point in the crusade against Covid-19. Yet, self-protection is the key.

Vijay Darda

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At last we have got the vaccine that we had all been waiting for several months to protect ourselves against the Coronavirus pandemic. In two days, about 2.25 lakh doctors, health workers and Corona warriors have been inoculated in India. So far, no specific side effects have been reported, but the news coming from Norway has made everyone worried. The Pfizer vaccine is being administered there. Some 33,000 people have been vaccinated, but 23 of them lost their lives and all of them were more than 80 years old. They were more vulnerable than before and lived mostly in nursing homes. However, it has not been verified yet whether their deaths were caused by the side effects of the vaccine.

The Norway government has ordered an inquiry. Pfizer also has sought permission in India, the success rate of which is being reported to be up to 98 per cent, but at present India has not given the approval. Apart from this, the impact of the Moderna vaccine by the UK is around 95 per cent, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is 90 per cent and the effect of Chinese vaccine Sinovac is around 50 per cent. Russia and China are claiming a lot more than this, but their claim is not strong. However, there is no possibility of their use in India as we have a vaccine which has been manufactured in the country. Covaxin is a completely indigenous vaccine made by Bharat Biotech. The pharma major’s past record is very good.

The second vaccine is Covishield which is the Indian version of Oxford-AstraZeneca and is being produced by the Serum Institute of India. There is no question of doubt on Indian companies because India occupies the highest slot in the world in terms of vaccination. We have controlled many diseases on our own and have also benefitted the world. You will be happy to know that 60 per cent of the worldwide vaccine is produced in India. The largest vaccination programme runs in India. Every year, 5.5 crore women and children are administered 39 crore vaccine doses.

Therefore, I feel that the vaccination campaign in India will be completely successful. I want to congratulate those scientists who have developed the vaccine. These scientists have indeed brought glory to India. I commend the courage and spirit of the volunteers who participated in the first, second and third phase trials, bypassing their own health to serve humanity. The third phase is still going on and it is expected that its figures will be revealed in February. In the first and second phase, there was no major adverse effect, that’s why the Drug Controller General of India, Dr. V.G. Somani, gave the emergency approval to the vaccine.

Some voices of protests have emerged which question as to whether it was appropriate to allow the use of the vaccine without completing the third stage of the test. Experts have replied to this question and have stated that the vaccine to be completely safe. Meanwhile, 49 scientists and doctors of the country have written an open letter and asked people not to fall into any confusion. The two vaccines Covaxin and Covishield — allowed in India — are completely safe. We should trust the words of the scientists.

The World Health Organisation has also lauded India’s vaccination campaign. I believe that curiosity is the mother of knowledge. Therefore, if any question arises, then its answer should be available immediately and authentically so that there is no confusion among the common man. Vaccination against Corona can be successful only when there is no confusion about the vaccine in one’s mind. Now, the most crucial question related to this is whether we can completely eliminate Corona through vaccination only? Experts are clearly saying that the vaccine is helpful in reducing the threat, but if the Corona is to be eliminated, then we have to pay more attention to our protection for a few more months and only then we will be able to break the Corona chain. The Corona pandemic will not be wiped out until its chain is completely finished. It is unfortunate that India is lagging behind in terms of protection. The vigilant people wear masks all the time, wash their hands, keep sanitizers with them and always use them, but most people still remain careless.

The government can issue guidelines. It can tell people what to do and what not to do, but people have to scrupulously adhere to the guidelines on their own! I am distressed to see that many people still keep the mask on the chin instead of putting it on the mouth and nose. You will be surprised to know that people in Maharashtra have paid more than Rs 5 crore as fine for not wearing masks but still are not learning a lesson! In such a situation, how will the Corona chain break? That is why I request you to take care of yourself. Do not leave the house without a mask. Take special care of cleanliness. This struggle against Corona is just a long-drawn-out battle.

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

The world’s largest vaccination campaign to prevent coronavirus has started in India. In the meantime, some confusion too prevails and surely it needs to be resolved. Keep in mind that vaccination is an important weapon against Covid-19, but protecting yourself is still the most important thing.

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