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ARTICLE 21 AND EUTHANASIA

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INTRODUCTION:

The word Euthanasia originated from Greek origins “eu” that denotes “well” or “good” in addition to “Thanatos” which denotes “death”, so in essence Euthanasia signifies good death.

It basically indicates a deliberate termination of someone’s life by someone else at the clear request of the individual who wants to die. In practice, it involves the action of killing an individual who is ill and not curable out of care and compassion for that individual’s agony. Some even call it ‘mercy killing’. Merriam Webster defines Euthanasia as the action of killing or letting a hopelessly ill individual die in a comparatively pain free method for merciful intentions. Black’s Law Dictionary has a similar definition stating it to be the action of killing or causing death of an individual suffering from an ailment that isn’t curable, specially an agonizing one for merciful aims. Right to die has continually been a contentious subject globally. Article 21 of the Indian constitution states that “no individual should be deprived of life or personal freedom except in accordance with legally prescribed procedures”. The term liberty is the appreciation and attainment of choice and the attributes that go with that choice and the word life denotes the aim to have the same in a dignified way. Both of these are intertwined. Liberty permits people the space to reflect and perform without constraint and life deprived of liberty would be a pointless existence. Courts have included different aspects to

Right to life like right to have a respectable existence, right to food, to get adequately educated, to have a clean environment, to get adequate shelter, privacy and numerous different rights to allow people to enjoy a better and a more fruitful life.

ANALYSIS OF

ARTICLE 21

This generous dealing of Article 21 by the courts could be owed to the judiciary’s appreciation of the principle that constitutional provisions should be interpreted not in a limited sense but in a broad and liberal way. Benches have continually held that when understanding the correct implication and substance of right to life, the court must try to expand the scope of the fundamental right and not weaken its content.In Maneka Gandhi v Union of India, 1978 AIR 597, justice Bhagwati, in an attempt to make Article 21more meaningful, stated that “Courts should try to expand the scope and range of fundamental rights instead of attenuating their implication and substance by means of juridical construction”. This is why numerous of rights have been included in Article 21. In Francis Coralie Mullin v The Administrator, the Supreme court made huge development when it contended that Article 21 doesn’t amount to simply ‘animal existence’ but to something more than just that. It comprises of living with human dignity. In Shantisar builders v Narayanan Khimalal Totame, the Supreme Court distinguished between the shelter that humans require and those that animals require. They stated that animals require just the minimum bodily security but humans require a habitation that permits them to grow in all facets be it mentally or physically. So, it isn’t just right to survival but living a complete quality life of dignity and value. The Supreme Court has claimed article 21 to be ‘heart of fundamental rights’ and has consequently allowed very broad boundaries with widest conceivable understandings to this article and correctly so. It has evolved into a basis for many essential rights and procedural protections. It can be contended that at the very least, every individual has a right to live with modicum amount of dignity and where the existing condition drops beneath that point, the individual should be permitted to terminate such agonizing existence. There is no legislation in India that provides for Euthanasia, so people relied on the constitution to provide relief with the question being, ‘whether Right of Life under article 21 accommodates a Right to die?’.

ANALYSIS OF INDIAN LEGAL JURISPRUDENCE ON EUTHANASIA

This issue first arose in the case of State of Maharashtra v Maruty Sripati Dubal. The court here held that Right to Life included Right to die and held Section 309 of IPC that made attempt to suicide a crime as unconstitutional. 29 The court reasoned those fundamental rights have both positive and negative facets. It also distinguished between suicide and euthanasia saying that the former includes the act done by the individual himself whereas the latter meant the act done by an intervening party. As opposed to this, in Chenna Jagdeshwar v Sate of AP, the court stated that right to die isn’t secured under article 21. In P. Rathinam v Union of India, the court followed Maruty Dubal case’s reasoning and stated that article 21 included the right not to lead a coerced life that is damaging, unfavorable and detested by someone. It also held attempt to suicide as not punishable by calling the provision against this as ‘ultra-viruses. This was a drastic approach and it could not last long. The court in Gian Kaur v State of Punjab while overruling this judgment, stated that Right to Life doesn’t incorporate the Right to die a death that isn’t natural and held suicide to be a criminal offence. They held s.309 of IPC that makes attempted suicide an offence to be constitutional. They reasoned that Article 21 is a natural right whereas the right to end one’s life by committing suicide would be unnatural.36 The court stated that dignity rights under the same only exist till the ‘natural’ termination of life. They distinguished Euthanasia from suicide and asserted that the former involves ending an individual’s life who is already fatally ill or in a PVS. They stated that in euthanasia, the course of dying has already begun and it merely accelerates this process of natural death and isn’t causing an unnatural termination. They therefore held that right to die a dignified death of a patient whose ‘life is ebbing out’ may come within the preview of right to a dignified life. So, in Gian Kaur, the court already acknowledged right to a dignified death specially for incurably ill patients, but they did not exactly rule on euthanasia be it active or passive. They just primarily focused on the legitimacy of anti-suicide laws. So, this issue was again brought up in Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v Union of India. Runa Shanbaug was a nurse who was a victim of sexual assault, after which she wasn’t in the condition to feel anything anymore. The ruthless incident rendered her visionless, deaf, paralyzed and in a vegetative condition for 42 years. A petition was brought before the Supreme Court for her euthanasia. The court passed a ground-breaking judgement legalizing passive euthanasia. The court held that in cases were the natural progression of death had already initiated or the patient was in a permanent vegetative state, then it wouldn’t be an offense to passively quicken demise by refusal of medical support. 43 Here the court instead of dealing with right to die, dealt with whether there is a compulsion to lengthen life when the sufferer was fatally ill. It laid down the following checks and safeguards that need to be adhered to so that this aid isn’t abused, specially forbidding third party from being involved in the decision-making.

1-The decision to not continue with aids that lengthen the patient’s life must be undertaken by their lawful guardians, their partner, someone who is close to them,

2- The approval of the high court is mandatory as relatives might give approval to get inheritance benefits.

3- Two judges of the high court will take the call after taking assistance from a panel of three medical experts. The English case of Airedale has been one of the major cases that facilitated the benches to consider passive euthanasia in Indian framework. 48The aforementioned legal delivery had also been undertaken by the court in Airedale case cogitating the High Court to be ‘parens patriae’ and personally examining every case for securing the paramount interest of the individual given euthanasia like a rational and reliable parent.

In Common Cause v Union of India, the Constitutional Court performed an arduous undertaking of pronouncing Right to die with dignity as a fundamental right and a vital component of right to live a life of dignity as enshrined in Article 21. It arranged extensive system for protecting the dignity of fatally ill individuals and those in PVS with no prospect of recovery and in this course, it 1- legalized advance medical directives (AMD) and health attorneys and 2- put forth rules to give force to passive euthanasia. This is now the current law with respect to euthanasia till a legislature is made on the same. This court also scrutinized some discrepancies in the Aruna Shanbaug case. The constitutional court in Common Cause increased the extent of Euthanasia allowed in Aruna case by attaching the concept of living will, where individuals can leave written guidelines on the type of health care they could be administered with, in the occasion of them being in a unresponsive and incurably ill state .It is important to remember that only passive euthanasia has been allowed yet that involves withholding life-lengthening procedures voluntarily, when the patient requests this or when he leaves a living will behind that provides for this or, involuntarily when the patient isn’t in a conscious state and this decision is taken by his family, doctors, close affiliations with the approval of the high court. Active euthanasia is different as it involves positive action of using lethal drugs to cause deliberate demise of the individual through direct interference and this isn’t permitted. The Jurisprudence across the globe has grown on passive euthanasia and it has managed to get moral and legitimate approval more or less. This can’t be said for active euthanasia as there still exists some hesitation and doubt about it.

CONSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS OF DIGNITY AND PRIVACY THAT PLAY A ROLE HERE

According to prof Upendra Baxi, dignity means respect for a person built on the value of liberty and power to construct choices and a decent social system would be where dignity is respected by allowing settings to exercise uncontrolled and informed choices. Even though the term ‘dignity’ isn’t defined anywhere in the constitution or statutes, by analysing the views taken by courts, we can see the how intrinsic it is for Article 21. To deny an individual of his dignity at the conclusion of his life would deny him of meaningful existence. A subsistence that holds meaning would include individual’s right of self-determination and independence to choose their healthcare procedure. Respect for a person, particularly their right to decide how they must live their life amounts to self-autonomy or right of self-governance. It is the right against non-intervention by people that offers a competent individual that is in his majority, the right to decide things that concern his being and body, exclusive of other’s control or meddling. Individual’s right of self-rule and autonomy include their choice to whether and to whatever degree they are prepared to submit themselves to health treatments, deciding between alternate procedures or in that regard, deciding for no procedure at all, which according to their comprehension is in consonance with their personal desires and principles. 61 Nevertheless, a critical issue is yet to be addressed of whether right to die as a part of article 21 is absolute or it would be controlled by reasonable constraints. Considering this right involves the choice vis-à-vis terminating one’s life, the circumstances that accompany the meaning of ‘dignity’ need to be lucidly articulated. Without explicit reference of reasonable constraints influencing this right, the noble intent of the constitutional court advancing this judgement may prove ineffective.

In KS Puttaswammy v Union of India, the Constitutional Court that included nine justices held privacy to be a fundamental segment of right to life that also recognizes a person’s right to refuse health treatments that prolong lifespan. Here, Justice Chelameshwar stated that “force feeding of particular individuals by the Government raises alarms for privacy. A person’s right to deny healthcare that prolongs his existence or ends the same is a liberty that comes within the preview of privacy”. Article 21 guarantees privacy rights and in cases where individuals are in PVS or are bed ridden, unconscious to an extent where they are unable to eat own their own, switch clothes or even utilize the lavatory, whether or not their privacy rights are being met is something to reflect on. These are things that no one would normally like to rely on others for.

EUTHANASIA IN THE NETHERLANDS

Netherlands was the first European state that allowed euthanasia by introducing the statute ‘termination of life on request and assisted suicide act” in 2002. 69 This legislation permitted euthanasia in extremely rare and extraordinary circumstances.70 There, killing someone on their request or with their permission is illegal but this statue makes an exemption for doctors who perform euthanasia provided they meet the following factors:

1-If there isn’t any possibility for the patient’s condition to improve and they are in insufferable agony, 2-The patient themselves, voluntarily opt for this without any encouragement from others and this request should be persistent over a period,

3- The patient makes an informed decision with comprehensive information of his alternatives,

4-This issue must be discussed with other free doctors for confirming everything,

5-euthenesia must take place with proper process by competent doctors, and

6- patient must be minimum twelve years of age.

CONCLUSION

Low educational and legal knowledge being the reality of many people in India, there could be a chance of misuse of living wills by greed-stricken heirs and this should be appropriately attended by the parliament for the paramount usage of the novel right added in the binder of fundamental rights. Lack of sufficient and affordable healthcare and monetary limitations on middle class families may force them to opt for passive euthanasia or make living wills hastily out of compulsion. Therefore, mere allowing passive euthanasia by the benches isn’t enough till the parliament appropriately aids the matter by giving the required attention to health facilities and insurance, specially for economically backwards individuals. Appreciating the right of dying with dignity for terminal patients and persons in a PVS is only part of the picture, and the issue of how this right would be construed with respect to individuals wanting to die due to other serious reasons like agedness, indigence, dearth of prospects etc. to die with respect still remains. The apex court has only recognized this right to dignified death in terms of right to withdraw or deny life prolonging treatments for the aforementioned categories, so how this right should be construed with respect to patients who have terminal illnesses that hamper their life adversely but haven’t made them dependent on some life supporting machine is something to deliberate on. For instance, individuals permanently paralyzed from neck down, individuals with severe case of dementia that leaves them in a disoriented state, not recognizing themselves or their loved ones etc. These individuals aren’t dependent on life prolonging systems that they can withdraw but nevertheless they have to permanently depend on others for basic needs and their dignity, privacy, autonomy and quality of life can be said to be obstructed by their degenerated circumstances. To cause death in these situations, a positive action would be needed. This may have the capacity to unlock floodgates for Mandamus Writs before constitutional benches. In my opinion, active euthanasia, although very restrictively and only in extraordinary and rare instances, should also be included in right to dignified death under art 21. For this, heavy safeguards and riders are needed so that this right isn’t abused. This is also keeping in mind the broad frame the courts have given to ‘life’ under art21, to signify more than ‘animal survival’, to include a life of dignity, quality, good physical and psychological wellbeing. India’s legal situation shouldn’t be reviewed in isolation. We have drawn our constitution from the charters of diverse states and benches have frequently referred to several international decisions. Netherland’s statue with respect to Euthanasia should be examined and appreciated in Indian context and used to broaden euthanasia framework in India. Death is as essential is life in certain situations. Death shouldn’t be seen as negative or disappointing when the individual is going through unbearable agony from an ailment that isn’t curable for an alarmingly long time. Humane and proficient dealing for the dying is necessary.

Low educational and legal knowledge being the reality of many people in India, there could be a chance of misuse of living wills by greed-stricken heirs and this should be appropriately attended by Parliament for the paramount usage of the novel right added in the binder of fundamental rights. Lack of sufficient and affordable healthcare and monetary limitations on middle class families may force them to opt for passive euthanasia or make living wills hastily out of compulsion.

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NCEL granted export permission for rice and sugar

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The newly established National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) has received authorization to export 14,92,800 tonnes of non-Basmati rice to 16 countries and 50,000 tonnes of sugar to two countries, as disclosed by Cooperation Minister Amit Shah in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Functioning under the ambit of the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act, 2002, the NCEL, registered in January this year, operates across agriculture, allied activities, handloom, and handicraft items. With an objective to double its revenue by 2025 from the present Rs 2,160 crore, the entity has actively enrolled numerous cooperatives, garnering 2,581 membership applications from 22 states and Union Territories.

Minister Amit Shah emphasized that NCEL’s primary objective is to create an export-friendly environment, particularly for agricultural commodities, leveraging India’s comparative advantage in these sectors. The cooperative body welcomes the participation of cooperative societies, from grassroots to apex levels, interested in engaging in export activities.

The key focus of NCEL remains on utilizing the surplus available within the Indian cooperative sector by accessing global markets. This strategic expansion aims to enhance the demand for Indian cooperative products on an international scale, ensuring better price realizations for these goods and services.

NCEL’s operational scope encompasses a comprehensive ecosystem to promote exports, spanning procurement, storage, processing, marketing, branding, labelling, packaging, certification, research and development, and trading across all goods and services produced by cooperative societies.

Moreover, the cooperative export body intends to facilitate cooperatives in availing benefits from various export-related schemes and policies curated by different ministries, streamlining and enhancing their export endeavours.

The establishment of NCEL underscores a concerted effort to leverage cooperative strengths in India’s export landscape, promising to amplify market reach and economic returns for agricultural commodities and allied sectors through strategic global engagements.

The initiative by the Cooperation Minister, Amit Shah, signifies a concerted push to empower cooperative societies in India’s export realm. By extending export permissions for substantial quantities of non-Basmati rice and sugar, the National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) is poised to facilitate a significant leap in the global market for agricultural produce.

This move aligns with India’s broader objective to bolster its global trade footprint, leveraging the competitive edge of its agricultural sector. Through NCEL, the aim is not only to foster increased export volumes but also to ensure a more equitable distribution of economic gains, channelling the benefits back to the grassroots level of cooperative societies.

Moreover, the strategic focus of NCEL on diverse export-related activities, including procurement, storage, branding, and research, speaks volumes about the comprehensive approach taken to fortify the entire export ecosystem. This encompassing strategy, coupled with NCEL’s commitment to guiding cooperatives in navigating export-related policies and schemes, underscores a forward-thinking approach aimed at creating a conducive environment for cooperative-driven exports.

The enthusiasm surrounding NCEL’s permissions signals a transformative phase for India’s cooperative sector. By leveraging cooperative strengths and fostering a global market presence, the initiative not only aims to boost export figures but also promises to uplift local communities, thereby enhancing the socio-economic fabric of the country.

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Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968

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Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968

Additional 86 Non-existent RUPPs shall be deleted from the list and benefits under the Symbols Order (1968) withdrawnAction against these 339 (86+253) non-compliant. RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022

In continuation of the earlier action initiated on May 25, 2022 for enforcing due compliances by Registered Unrecognized Political Parties (RUPPs), the Election Commission of India led by Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Shri Anup Chandra Pandey today further delisted 86 non-existent RUPPs and declared additional 253 as ‘Inactive RUPPs’. This action against 339 non-compliant RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022.

As per statutory requirements under section 29A of the RP Act, every political party has to communicate any change in its name, head office, office bearers, address, PAN to the Commission without delay. 86 RUPPs have been found to be non-existent either after a physical verification carried out by the respective Chief Electoral Officers of concerned States/UTs or based on report of undelivered letters/notices from Postal Authority sent to the registered address of concerned RUPP. It may be recalled that ECI had delisted 87 RUPPs and 111 RUPPs vide orders dated May 25, 2022 and June 20, 2022, thus totalling the number of delisted RUPPs to 284.

This decision against 253 non-compliant RUPPs has been taken based on reports received from Chief Electoral Officers of seven states namely Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana & Uttar Pradesh. These 253 RUPPs have been declared inactive, as they have not responded to the letter/notice delivered to them and have not contested a single election either to the General Assembly of a State or the Parliament Election 2014 & 2019. These RUPPs have failed to comply with statutory requirements for more than 16 compliance steps since 2015 and are continuing to default.

It is also noted that of the above 253 parties, 66 RUPPs actually applied for a common symbol as per para 10B of the Symbol’s Order 1968 and did not contest the respective elections. It is pertinent to note that privilege of a common symbol is given to RUPP based upon an undertaking for putting up at least 5 percent of total candidates with regard to said legislative assembly election of a State. Possibility of such parties occupying the available pre-election political space by taking benefits of admissible entitlements without contesting elections cannot be ruled out.

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Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh

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Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh

The 75-day long ongoing Coastal Clean Up Campaign is receiving a huge response from across the sections of society and besides others, Governors, Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, celebrities, film and sports personalities, civil society groups etc. are joining the campaign with overwhelming enthusiasm and pledging their support to the longest and largest beach cleaning campaign in the world titled “Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar”, coordinated by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences with collaboration from all the other Union Ministries, departments as well as governments of the coastal States.

Addressing a press conference today, three days ahead of “International Coastal Clean-up Day” on 17th September, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said, he will join the campaign at Juhu beach in Mumbai on 17th September and informed that Governor Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and several personalities as well as NGOs will also join at Juhu.

The Minister also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support through social media. The PM has stressed on keeping India’s coasts clean as he praised efforts of volunteers to remove garbage from the Juhu beach in Mumbai. Responding to a video posted by Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh about the clean-up at the beach, Modi tweeted, “Commendable… I appreciate all those involved in this effort. India is blessed with a long and beautiful coastline and it is important we focus on keeping our coasts clean”. The Minister said, “A cleanathon was organised at Juhu Beach in Mumbai, saw participation in large numbers especially by youngsters and Civil Society.

Dr Jitendra Singh informed that Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will take a lead in the clean-up campaign at world famous Puri beach, while Pratap Chandra Sarangi, former union minister will be at Chandipur. BJP MP from Hooghly, West Bengal Ms Locket Chatterjee will be at Digha on D-Day. R.K.Mission head will lead the campaign at Bakkhali in southern Bengal.

Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendrabhai Patel will be at Porbandar (Madhavpur), while Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Khodabhai Rupala will join the clean-up operation at Jafrabad, Amreli.

Governor of Goa P. S. Sreedharan Pillai and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant will take part in beach cleaning campaign in South and North Goa beaches on 17th September.

Similarly, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan will be at Kochi, while MoS External Affairs V. Muraleedharan will be at Kovalam beach at Thiruvananthapuram.

Governor of Karnataka Thawar Chand Gehlot will join the campaign at Panambur beach in Mangalore, while the Governor of Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan will lend her helping hand at Puducherry beach.

Governor of Mizoram Dr. K. Hari Babu will take part in Vizag beach while L. Murugan, Union MoS, Information and Broadcasting will join the event at Chennai

Dr Jitendra Singh informed that the campaign has entered the mode of whole of Government approach plus whole of nation participation.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, apart from active cooperation of Ministries of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Jal Shakti, Health and Family Welfare, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, External Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, organisations and associations like National Service Scheme (NSS), Indian Coast Guard, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Seema Jagran Manch, SFD, Paryavaran Sanrakshan Gatividhi (PSG), along with other social organizations and educational institutions are participating in the clean-up campaign.

The MPs of coastal states have also pledged full support to the first-of-its-kind and longest running coastal clean-up campaign in the world and they also advised the Ministry of Earth Sciences to undertake a variety of activities by involving local NGOs.

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DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH

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DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today announced setting up of a Dashboard to share the best technology practices among the Centre and the States.

Presiding over the concluding session of the two-day “Centre-State Science Conclave” at Science City in Ahmedabad, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that a high level mechanism will be developed by the Department of Science and Technology to monitor and coordinate the follow up action of the conclave. The Minister also asked the States to appoint a Nodal officer in each of the States to coordinate and cooperate with the Special Committee for knowing and sharing the best practices.

Giving the example of heli-borne technology launched from Jodhpur, Rajasthan in October, 2021, Dr Jitendra Singh said, to start with, the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana were taken up for this latest heli-borne survey.

The Minister pointed out that if the same technology is uploaded on Dashboard, other States may join and share this CSIR technology from source finding to water treatment and thus benefit millions of people across the country.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, it will also positively contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal” as well as “doubling farmer’s income” goals. He said, the latest state-of-the-art technology is being employed by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) for mapping groundwater sources in arid regions and thus help utilise groundwater for drinking purposes.

The 2-day ‘Centre-State Science Conclave’ was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Science City, Ahmedabad, yesterday. Dr Jitendra Singh expressed satisfaction that important plenary sessions with State S&T Ministers discussed in detail on issues like Agriculture, Innovation for producing portable drinking water including application of technologies like Desalination, Heli borne methods developed by DST, Clean Energy for All including S&T role in Hydrogen mission, Deep Sea Mission of MoES and its relevance for Coastal States/UT, Digital healthcare for All and Synergizing Science with National Education Policy.

A special session with the CEOs of over 100 Start-Ups and industry at the Centre-State Science Conclave’ in Ahmedabad came up with scientific solutions in the field of agriculture, drone, artificial intelligence, biotechnological solutions, single-use plastic alternates, irrigation and digital health amongst others.

Many of the State governments have shown keen interest in some of the technologies and agreed to partner with some of the startups for State-specific technological solutions.

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Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity

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Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity

The worst floods in several decades have wreaked havoc in Pakistan, one of the most populous countries of South Asia. The floods have touched the country’s 220 million people’s lives directly or indirectly. More than 1,300 people have died with 81 out of 160 districts directly affected by the floods, leaving at least 33 million people homeless.

The heat waves followed by rains and glacial melting has been a global trend this year bringing out the stark reality that despite all talks and conventions, the world community has failed to contain and reverse climatic change. But Pakistan’s case is unique.

Beyond the human losses, the country’s economic managers have the most challenging task ahead as floods ravaged the country’s road and communication network, damaged an incalculable number of houses, and destroyed millions of hectares of crops.

Niaz Murtaza, a political economist, describes present crisis as “a triple whammy”, putting together economic, political and natural. “The poor had been suffering the first two months because of inflation, job loss and political paralysis. Now the floods have pushed millions into ruin,” he said.

Despite this, the political masters are not only busy in bickering and allegations against each other, but have also triggered a blame game on social media as usual, pointing fingers on India for the flood havoc. The bombardment of propaganda, nevertheless, cannot change the reality that Pakistan government and its institutions have utterly failed in fulfilling their duties towards its citizens.

Ludicrous as it is, it cannot absolve the leadership of Pakistan that has failed people in terms of economic mismanagement, entrenched corruption and naked cronyism in the system. Added to these are the wrong policies and priorities of Islamabad which have been instrumental in bringing economic crisis and political instability. The floods have only abetted it.

The natural disaster has struck Pakistan while economy is passing through the difficult phase of multiple challenges including Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis, heavy debt burden and solvency-related issues. The protracted economic crisis is likely to deepen further despite conclusion of talks with the IMF for release of Extended Fund Facility credit.

While Finance Minister Miftah Ismail estimates that the country has incurred a total loss of “at least $10 billion”, independent analysts, including Uzar Younus, Director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia centre and economist Ammar Habib Khan, put the figure between $15-20 billion, and expect it to rise further as information is coming with a great lag.

Existing infrastructure is collapsing with the flooding submerging one-third of the country, pushing 37 per cent of population into poverty. Pakistan is literally and figuratively under deep water, writes Nasir Jamal. It may take a few more months before the damages can be assessed. Even before the flooding, 60 per cent of the population was suffering from hunger, malnutrition and related diseases and the figures are bound to shoot up now.

In view of the mammoth loss, the IMF’s $1.2 billion credit now seems to be a peanut. Pakistan was earlier wounded and now it is bleeding. Floods will exacerbate the economic crisis that had shown initial signs of abating with the IMF deal. Twin deficits, growth prospects and inflationary expectations will be worsening, inflicting misery on the poor. Despite increasing gravity of the situation, saving people’s life and livelihood have not still become the priorities among the political class who are revealing in an ugly slugfest.

The real cost of the natural calamity is being borne by millions of poor kids, pregnant women, elderly and sick persons crowded under the open sky or tents, prone to hunger, diseases and insecurity as they wait for aid. It will be weeks before many can even return to their villages as the land drains and dries. It will take months, even years, to recover from the loss of housing, animals, crops and cultivable land.

Covid-19 had only disrupted economic exchange without damaging the economic base. But the flood has destroyed crops, land, animals, bridges, etc. negatively impacting deeper on the poor and the economy. And the insensitive political class in Pakistan is still deeply engrossed in political maneuver and cunning tricks against each other rather than presenting a united face at the time of calamity. That is the character of Pakistan’s politics.

In view of the contribution of agriculture to the extent of one fourth of the GDP, the country would have to face major revenue loss due to crop losses. As per the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s August 29 report, almost 80 per cent of crops in Sindh, which produces roughly 30% of Pakistan’s cotton output, were destroyed.

Close to 70 per cent of Pakistan’s textile industry, an important source of employment and foreign exchange, uses the cotton produced in the country. Floods are likely to cause severe shortage of cotton, said Abdul Rahim Nasir, Chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association. He added that instead of earlier average import of cotton estimated at about 4 million bales, Pakistan would now need to import just the double of that figure, at a potential cost of $3 billion.

Shahrukh Wani, an Oxford economist, says the flood will make it terribly difficult for the government to reduce the trade deficit because while the country will need to import food to “compensate” for lost crops, the textile sector will find itself struggling due to “potential shortage” of cotton crop.

The biting inflation which rose to 25% in the month of July from a year earlier, the highest since May 1975, is taking its own toll on the living conditions of masses. The flooding would further push up the inflation and accentuate the scarcity of even essentials.

Amreen Soorani, Head of Research at JS Global Capital Ltd, said that “the main concern from the floods is the impact on inflation”. Even the IMF warned that the runaway inflation could trigger protests and instability.

Islamabad secured funds from the IMF for immediate bailout of the economy from the saturating forex crisis. However, the problems would be far from over for Islamabad. As the advanced countries are focused more on the impact of Ukraine-Russia war and trying to cope with recessionary pressures while some of the development partners including Middle Eastern countries and China are down with donor fatigue, Islamabad has scant probability to get any major international relief.

For now, the immediate challenge that government will face is to fulfil the conditions of raising taxes and applying austerity measures as part of its agreement with the IMF for its bailout package. This might turn out a politically unpopular move and could flare up the political bickering. The condition is rife for mass protests in view of increasing cost of living for many months now, which opposition could take advantage of. Anger is rising across Pakistan over the slow pace of government relief efforts.

The catastrophic floods have put a downward pressure on growth prospectus. Initial estimates suggest that the economic growth rate may slow down to just 2 per cent. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the recent floods caused more damage than the 2010 calamity wherein the economic losses had been estimated at $9.7 billion. The floods have already caused supply chain-related issues.

Even during natural calamity, politicians are concerned about their political agenda rather than allowing international aid agencies to import essential food items from the neighbouring country. Cases after cases of corruption are cropping up, “you reveal mine, I will reveal yours”, an unending slugfest continues.

Instead of fighting the fallout of the devastating natural calamity united, they are engrossed in manoeuvre and cunning tricks and a regressive thought process whether or not to allow aid flow from India. Some of the government top officials have suggested importing essential commodities such as food and medicine from India, while others are still the victim of the old rigidities and anti-India mindset.

India is an undoable reality of being the most potent vehicle of South Asia’s growth vision as it is a responsible regional power and the fastest growing economy of the world, which offers a big market for exports and sourcing imports. Islamabad needs to understand that cooperation with neighbours does not reduce the stature of a calamity hit country.

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Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite

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Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite

The Kartarpur Corridor has once again reunited another family after a man who separated from his parents when he was only a few months old in 1947, finally met his sister in Pakistan.

Amarjit Singh was left out in India along with his sister while his Muslim parents came to Pakistan. All eyes went teary as they saw the emotional scenes of the brother-sister reunion in Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Geo News reported.

Amarjit Singh arrived in Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa to meet his Muslim sister and to remain as her guest.

His sister, 65-year-old Kulsoom Akhtar, could not control her emotions after seeing Amarjit.

Both hugged each other and kept crying. She had travelled from her hometown in Faisalabad along with her son Shahzad Ahmed and other family members to meet her brother.

Kulsoom said that her parents came to Pakistan from the suburbs of the Jalandhar region of India in 1947, leaving behind her younger brother and a sister, Express Tribune reported.

Kulsoom said she was born in Pakistan and used to hear about her lost brother and a sister from her mother. She said that her mother used to cry every time whenever she remembered her missing children. Kulsoom said that she did not expect that she would ever be able to meet her brother and sister. However, a few years ago, a friend of her father Sardar Dara Singh came to Pakistan from India.

Kulsoom’s mother told Singh about her son and daughter she left behind in India. She also told him the name of their village and the location of their house in the neighbouring country.

Amarjit then visited her house in Padawan village of Jalandhar and informed her that her son was alive but her daughter was dead. Her son was named Amarjit Singh who was adopted by a Sikh family back then in 1947, The Express Tribune reported.

After getting the brother’s information, Amarjit and Kulsoom Akhtar contacted on WhatsApp and using the Kartarpur Corridor and the meeting between the two siblings became a reality.

Now an elderly man, Sardar Amarjit Singh came to Gurdwara Sahib in a wheelchair. Kulsoom Akhtar also could not travel due to back pain, but she showed courage and reached Kartarpur from Faisalabad along with her son. Both the siblings kept crying while embracing each other and remembering their parents.

Amarjit said that when he first learned that his real parents were in Pakistan and were Muslims, it was a shock to him. However, he comforted his heart that many families were separated from each other in addition to his own family.

Many Muslim children became Sikhs and many Sikh children became Muslims, Express Tribune reported.

He said that he always wanted to meet his real sister and brothers. He said that he is happy to know that three of his brothers are alive. However, one brother who was in Germany has passed away.

He said he will now come to Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa and spend time with his family. He also said that he will take his family to India as well so that they could meet their Sikh family. Both the siblings had brought many gifts for each other.

Shahzad Ahmad, son of Kulsoom, said that he used to hear about his uncle from his grandmother and mother. He said that all of the siblings were very young at the time of Partition and no name was given to Amarjit or perhaps, after so many years, the name had slipped out of mind.

“I understand that since my uncle was brought up by a Sikh family, he happens to be a Sikh, and my family and I have no problem with this,” he added.

Shahzad said that he is happy that even after 75 years his mother has found her lost brother.

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