Golden window for India to unleash potential of its biotech sector - The Daily Guardian
Connect with us

Policy & Politics

Golden window for India to unleash potential of its biotech sector

The only true exit strategy to cope with Covid-19 is science and the onus of finding and distributing the vaccine,
which is the only way to win the battle with the virus, lies with the biotech sector.

Jitendra Kumar

Published

on

The biotechnology sector can be roughly divided into five major segments. These are bio-pharma, bio-services, bio-agri, bio-industrial, and bio-informatics. India is the third largest biotech destination in the Asia Pacific Region. The biotechnology industry in India has 600+ core biotechnology companies, approximately 2600+ biotech startups, over 100 plus BIRAC-supported and DST supported bio-Incubators.

India has the secondhighest number of US Food & Drug Administration (USFDA)-approved manufacturing plants outside the US. In 2018, the biopharmaceutical sector accounted for the largest share of the biotech industry with a share of 55% of total revenues, followed by bio-agri with 23% market share. The bio-services accounts for 16% of the Biotech industry as India and has been becoming a leading destination for clinical trials, contract research, and manufacturing activities. This pandemic has curtailed the supply chain system especially when there is more reliance on other countries. India is trying to be more self-dependent and develop better indigenous techniques. India is a young country full of skilled resources, along with the ‘Make in India Campaign’ may further provide a great opportunity for Biotech entrepreneurs and the biotech industry at large.

Emphasis on pharma sub-sector

India’s primary focus in the biotechnology sector has historically been on the pharmaceutical arena. It is the third largest pharmaceutical market in the world by volume and the world’s largest supplier of generic drugs with around 18% of the global market share. India is also the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number and caters to about 50% of global vaccine demands. 

Although the Indian generic drug manufacturing industry has come in star focus during the pandemic, it has also exposed India’s dependence on imported raw material. For instance, India still imports 90% of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API). For the pharma industry to become truly part of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ mission of the Indian Government, it is important that adequate indigenous capabilities are cultivated on these lines. Fostering the approvals of pharmaceutical infrastructure developments, single window clearance for environmental approvals, provision of tax exemptions and subsidies for the development and promotion of the pharmaceutical industry hubs may aid in reducing the costs incurred by these companies.

Need for investment in R&D

On the world stage, the lack of adequate investment in the R&D activities places India on back-foot. For increasing the R&D investments, India must have a robust R&D programmes. The Universities in India have not delivered much in R&D, instead specialized institutions such as Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), under Ministry of Science & Technology and DBT laboratories have taken leads. However, Technology transfer from these Institutions also have not been very successful because these institutions work in silos and unlike well functional Universities in US or Europe, do not have wholesome ecosystem such as business department, Bio-incubators and cross disciplinary approach. This coupled with weak availability of ventures capital renders India unable to compete with their rivals worldwide or develop breakthrough high-margin drugs. This pressure has become only more acute, since the cost of bringing a drug candidate to the market has increased sharply — from nearly $1.1billion in 2010 to over $2.1billion in 2018. The pharma companies in India are much underleveraged. There is massive opportunity for the capital to increase which will trigger expansion in this sector. In the backdrop of COVID there is also an opportunity to repurpose existing drugs and therefore a faster and robust mechanisms for enabling clinical trials will be a boon for India. India also has a great strength in Ayurveda/ traditional knowledge and therefore a faster and streamlined approach for scientific validation will place India on strong footing.

Increase of hospital beds

The number of hospital beds and ICU beds are increasing rapidly to tackle the influx of COVID-19 cases. The demand for equipment to accompany this infrastructure is on a rise as well. To complement it, the acceptability of modern medicine and newer therapies are also increasing due to aggressive market creation by players, an increased acceptance of biologics, preventive medicine, and a greater propensity to self-medicate. The players in the bio-services field are shaping especially for chronic therapies such as cardiovascular and neuropsychiatry.

 To make India the hub for hospital related equipment, developing drugs and treatment, there is a need for a closer association of research labs, institutions, and universities with medical centres to obtain assistance, consultation and practical experience. This model has worked incredibly well in the United States and the development of drugs, clinical treatments stands testament to it.

The original objective for forming Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was to create a similar network. The Government may actively undertake these research endeavours with independent research institutions, working in close association with leading medical centres. Additionally, premier Indian institutions such as IITs, IIIT, and IISc may undertake research on similar pattern. This shall allow institutions to share costs and developed innovative solutions.

Role of startups

The opportunities for Indian startups are also on a rise in sub-sectors like disease identification, surveillance system, single-use manufacturing, filtration, pharma raw materials, medical equipment, safety kits, sanitisers, masks, optical surgery, elective surgeries, telemedicine and telecommunications. Recently, Mylabs which is a Punebased startup developed India’s first domestically produced testing kit for Covid-19.

This brings our attention to the biotech sector including Epidemiology, monitoring, test assays, analyst and instruments, which are the upcoming major areas to be focused upon. There is a need for startups collaborate with technical universities/institutes to undertake research and development (R&D) in the entire gamut of life sciences, including disease portfolio, inhibitors, antibodies, instruments and software, productive chemicals and molecule development. The Government can play the role of a facilitator to bring the stakeholders together.

In the future, startups can be the front-runners to contribute and bridge the gap between research and development of products and carve them as business model. The immense support provided by BIRAC. DST etc to start ups must be coupled by enabling mechanisms for scale up. Currently there is a lack of scaling up facilities for diagnostics and therapeutics including vaccines even at pilot scales.

The atmanirbhar bharat opportunity

This is a once in a generation opportunity for India to establish itself as a leader in the biotechnology sector. In the past such opportunities have been cashed in by countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong in the 1970s and 80s. South Korea, climbed up the technology ladder and value chains in electronic goods, consumer durables, automobiles, micro-processors, personal computers and heavy machinery. It emerged as a global powerhouse in manufacturing, but also in indigenously developed technologies. Taiwan developed technologies and manufacturing capacities in robotics and micro-processors, while Singapore and Hong Kong adapted advanced technologies in niche areas. These self-reliant capabilities were enabled, among other factors, by planned state investments in R&D including basic research (3-5 % of GDP), technology and policy support to private corporations, infrastructure and, importantly education and skill development (4-6 % of GDP).

Conclusion

The only true exit strategy to cope with COVID-19 is science and the onus of finding and distributing the vaccine which is the only way to win the battle with the virus lies with the biotech sector. It needs access to accelerated funding. In addition to the immediate goals to tackle the COVID19 situation has brought to the fore the need for a supporting a holistic response, focusing on providing equitable access to diagnostics, therapeutics, and strengthening the public health system for future pandemic threats. There is need to increase investment opportunities for Indian biotech startups and funding more research and development activities in India. A government investment vehicle which acts in the dual capacity of fund of funds as well as venture capital investor is the need of the day to complete the biotech startup cycle of universities, incubators and wealth of a talent pool in the biotech industry. Dr Jitendra Kumar is a Director of Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre (BBC), Bangalore an Institution created under joint partnership of Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and Department of IT, BT and S&T, Government of Karnataka.

The Daily Guardian is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@thedailyguardian) and stay updated with the latest headlines.

For the latest news Download The Daily Guardian App.

Policy & Politics

Rewiring Brain: Neuroplasticity 

Researches reveal that learning any new language enhances brain’s functioning with respect to memory, attention, emotions, creative thinking skills and ability to multitask as it works on the grey as well as the white matter of the brain.

Published

on

INTRODUCTION

Until recently it was believed that our brains are hard-wired, just like computer or any other such equipment thus can never undergo changes and one has to remain with the type of brain he is born with. But researches show that the brain has the power to change itself. This idea of changes in brain’s function as well structure is termed as neuroplasticity. Earlier the Neuroscientists hold that neuroplasticity manifests in childhood only the research done in later half of the 20th century revealed that several aspects of brain can undergo alterations even in the adulthood. Moreover neuroplasticity insists don’t hold your brain as your in charge on contrary consider yourself as the in charge of your brain.

Rewiring your brain might sound complicated, but this is something very easy that can be done at home. Yes so here are some ways that would certainly help you to change the entire scene-

Play games- Yes, playing games is beneficial. Different games yield different benefits. Such as puzzle games improves brain connectivity, boosts problem solving while 3D adventurous games tends to improve memory, problem solving and scene recognition. Rhythm games like dance can help to improve the visuospatial memory as well as attention of the individual. Thus playing games can do miracles. Point to keep in mind that these effects emerge after about 16 hours of gameplay. But that shouldn’t be played at once.

Learning new Language- Researches reveal that learning any new language enhances brain’s functioning with respect to memory, attention, emotions, creative thinking skills and ability to multitask as it works on the grey as well as the white matter of the brain.

Music Therapy- A research from 2017 shows that music when combined with dance, gaming, exercise etc. helps in improving neuroplasticity. People associated with music have better focus and attention, better motor coordination and better visual perception.

Travel- if you enjoy traveling then there is one more reason to love traveling. It enhances cognitive flexibility, nourishes creativity and broadens world general view.

Enjoy relaxing moments- Take a break from work and give some time to brain for rest. This rest improves the creativity, helps to find out new solutions to the prevailing problems.

Meditation- Meditational practices strengthens the neural connections. Regular practice leads to good brain health, sustained focus and slackening mental stress. Calm brains have the power to hold overwhelming emotions and guards individual against unproductive worries.

Video Games- Playing video games undoubtedly harms our eyes and is being criticized for few problems associated to it but still it has various cognitive benefits such as motor coordination, spatial navigation, decision making, reasoning and resilience.

CONCLUSION

Psychologists as well as other experts use to stress that no changes are expected in brain after a certain point of age. But now this view has been discarded. As they now know that all this is possible at any point of age in entire lifespan.

All that one requires is just some time, dedication and patience. All the suggested activities may look quite simple but have huge impact.

Continue Reading

Policy & Politics

Marriage can be registered through video conference: Special Marriage Act

The court also batted for a common marriage law so as to shift everything online to make registration of marriage and divorce easier in tune with evolving technology.

Published

on

With the technological advancement, marriages can be registered under Special Marriage Act (SMA) 1954 through video conferencing said by Kerala High Court (Dhanya Martin V State of Kerala).

The observation was given by the two judges bench (Divisionbench) comprises of Justices A. Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath. The observation was given while hearing the sets of petitions filed by person looking to solemnize their marriages under the Special Marriage Act through video conferencing.

The cases were referred by the single judge bench before the Division bench on 25th August, 2021. The Court held that it was only concern the way of identification of parties for the online registration of marriage and it is inclined to allow the matter. There is no difficulty to hold that in the era of technological advancement, marriage can also be registered without physical presence of the parties before the marriage officer. Therefore, marriage officer must be in a position to identify the parties through online video conference. The way to conduct such type of identification online has to be discussed.

The Court added that the parties have recommended two methods of identification. First method is the physical presence of the parties before the commission; if they are living abroad. Second method is the modern gadgets for identifying the parties with reference to facial recognition and biometric identifications.

STATEMENT OF ASG

The Court also informed the R Suvin Menon; Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) that it would needed the Union Government help in framing a mechanism that would permit usage of modern data and technology for this purpose. The ASG raised the concerns regarding the misuse of data and limitations on usage of facial recognition even in criminal prosecutions, the Court states that such concerned can be addressed but positive purposes for technology must be encouraged.

The Court said that the technology must have some restrictions against a person, but also can be used for the interest of individual. We can maximise the positive aspects and limits the negative one. The Court high lightened the importance of ease of setting up of uniform marriage law for the online registration and divorce.

The Bench said that court should switch everything online. This is the only reason for the requirement of common marriage law. Every marriage should be compulsory registered either private or personal. The marriage should be covered under the public law. In the modern technology, people can’t still bank on the physical method of marriage registration.

Public Prosecutor appearing for the Kerala government Gopi Nathan opposed and said that there is no provision under Special Marriage Act to register marriages before solemnisation before a marriage officer. In view of the Information Technology Act, no such type of provision is needed said by the Court. The provisions of the IT Act, especially Sections 4, 5 and 6, are read into all relevant present statutes.

OBSERVATION

In the case of State of Maharashtra V Paful B Desai, the Supreme Court held that evidence could now be recorded by means of video conferencing. It means that victim or witness can reported their statement through online video conferencing.

The Bench said that court should switch everything online. This is the only reason for the requirement of common marriage law. Every marriage should be compulsory registered either private or personal. The marriage should be covered under the public law. In the modern technology, people can’t still bank on the physical method of marriage registration.

Continue Reading

Policy & Politics

All-time high exports of engineering goods in August suggest pandemic may be behind us: EEPC India chairman

Tarun Nangia

Published

on

Reflecting strong demand from its key markets, engineering goods exports to 24 out of 25 top nations recorded positive growth in August, 2021 blowing past its previous monthly record of US$ 9.13 billion in July.

Unlike the previous months, exports to China registered the second largest export destination witnessing positive monthly growth in August 2021. Shipments to China rose 15% in August to reach US$ 613.3 million as compared to US$ 531.3 million in the same month last year.

Malaysia was the only country which saw a negative trend in import of engineering goods from India.

The US continued to be on top of the chart with August import of engineering goods from India growing 42% to US$ 1.3 billion as compared to US$ 916.5 million in the same month last year.

All the European countries for India’s top 25 engineering export destinations – Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, UK, Poland, Spain and France recorded high positive growth during August as well as on a cumulative basis this fiscal.

The share of India’s engineering exports to its top 25 nations accounted for 76.8% of India’s total engineering exports in April-August 2021. This significant high share is indicative of the dependence of India’s engineering export on the traditional markets.

India’s engineering exports was at its all-time monthly high for the second straight month in August. The robust performance of the sector resulted in the share of engineering goods in total merchandise exports during the previous month rising significantly.

Share of engineering in total merchandise export was 27.68% in August 2021 as against 25.82% in July, 27.19% in June, 25.44% in May, 24.83% in April 2021 and 25.36 percent in March 2021.

“In the month of August, engineering goods exports recorded more than 40% growth even when compared with the same month in 2019. It now seems that the pandemic is behind us. We are positively hopeful that as a result of a turnaround in global trade and policy support the sector would do better than expected in the full financial year,” said EEPC India Chairman Mr Mahesh Desai.

“The annual target of US$ 107 billion looks very doable even though the achievement till August fell a bit short of the target when calculated on a pro-rata basis,” he said.

During April-August period of 2021-22, India’s engineering exports have fallen short of the target set by about US$ 1.82 billion calculated on a pro-rata basis achieving 40% of the target against 42% of desired level for the full year.

Engineering exports crossed US$ 9 billion mark consecutively for the second time after the month of July, reaching an all-time high of US$ 9.21 billion in August.

Cumulative engineering exports during April-August 2021-22 stood at US$ 42.91 billion registering 66.18% growth over the shipments of April-August 2020-21 at US$ 25.82 billion.

Out of 33 engineering panels or product groups, 29 panels witnessed positive growth in exports and remaining four panels witnessed negative export growth during August 2021 vis-à-vis August 2020.

Exports of iron and steel recorded a continuous growth to the extent of 142% in August 2021 compared to the same period last year. In case of non-ferrous metals, sectors like Zinc and products exhibited negative growth in exports to the extent of 26% during the month of August 2021 vis-a-vis August 2020. All the remaining segments showed positive growth.

All the seven panels under Industrial machinery exhibited positive growth in August 2021 which led the total industrial machinery panel increase by 39% during August 2021.

Electrical Machinery and equipment which is a major engineering exporting sector for India experienced a growth in exports both monthly and on cumulative basis increasing to the extent of 26.8% from US$ 692.9 million in August 2020 to US$ 878.4 million in August 2021.

The automobile sector (combination of Two and Three wheelers and Motor vehicles and Cars) recorded consecutive massive jumps in exports to the extent of 57.5% primarily due to sharp jump in exports of Two and Three Wheelers by 72.4% and Motor Vehicles by 52.5% during August 2021.

Exports of Aircrafts and Spacecraft parts and products recorded 12.8% negative monthly growth while ‘Ship, Boats and Floating Bodies’ exhibited a monthly decline of 21.7%.

“The government has relentlessly supported the industry and we hope that the two key issues of high raw material prices and container shortage would also be looked into. The industry is awaiting proper rates under RoDTEP,” said EEPC India Chairman.

Continue Reading

Policy & Politics

Centre provides a massive relief to the exporters

The government releases Rs 56,027 crore under various Export Promotion Schemes.

Tarun Nangia

Published

on

The Government of India has decided to budget Rs 56,027 crore in this Financial Year FY 21-22 itself in order to disburse all pending export incentives due to exporters. This amount includes claims relating to MEIS, SEIS, RoSL, RoSCTL, other scrip based schemes relating to earlier policies and the remission support for RoDTEP and RoSCTL for exports made in the 4th quarter of FY 20-21. Benefits would be disbursed to more than 45,000 exporters, out of which about 98% are small exporters in the MSME category.

The amount of Rs 56,027 crores of arrears is for different export promotion and remission schemes: MEIS (Rs 33,010 crore), SEIS (Rs 10,002 crore), RoSCTL (Rs 5,286 cr), RoSL (Rs 330 crore), RoDTEP(Rs 2,568 crore), other legacy Schemes like Target Plus etc (Rs 4,831 crore). This amount is over and above duty remission amount of Rs 12,454 crore for the RoDTEP scheme and Rs 6,946 crore for RoSCTLscheme already announced for exports made in this year i.e. FY 2021-22.

Exports in India have seen robust growth in recent months. Merchandise exports for April-August, 2021 was nearly $164 billion, which is an increase of 67% over 2020-21 and 23% over 2019-20. This decision to clear all pending export incentives within this financial year, will lead to even more rapid export growth in coming months.

For merchandise exports, all sectors covered under MEIS, such as Pharmaceuticals, Iron and steel, Engineering, Chemicals, Fisheries, Agriculture and allied Sectors, Auto and Auto Components would be able to claim benefits for exports made in earlier years. Benefits would help such sectors to maintain cash flows and meet export demand in international market, which is recovering fast this financial year.

Service sector exporters, including those in the travel, tourism and hospitality segments will be able to claim SEIS benefits for FY 2019-2020, for which Rs 2,061 crore has been provisioned. The SEIS for FY 2019-20 with certain revisions in service categories and rates is being notified. This support would have a multiplier effect and spur employment generation.

The apparel sector, which is a major labour-intensive sector, would get past arrears under ROSCTL and ROSL, and all stakeholders in the interconnected supply chains would be strengthened to meet the festive season demand in international markets.

Export claims relating to earlier years will need to be filed by the exporters by 31st December 2021 beyond which they will become time barred. The Online IT portal will be enabled shortly to accept MEIS and other scrip based applications and would be integrated with a robust mechanism set up by Ministry of Finance to monitor provisioning and disbursement of the export incentives under a budgetary framework.

A decision to clear all pending export incentives within this Financial Year itself despite other budgetary commitments arising out of the pandemic is with the objective of providing timely and crucial support to this vital pillar of Indian economy.

FIEO HAILS GOVERNMENT’S DECISION TO DISBURSE ALL PENDING EXPORT INCENTIVES TO EASE THE LIQUIDITY AT MOST CHALLENGING TIMES: DR SAKTHIVEL

Welcoming the government’s decision of budgeting an amount of Rs 56,027 crores to disburse all pending export incentives due to exporters as claims related to different export promotion and remission schemes including MEIS, SEIS, RoSL, RoSCTL, other scrip-based schemes relating to earlier policies and the remission support for RoDTEP and RoSCTL for exports made in the 4th quarter of FY 20-21, FIEO President, Dr A Sakthivel said that such a move will help the sector in meeting the liquidity concerns and maintaining cash flow of the exports sector thereby further facilitating in addressing the export demand in the international market.

Benefits to be disbursed to over 45,000 exporters, specially those from the MSME sector has come as a booster dose for them as it would help them to be able to complete their booked order more efficiently, said Dr Sakthivel. Thanking the Hon’ble Prime Minister, the Union Commerce & Industry and Textiles Minister and the Union Finance Minister, President, FIEO added that the decision will lead to an even more rapid growth in exports in coming months.

FIEO Chief said that support to Service sector exporters, including those in the travel, tourism and hospitality segments, with certain revisions in service categories and rates being notified will not only have a multiplier effect but will also help in employment generation. Incentivising major labour-intensive sectors and all the stakeholders including those from the supply chain will help in strengthening their endeavours to meet the festive season demand in the international market.

Such support and handholding to the sector during these challenging times, when the whole exporting community is showing their commitment and resilience to perform impressively has definitely given a boost to the government vision of achieving USD 400 billion exports for the fiscal. Dr Sakthivel said that these announcements has further infused confidence in exporters that the Government is working hand in hand with exporters as promised by our Hon’ble Prime Minister.

Continue Reading

Policy & Politics

Analysing a bill passed by Rajasthan Assembly that allows registration of child marriages

Surya Pratap

Published

on

“Unity is meaningless without the accompaniment of women. Education is fruitless without educated women and agitation is incomplete without the strength of women.”

— Dr BR Ambedkar

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) charged on September 17 that the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was passed by voice vote in the state Assembly to amend a 2009 Act on mandatory marriage registration within 30 days of the union, will legitimise child marriages.

Despite parliamentary affairs minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwaldefended the Bill by claiming that registering child marriage does not make it legitimate, the opposition staged a walkout. He also promised that anyone who organise child weddings, even after they have been registered, will face consequences.

JUDGMENT OF THE SC IN 2006

The minister further informed the House that the Supreme Court had ordered that all forms of weddings be registered in its 2006 decision in Seema vs Ashwini Kumar.

He claimed that registering child weddings does not legitimisethem, and that if a kid gets married, he or she will have the ability to dissolve the marriage once they reach adulthood.

WHAT DOES THE BILL STATE?

On 17 September, the Rajasthan Assembly passed the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which changes the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2009, and requires parents or guardians to provide information on child marriages within 30 days after the wedding.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) questioned the need for child marriage registration and asked that the law be withdrawn. “How can they include child marriage in this Bill if child marriage is prohibited? All of this is done by Congress in order to create a vote bank.” If this measure passes, the assembly will have a bad day. Is it possible for the assembly to agree to legalise child marriages? We shall approve child weddings by a show of hands. The bill would write a dark chapter in the assembly’s history. Ashok, a BJP MLA.

WHAT DOES THE GOVERNMENT SAY?

Shanti Kumar Dhariwal, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, defended the legislation, saying, “The bill makes no mention of the legality of child marriage. According to the bill, only registration is required after marriage. This is not to say that child marriage is legal. The district collector can still take action against underage marriages if he or she so desires.”

Dhariwal further stated that the legislation now allows for registration at the District Marriage Registration Officer, Additional District Marriage Registration Officer, and Block Marriage Registration Officer levels. These officers will be able to monitor and review the work of registration. This will make it easier for the general public to register. This will bring simplicity and transparency to the work. He further said that the marriage registration certificate was a legal document without which widows would be unable to benefit from numerous government programmes. According to him, any or both parties in a marriage will be entitled to file for marriage registration and get a certificate as a result of the mandatory registration.

MARRIAGES IN INDIA

Although no comprehensive data is available, estimates show that at least 1.5 million girls under the age of 18 marry each year in India, making it the country with the most child brides in the world, accounting for a third of the global total. While the percentage of females marrying before the age of 18 has decreased from 47% to 27% between 2005-2006 and 2015-2016, it is still too high.

Multiple reasons, including greater maternal literacy, improved access to education for girls, robust laws, and migration from rural to urban regions, may be contributing to the reduction. Among the reasons for the shift include increased rates of girls’ education, aggressive government investments in teenage girls, and strong public messaging about the illegality of child marriage and the harm it causes.

At the global level, child marriage is included in Goal 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” Under Target 5.3 “Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation”.

Continue Reading

Policy & Politics

Will we hand over a ruined world to our posterity?

The world engaged in the race for power has waged a relentless war against nature. If nature does not survive, we will not survive either.

Vijay Darda

Published

on

I was performing ‘Pratikraman’ (introspection) on the occasion of Paryushan Parva and felt that this festival embraces the entire environment. I was seeking forgiveness from all the creatures of water, land and sky. I was asking for forgiveness from human beings, I was asking for forgiveness from trees, birds, insects and moths and also from animals. While doing so, a question came up in my mind that while we worship the five elements, do we practise it meaningfully in day-to-day life? Why has man deliberately waged a war against the nature? Every loss of nature is our loss, then why are we hoisting with our own petard?

I am always in a state of contemplation about the environment and it worries me that the craving of the present generation of human beings is causing huge damage to the environment and we are not only suffering because of it, our children are suffering too. I don’t understand how much of a ruined world we will leave for the generations to come. Environment is the most important subject for me. There are many people like me who care about the environment but there is a large section that doesn’t care! This world is heading for destruction. We do not even think about how much carbon dioxide we are emitting even personally. When I look around myself, I am amazed. In my institution, my offices are visited by so many people. Some come by car and some by motorcycle. How much carbon is being emitted! This emission can be reduced if public modes of transport are available. If many people ride in a bus or train, the emissions per person will be less, but if one person is going by car then it is unfair.

When I used to look at the operation of machines in the printing press of my institution and the consumption of electricity in the offices, I used to think that this electricity is made from coal and how much carbon is being emitted from it. This concern turned us towards solar energy and we are using solar energy to print newspapers. Yes, we have to invest heavily for this, but we take comfort from the fact that we have taken steps towards environmental protection.

Actually every person will have to be concerned and many options will have to be adopted at the personal level. We can’t rely only on the government. Even our small efforts can be effective. Take, for example, the need to prevent food wastage. Statistics show that about 70 per cent of food grains and fruits are wasted. During the production of cereals and fruits, the electricity used in irrigation or the production of pesticides causes a lot of damage to the environment. What a benefit it would be if we could save grains and fruits from being wasted!

There have been many conferences on the environment under the banner of the United Nations. When the conference was held in Geneva, more than a hundred countries had agreed to save the environment. This resolution was also repeated in Rio de Janeiro and Paris. In 1994, it was decided that by the year 2000, carbon emissions in the world would be brought down to 1990 levels. In this task, developed countries will help developing countries financially and technologically. But what happened? The agreement was left in abeyance! Even in 2019, the then US President Trump broke the Paris Agreement on global warming. On the other hand, it blamed India, Russia and China that these countries are not doing anything and American money is being wasted. But the fact is that America is not even allowing the appointment of an inspector who audits carbon emissions in the world. Surely America has inflicted the maximum damage to the environment, so it should pay for it too. The compulsions of developing countries also have to be taken into account. If you work, a lot will go wrong but that doesn’t mean you should point your finger at it. Five, ten, fifteen or twenty per cent errors will occur but 80 per cent of good things will happen!

As of now, the situation is extremely worrisome. Forests are being annihilated. Rivers are drying up, the atmosphere is getting polluted, the ozone layer is getting thinner and mountains are getting washed away. Many animals have become extinct. Diseases are on the rise. It goes without saying that the destruction of the environment means the destruction of the human species! Can any of our government units today say that they are not harming the environment? We all have to find a way to get better because we have done this destruction! You will remember the period of lockdown when people were locked in their homes, the nature started becoming so wonderful. We may not impose a lockdown but change the behaviour! Just think, what kind of world will we leave for our posterity?

At present I am in Switzerland. There is no air pollution here. Rivers are flowing smooth and clear. The lakes are absolutely clean. There is an excellent system of disposal of medical waste. Trash is nowhere to be seen. I talked to the local people. They say this is our responsibility. If only this kind of thinking developed all over the world! Everyone should be concerned about the environment and think about how to make this world a beautiful place to live in!

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

We are all engaged in the struggle of life. But on the issue of the environment, due to which we are enjoying our life, we do not see the same vigour. Man seems to be hell-bent on destroying the environment. Keep in mind that if the environment is not preserved and protected, human beings will not survive on the earth too!

Continue Reading

Trending