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India must take the lead in devising bio-defences – analysis

Although China may not have deliberately created Covid-19, it is possible that its release was the result of a lab accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been doing “gain-of-function” research on bat coronaviruses. Such research modifies a virus to make it deadlier or more transmissible — specifically, transmissible between species. We may never know the truth of ...

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Why civil society matters – editorials

The Lok Sabha has passed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment (FCRA) Bill 2020 regarding non-governmental organisations (NGOs) without debate, which is unfortunate. NGOs are not without their problems, but the estimated three million such bodies that exist in India are a vital and important element of civil society. Many of them implement and monitor the government’s welfare policies, operating at ...

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The vaccine protocol | HT Editorial – editorials

The developers of the most promising coronavirus vaccines are making a concerted effort to convince people they will uphold scientific standards in their clinical trials. First, they signed what was described as a historic safety pledge. They declared they will seek emergency approval for their candidates only after a phase 3 trial is complete, and the priority would be to ...

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National Board for Wildlife: Govt must follow due processes – editorials

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), which Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads, has not met even once in the past five years with all its 47 members in attendance, the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change ministry informed the Rajya Sabha recently. Only a standing committee of NBWL, which is authorised to exercise the board’s powers, met 23 ...

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On agricultural reforms, it’s important to tread with caution – columns

Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has resigned citing her distress with the growing discontent among Punjab’s farmers, while, her party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will remain in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). What she has done is known as political positioning. That is what the Shiv Sena (SS) and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had done earlier. TDP leaders resigned ...

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What Bihar will tell us about national politics – columns

Bihar’s assembly elections often give a glimpse into larger national political trends. In the 1990s, the dominance of Lalu Prasad was representative of the larger assertion of Other Backward Classes, the ascendance of the politics of “social justice” which essentially meant an electoral coalition of religious minorities and marginalised castes, and the deeper democratisation of the polity. At the same ...

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Reform, but consult widely – editorials

Nearly three decades ago, India liberalised its economy after a severe balance-of-payments crisis. The country ended its “licence raj” and has pushed a growth agenda since to unleash the potential of various sectors of the economy, barring one — agriculture. Three bills in Parliament are the first attempt to unshackle the sector. These are the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce ...

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What the Israel-UAE-Bahrain accord means for India and the world – analysis

The peace agreement between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain is a historic moment that brings together the most advanced states in West Asia for the good of humanity. Combining forces and finding common ground has never been more urgent than now, in the midst of a pandemic, and the Abraham Accord is set to generate immediate results. ...

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A White paper on Covid-19 – editorials

Parliament has finally held a debate on the most pressing issue of contemporary times — the public health and economic challenge posed by Covid-19. Health minister Harsh Vardhan first offered a statement, where he outlined the government’s efforts to tackle the pandemic, the improvement in the health infrastructure, the gains because of the lockdown, the low death rate in India, ...

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LAC: India lays out its case – editorials

In the first official statement in Parliament on the India-China standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, defence minister Rajnath Singh laid out India’s case. He provided a quick backdrop of the border conflict, outlined the post-1988 template where the two sides agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity at the border and deepen bilateral relations without ...

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