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THERE, THE MINISTER RESIGNS… AND HERE?

The death of an Indian woman tourist in Portugal due to lack of treatment caused an earthquake, shaking the government there

Vijay Darda

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Actually, the incident was very commonplace. A pregnant Indian woman had visited Portugal. The 34-year-old woman was 31 weeks pregnant. Her health suddenly deteriorated in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. She was taken to Santa Maria Hospital, the largest there. The hospital said there was no vacant bed in the maternity ward and she was referred to another hospital in the city. The woman died before reaching the second hospital. Doctors were successful in medically extracting the child safe and sound from the dead mother’s womb, but this incident caused an earthquake in Portuguese politics.

The incident attracted so much criticism of the government system that Prime Minister Antonio Costa was forced to accept the resignation of health minister Dr Marta Temido. You will be surprised to know that the health minister Temido is no ordinary woman. She played a major role in keeping Portugal safe during the coronavirus pandemic and was praised all over the world. Even getting such an eminent person to resign sends a vital message that every person’s life is important. Be it a local or a guest of the country. Negligence in the system should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

This raises a question in my mind that such incidents happen every day in one part or the other of the country. So, why don’t we have such a zero-tolerance policy in terms of healthcare? Leave aside the health minister ever resigning after such an incident, has any official of any hospital ever been suspended in such a situation? I am reminded of last year’s incident. Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya one day reached Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi as a common patient and sat on the bench. He wanted to experience firsthand what the situation was like for a common patient. He was hanging around when a guard pushed him with a stick. Later, Mandaviya himself narrated this story when he came to inaugurate a medical facility at the hospital. He said a 75-year-old woman needed a stretcher for her son but the guards did not help her. I was not surprised by all that the health minister said because this is the condition of almost every government hospital and everyone is aware of this fact.

It is worth mentioning that the NITI Aayog last year released a study report titled ‘Report on Best Practices in the Performance of District Hospitals’. Although the report was based on figures for the year 2017-18, every page of that report is a reflection of truth. The report says that out of 707 district hospitals in the country, not a single hospital met 100 per cent of the standards. I do not want to go into the figures of the report, but we have to accept the fact that our system is proving to be a laggard as far as the healthcare services are concerned. According to the World Health Organisation, there should be at least five beds for every 1000 people, but in our country, this number is only around 0.4. I would like to mention here that in Japan this number is 13. The truth is that the health sector has never been our priority in our country. On an average, only 1 per cent of the GDP is spent on health, whereas in countries like Britain and America, more than 8 per cent of their GDP is spent on health. Did you know that 17 per cent of the known diabetes patients in the world are in India? That is why India is being called the diabetes capital of the world, but our government is not worried about it.

Even if we keep all these things aside, the biggest question is whether the resources that we have are being used properly? The government spends a lot on its own for medical services at the district and panchayat levels. Super-specialty hospitals have been built. The expenditure on doctors, nurses, equipment and infrastructure is not as much in private hospitals, but people do not like to go to government hospitals because the hygiene part leaves a lot to be desired there. Machines stay out of order. There are no medicines! I am not blaming just for the sake of it. Reality has to be accepted. If you visit any government hospital, you will be greeted with general nonchalance. You might recall the incident wherein a person, unable to get an ambulance, carried the body of his wife on his shoulder. Newborns die due to fire in our hospitals. Patients die as the oxygen pipes get detached. There are discrepancies galore.

As a matter of fact, government hospitals abroad are usually the best. If we talk about India, the government and municipal hospitals in Mumbai are in a better condition. The question is why can’t government hospitals be better in small cities, towns or villages? Why does no minister, MP, MLA, district panchayat chief, councilor or senior official go to a government hospital for treatment? If the healthcare services are to be improved, it should be made mandatory for all the people’s representatives and bureaucrats to get themselves and their family members treated only in the government hospitals. Do this and then see… how miracles happen!

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

The death of an Indian woman tourist in Portugal became an issue of dereliction in treatment and the health minister had to resign, the fact that she did a wonderful job during Covid pandemic and received plaudits notwithstanding! Such deaths are a regularity and routine in our country. Leave alone the possibility of a minister resigning after any such incident, does even an officer resign in India?

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Policy & Politics

Capt Amarinder Singh to attend BJP core committee meet

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Captain Amarinder Singh, a former chief minister of Punjab, will attend the Punjab BJP’s core committee meeting on Monday at the party’s Chandigarh headquarters.

After joining the BJP exactly one week ago, this will be the former Congress leader’s first trip to the party’s headquarters. In the national capital, his daughter Jai Inder Kaur and son Raninder Singh both joined the BJP.

On September 19, Capt. Amarinder Singh combined his party, the Punjab Lok Congress, which he launched after leaving the Congress last year, with the BJP.

On Monday evening, Capt. Amarinder Singh and Ashwani Sharma, the chief of the state BJP, will address a joint press conference.

After the assembly elections in February, this will be the former chief minister’s first appearance in public in the state.

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PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi wish Manmohan Singh on his 90th birthday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday sent Dr. Manmohan Singh his birthday wishes on his 90th birthday, wishing him a long and healthy life.

“Birthday greetings to former PM Dr Manmohan Singh Ji. Praying for his long and healthy life,” tweeted PM Modi.

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress, sent Dr. Singh birthday greetings as well.

Wishing one of India’s finest statesmen, Dr Manmohan Singh ji a very happy birthday. His humility, dedication and contribution to India’s development, have few parallels. He is an inspiration to me, and to crores of other Indians. I pray for his good health and happiness,” tweeted the Wayanad MP.

Before the partition, Singh was born on September 26, 1932, in the Punjabi village of Gah. He studied at Oxford, Cambridge, and Punjab University.

Today marks the 90th birthday of Dr. Singh, who served as prime minister for two consecutive terms (from 2004 to 2014). He is a well-known economist who is credited with enacting significant reforms in the 1990s.

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Mallikarjun Kharge, Ajay Maken to meet Sonia Gandhi today over Rajasthan crisis

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Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken, two Congress observers who were in Rajasthan on Sunday to attend the legislature party meeting at the home of the chief minister Ashok Gehlot, are anticipated to meet Sonia Gandhi on Monday afternoon.

With Gehlot expected to run for presidential polls next month, the state is currently dealing with a new crisis. Numerous Gehlot’s supporters resigned on Sunday and handed them to Assembly Speaker CP Joshi as a result of Sachin Pilot’s name being mentioned. The resignation is reportedly from more than 80 MLAs.

The MLAs made clear to the observers their demands, emphasising that the next chief minister should be chosen after October 19, once the party’s presidential elections are over, that the Gehlot successor should be chosen from among the roughly 102 MLAs who supported the party during the 2020 crisis, and that Ashok Gehlot should be kept informed throughout the decision-making process. They were reminding the party of Sachin Pilot’s uprising against Gehlot when he visited to Haryana by bringing up the 2020 dilemma. Later, after guarantees from the senior management, he returned.

Ajay Maken said: “We came for the CLP meeting fixed by the CM at a time and date of his choice. Very strange that MLAs didn’t come for that. We also wanted to follow the procedure of speaking to individual MLAs about what they want so that they can speak freely.”

The condition that no announcement – on the chief minister – should be made before October 19 seems to be conflict of interest as resolution authorises the Congress president to take the decision, and by October 19, Ashok Gehlot would have been the Congress president,” he further said.

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Partnerships, technology and behaviour change key for agriculture growth, said Union Agriculture Minister

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Partnerships, technology and behaviour change key for agriculture growth, said Union Agriculture Minister

India has the potential to become “aatmnirbhar” in agriculture and also meet the food requirement of the world, said Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.
Speaking during the session, Food for All: From Farm to Fork, during the 3rd edition of LEADS 2022—— a global thought leadership initiative of the industry chamber FICCI, the minister said the country is steadfastly moving ahead in the direction. However, everyone must work together for the goal. “We would like to collaborate. I use this opportunity to invite the international community to join hands with us for the benefit of coming generations,” he said.
He noted that country’s agri exports had crossed the milestone of ₹4 lakh crores. “We are working to increase it further,” he said.
Minister Tomar said that the government is constantly working to make the country “aatmnirbhar”. As a result, Indian agriculture recorded a robust growth of 3.9% despite the pandemic. In addition, the minister reiterated that the government aims to make Indian agriculture internationally competitive by aiding the small farmers in the country. He alluded to several government programmes to reduce farming-related challenges. “Due to increase in investment in basic infrastructures like irrigation system, storage, warehousing, and cold storage, the Indian agriculture is expected to record robust growth in the coming years,” he added.
On occasion, H.E. Mr Damien O’Connor, Hon’ble Minister for Trade & Export Growth; Agriculture; Biosecurity; Land Information & Rural Communities, New Zealand, alluded to the challenge emanating from climate change. “agricultural emissions from livestock are a real challenge for New Zealand and food systems around the world. It contributes 35% to the global greenhouse gas emissions and 48% to New Zealand’s emission profile.”
He also alluded to Global Research Alliance and encouraged Indian parliamentarians “to look at investigating partnering up with a Global Research Alliance” to gather global technologies “in a way that is not seeking to maximise commercial benefit but to maximise the climate change benefit from this collaboration.”
Sanjiv Mehta, President, FICCI and CEO & Managing Director, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), said achieving food and nutrition security is a multifaceted challenge. “Food systems can play a big role in protecting food security and nutrition if careful attention is paid to targeting the poor, reducing inequalities, including gender inequality and incorporating nutrition goals and actions were relevant.”
Dr Anish Shah, Vice President, FICCI and Managing Director and CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra, said the world will have 10 billion people by 2050. “Today, we do not have enough food to provide for everyone, so we have to do a number of things to feed everyone.” He pointed to three themes that can help address the challenge. The first is partnerships to reduce carbon footprint and improve productivity. Second, adopting technology to transform agriculture and thirdly, inducing behaviour change.
Sunny Verghese, Co-Founder and Group CEO, Olam International, said, the biggest priority is to help decarbonise.

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Digital Agriculture Mission to digitalise the farmer: Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Agriculture

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Digital Agriculture Mission to digitalise the farmer: Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Agriculture

Contextual and correct information to anybody associated with agriculture has the potential to unlock a lot of value, said Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, at the Release Ceremony of the FICCI compendium on “Enhancing Farmers’ Income”.
In this regard, Ahuja alluded to the Digital Agriculture Mission, which essentially tries to digitalise the farmer in terms of identity, linking up the farmers’ land and geo-referencing it, and crops grown. “These are some of the basic things we are trying to put in the agristack,” he said. “We have made some headway; hopefully, next year, we should show substantial results,” he added.
Ahuja said, “I’m seeing the benefits information contextualised to the various partners in the agricultural ecosystem can bring”.
On occasion, Samuel Praveen Kumar, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, spoke on backstopping agriculture startups that are coming up with innovative technologies and solutions to enhance farm incomes. In this regard, Mr Kumar alluded to the three C’s— convergence, capacity building, and collectives like (FPOs and cooperatives) as the vital elements.
Elaborating on convergence, Kumar said, “if the government can package the schemes in such a manner that you give more benefits, in a unified manner to the businesses or startups, I think they will be able to sustain their business.” Similarly, on capacity building, he noted, “when we talk about capacity building for farmers or extension workers, it’s not like that. It is for everybody in the ecosystem.” Mr Kumar also alluded to developing climate-resistant crops, reducing carbon footprints using technology, and developing infrastructure.
Elaborating on the compendium, TR Kesavan, Chairman, FICCI National Agriculture Committee & Group President, TAFE, noted the need to document the best practices and give them to people so that “people can touch, feel, do and understand the practices.” He added, “small and marginal farmers are going to be one of the greatest strengths of the country. Some of the case studies in the compendium tell how they are changing.”
The FICCI compendium of guidelines presents select case studies, and successful projects and interventions rolled out by various organisations in achieving higher crop connectivity, resource use efficiency, cropping intensity and diversification towards high-value agriculture.

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Supreme Court: An Order Is In Given Factual Circumstances; Judgement Lays Down Principles Of Law

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Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in the case Akil Valibhai Piplodwala observed and has issued a notice on a petition filed by a man seeking a direction that he should not be deported to Pakistan until his claim to be an Indian citizen is decided as per Section 9(2) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
The bench comprising of Justice Surya Kant and the Justice J. B. Pardiwala observed and has also issued status quo in the matter. Thus, the notice on the plea has been issued to the District Superintendent of Police (Godhra), State of Gujarat and the Ministry of Home Affairs, Union of India.
According to the plea, the was born at Godhra, Gujarat in 1962 and had completed his education in India. The petitioner moved to Pakistan in 1976 but in 1983 he returned to India and got married at Godhra to an Indian woman on 2nd March 1984 and had three children from the wedlock. Thus, the petitioner again went away and finally returned to India in 1991 after obtaining all the requisite permits including a residential permit and continued to reside in India with his family.
However, out of fear of getting deported, the petitioner moved a regular civil suit before the Court of Civil Judge praying to declare him a citizen of India under Section5(1)(C) of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955 since he was married to an Indian citizen. It is also prayed by him to restrict authorities from deporting him till his application under Section 9(2) of the Act is decided by the Union of India. In 1999, it was held by the Civil Judge that the Court did not have jurisdiction to decide the citizenship of the Petitioner. However, the decree was allowed by the Civil Judge partly to direct that he should not be deported back until his application under the Citizenship Act is decided.
Further, after the period of 4 years, the Union of India preferred a delayed appeal under Section 96 of CrPC against the order of the Civil Judge before the Principal District Judge. On 12.07.2022, the District Judge set aside the decree passed by the Civil Judge.
The petitioner being aggrieved by the order of the District Judge, moved the High Court of Gujarat. On 02.08.2022, the High Court dismissed his appeal holding that no substantial question of law arose.
Senior Advocate IH Sayed, appearing for the petitioner submitted that the High Court disregarded the fact that the Petitioner has been rendered vulnerable to deportation and if he is not protected till his application is adjudicated upon it would be violation of the procedure established by the principle of law.
The present petition was filed through Advocate Taruna Singh Gohil.

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