Testing saves lives by preventing the next infection(HT Photo)
Testing saves lives by preventing the next infection(HT Photo)

Ramp up testing, now | HT Editorial

Opening doors for the private sector is good. Act on it swiftly
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON MAR 17, 2020 07:05 PM IST

India’s hesitation in adopting mass testing for coronavirus (Covid-19) even as it spreads is jeopardising the lives of millions who may be infected but don’t know it. India has, so far, limited testing to those with travel history from affected countries, their contacts, and symptomatic health workers dealing with Covid-19 patients. The government has argued that it is not possible to test everyone. It has plans to scale up diagnostic laboratories doing Covid-19 tests from 63 to 121, and is putting in place mechanisms to allow 51 private labs to test. Officials have suggested that if India begins testing people with symptoms, the system will not have enough capacity to test, once community transmission begins.

The government, however, must reconsider its approach. A new analysis of data from China shows that for every confirmed case, there are another five to 10 people in the community with undetected disease. Many people with mild or no symptoms remain undiagnosed but infect others. In China, this led to nearly 80% of the new cases. Random community testing of 1,100 patients in intensive care units, as India is doing, is too small a sample for a population of 1.37 billion. The first 500 random cases have tested negative, but this should not make the government complacent. To deal with the issue of capacity, there is only one way out — involve the private sector substantially. The government is considering the option now, but it should move fast. India has procured one million diagnostics kits, but the overstretched government sector does not even have the human resources to scale up to a few thousand tests. Even when a little over 10% of its diagnostic capacity of 6,000 tests a day is being used at the Indian Council of Medical Research labs, the diagnostic reports for tests take several days to be generated.

Rapid mass testing in South Korea has brought down new infections and death rates to less than 1%, compared to the world average of close to 4%. Makeshift fever clinics in China, offering rapid testing, brought down new cases on Monday to 21, compared to 62 in the United States and 344 in Italy, where the epidemic spiralled out of control because of delayed diagnosis. The World Health Organization has urged countries to test every suspected case. India must redefine its outdated testing parameters to permit walk-in testing. It has allowed two labs to do rapid testing, but this is not enough. This is the biggest health emergency in living memory. As long as quality and infection control measures are in place, it should not matter whether testing is done in public or private hospitals, for it saves lives. .

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A range of fundamental rights enable citizens to move freely, work anywhere in the country, and be entitled to be treated with equality and without discrimination. (ANI)
A range of fundamental rights enable citizens to move freely, work anywhere in the country, and be entitled to be treated with equality and without discrimination. (ANI)

The dangers of populism

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 02:13 PM IST
Constitutionally suspect and economically unwise, reservation for locals evades the real crisis. Like the rest of India’s political class, Haryana’s leaders are evading the real crisis of jobs to offer prescriptions which may only make the problem worse.
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The SC bench would do well to rethink its approach and ensure that all such future cases are dealt with strictly within the letter and spirit of the law (File Photo)
The SC bench would do well to rethink its approach and ensure that all such future cases are dealt with strictly within the letter and spirit of the law (File Photo)

Women’s right to autonomy, justice | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 04:13 PM IST
There must be a greater effort at gender sensitisation across all levels of the judiciary to prevent such attempts to grant amnesty for violent crimes against women
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Brigade rally called by Left Front, Indian National Congress and Indian Secular Front (ISF) ahead of West Bengal Assembly Election in Kolkata. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)
Brigade rally called by Left Front, Indian National Congress and Indian Secular Front (ISF) ahead of West Bengal Assembly Election in Kolkata. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

Discrediting secularism | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 06:55 PM IST
The Left and the Congress must carefully introspect about their political choices, for allying with extreme identity-based groups on one side will not help in their aim of defeating an identity-based formation on the other side
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According to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre, as of 2020, China ranks only second to the US in having the skills to pursue cyber objectives. But where it lacks skill, it makes up for intent — earning an overall cyber power index rank of two among 30 countries. India, with low intent as well as capability, ranks 21 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
According to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre, as of 2020, China ranks only second to the US in having the skills to pursue cyber objectives. But where it lacks skill, it makes up for intent — earning an overall cyber power index rank of two among 30 countries. India, with low intent as well as capability, ranks 21 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Boosting cyber capabilities

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:08 PM IST
A report indicating a Chinese attack on critical Indian infrastructure should lead to a review. Cyber experts have long pointed out this asymmetry in capabilities between India and its adversaries and how engagement in the cyber domain is not limited to rules of real-world conflict.
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To kickstart this green housing revolution, states must adopt the Eco-Niwas Samhita Part I, an energy conservation building code for residential buildings, which was launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in 2018. This sets standards to limit heat gains (for cooling-dominated climates), limit heat loss (for heating-dominated climates), and ensure natural ventilation and daylight potential. Unfortunately, the codes are voluntary, and many states have not dovetailed them into their by-laws. (Bloomberg)
To kickstart this green housing revolution, states must adopt the Eco-Niwas Samhita Part I, an energy conservation building code for residential buildings, which was launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in 2018. This sets standards to limit heat gains (for cooling-dominated climates), limit heat loss (for heating-dominated climates), and ensure natural ventilation and daylight potential. Unfortunately, the codes are voluntary, and many states have not dovetailed them into their by-laws. (Bloomberg)

Housing must be climate-resilient

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:01 PM IST
Delhi recorded its second warmest February since 1901. To adapt to a warming world, India needs to construct buildings that are thermally comfortable; have natural daylight; and proper ventilation.
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On the basis of this, Friday’s data, anecdotal evidence, and high-frequency indicators, while it does seem likely that India’s recovery will be patchy, the overall number for 2020-21 may actually end up being a little better than -8%, or even -7.7% (PTI)
On the basis of this, Friday’s data, anecdotal evidence, and high-frequency indicators, while it does seem likely that India’s recovery will be patchy, the overall number for 2020-21 may actually end up being a little better than -8%, or even -7.7% (PTI)

Reading the numbers right | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:20 AM IST
India’s third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers, released on Friday, are interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least being the fact that while the GDP number was marginally lower than estimates, the gross value added (GVA) number was marginally higher
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The expansion of the drive, and the involvement of the private sector is a welcome move, and will help, but it is time India started thinking about opening up vaccination for all takers (Sant Arora /Hindustan Times)
The expansion of the drive, and the involvement of the private sector is a welcome move, and will help, but it is time India started thinking about opening up vaccination for all takers (Sant Arora /Hindustan Times)

Covid-19: Open up vaccination for all | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:20 AM IST
As this newspaper has repeatedly said: Approve more vaccines; make them available in the open market; and open up vaccination
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It is not unknown for even this Indian government, which has taken one of the strongest positions on Pakistan in recent decades, to engage in secret talks with the Pakistani side (ANI)
It is not unknown for even this Indian government, which has taken one of the strongest positions on Pakistan in recent decades, to engage in secret talks with the Pakistani side (ANI)

The India-Pakistan thaw | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:25 AM IST
The sudden announcement of the Indian and Pakistani armies recommitting themselves to the frayed 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) took many by surprise in New Delhi and Islamabad, especially as it came at a time when both countries have shown no signs of being able to agree on anything
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ndian governments, irrespective of their hue, have had a troubled relationship with privatisation. Much of this, on the basis of the history of privatisation, appeared to stem from a lack of belief in it. Which is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated emphasis on privatisation — a handful of times in speeches in the past few weeks — is both important and welcome. (PTI)
ndian governments, irrespective of their hue, have had a troubled relationship with privatisation. Much of this, on the basis of the history of privatisation, appeared to stem from a lack of belief in it. Which is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated emphasis on privatisation — a handful of times in speeches in the past few weeks — is both important and welcome. (PTI)

The benefits of privatisation

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:32 AM IST
It can help the State to reassign funds, monetise its assets, and improve the competitiveness of firms
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India’s benchmark inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), stayed above the upper limit of the Reserve Bank of India’s tolerance zone continuously between April and November 2020. This inflationary phase was driven by a spike in food prices, and it has ended with a collapse of the same from December. (MINTPHOTO)
India’s benchmark inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), stayed above the upper limit of the Reserve Bank of India’s tolerance zone continuously between April and November 2020. This inflationary phase was driven by a spike in food prices, and it has ended with a collapse of the same from December. (MINTPHOTO)

Keep an eye on global commodity inflation

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:33 AM IST
Recent movement in global commodity prices suggests that we could be heading for a long-term rally after a benign run, followed by a collapse during the pandemic.
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As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

A welcome step on vaccination | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
t is important that India leverages its relative success against Covid-19 to equip its citizens in the face of a race against time against a possible second wave. Wednesday’s decision by the Union Cabinet marks a step in the right direction
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The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)
The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)

In defence of personal liberty | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
Beyond the particulars of this case, the Delhi sessions court judgment is welcome. It did well in standing up for citizen rights
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There are indications that progress at the border will result in a gradual, perhaps even linked, resumption of the economic relationship. But both military and economic imperatives dictate that there shouldn’t be return to the economic status quo — and the future economic relationship must be more equal. (AP)
There are indications that progress at the border will result in a gradual, perhaps even linked, resumption of the economic relationship. But both military and economic imperatives dictate that there shouldn’t be return to the economic status quo — and the future economic relationship must be more equal. (AP)

On China, the trade dilemma

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:12 AM IST
One key reason the US has struggled to deal with an aggressive China is precisely its economic web of interdependence with China. India must continue to do business with China, but on better terms, without compromising its interests.
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The nature of the cyberspace is such that if attackers are able to leverage all or a combination of these weaknesses, they can cause damage that will be far greater than the sum of the parts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The nature of the cyberspace is such that if attackers are able to leverage all or a combination of these weaknesses, they can cause damage that will be far greater than the sum of the parts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Secure India’s digital infrastructure

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:12 AM IST
These incidents bring into focus problems that independent researchers have flagged for long — inadequate recognition of threats, a digital infra erected without adequate safeguards, endemic lack of awareness of safe practices, and a threat and vulnerability response mechanism that is far from dynamic.
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Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hands over his resignation letter to Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan after he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, in Puducherry, Feb. 22. (PTI)
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hands over his resignation letter to Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan after he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, in Puducherry, Feb. 22. (PTI)

In Puducherry, a political crisis | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
In Puducherry, on Monday, the Congress government, led by chief minister V Narayanasamy, lost power
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